• Category Archives Colorado
  • New Identities

    Spring and the Purim Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Yet more Snow! Today. Blue Colorado Sky with scattered white Cumulus Clouds. The Ancient Brothers. Hafar. K.L. S.F. Maine. Minnesota. Jackie in Bailey. Aspen Roots. Kissing Frogs. Movies. Nights. Days. Resurrection. A new life. The Shema. Full days. Travel. Dogs. Marilyn and Irv. The Socrates Cafe. Meeting new people.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Questions

    One brief shining: Each month I drive eight minutes from Shadow Mountain to Aspen Park, going by the new bakery the Wicked Whisk and my old personal trainer at On the Move Fitness, past the physical therapists who got me through knee surgery, to the never in my time up here full suite of offices and business that contain the Pinball place, the massage folks, a live theater, Thai 202 which makes the wonderful Crying Tiger, and hop up the stairs to Aspen Roots where Jackie cuts my hair and tells me she loves me which I say back.


    Long enough now. Long enough for relationships to have come and gone. And for some to remain. My tenth year on Shadow Mountain, begun last Winter Solstice. This is where I live, a Coloradan, a Westerner, a Mountain dweller. All distinct identities created by geography and geology and the human imprint on both.

    As a Coloradan I inhabit a former red hate state, transitioning to a blue progressive state. As a Westerner, I have heeded Horace Greeley and gone west though not as a young man, but as an older one. Greeley, Colorado* is named after him. The Western identity has a good deal of complexity to it as does Mountain dweller.

    To be a Westerner means to enjoy the benefits of manifest destiny, of the push west of the frontier, the railroads, those seeking gold, those fleeing law or custom or poverty in the the East. Of those who slaughtered the bison and the indigenous populations who lived here before we arrived. Those who clear cut the Front Range to build Denver and the many, far too many, hard Rock mines that pollute the Creeks, Streams, and Rivers here. The Western U.S. We who arrived later are not innocent. Yet no one is innocent. Either here or there.

    What happens now. What we do today. Who we are in this moment matters, too. We are the stewards, the fellow travelers in this magical wide open place. We are responsible for what happens here as are the Wild Neighbors, the Forests and Streams. The descendants of all those who lived here long ago and all those who altered the landscape not so long ago. We must build the sustainable way for humans to live here for as long as human beings can live.

    The Mountain Dweller is the most personal of these three identities and the most narrow, representing that place where I live and love and have my becoming. Each day my eyes open to the top of Shadow Mountain, to the taller prominence of Black Mountain, to the Lodgepoles and Aspens that cover them both. My lungs take in the scarce air of 8,800 feet as I set aside my nighttime oxygen canula. Often Mule Deer will be around, hunting for grass.

    To go anywhere. To see Jackie at Aspen Roots. To get groceries at Safeway. To breakfast with friends. To the synagogue. To the doctor. I drive on Mountain roads. Two lanes, blind curves, sudden changes of altitude, vistas opening and disappearing.

    Mountains whose names I do not know rise on either side, the Streams that drain them flowing often near the road itself. Sometimes I am up high and able to see for miles, then I go down into constricted views of only Rock and Trees. All the while, not far off the road Wild Neighbors living their wild lives. Beavers damming Streams, their Ponds. The Mountain Lion on a rocky shelf waiting for Elk or Mule Deer to walk below. In my own way I appear and disappear from view around curves, into a valley, only to suddenly reappear in Evergreen.

    How have these three identities changed me from the sea level view of life that was my birthright as a Midwestern boy? I’ve become more of a spectator of life outside of the Mountains. Back east. Or on the coasts. They are not close to me, and their struggles seem far away. My world has become more focused. There are fewer people out here, less urbanization, less agriculture. In those senses the Colorado/Western/Mountain world was unfamiliar to me.

    I live within a smaller world altogether. My fourth new identity, that of a Jew, makes this world, this more narrow and circumscribed world, a friendly and friend full one. As has the nine years plus of living here, making connections like Jackie. And now the Socrates Cafe. This is important because, like most of us who live up here, going down the hill is not appealing. And that’s where the bon vivant of urban life plays out. Even for those things I enjoy I have to factor in a long drive in and a long drive back. Most often the positive gain is too weak to justify the hassle.

    For me. Today. This Colorado guy, this Western guy, this Mountain Man has found his spot and become one with it.



    *Greeley began as the Union Colony of Colorado, which was founded in 1869 by Nathan C. Meeker, an agricultural reporter for the New York Tribune as an experimental utopian farming community “based on temperance, religion, agriculture, education and family values,” with the backing of the Tribunes editor Horace Greeley, who popularized the phrase “Go West, young man”.[7][8][9] wiki

  • The American Day of Atonement

    Winter and the Cold Moon

    Thursday gratefuls: Marilyn and Irv. Rabbi Jamie and the American Day of Atonement. Black-eyed Peas. Hoppin’ John. A cold snap. The Winter Carnival. St. Paul. Irvine Park. The Aurora. Great Sol. Journeys around Great Sol. Birthdays. 77 for me next month. Minnesota. Up North. Lake Superior. Duluth. Ely. The Boundary Waters. Andover and its time in Kate and mine’s life. Kate, my sweet Kate.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Long journeys (77 x 584 million = 44 968 000 000 miles around the sun by age 77)

    One brief shining: About ten days late I have the ingredients for Hoppin’ John Black-Eyed Peas, Salt Pork, Hot Peppers, Garlic, Onion, Black Pepper, Chicken Stock, Ham, Kosher Salt and when I get back from seeing Irv I’m going to make it in the Dutch Oven now clean of hard Water scales and shiny like the day I bought it so Happy New Year!

    Looking forward to cooking up the Hoppin’ John. I also got Corn bread mix. Famous Dave’s. Gonna cook up some frozen Collard Greens, make Corn bread. Have myself a Southern Happy New Year’s meal tonight.


    Going over to see Irv in rehab. He’s been there since he left St. Joe’s after his surgery. An odd fact. His rehab place requires a left turn on Lone Tree’s Lincoln Avenue. When I went to have my prostate removed and for all my radiation sessions, I turned right on Lincoln. Old folks pathway I guess.


    Got my beard trimmed yesterday at Jackie’s. It never got bushy, just scraggly. Decided to give up on it. I think she was relieved.


    Attended by zoom the American Day of Atonement at CBE. Luke worked on it along with Rabbi Jamie. The concept comes from Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. Doing it on the 10th of January puts it close to Martin Luther King Day while duplicating the ten days after the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah. Wanted to be there in person but I find going out at night something I don’t want to do. Especially in Winter. I feel bad about not showing up yet I also honor my reluctance.

    So. Zoom. Which has its difficulties. Last night speakers who zoomed in were loud and clear. Bishop Robert Martin talked about working together to give each other the internal strength to face racism and anti-semitism. Rabbi Jamie invoked Abraham Lincoln. Attorney General Phil Weiser gave what I considered the best speech of the evening calling on us to embrace the American Dream of a diverse nation of citizens equal before the law. We can and we will, he said, overcome our divisions. May it happen soon.

    If the American Day of Atonement could catch on in other cities, focused on at least bringing together African-American and Jewish activists, it could have a major impact. This is the third one. The weather timing is against it. Not many folks showed up at CBE. Not sure how to overcome that. I appreciate all the energy Luke and Rabbi Jamie have put into it so far.



  • Oh, Colorado

    Winter and the Winter Solstice Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Ancient Brothers. Rat Zappers. Predictions. Black Mountain. Gray white Sky. Cold. Good sleeping. Reading. Zornberg. Pendergast. Tanakh. Will Harris. Adaptation to climate change. Fiction. The Sun Brothers on Netflix. Antisemitism. 45 loses. Goes to jail. Brothers. Beef. Fish. Vegetables. Fruit. Chicken. Salads. Soups.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Sharp knives

    One brief shining: With reluctance the Rat Zappers all four came out of their comfortable resting place after slathering a bit of peanut butter into each one they deployed to the kitchen counter top and the two runways of note in the lower level not long before red lights started blinking signaling an electrocuted mouse and I had to shake them out dropping dead mice in the snow.


    Yes. A Mouse assassin. The night of the long knives for Shadow Mountain mice. What tipped me over? Salmonella and hanta virus. At my age? Not a good thing. Chewing through electrical wires. Also not good. So. A small electrocution chamber for each and every one. Also, a commitment to put the Zappers out at the first new sign. Type to act like a responsible home owner and less like a sensitive guy. Reality. Bah, humbug.


    Shabbat yesterday. Saw Ginny and Janice for breakfast at Primo’s. Read Zornberg on the first parsha in Exodus and the introduction to her commentary, The Particulars of Rapture. Began the shabbat with lighting the candles yesterday at 4:30. Saying the bracha, the blessing. Still not in the rhythm of shabbat. The old restrictions seem/are outdated, yet a certain mix of expectations and behaviors set shabbat apart from the other days of the week. Haven’t gotten mine fully figured out yet. It will come.


    Not taking classes right now, self-guided reading and the reading for conversion. Don’t want even the gentle prods of classes, regular times. I’m not a recluse though I have my Herme/hermit qualities. Seeing friends or family on zoom and in person is important to me. Not a cloistered dude high in the Mountains. Yet if I can have whole days alone, maybe most of my days alone, I smile.


    Getting ready to go pick up groceries. Worked out this morning after the Ancient Brothers zoom.


    Paying attention, brief attention to two weird news stories. That Alaska Airlines Boeing that popped open a door shaped hole in its fuselage. I mean, wow. Minimal safety standards include no holes in the airplane while it’s in flight. A lot of clenching going on in the fearful flyer group. Also, Boebert. Punching her husband while out to eat? He called the police. She says nothing happened. Oh, Colorado passing strange you are at times.


  • Mountain names and places

    Winter and the Winter Solstice Moon

    Shabbat gratefuls: Shabbat. Lighting the candles. Quiet. Rest. Irv. Marilyn. Tara. Ariane. Vincent. Eleanor, the all black Puppy and her white friend. Lots of kisses. Hebrew. My bar mitzvah aliyah, Exodus 19:25-20:2. Kilimanjaro. Annapurna. Zugspitz. Silverhorn. Jungfrau. All roads leading to Tara and Ariane’s house on Kilimanjaro. Apple and Peanut butter, an easy supper. Hearing aid. Oxygen concentrators. Oximeters. Living at altitude.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Friends

    One brief shining: Ariane, an engineer, has made 38 loaves of bread in his bread machine; he has a record of each loaf which includes machine settings, ingredients, and results; he held up a slice of his 38th loaf yesterday morning and told me that the bread inside the crust is called the crumb.


    The names up here. I’ve mentioned Troublesome Creek and Troublesome Gulch before. To get to Tara’s yesterday I took Shadow Mountain Drive to the Evergreen Road, turned right on North Turkey Creek, then left on Silverhorn to Jungfrau, Jungfrau to Kilimanjaro. I live on Black Mountain Drive which turns into Brook Forest Drive while passing through the Arapaho National Forest.

    Tara and Ariane live in an upslope house with a wonderful view. Yesterday Mt. Blue Sky and others near it were covered in Snow. Black Mountain is visible from their house, too. Just looked at a map and our homes are not that far apart in straight line distance, but there are no straight line roads here. Mountains in the way.

    When I drive down Shadow Mountain Drive, I follow North Turkey Creek along the flank of Shadow Mountain. Shadow Mountain itself is long and slopes down from the top where I live to the Evergreen Road. I can only see it from the parking lot of the Safeway several miles away otherwise I’m on it or too close to it to make out any of its features. An oddity of living in the Mountains.

    The road to Evergreen goes through a Valley, Evergreen Meadows, a long Valley that runs from Shadow Mountain Drive and Evergreen Road intersection for several miles. While driving through, I pass a couple of smaller Horse ranches, a suburban like development, and a still intact ranch with lots of Horses and a collection of pioneer cabins, all in disrepair.

    Closer to home Black Mountain, at 10,000 feet is 1,200 feet taller than Shadow Mountain and I can see it plainly. Right now. Great Sol has begun to light up the stands of Lodgepoles on it and a blue Colorado Sky. But the massif of Shadow Mountain, huge and over four miles from my house to the Evergreen Road? I live on it and see it as my land, my neighbor’s land, but its shape? Not visible to me.

    A good metaphor for the sacred. We live in it, see it when we can nearby, but its shape and expanse? Not visible to us.

    This is my place. The place from which I see the world most often. What I see are Mountains and Valleys, Mountain Streams and Wild Neighbors like the 8 point Elk bull I saw yesterday on Jungfrau while headed to Tara’s. It has become my home and I would like to stay here until I die.


  • Surrender Charlie

    Samain and the Winter Solstice Moon

    Wednesday gratefuls: Heidi. The Dragonfly Sign. Colorado Supreme Court. Psilocybin. Nahuatl Gods and Mayan hieroglyphics. Surrender. Irv. Rider. Mt. Logan. Crooked Top Mountain. The Grandfather Tree. Park County 43. Buggy Whip Road. Hangman’s Road. Washington County Maine. Climate change. Shadow Mountain. The Rockies. The Front Range. Alan. Bastien’s Steak House. The Winter Solstice. Holimonth.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Colorado Supreme Court

    One brief shining: A cloth with Native American colors marking the four directions, circular, laid on it cut white Roses, small Pine Tree Branches, red Roses, Cinnamon, Coffee beans, Star Anise, Aspen Leaves arranged for a Peruvian gratitude ceremony in which I picked up a small Branch of Pine Needles, inhaled its essence three times and exhaled my love and gratitude before placing the needles gently in the center.


    OK, nation! See Colorado go. I loved living in Minnesota and in the Twin Cities for forty years. The North Woods. Wolves. Lake Superior. So many Lakes. Liberal to radical politics. Not perfect, no. Witness George Floyd. But no place is. And Minnesota seemed as close as they come while I lived there. Then Kate and I moved to Shadow Mountain.

    As the Dead said: What a long, strange trip it’s been. Many of you know my story over the now 9 years exactly since my buddy Tom and I drove straight through from the Twin Cities with Kepler, Vega, and Rigel in the back. And, yes, that story has its definite peaks and valleys. But that’s not my reference here.

    No where else in the country, this divided and often pitiful land of ours, could I have had a legal psychedelic journey on Crooked Top Mountain then come home to Shadow Mountain and read the wonderful news that the Colorado Supreme Court had called a crook a crook, an insurrectionist an insurrectionist and kicked Trump off our ballot. I mean, whoa! What a day.

    I shifted my inner identification a few years back from Minnesotan to Coloradan, my Mountain home become just that. Home. Yes, we elected a gay Governor. How bout that. And of course the wild Neighbors and the Mountain Streams and the Black Bears. The Snow and the spectacular Autumns with gold and green. Over the time I’ve lived here Colorado has shifted from red to blue. Not without some Western weirdness along the way, but that makes it interesting. All that’s true.

    But in one day to take a psilocybin journey with a good friend on property so evocative of a sixties commune and then learn we Coloradans had taken a firm stand, saying what all clear eyed non Trump bedazzled folks already know but somehow cannot communicate, that insurrectionists should not, in fact,cannot hold office. Well, I’m busting with state pride right now. Colorado is the California of the new Millennia. OK. Enough local chauvinism. Still, pretty damned cool. Gives this aging radical a boost.


    Short note on the psilocybin journey about which more later. Ate the mushroom after the gratitude ceremony. Mixed with a little lemon juice supposed to make it come on quicker and go sooner. Sat outside in the glass enclosed shelter where we held the gratitude ceremony, the others going inside. Watched the curved Snowy Bowl of Mt. Logan as my inner weather shifted under the power of the mushroom.

    Went inside and lay down on a heated pad. Soon Nahuatl Gods and Mayan hieroglyphics began to move across the ceiling. Sometimes two dimensional sometimes three almost down to my face. I love hallucinations. So fun. I told my guide I might be under utilizing the experience; it was so entertaining.

    Turned out no. I hadn’t. I had two intentions going in, the one I wrote about yesterday, how to live fully, and the second to continue my exploration of the sacred.

    During some brief conversation after being asked if we had any insights I said, yes, I had one. In living more fully I’ve pushed, thought about things to do, about acting in my life to live more fully. Answering Shakespeare, I have always chosen to take up arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them. Now I need to learn surrender.

    To live fully I need to open up, accept what’s coming. Greet the new year with arms spread wide for what it brings rather than what I can make happen. Well, not rather than. I mean, I’ll still take up arms, of course I will, but I learned yesterday that I have another option. To embrace, to wait, to listen, to let the world and its wonders come to me. As the Wicked Witch of the West might say, “Surrender, Charlie!”



  • A journey into mystery

    Summer with the Summer Moon Above

    Saturday gratefuls: Tom. Aspen Perks. Chicken fried steak and eggs. Coffee. Good conversation. Shaggy Sheep. Kenosha Pass. South Park. No snow plowing from 7pm to 5am.  Canon City. Guffey. Fairplay. Bailey. Royal Gorge Railroad. The Arkansas River. Rafters. The Gorge. Volcanic remnants. Walls of Rock. The Bear. The Bear Butt. Rescue on the Water. Pronghorn Antelope. Big Horn Sheep. A hot blue Sky day.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Two exhausted men hugging a utility pole

    One brief shining: Tom and I looked out the window of our dining car having become used to the sight of rafters six to a boat with one staff person at the rear passing down the muddy, raging Arkansas their blue or red rubber rafts following the currents around white Water covered Boulders and saw…people in the yellow helmets and life vests of the raft passengers desperately trying to stay afloat as the River swept them downstream!


    A day of mystery. The first had come on a road far into our trip which had signs reading: No Snow plowing from 7pm to 5am. What? A second mystery was the biological position of the Pronghorn Antelope. Was it a Camelid? A Goat? A Cervid? The third and most disconcerting was the blue raft empty of passengers, its lone staff person guiding it by himself.

    Let’s back up. Around 7 am Tom and I took off for Canon City and the Royal Gorge Railroad. We had tickets for a luxury meal on the 12:30 train. We stopped at the Shaggy Sheep near Guanella Pass for breakfast, run by a chef who got tired of the Manhattan rat race. Good food. About 20 minutes west of Bailey.

    When I started to write that last paragraph, I realized something interesting. We passed through only two towns on our way to Canon City: Bailey and Fairplay. That’s along a two and a half hour drive South and a bit West. Two towns. South Park through which most of our route ran is an example of the High Plains, flat expanses at 9,000 feet. Windy and cold in the Winter and hot in the Summer. Not many folks live on it. Two towns.

    You arrive at South Park after using the Kenosha Pass on Hwy 285, an 11,000 foot spot where the Mountain Peaks level out for a bit allowing a road to be run over them. After you crest the pass, South Park spreads out below looking like Midwestern farming country. Cattle grazing. Bales of hay in the fields. Farm equipment at the homesteads. Yet ringed by Mountains, snow capped this June, and elevated far above the farms of Indiana, Iowa, and Illinois.


    We reached that first mystery after we passed out of Park County, which encompasses most of South Park. No Snow plowing from 7pm to 5am. I couldn’t imagine what the sign meant and why you would need one? Are there rogue snowplowers who might insist on plowing this road anyhow? Didn’t seem likely. Solved this mystery once back on my home computer. It’s a Colorado Department of Transportation regulation for the whole state that disallows Snow plowing on stretches of highway that receive fewer than 1,000 trips over night. Staff and budget shortages due to Covid.


    The second mystery came as we passed the occasional Pronghorn standing in a field. I’d heard from a hunter that they were Goats. That didn’t seem right. Most likely seemed a family relation to the Cervids: Moose, Elk, Deer. Somewhere I thought I’d read they were related to Camels. None of the above as it turns out. Here’s a quick explanation from Wikipedia:

    “As a member of the superfamily Giraffoidea, the pronghorn’s closest living relatives are the giraffe and okapi.[14] The Giraffoidea are in turn members of the infraorder Pecora, making pronghorns more distant relatives of the Cervidae (deer) and Bovidae (cattle, goats, sheep, antelopes, and gazelles), among others.” Wiki

    The same article points out that they are the only surviving member of their family, Antilocapra americana. They’re the fastest land animal in North America capable of up to 55 mph.


    The third mystery though remains unresolved. We had finished our Osso Buco and Buffalo Shortribs as the Royal Gorge Railroad train on which we rode passed out of the Gorge and had begun to head back. We looked out the window to the Arkansas River flowing fast beside the train as it had been since we left Canon City. We saw more of the red and blue rubber rafts representing different float companies setting out on their journey down the surging River. What fun!

    At some point we stopped to pick up a fatigued kayaker. We both thought, likely heart attack. Paramedics on the train tended to him on the observation car attached at what was now the front of the train and also attached to the car in which Tom and I rode. That was interesting. Nice that the train was there and able to help.

    Further along, again looking out the window. Oh. My. God. Look. That’s somebody in the water! Yellow helmet and safety vest suggested a passenger from one of the rafts. Then Tom said. There’s another one! Over there. About to hit the wall. He turned a bit further to look and noticed a blue rubber raft empty of passengers, only the staff person with the rudder oar still sitting in it. The rafts all had six passengers when they set out from the landing where the train had switched directions only ten or fifteen minutes ago. We’d seen two men in the water. Where were the other four?

    The train moved on and we only saw the two. Tom thought he saw one of them reach a raft and get pulled aboard. We passed two more of the blue rubber rafts bobbing at the rocky wall to the River a bit further but the train kept moving. Then it slowed. And backed up.

    I asked a Native American train staff if he knew whether they’d picked up the people in the water. We’re not allowed to comment on it. Oh.

    The train moved back to the site where the two rafts had stopped along the wall of the Gorge. At a utility pole there two of the men we’d seen in the water hugged the pole looking exhausted and bewildered, surrounded by others. A third man struggled up the embankment with no help from the rafting staff, also plainly one who had been in the water.

    What happened to the other three passengers remains unknown to me though I’ve searched several times. A man died on the same stretch of water only four days ago. Thrown from the raft. The 14th water related death in Colorado this year.

    When the train arrived back in Canon City, there were EMT’s and an ambulance and a fire truck there to receive the rafters. They were placed on gurneys and then disappeared from sight.

    What of the other three? Unknown. Tom suggested that maybe they were younger and stronger swimmers who reached the shore on their own. The three we saw all appeared to be middle aged men. May it be as Tom suggests.



  • A Thursday with Friends

    Summer and the Summer Moon Above

    Friday gratefuls: Tom. Ellen and Dick. Hail. Again. Cool nights. Good sleeping. God is Here. Metaphor. Kathy. Luke. Vince. Gutters. Psilocybin. Flower. Weed. Red Rocks. The Bread Lounge. A Cuban. Evergreen. Gracie and Ann. CBE. High water on the fish ladder. Maxwell Creek running full.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Friendship

    One brief shining: Life in its fullness comes running at you, with you like a Mountain Stream after a heavy Rain, crashing over barriers, not allowing any obstacles, where necessary spreading out, then calmly, gently flowing into the placid waters of a great River, headed to the World Ocean.


    Yesterday. A full day. Talking to Diane, always a pleasure. Catching up on family news. A favorite cousin for all of us moved into hospice. We’re all in the aging range. This group that used to play with each other at Thanksgiving, during family reunions at Riley Park, on the farm outside Morristown. Family in its longue dureé as Ginny, daughter of Diane’s sister, Kristen, gives birth to a new generation of the Keaton clan as have children of other cousins. We will wink out one by one, but the family will continue.


    Over to the Bread Lounge to read a bit before Tom got here from DIA. Instead ran into Tal and Alan talking to each other. Alan in his  usual I’m here to assist you mode trying to figure out how he can help Tal’s new company, All in Ensemble.

    Alan’s decided to let his beard grow back. I’m glad. It was odd seeing him clean shaven. He shaved for his art, as he says. A role in Zorro!, the musical.

    Together we talked about Tal’s character study class, about mutual friends and family. The Bread Lounge serves as the student union restaurant for Evergreen. Go there and you see folks you know.

    After Alan left, Tal and I discussed my character Herme. He liked my idea of a one-act play to introduce the Rivers and Mountains Poets of China to Mountain audiences. He offered to help me in any way he can. He’s bringing an outline from a playwrighting class to our next Tuesday class. Who knows? Perhaps the Hooded Man will play up and down the spine of the Rocky Mountains. Could happen.


    Tom got to the Bread Lounge after navigating an overly busy DIA filled with summer travelers. We ordered sandwiches, which came late so we had to pack them up and head over to mussar. Where we discussed the role of metaphor in our daily lives and the implications of metaphor for understanding what we might mean when we use the metaphor God. A good heart/mind conversation.

    Following mussar Tom and I were hosted by Ellen and Dick Arnold, Rabbi Jamie’s parents. A wide ranging conversation which had as its focus the upcoming trip to Israel. Dick will be my roommate for the group part of the trip.


    When we got back to Shadow Mountain, Vince was here mowing and weed whacking. In the rain. Vince is a good guy. Lucky to have him as my friend and property manager.

    Tom and I were tired. We talked, then went to bed. Getting ready now for our trip this afternoon on the Royal Gorge Rail Road.



  • October 8th. Baseball.

    Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Gabe. The Rockies. The Mets. Rockies win! 11-10. Driving down the hill again on a beautiful Colorado day. Back aching as I drove back after a lot of time in a non-comfy stadium seat. Ancient Brothers this morning, poetry on aging, on celebrating and reflecting aging. I plan to post these poems over time here. Rains have paused. The Streams have begun to catch up, not quite so swollen. A catch in my throat as I crested the last Mountain on I-70 before the Continental Divide becomes visible. Home.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The games men and women play

    One brief shining: Why Gabe asked did we have to leave the Rockies game at 3 well I said I haven’t spoke to my son and his wife since they left Hawai’i and they have can talk at 5:30 pm Colorado time which means I have to take you home, drive back home up the hill before then. Oh. He said.


    The Ancient Brothers responded to my request for poetry. Lots of poetry discovered and read. About aging. About living until you die. About the common fate we share with the families of all living beings. Reading or reciting as Paul does so wonderfully gave these poems the shape and resonance of both the poet’s voice and the Ancient Brother who read them. A special and powerful morning.

    In part adding possible content for the October 8th Crossing the Threshold ritual I plan here at my house with Rabbi Jamie. Trying to figure out how to honor and name this time of life for men, men who have gone past career and the raising of family with health and vitality yet who have no cultural road map, no role to help guide their Winter season.

    In part digging into each Ancient Brother’s experience and claiming of this time, a time I referred to as the best time of my life. To nods. Yet it is a mystery, a cultural lacunae. Undefined and for many confusing, dispiriting.

    With your help perhaps we can figure out a ritual to help us move from the time of succeeding and achieving, of building and developing, of nurturing children to the time of… What? Fading out? Easing into oblivion. Or something more, something richer and deeper. If you have ideas for such a ritual, please forward them to me. If you have more poetry, other content that might either be read during such a ritual or inform it, please send them along.

    Also. If you want to come on October 8th, this is an invitation. The more we have the better the moment will be.


    Picked up Gabe a Rockies cap stuck amidst his luxuriant locks bought for him by Uncle Joe last year at a game. We drove to Coors Field, found parking, got into our shaded seats and proceeded to eat hot dogs, peanuts, and ice cream. One game a  year is more than enough given that diet.

    Speaking of rituals. Going to a baseball game, at a stadium. A most American though hardly only American outing. Ticket takers. Seats cascading down toward the green diamond. Blue Sky above. Vendors with hot dogs pretzels beer cotton candy Rockies shirts baseball bats ice cream in small plastic Rockies’ hats. All manner of folks in and around, up and down. Young mothers with babes in bjorns. Grandpas with grandsons. Those certain late 20’s, early 30’s women who have the body and aren’t afraid to share it. The loud and beery regular fans. America, the mixture of all for all. In that sense so wonderful.

  • So it has been and so it shall be

    Beltane and the Mesa View Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Rain. Rain. Rain. Floods. Full Creeks and Streams. The greening of the Mountains. Can allergies be far behind? Rebecca. Joann. Tal. Dismantling Racism from the Inside Out. Marilyn and Jamie. My son and his wife. Murdoch. Getting on a jet plane. For the Far East. Today. The World in all its distinctiveness and all its connectedness. All my relations.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Ancientrails

    One brief shining: Snow packs, Rains pound, from the top of Shadow Mountain, of Black Mountain, of Conifer Mountain, of Berrigan Mountain the Sun shines and melts the Snow, the Rain accelerates the melt and the Streams, Maxwell Creek, Cub Creek, Shadow Brook, North Turkey Creek, Kate’s Creek, flood spilling over into wetlands, high marsh grasses welcoming their abundance as they roll on into Bear Creek, widening its banks, carrying Soil and Pebbles and Rocks on their way to the North Fork of the South Platte and on to the great World Ocean.


    In media deluge. We’ve had Snow and we’ve had Rain. And the Rains will come again. Tonight. Tomorrow night. And the night after that. And the night after that. Keeping that Smoky the Bear sign pegged right where we want it: Low fire danger. Mostly good news. The not so good part is that Rain promotes greening. Grasses. Flowers. Shrubs. Plants considered out of place, i.e. Weeds. As long as they remain green. Fine. But once the Rains dry up and they turn brown.

    Driving down to Evergreen the other day I had trouble keeping my eyes on the road as I looked over to Maxwell Creek which drains the northwestern Slopes of Shadow Mountain. Muddy and full, it rippled and raged where it didn’t pool in grassy areas alongside it. The strange mix of culverts some concrete, some ribbed metal, some made of rock both hid and revealed the power of the water.

    Noticing a particular culvert, a one piece concrete structure with a rhomboid opening maybe 5 feet high, I saw Maxwell race through it in a torrent, spilling out of the opening in a manmade waterfall. The creek itself was only a foot deep at the most. The rest of the height serving to support a bridge for the property above it.

    At various points formerly dry Grasslands now served as basins for an expanded Creek. Functioning ecosystems taking some of the  Water’s power and distributing it over a wider area, taking also some of the particulates and building the Marsh. The unleashed force diminished for a bit.

    Orogeny. Geology speak for Mountain building. These Mountain Streams are its opposite. The deconstructive forces of Pachamama, sending nourishment to Deltas far away from our spot here on Shadow Mountain.

    Alan Watt wrote Tao: The Watercourse Way. Driving up here in these late Spring days the Tao is not invisible. It is palpable. The water goes where it can, goes where it must, and if blocked will work to unblock itself without losing hope or purpose.

    Taoism remains the most salient way of understanding our place in the World, this one life we get as this consciousness. For me. Our lives are Water Courses racing down the days and weeks and months and years toward the Collective Unconscious, the Ocean of All Souls. Along the way we go where we can, we go where we must and, if blocked we work to unblock ourselves.

    Each of us a Stream running down the Mountain that is this Reality in this spot of the Universe, taking bits and pieces of it along with us to enrich Deltas far away and out of sight. So it has been and so it shall be.

  • The Time Has Come To Cross

    Spring and the Mesa View Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Luke. Leo. Rommertopf. Psilocybin. Younger friends. Tal. Character study class. Murphy and Pete. Kat. My son and his wife. Their furry one. Snow. Melting. A Mountain morning. Sunlight on the Lodgepoles. The Snow that stays on the north side of my house. That Mule Deer Doe.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The threshold. *reposted the O’Donohue quote

    One brief, shining moment: Liminal spaces, third spaces, often overlooked, undervalued, yet the Dawn and the Dusk, the doorway and the window, the death bed, the coffee shop, the neighborhood bar, churches and synagogues, neither home nor work, neither light nor dark, neither in nor out, neither life nor death, points of transformation, places where we can practice being another version of ourselves, meet people we would not otherwise know, thresholds between this life moment and the next, or between this life and what comes after.


    I’m an old man. Been a lot of places. Experienced weirdness. I identify with the Grateful Dead’s: what a long, strange trip it’s been. Yet these last few days have left me marveling at what’s happening.

    Now that I’m writing about it, I think it may have begun to crystallize when I spoke with my son last Sunday. Be spontaneous, he said. Go for it. Take the trip. We had been discussing my trip to Korea and the trip to Israel.

    And, I did. I raised my hand. Yes, I’m going with you. I’ll be there in Jerusalem. Not an hour later.

    Dismantling Racism class, a mussar approach came next. Mainlining my past with talk of injustice, the struggle, la lucha. Going down old pathways with new folks, from a new perspective.

    A heavy workout on Monday. Another heavy one Wednesday. Where I was left shaky, feeling off. My resting heart rate actually increasing. Worried me. Made me feel vulnerable.

    On Thursday I had breakfast with Alan, catching up. Then my massage and Thursday mussar. Where Rebecca and Leslie both kissed me on the head. After mussar I encountered Luke and Tal outside the synagogue. Tal told me the next acting class was going to be character studies. Sounds good to me. Ready to continue expanding.

    On Friday I went to sign up at Anytime Fitness. With Dave, the 65 year old manager. Quite the talker. Where you from? Raised in Indiana. Really! Where! Alexandria. Anderson. Muncie. I know them. I was raised on the southside of Chicago. But we moved to Calumet. Ah, I said. Da region. He laughed. Right. My brother worked in the Calumet mill.

    Not sure how the conversation veered to his life as a battery salesman working out of Madison, Wisconsin. His alcoholism, cocaine addiction. 25 years sober, he said. 43  years here. Instant deep connection. In the program. Lifers.

    A thick, muscular young guy walked past. Clayton, Dave hollered. Clayton, meet Charles. 43  years sober. Clayton’s got 109 days. Clayton and I fist bumped.

    A strange but instant fellowship, wrought by inability or unwillingness to contain appetites. Then, to wake up. See another way. And walk it. With others.

    Went back home. Clicked on a zoom link. First time with the Dream group. Dreamers and dreams. The dream of of the White Tomb. Realizing the threshold had come to meet me. People on the call from Santa Fe, England, the Netherlands, Conifer, Evergreen.

    Then. Later that day. In the desert of the afternoon hours. Feeling aimless. Projects around the house winding down. No Dogs or humans to care for. More hours than I needed.

    Next morning. Off to Aspen Perks to have breakfast, begin my re-read of Why Liberalism Failed. Maybe see Kat. She was there. She smiled when she saw me, came over and squatted down. What  you reading? I showed her. I don’t agree with all of his arguments, but it’s a powerful read. She looked at it. Yeah, I have a Steven Hawking book like this. I put it down. Take it up. Well, I’m trying to really understand this guy’s arguments. So I’m doing something unusual. Rereading.

    Ate my chorizo and scrambled eggs. Read Deneen. Got up to go. A tall man, maybe 50’s, sitting with an older man, closer to my age. Hey, I was wondering. What ya reading? I showed him the book. Gave him the two minute version. He reached over to shake my hand. Murphy. Matt Murphy. This is Pete. I want to have some time to bother you about that. What do they call ya? I told him. See you next time I come in maybe. We’ll talk.

    Went over to Safeway. Picked up the Chicken, Carrots, Potatoes, Pearl Onions, Garlic for the Rommertopf Chicken. Back  home I did the prep. Soak the Rommertopf. Peel the Pearl Onions. Cut up the Potatoes. Slice and quarter an Apple. Stuff it in the Chicken. Put butter and Garlic under the skin of the breast. In the oven.

    Luke came and stayed for three, four hours. Leo sniffing around. Finding things.

    Can you feel the threshold moving toward me? I sure can. Definitely time. Gonna discuss a ritual with Rabbi Jamie, Tal.


    *”At any time you can ask yourself: At which threshold am I now standing? At this time in my life, what am I leaving? Where am I about to enter? What is preventing me from crossing my next threshold? What gift would enable me to do it? A threshold is not a simple boundary; it is a frontier that divides two different territories, rhythms, and atmospheres. Indeed, it is a lovely testimony to the fullness and integrity of an experience or a stage of life that it intensifies toward the end into a real frontier that cannot be crossed without the heart being passionately engaged and woken up. At this threshold a great complexity of emotion comes alive: confusion, fear, excitement, sadness, hope. This is one of the reasons such vital crossings were always clothed in ritual. It is wise in your own life to be able to recognize and acknowledge the key thresholds: to take your time; to feel all the varieties of presence that accrue there; to listen inward with complete attention until you hear the inner voice calling you forward. The time has come to cross.” John O’Donohue in his book, To Bless the Space Between Us.