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  • How to Become a Pagan and a Jew

    Samain and the Choice Moon

    Monday gratefuls: The Ancient Brothers on gratitude. Snow melted off the Lodgepoles. Great Sol working magic. Black Mountain green again. Seven Stones cemetery. Israel. Becoming a Jew. Sleeping in. Tinned fish. Rice. Cosmic Apples. Holimonth. Advent. Hanukah. Winter Solstice. Christmas. Posada. New Years. Rituals and holidays. Celebrations of deep moments. Christmas lights up along Black Mountain Drive. Gifts, giving and receiving. Those folks who paid for my Thanksgiving meal.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Rituals and holidays

    One brief shining: Books have invaded my house, creeping downstairs from my library a few at a time, insinuating themselves on chairs, coffee tables, anywhere a flat surface offers them purchase, oh and I should say, they also come to the front door in boxes, mailing bags of paper and plastic, insisting on being brought inside out of the cold, warmed up before they get read.


    “And when I die / and when I’m gone / there’ll be one child born, in this world / to carry on / to carry on.” And When I Die, Laura Nyro

    This song has been ear worm the last couple of days. Blood, Sweat, and Tears is the version I remember. I like the message. And, I believe Max was that child for Kate.


    Tomorrow at my beit din, court of judgment, Rabbi Jamie, Joan Greenberg, and Cantor Liz Sacks will convene. Here is Rabbi Jamie’s heads up:

    “For the beit din, you will be asked to reflect upon your journey, why you are taking this step at this time, and other open ended questions (to which there are no ‘right’ answers). Your essays have been shared with the other members of the beit din. Let honesty and a playful humility be your guides and you’ll be just fine.”

    Here is my “essay:”


    How to Become a Pagan and a Jew


    Start religious life on a hard wooden pew under a stained-glass window of Jesus praying at Gethsemane. You know, father if you’d just as well, I’d prefer to pass on the whole crucifixion thing. Years and years of sermons, Christmas eve services, Easter services. Enough to create a solid if unremarkable Christian theology. Small town religion in the 1950’s Midwest. What else were you gonna be?


    As your brain develops and your education expands, you might find yourself beginning to ask questions. Resurrection? Really. How does that work? Methodist. Nazarene. Missouri Synod Lutheran. Synod? Roman Catholic. Bible Church. So many brands. Why is that? Couldn’t they just agree?

    How about that Reverend Steele who ran off to California with the organist?

    We haven’t even hit 1965 yet. Maybe in a search for more information you go to the Roman Catholic priest in town and ask for instructions in how to become a Catholic. If he’s smart (yes, he, always he. I mean, Jesus was a guy, right?), and noticing the kind of questions you’ve come with he might introduce you to some proofs for the existence of god.

    Like that one where this thing causes that thing and we spend a lot of time going backwards, if this thing caused this then what caused this? Until we reach the universe itself. Bingo! Has to be god, right? Who or what else has the metaphysical moxie to be the cause behind the whole universe. The Prime Mover. Or that other one for example by that guy Anselm: God is that which there is nothing greater than can be conceived. Sort of obvious that one.

    Maybe college comes next and you choose to enroll in Philosophy 101. The professor smokes a pipe with tobacco pre-rolled in paper covered plugs. Wears tweed. Quotes whole passages from Plato. In Greek no less. None of those high school teachers held even a small votive candle to this guy.

    And he demolishes Anselm and the Prime Mover. Who wants to worship a first cause? I mean, come on. So what if there is something greater than anything else that can be conceived? What does that prove? It’s just an exercise in fuzzy thinking.

    Oh. You say. Well. I see. And wander off to Albert Camus who’s much more appealing than Jean-Paul Sartre. Camus later will remind you of Ram Dass who said we’re all just walking each other home. Sorry. A digression there.

    After a while the whole Christian story doesn’t add up. Too many contradictions. Too much bloodshed. Too much bigotry. And it gets shoved off to the side while other matters, more immediately germane, take precedent.

    Like the Vietnam War. Or feminism. Or Anthropology. Or dope. Or alcohol. Or contract Bridge.

    Wait though. Kierkegaard. He was an existentialist, right? Like Camus. Interesting. Well, maybe you decide, I’ll give it a look after all this college stuff finishes up.

    Later, say a year or so out of college, drifting from a department store job to selling life insurance to cutting up underwear in a papermill to make rag bond paper, Kierkegaard comes back. Leap of faith, wasn’t it?

    Yes. Instead of figuring faith out, act like you have it. See what happens. Before your 7 am shift starts at Fox River Paper, you take to reading the Bible. Writing verses down on notecards and sticking them in your shirt pocket to be read over a baloney sandwich at lunch.

    Then this minister. United Church of Christ. Didn’t have that one back home. Turns out he’s opposed to the war, too. That’s a head twister. Not your small-town religion anymore.

    You’re really, really bored. Cutting up underwear was not your dream job. OK, maybe you didn’t have a dream job, but that wasn’t it for sure. That wife you married in a rush on that Indian Mound turns out to be sleeping with other guys.

    Ooff. You need to get out of this small conservative slice of Wisconsin. Joe McCarthy’s buried in a nearby cemetery.

    That minister says. Try seminary. Nah. Why would I do that? Cutting rags no. But minister. Not a chance. Do you even know me? Drugs, sex, and rock and roll. Why not? If you don’t like it, quit. But at least you’ll be somewhere else.

    Well, maybe. The application comes in the mail. They offer you housing and food and tuition for the first year. Huh. That wife gets the Volkswagen van. You sell the house, make a little bit. You get some cash and off you go to Minnesota.

    Five years later you’re working as a Presbyterian minister. Building affordable housing. Supporting labor unions and immigrants in search of green cards. Challenging standard philanthropy practices. Taking food out to Wounded Knee. Organizing the unemployed to create new jobs, legislation.

    Not bad. Making money, hardly anything, but doing things you find important, worthwhile. Significant, in a small way.

    Decide to get an advanced degree. A Doctorate. While writing your thesis discover you’ve written one hundred and twenty pages of a novel instead. Even the Gods Must Die. Oh. A clue there.

    Your spiritual director, a fussy little guy, but insightful says during one session, “You’re a Druid!” You’ve been reading Celtic mythology, remembering that professor with the pipe. Slipping away from the fold.

    One morning you wake up and realize you really don’t buy it anymore. Probably hadn’t bought it for a while. The political work was too good, too solid, too in synch with your heart. You stuffed the doubts and the fact that you represented this religion.

    Skip forward a few years. A new wife. Flower gardens. Vegetable gardens. An orchard. Bees. A woods. Wolfhounds and whippets. No longer a minister.

    Thinking about a tactile spirituality. A spirituality that goes in and down rather than up and out. You realize the life you nurture in the gardens, the dogs, your small family. That’s real. No fancy philosophy required. Right here. Hands in the soil digging up carrots and beets and onions. Life. Its cycle.

    The seasons. The Great Wheel of the Seasons. Putting away apocalyptic linear time for good. Everything has its season. Yes. Everything.

    The bees. Are you more important than they are? Is Celt, that 180 pound goofy, loving dog less significant than you? Oh.

    Life begins to look less complicated.

    Later, much later, that wife dies. And that’s part of the Great cycle. Maybe you get cancer and find solace in the Mountains of your new home. How short your life is compared to theirs.

    You begin to live with the seasons, with life as it comes. Not pushing against it, not privileging that life over that. Extending your understanding of life to include the Mountain on which you live. And the ones which surround it.

    You find your wild neighbors communicating to you. Welcoming you, including you.

    That’s how.


    Jewish Coda

    King David. That’s why. My wife, Kate Olson, a convert at 30, and I searched the Canyon Courier. New to the mountains in 2014. Oh, an education session on King David at Congregation Beth Evergreen.

    Folks we met that snowy, bitter cold night came to Kate’s shiva in 2021. Tara, Marilyn. Many others, too, whom we met later.

    Kate sat on the board, dressed like a jester for Purim. We attended services, holidays, education events. Got to know people. Studied mussar and kabbalah with Rabbi Jamie.

    Made friends. Brought food. Carried tables. You know. The work of community.

    Assimilation. Happens so slow. So many Seders, Simchat Torahs. Love that holiday! The dancing and the simcha. Meals in the sukkah. Learning late at night on Shavuot. Breakfasts and lunches with friends from the synagogue.

    Teaching in the Hebrew School with my buddy Alan. 6th and 7th graders. Doing the occasional bagel table lesson. Discovering Avivah Zornberg, my favorite.

    Two and a half years after Kate’s death. Still a member, still hanging with my friends from the synagogue.

    Rabbi Jamie’s lesson on the Mah Tovu. This summer. It hit me. The truth of this Mordecai Kaplan commentary on p. 141 of the Prayerbook: It is only a true and close community that develops associations, traditions and memories that go to make up its soul. To mingle one’s soul with that soul becomes a natural longing.

    I had long ago mingled my soul with this sacred community. These people are my people. I am one of them.

    The next day I called Jamie. I want to convert. What do I need to do. To bring myself into full alignment with this community.





  • Dissonance and the Classics

    Samain and the Choice Moon

    Thursday gratefuls: Echocardiograms. Dilation and dysfunction. PSA not there. Testosterone still low. Medicine. A nuisance until it’s not. Early trauma. Myth of Normal. Tom. Diane. Mark and Mary. Computers. This old desktop. The laptop. The phone. Starlink. Brother laserjet. This digital life. Zoom. The internet. Chatbotgpt. AI. Altitude and Tea. Weak Tea. Mary for p.t. today. Mussar. Pamela. BJ. Sarah. Anne. Jewish life cycle with Rabbi Jamie today.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Pamela

    One brief shining: Put filtered water in my red Tea kettle, pushed the button for P-power on the induction stove, waited until the whistle, poured boiling water over a tea bag given to me by Diane and Dan in Korea, took it upstairs in my World’s Best Grandpa cup, and drank a weak and almost unidentifiable beverage because altitude boiling sucks.


    Went to Jackie’s for a cut and a beard trim. It was dark! 5:30 pm. First time I’ve ever had a haircut after dark in 76 years. That Jackie. A sweetheart. She always gives me a hug and says she loves me. Ronda, too. Extended community that makes life rich, buoyant. The Mountains. A special place. Kate introduced me to Jackie.


    Online discussion of Israel-Hamas war last night at CBE. By turns tedious, sad, boring, infuriating. No new light. The grind of a nation acting out, a nation we feel identified with and in some inchoate way responsible for. The awful news of casualties in the thousands. Pictures of Palestinians picking through yet another building reduced to rubble by Israeli airstrikes. Still smoldering anger at the murderous invasion which killed Israeli’s in their beds. Now watching Israel do the same. Over and over. The history. The Nakba, the catastrophe. First with the Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia at the turn of 19th century. Then in 1948 with the foundation of Israel. Palestinians feeling or actually displaced by Jews moving onto land they occupied. Jews feeling safe for once. A place a Jew can go and feel secure. At last. At long last. The might of Israel ensuring that safety and security. Then its discordant use for slaying thousands in the name of defeating Hamas. All bad news.

    At the same time contemplating my choosing Judaism, my ritual on the 28th. Becoming an intimate part of this whole reality. What I want. I already feel the anguished split between love of Israel and justice for the Palestinians. Both, yes. Both. Without compromise. With liberty and justice for all. Now.


    Enjoying a re-immersion in the classics. Started Fagles’ Iliad yesterday. Achilles. Agamemnon. Ajax. Patroclus. Odysseus. Troy. Priam. Hector. Helen. Menelaus. Hollow-ships and the wine-dark Sea. Ordered a hardback copy of Moby Dick. After the Iliad. May reread the Divine Comedy after that. I love these stories, their ability to challenge expectations, hold up and put down characters, run fast and hard, then calm down.

    My reading chairs have different roles. Upstairs by the fireplace I read what I consider serious books. The classics, yes, but works on Judaism, philosophy, non-fiction. Downstairs by the wonderful map of the Island of Hawai’i that Kate got me I read non-literary fiction like Jack Reacher, Joe Pickett, and my current jag, a series about a land of fairies and high fae.



  • Movies and Moving

    Samain and the Conversion Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Good sleep. Vikings win. My son and Seoah and Murdoch. Peace. War. Israel. Hamas. Public opinion of Israel. Anti-semitism. ADL. Taking sides. CBE. Luke. Tarot. Astrology. Purpose. Porpoise. Pronouns. Pamela. BJ. Sarah. Annie. Jerry. Whistler. Church. Group of Seven. The Yamantaka Mandala. Taoist influenced Chinese painting, especially the Song dynasty. Warhol. Brancusi. Seurat. Goya. El Greco. Art of all kinds. The world beyond and within us.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The Odyssey, Homer

    One brief shining: Yesterday in my chair Odysseus strung his bow, shot loud Antinous first, then more suitors for his Penelope’s hand while godlike Telemachus gathered armor and weapons for his father and the two steadfast herdsmen: shields, bronze helmets, sharp bronze swords and bronze tipped spears with which they slayed those suitors left alive.


    Gotta gush again about Emily Wilson’s translation of the Odyssey. OMG. Like seeing the movie in my mind. So much there I may reread it after I read Fagle’s Iliad. What a story. That Homer. What a guy.


    Purpose. As Tom reminded me. Burn away everything but love. That’s enough. Perhaps the mission of the fourth phase.


    Talking movies. We talked yesterday about movies we like so much that we revisit them. Here’s my list: Wizard of Oz. Seventh Seal. The original Dracula, Wolfman, and Mummy. Casablanca. Black Orpheus. Seven Samurai. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I’m not big or rereading or reseeing so this was difficult for me. Though. I am right now engaged in rereading. And I want to find Fiddler on the Roof to rewatch it. Others mentioned: Dr. Zhivago. Sound of Music. Pulp Fiction. Rashomon. Monterey Pop. Woodstock. Newport Jazz Festival.  Star Wars, the first three. The Matrix. Many more. Got a phone call in the middle and missed a few.

    Movies touch our hearts. Can change our lives.


    Gradually reshelving the books I sorted out as keepers when I was still in full moving to Hawai’i mode. A year ago. Bending over and picking up things gives me fits because of my funky diaphragm and 8800 feet. A slow process. Need to get them all back up so I can have the loft cleaned and reorganized. Want to start painting again.

    Although. As I do, I wonder about the latest matter scratching at my inner world. Alan’s been extolling the virtues of downtown living. And, through Cheri and other insurance friends making the point, the valid point I believe, that our insurance situation is going to get worse and worse. For those of us in the W.U.I. that is. As I think about that and my probable need at some point to make a move related to further aging or disease, a downtown condo doesn’t sound so bad.

    So. I poked around on real estate websites and it looks like I could pick up a 2 bedroom condo right downtown for between four hundred and five hundred thousand. That’s roughly what I stand to make if I sell.  The purchase would avoid capital gains thanks to reinvesting in a new property. I could pay for it with cash. HOA fees are not cheap but they’re far less than my mortgage.

    Trade-offs. Yes. My wild neighbors. Living at altitude. CBE easy access. My Mountain friends close by. My memories with Kate in this house. A house big enough for guests. And I like all the room. Over against. No wildfires. All on one level. Easy access to emergency medical care. Museums and restaurants and the State Capitol close by. Bookstores. Lots of places to walk. Jazz. Theaters.


  • Through a dark wood I have already wandered

    Samain and the Summer’s End Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Ruth. Blue Fin Sushi. The earrings. Driving back up the hill, into the mountains. Those who would alter time.  More light in the morning. The gentle curve of Black Mountain against a blue-white Colorado Sky. Sally. Jews. My friends. My family. Learning to live with yet more dissonance. Quest Diagnostics. Slow on this one. A good workout yesterday. Yetzer hara: oh, never mind. Let’s rest. Yetzer hatov: It’s worth it. No news yet on my test.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: A stable and happy Ruth

    One brief shining: A blonde-bleached Japanese young woman with elaborate tattoos asked me where I wanted to sit, no not out in the middle, here along the side, yes that will be good, Blue Fin Sushi logo under layers of polyurethane, put my flannel overshirt back on, and slid onto the naugahyde, a deep blue, here comes Ruth, I got up and hugged her so happy to see her smiling, bedecked in rings and necklaces, bracelets, and ear jewelry, her hair its actual brown for now.


    In a way Ruth is like the prodigal son. She leaves the world of happiness and teenage life behind on occasion, leaves the rest of us behind while she struggles with what her mind visits upon her. But when she comes home I want to slaughter the fatted calf, bring up the best grains, fruits and vegetables, lay them all before her. Hoping as the father in the New Testament undoubtedly did that she will stay with us this time.

    Last night she spoke of college applications, classes in her senior year, her friends, her Grandma Barb whom she helped get a new phone, buying a new car. She pointed out all the pieces of jewelry she wore that belonged to Kate. Rings. Necklaces. Bracelets. I gave her the earrings I found on the New York Review of Books shop. They featured Walt Whitman quotes. One read: Resist much. The other: Obey little. Kate and I, and at his best, Jon followed these very American ideals.

    A fine and hopeful meal. So, so good to see her. Dazzle Jazz next time.


    An odd adjustment to the slow pace of the protein electrophoresis. As the tabs on the various tests have shown Test in Progress, I’ve come to a place of peace about it all. As I would anyway, I’m living my life. CBE Friday night for Albert’s yahrzeit. Dinner with Ruth last night. Going to Irv and Joan’s renaissance singers performance at 3 pm today. Reading. Doing the laundry. Writing. Cooking.

    In this process I rediscovered the truth of it all. Alive now and in each moment. I can only live today, right now. And, I am. So no need to be Dante: Near the end of this our mortal life (but not, I hope, too near) I have already walked in the gloomy forest and come out the other side, no longer caught there far from the straight path, the ancientrail that leads from birth to the grave.

    How first I enter’d it I scarce can say,
    Such sleepy dullness in that instant weigh’d
    My senses down, when the true path I left,  Canto 1, Inferno

    Well, I can now say how first I entered it. My mother’s death pushed me down toward Dante’s inferno at too young an age, not midlife, but at seventeen, Ruth’s age as it happens. I wandered in that pit for so many years, making myself an enemy of myself, closing off the world, pushing others away. But with the help of Jung and John Desteian I found my way out. Long ago. I can still revisit the place on occasion, as I did on Friday, but I know the way out. Back to the light and to this life.



  • Nothing new

    Samain and the Summer’s End Moon

    Saturday gratefuls: Albert Greenberg’s yahrzeit. Joan. Kat. Lauren. Anne. Quest Diagnostics. Feelings. Veronica. Becoming a Jew by choice. Israel. Hamas. Gaza. Palestinians. Darkness. Standard Time. The days of our lives. Wembanyama. Basketball. The Potluck. Berry Pie. Good Chicken. Good conversation. Helen. Ellen. Mark. Bill. Robbie. Sally. Creme brulee truffles. Ruby’s cracked windshield. The Shadow Mountain life.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Becoming a Jew

    One brief shining: Spent the day yesterday waiting on diagnostic results that remain, yet this morning, in progress leaving me with no new information, making my lev, my heart-mind, spin through scenarios of impending doom and how to cope with bad news without having any real data then remembering and calling myself back to the present, to this moment, in which I feel fine and am living my life.


    Made me wonder about having my own Quest Diagnostics account. Trust your doctors. Kate. I’ve tried to be true to her advice while not abrogating my responsibility. A delicate balance. Having my test results come to me before Kristin sees them, interprets them helps me though. I like data. To know what’s going on. But. As Kate knew, I can use the internet to my full disadvantage. Reading this. Pondering that. Working myself into a tizzy as we used to say.

    Yesterday and now still today. An in-between space. Waiting. Not knowing. Most of the time I carried on. Read. Watched some TV. Ran errands. Cooked. Got ready for the potluck and last night’s service. Yet I obsessively ran the Quest site, too. About once an hour or so I’d walk upstairs and crank it up. Again. And again. Nothing. Nope. Nada. Still nothing.

    Not feeling anxious. Not much anyway. A bit buzzy and distracted at times. I slept well which tells me I’m handling my self-induced situation o.k. Reminding myself that the results will be what they are. Talk about high-stakes testing. Geez.


    Enough of that. Let’s talk about Israel and Gaza. Nah. Enough of that, too.

    I regularly do three games on the NYT site. Flashback, a history quiz. Spelling Bee. And, Connections. I’ve never like crosswords, having to guess how a person has tricked me is not my idea of fun. Kate loved them. Connections is the hardest of the three. Sometimes. There’s an element of trickery involved. The puzzle creator Wyna Liu produces a grid of sixteen words with four words grouped according to some theme. Figuring out how she’s chosen to group the words is the challenge. Most of the time I can suss out the connections but on occasion she uses themes that make no sense to me. Too esoteric or too niche. Fun anyhow.

    The lift that comes from solving the puzzles is nice. An atta boy handed out by the puzzle folks. I’m a words guy. Spelling Bee is a challenge, but one I can usually master. Not always, but often enough to keep me coming back for that top rank glow.


    Not going to get started on it today, but one of my ongoing concerns is the plight of the humanities. Vocational education? Sure. But education on how to live, how to think, what the folks who have gone before us thought and how they lived? That’s still the ideal of a college education to me. But it’s gotten to a dollar and cents equation. Does this degree make me money? That’s an ok question and one many will want to ask. That question though turns education into vocational education and pretends that the humanities therefore don’t matter. No monetary prize in a philosophy or an anthropology degree. For instance.


  • Korea and Reading

    Summer and the Summer Moon Above

    Sunday gratefuls: Leo. Lying here beside me. Luke out having fun. Books. Oh, did I mention books? Korean history. Seoah. Murdoch. My son. Working hard. Korean schools. American schools. Having a dog in the house. Korea. The Korean civil war. The armistice. Kim Il Sung. Kim Jong Il. Kim Jong Un. Presidents in South Korea. Chaebol. Zaibatsu. Samsung. LCD. Hyundai. Different ways of organizing economies. And nations. Trump’s legal trouble. The House G.O.P. The Extremes. Showing us a path to nowhere.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Knowledge

    One brief shining: Leo lies here on the green rug with Cypress Trees, I write this blog letting my fingertips move over my split keyboard, all while a bright blue Colorado Sky backdrops Black Mountain its Lodgepoles and Aspens, there is no sound except the slight click of the keys.


    More reading in Cuming’s history of Korea. Two chapters on the Korean civil war. He believes we should have let them fight it out, burned out the divisions and reordered their culture. As we had to. As Vietnam had to. Instead we put in amber the tensions and conflicts present after the Japanese Occupation ended. If I read Cuming’s account correctly, the North would have won the civil war, probably easily without us. Even with our involvement they came close. Then Koreans themselves would have had to sort out a new political order. Instead we have my son and his colleagues still in country, maintaining a very fragile and often fraught peace.

    It was a time of big power conflicts, especially the USSR and the US. The architects of the idea of containment Dean Rusk, George Kennan, and Paul Nitze influenced the U.S. role in the war. Containing the Soviets, not China.

    Korea is more than you know. Much more than I knew.


    Realizing I privilege reading over most other activities. If I’m on a topic, an enthusiasm, I’ll sometimes read for hours at a whack. For days on end. Cup of coffee at hand. Now with my reading glasses perched on my nose. When I get tired, as I did yesterday, I watched a TV program, a K-drama just to stay in the the mind-world and went back to Cuming’s afterward. I’m neither a fast nor slow reader, I adjust my pace to the material. If it’s difficult, I’m slower. In the middle, as history usually is, I go a bit faster. With fiction I gallop.

    Right now, as you can tell, I’m on Korea. When I finish Cumings, I’ll start another, the Two Koreas. Though. I might go back and reread the earlier chapters in Cumings. His long synopsis of Korean history before the late 19th century fascinated me since it contained so much that was new. For me.

    Also, I’m building a conversion library. I already have a lot of books on Judaism, but I’m going to organize the ones I need for my study and put them up here in the home office. Had to order others. Looking forward to that reading, too.


  • Learning my lesson. Again. And, yet again.

    Summer and the Summer Moon Above

    Monday gratefuls: Tal. Lid. Luke. Leo. Dick. Ellen. Rabbi Jamie. Laura. Lisa. Sagittarius Ponderosa. Roaming Gnome Theater. Aurora. Bad memories. Not blessings. Angry Chicken. Korean hot pot. Sundays. Shabbat. Seoah. Murdoch. Storms coming. The wettest June on record here. Keeping that Fire risk low. Traveler’s insurance. Allianz long term care insurance. Kristen. Travel medicine. Travel. Welcome to the journey.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Shakespeare

    One brief shining: Read some of the Tempest and Midsummer Night’s dream this morning reminded of the packed and punchy nature of Shakespeare his plays and his poems words all tight ricocheting off each other building meanings until like a Han Shan poem one line changes the meanings of all that came before a genius so luminous I feel like kneeling down before him to say, Master!


    Ooh boy. I keep learning and relearning the same lesson. Which I suppose means I’m not learning at all. Anyhow. Drove into Denver yesterday, then into Aurora near Jon’s old house. Left here about 11:45. My plan. Go to Stanley Market, eat at Rosenberg’s deli, then make the short trip from there to Roaming Gnome theater for the matinee performance of Sagittarius Ponderosa.

    About half way down the hill on 285 I saw all the cars streaming west, latecomers to the usual Friday boat and camper show headed to South Park and the interior of the Rocky Mountains. What’s this? Oh. July 4th traffic. Folks taking the week, leaving late to avoid the Friday afternoon traffic jams so common here. Wait. July 4th weekend.

    Oh. Stanley Marketplace. Will be packed. I might not get served in time. I had given myself an hour to eat after arriving. Began to run through alternatives. The Bagel Deli just past I-25. That could work. Pulled into their parking lot. Nope. Folks waiting outside. Confirmed my hunch about Stanley Marketplace. Well. New York Deli not far from that spot. Will be too busy, too. A holiday weekend.

    I had wanted to eat lunch at Rosenberg’s, then pick up some dinner at the Angry Chicken after the play. I love their Korean fried chicken, but it’s way too far to go unless I’m close by. Turned north as 285/Hampden became Havana. An Asian inflected part of the Denver metro. H-Mart nearby. Lots of pho shops. A Korean hot pot and barbecue restaurant. Hmm. May not be as invested in the holiday weekend. Could be easier to get in and get out.

    It was. I had never had hot pot before though it’s similar in nature to Khan’s Mongolian barbecue in the Twin Cities. Tables with induction coil wells over which a pot of broth sits. You pick up soup ingredients on your own, take them back to the table, and put them in the heating broth. Waitress delivers the meat in thinly sliced rolls on long platters. Spent more than I wanted to but I learned how to do it. Will be useful when I hit Osan. Could have been tasty but I was in a hurry and didn’t really realize the potential of the hot pot.

    Got to the theater a bit late. They had waited for me. But not long. Sag was already underway. In the small darkened space I fumbled my way toward a seat. Dick and Ellen Arnold were seating in the same four chair row.

    The play itself. Can’t tell whether my hearing made it difficult to follow or whether it was the script. Or, the direction. Anyhow it had funny moments, tender moments, and commentary on the difficulty of communicating our selves as we know them to others, especially family members. Perhaps my expectations were too high?

    Anyhow I left quickly after the play was over at 3:30. Not before greeting Luke, Leo, Tal, Dick and Ellen, Jamie and Laura. Realized I leave things early because the hubbub afterward makes it impossible for me to hear.

    Drove to the Angry Chicken on Havana. Blessedly on the way home. Put in my to go order. Ten wings and some corn salad. Waited twenty minutes. Plastic bag in hand I left.

    Then drove back across the south Denver Metro in 90 degree heat, AC blasting. This is the lesson. I left the Angry Chicken at about 4:30. With the hard part of the drive ahead of me. I’d already been gone from home for almost five hours. Exhausted. Still in the city. The drive wasn’t torture. Not exactly. But it was uncomfortable, unpleasant. I was worn out, wanted nothing more than to be home. In my chair. At 8,800 feet. Cooler. Quieter. Way less busy.

    I can’t drive that far anymore for that long and not get exhausted. Just can’t. I know it. But not well enough. Not sure what to do about it either. Stay home? Nope. Need human connection, some out of the house moments. Go with others? Maybe.

  • Entheos

    Beltane and the Mesa View Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Curiosity. The Ancient Brothers. Mark and Dennis. Coming May 23rd. Yet more Rain. Even more swollen Streams. Ancientrails as a life project. Tom and his time with Charlie H. Bill and his time with Bella. Mark and his time at the gym. Anytime Fitness. My treadmill. Marilyn. Ginnie. Josh. Jane. Kat. A banker. Vulcan Centaur.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Rocket Scientists

    One brief shining: A beautiful woman with a long braid dangling over her t-shirt down to her space themed spandex had, on the back of the blue t-shirt an outline of the Vulcan Centaur rocket, on the front ULA and I asked, I’m too ignorant to know but is that a real rocket ship?


    Yes. She answered. And I was working on it until I quit my job a year and a half ago. What was your area of expertise? Vibration and acoustics. Oh. I see. Not sure why I keep running into engineers. But I do.

    CBE is amazing. All these smart people. This was at the Dismantling Racism class yesterday afternoon. Looked up the Vulcan Centaur and it’s been under development since 2014. Supposed to fly for the first time in July. Had a setback a month ago though with a second stage explosion during preparation for a launch.

    The class has gotten better. Taking a mussar approach to the work. I like it for the inner work though I chose an opponent for my practice this week. Four areas of possible practice each week: with HaShem (God), with Self, with a fellow, especially a victim of anti-black racism, or with an opponent.

    My practice involved an e-mail to a person with whom I’ve had long standing differences. Sent it last night and got a reply this morning. A sweet one. Maybe there’s something to this approach. The middah this week is kavod, or honor. Honoring self and other. The theological idea is the all made in God’s image trope. Said another way, we’re all human, all riding this blue spaceship our only home together with all the other critters and plants. Honor it all.


    During the Ancient Brothers session on curiosity I identified curiosity as my defining characteristic. And naming what I call the valedictory lifestyle. As a valedictorian myself I’ve occasionally become curious (see!) about what happens to others who graduate first in their class academically. Turns out usually nothing spectacular. Sure a lot go into academics. Some have successful careers in business or the sciences.

    But usually no stars. No one off achievements. No amazing inventions. Why? Because we’re generalists. We easily get sidetracked by something new and shiny. If purity of heart is to will one thing, we’re not at all pure.

    I call them enthusiasms. My enthusiasms can last a long time. Religion has turned out to be the longest lasting, but inside that broad category I’ve been all over the place. From existentialist atheist to Christian to Unitarian-Universalist to Pagan and wanderer with the tribe. There’s a piece of each of these, often substantial pieces that remain intact within me. All somehow glued together with Taoism.

    There’ve been many others. Art, my twelve years at the MIA. Politics, lasting almost as long as religion, but again all over the place in terms of action. Islam which I studied after 9/11. Horticulture. Cooking. Heating with wood. Beekeeping. Dogs. World travel. F1. Science. Tarot and Astrology. Cinema. Acting. Writing. Getting degrees. Tea. Korean and now Spanish. Oh, and one that actually has been lifelong, reading. Not sure when I learned but I’ve never ever stopped. Buying books, too. To feed the habit. I’ve dabbled in painting and sum-e.

    Enthusiasms in my life are more than dabbling but less than enough to gain full mastery. But I must admit it’s been, is being, a hell of lot of fun.





  • Mythic

    Spring and Kep’s Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Kep. His life and mine together. Diane’s sweet e-mail. Tom’s call. Ruth and Gabe and Mia. The days after. Learning to be alone. Max Verstappen. The Australian Grandprix. My son and his wife. Reading Undertow. Dark Sky by CJ Box. Furball Cleaning. Marina Harris. Ana. Cook’s Venture. Regenerative agriculture. Wild Alaska. Safeway. Stinker’s.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Being alone, yet accompanied


    The Ancient Brothers on myths that shaped our lives. Aboriginal song lines. Dream time. Animal archetypes and totems.* Jesus. The American myth. The Velveteen Rabbit. The Celtic Faery Faith. Ragnarok. We each had a myth that had shaped our lives. Of course more than one, but these worked on and in our lives. In deep ways.

    As a young boy, Ode said, his Jesus walked on water. Rose from the dead. Fed the five thousand. A mythic life reaching deep into a boy’s heart and imagination. Tom talked about Animals as bearers of archetypal power. Which  reminds me of the Breston quote below. Bill retold the story of the Velveteen Rabbit. Love makes us real. Aussie Paul, raised in Texas but on stories of Aboriginal life, made the song lines and Dream Time real. Before this creation and after it passes away there will be the Dream Time. I talked about how the Celtic Faery Faith reshaped my spirituality and led me away from Christianity. Going down and in, rather than up and out. A rich morning, one filled with wonder and awe. Our church.


    Afterward I watched a thirty minute recap of the Australian Grandprix. Listened to the post race analysis. A crazy race with 3 restarts. Verstappen won again in the Red Bull car. Sergio Perez, his teammate, worked his way up to 5th from 20th. Lewis Hamilton, 7 time world champion, finished second, and Fernando Alonso, 2 time world champion, finished third for the third race in a row. There was speculation that Red Bull could run the table this year, win all the Grandprixs. Whether it happens or not, that speculation tells you about the dominance of the Red Bull cars so far this 2023 season.


    Cut up boxes for the trash. Finished sorting all of our dog stuff. Donation and throw away. Rearranged furniture in the common room. Did a Safeway pickup. Talked with my son and his wife. Weekend things.


    Radiation approved. Finally. Start tomorrow. Not daily. Continues through the third week of April. That lymph node by my left hip and the T3 vertebrae metastases.


    Tomorrow Ruth turns 17! A dancing queen. So happy to see her stable and present. She has been such an important part of my life for all of those years. Even more so of course since we moved to Colorado in 2014. Gabe, too. 15 on Earth Day, the 22nd of this month.

    We celebrate life even in the midst of death. Like Max’s birth so soon after Kate died. A bit of her soul to him. Ruth and Gabe have seen a lot of death over the last two years. Their Grandma, their Dad. Rigel. Sollie. Kepler. We have sustained each other. As family. And this month we celebrate their young lives. In this moment. The only one we ever have.




    * “We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”  ― Henry Beston, The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod

  • Dogs and Cooking and Reading

    Imbolc and the Waiting to Cross Moon

    Saturday gratefuls: F1 Jeddah. Qualifying. Dr. Doverspike. Kep, pain managed. Walking taller. Cold night. Good sleeping. The light of a new day. A light yellow between the white flocked Lodgepoles. A robin egg’s blue sky above. 5 degrees. Another Shadow Mountain morning. Each day is a new life. A resurrection. A rebirth. Jon’s house on the market next weekend. My son the golfer. His wife, too. Furman. Farleigh Dickinson. No more Arizona. No more Purdue.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: A Mountain morning


    So. No radiation this week. Got a call from Dr. Simpson yesterday. Radiation oncologist. Am I experiencing any difficulty in tasks of daily living as a result of my cancer? No. That’s what they wanted to know. They being the just say no team at United Health Care. Might know next week. I feel good about participating in holding health care costs down. Don’t I?


    Dr. Doverspike came yesterday. We agreed Kep has made steady, but slower than expected progress. Probably because of the long low dose steroids. Stopped those. Now he needs to get outside, wander around. Climb stairs. Rebuild muscles. He’s still 13 of course so he’s not going back to bounding around. He’s calmer. Sleeps through the night. Eats well. A good life.


    Cooked Salmon last night. Still finding the right temps using the induction cooktop. Found it for Fish last night. No more burning. Setting 7 out of 10. Made cacio e pepe in the morning. Cheese and black pepper spaghetti. Put a couple of Eggs on top of a modest serving. Fancy breakfast. Adding the leftover chorizo from the soup I made last week. Tasted good. Had Salmon, cacio e pepe, and mixed vegetables for supper. I enjoy cooking when I feel up for it. I always make breakfast. Usually, these days, overnight oats. Plus something else. Blueberries. Eggs. Yogurt. If I eat a big lunch, I’ll probably skip cooking an evening meal.


    I’ve only got a few more books to go in the Joe Pickett series by CJ Box. Then I’m going to shift my fiction reading to the Arabian Nights. A return journey. Still working my way through Vibrant Matter. It’s a short, but dense book. Nearing the end of How to Change Your Mind. Got James Pogue’s book, Chosen Country, on the Malheur Occupation. Still following that far right thread. The newspapers and magazines help me, too. The Proud Boys and their lawyers antics during their sedition trials. An Atlantic article on political violence talking about Portland as a battleground between far leftists, anarchists, and the far right. The abortion pill debacle. Trump and DeSantis. This is gonna get worse.

    If Rich is right, it may never get better. Who knows. I may own property in the sovereign nation of Colorado if I lived on another hundred years. What fun.


    Gotta get some breakfast. Watch qualifying in Jeddah. Read the articles about Purdue and Farleigh Dickinson.

    Oh. And the day has fully dawned with bright clear light falling on the Snow covered Lodgepoles. Till tomorrow.