• Category Archives Anoka County
  • Waiting To Cross

    Imbolc and the Waiting to Cross Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Dr. Eigner. Dr. Simpson. Kep, the early. Snow. More Snow. Mild temperatures. The Ukraine. Biden. The James Webb. Tom and Bill, the science bros. Max, getting older. Ode, the well-rooted wanderer. Paul, the steadfast. Alan, the cheerful. The Ancient Brothers, a true Sangha. Zoom. Korean fried chicken. Jon, a memory. Kate, always Kate. Ivory. Ruby. Oncology.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The Ancient Brothers


    So I said it out loud. My reaction to mom’s death turned me from a confident, ready to take on the world teenager to a frightened, hesitant young adult. One who dropped German because he was failing it. Shame. One who convinced himself there was not enough money for Wabash because he was afraid to go back. Shame. One who entered then a great teacher’s college, but a mediocre university. Ball State University. Shame.

    Not a lot of shame in my life. Very little. That’s where it lies. Perhaps now having put it out there. So late. 76. It will fall away. It took me years, nearly three decades, to put the pain of her death in perspective. Treatment for alcoholism. Quitting smoking. Quitting the ministry. Years of Jungian analysis. Finally. Meeting Kate. 26 years later. I finally passed the threshold of grieving mom’s death.

    And started living my life. As a writer. A gardener. A dog lover. A beekeeper. An anachronistic blogger. With a woman who loved me as I was and one whom I loved as she was. A love where we wanted and supported the best life for each other. We traveled. A lot. We stood with both sons fully.

    Abundance. Yes. Ode’s word for our Andover home. Yes. Flowers. Meadow. Fruits. Nuts. Berries. Grapes. Honey. Plums. Pears. Apples. Cherries. Iris. Tulips. Spring ephemerals. Roses. Hosta. Gooseberries. Beans. Heirloom tomatoes. Leeks. Garlic. Onions. Kale. Collard Greens. Lettuce. Carrots. Ground Cherry. Raspberries.

    The fire pit. The woods.

    The dogs. So many dogs. Celt. Sorsha. Morgana. Scot. Tira. Tully. Orion. Tor. The Wolfhounds. Iris. Buck. Hilo. Emma. Kona. Bridget. The Whippets. Vega and Rigel. The IW/Coyote Hound sisters. Gertie, the German Short Hair. And Kep, the Akita.

    It was so good. Until the work became burdensome. Until I visited Colorado one year and Ruth ran away from the door because she didn’t expect me. A surprise visit. Then we had to come. The two. A push. The work of Seven Oaks had become too much. A pull. We wanted, needed to be there for Ruth and Gabe.

    So we packed everything up. And on the Winter Solstice of 2014 moved here, to the top of Shadow Mountain. 8,800 feet above sea level. Into the Wildland/Urban Interface, the WUI. With four dogs: Kep, Gertie, Rigel, and Vega. Again, thanks to Tom for helping with the dog move.

    When the time came, we put away Andover and envisioned a life together in the Rocky Mountains. Kate felt like she was on vacation every day until she died. Where she found the Jewish life she had always wanted. Where we both found ourselves immersed in the lives of our grandchildren, of their parents.

    Now Kate is dead. Vega is dead. Gertie is dead. Rigel is dead. Only Kep and I remain alive. I’m at another threshold, waiting to cross.

  • Good memories

    Winter and the Wolf Moon

    Monday gratefuls: The Good Life. Helen and Scott Nearing. Kate and mine’s version. Garden catalogues. The Bees. Their Superorganism. The Squirrel that used to steal our Honeycrisp Apples. Gertie standing on my electric fence. Those first Shoots in the Spring. Grape anemones. Daffodils. Crocus. The eagerness to get out there. Plant something. Reluctantly waiting for May 15, the last frost. The Woods in Winter. That Opossum that visited me one Winter Solstice.

    Sparks of joy and awe: Horticulture


    Happy and fulfilling memories. The Andover years. Kate and I working as a team in the Vegetable Garden. I handled the Orchard, the Bees, and the Flower beds, but the ongoing work of the growing season in the Garden. A mutual task. Harvesting Honey. Also mutual.

    Kate earning money allowed me to work in the Gardens and in the Woods during the day. If I had worked full-time, we couldn’t have had as much. With writing I could take a break and plant. Cut wood. Tend to the Bees. We both felt the division of labor worked well.

    We did have a housecleaner. Cooking and shopping were also my responsibilities. It was a good life. And a level of physical effort we did not want to continue after we both got older. Moving to Colorado came at the right time in our lives. Out here we had the grandkids, CBE, the Mountains. Travel. Also a good life, one suited better to our energy.

    As I said in the Ancient Brothers yesterday, even the years of Kate’s decline were good years. Sure there was anguish, pain, frustration, anxiety. But we had three solid years of working closely together again to keep her healthy and alive. In her last year I would apply lotion to her arms and legs because they would get very dry. A lot of touching. Not the rosy glow of forgotten difficulty, rather the difficulty was the point. The connection. As our many hours in the garden had been all those years ago.


    The same with these years after her death. Two in April. The adjustments, the adaptations. The work on the house. They have been the necessary domestic duties that kept me grounded. As did caring for Rigel and Kep as they cared for me.

    Even the cancer. Not fighting it. Learning to live with it. With the now much reduced stamina occasioned by androgen deprivation therapy. Going slower. Doing things in slower increments. Resting more. Also a good life.

    Yes, I may recognize the benefits later. Sometimes in the moment. But, I do find them. More and more the realizations of the good life I’m living come to me daily. As a result, I’m calmer, more accepting.

    Blessed be.


  • When I’m an adult, I’m going to live up here

    Winter and the Wolf Moon

    Friday gratefuls: Gabe. Shoveling. His comment about the Mountains. Driving into Denver. Freddie’s Steakburgers. Cheap down the hill gas. A waning 2022. Alan. 14 inches of Snow plowed. The Mountains in their Snowiness. Jeffco road crews. Garbage folks. Mail folks. School bus drivers. Tolls waived on I-70. Ruth seeing Gabe and Jen today. A pass. Cold. Good sleeping. The Snowiest months still ahead of us. The Rocky Mountains. The Laramide Orogeny.

    Sparks of joy and awe: Kep in the snow


    Vince, in spite of Covid, cleared my drive of its 14 inches of wet Springlike Snow. Not an easy job even with a plow. Folks with Snow blowers complained. Clogged chutes. Almost an inch of moisture. Helpful at this point in the season. Grateful.


    Gabe offered to shovel the Snow off the deck. He took weightlifting last semester. Stronger than me by far. I usually push it off the deck. When it’s powder, no problem. But 14 inches of wet snow. Hard. Gabe took it care of it with young muscles, lungs.

    He came up Wednesday afternoon. Had to go back yesterday because of the visit to Ruth today. As we went down the hill to his house in far northwest Denver, near the airport, we counted cars in the ditch. Only 9. Probably because the storm came at night and over a holiday week.

    When I’m an adult, I’m going to live up here. He said on the way down. He loves the Mountains. Gabe will spend New Year’s Eve at a friends house. Go out and bang pots and pans at midnight. Forgot about doing that. You could stay up this year Grandpop. I could. But I won’t.


    Kate and I never went out on New Year’s. Drunks on the road. Noise. Too many people. A quiet evening though we did make a point of watching the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s concert the next morning. We always had a nice meal and stayed up a little later than usual. Occasionally I would make it all the way to midnight.

    Not sure what my solo New Year’s routine will be. A nice meal for sure. Something from Tony’s. Maybe a movie (on TV) and a book afterward. Stay up till 10?

    I remember one cold Minnesota New Year’s day. Sorsha a one-hundred and fifty pound IW bitch coal black and stubborn and I went up to Lake George for a walk. We went out on the Lake to the deserted Ice fishing houses, walked around and through them. Guessed the Ice fisherpersons still lay snug in their beds trying not to wake up. Hangover.

    Sorsha pulled on the lead. We rarely walked our I.W.’s. Back then I was strong from the gardening work and regular workouts. I could handle her. Now. It would have been a sled ride with me as the sled. The quiet. The isolation. Solitude. A wonderful memory. She was such a sweet dog. And a stone cold predator. Anything furry that crossed her path, including neighborhood cats.


    Brings up the memory of Anoka County. The unsung jewel of the Twin Cities metro. Scientific and Natural Areas. Carlos Avery Wildlife Preserve. The Cedar Creek research facility of the UofM. Various regional parks. I loved having access to all those places. Usually nobody was there.


  • Natural Healing

    Beltane and the Living in the Mountains Moon


    Friday gratefuls: My journey over a lifetime. Kate. Always. That trail. With the Creek, the Mountain Stream. The fallen Trees. The tall Pines. The Wild Strawberries. The Rocks. The steep valley walls. Wild Rose. Primrose. Those yellow Flowers I can’t identify. A place of great sanctity. A holy place. A sanctuary. Friends. Near and far.

    Saturday gratefuls: Stephanie. That trail again. Happy Camper. Aspen Perks breakfast. Salad. Apples. Peanut Butter. The Continental Divide. Mt. Rosalie. Mt. Evans. Black Mountain. Staunton State Park. Richard Power’s Orfeo. Learning lines. Mini-splits. Jon. Money.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: That trail.

    Tarot: Seven of Stones, Healing. And, Again.

    Key words: “Give our minds a break, Calmness, Meditation, Stillness, Healing, Reevaluation, Patience, Perseverance, State of stability, Attentive care, Take time to relax and unwind, Connection to the source energy.”  tarotx.net


    Forgot to finish this yesterday. A busy day. Over to Aspen Perks for breakfast: Salmon Eggs benedict. Reading Orfeo. After a morning with what people especially beyond Richmond Hill (think Pine, Bailey) call the camper and RV races. Or, the RV assholes. Or, those bastards. Folks from down the hill invading, driving too fast. Often with trailers in tow. Passing on curves. Generally being jerks. After Richmond Hill 285 goes from a four lane divided highway to a two lane, no dividers. That’s when things get clogged.

    At 9 am I was still a bit ahead of the bulk of it. But I had a guy towing a trailer behind me, a BIG RV ahead of me for much of the way. Irritated locals often try to pass early. Not waiting for the passing lanes that come after the road to Staunton State Park. It’s a recipe for accidents. And, they happen. And, they kill people.


    I was on my way to the Happy Camper for my every two months or so cannabis run. 25% off! for the whole month. Still digesting a Stanford study that says thc can increase inflammation in the veins and arteries around the heart. Gonna consider genistein to counteract this effect. Sleep is critical and my thc use has made 8 hours every night possible. Gonna contact my docs to see about safety and dosing.


    As my avanah (humility) practice for the month, I’m using a focus phrase: ichi-go, ichi-e. Every moment is once in a lifetime, unique, precious. Trying to use it every time I encounter a living entity: Kep, Myself, Rocks, Lodgepoles, Elk, Friends, Waitress, other Diners, Birds, the Sun, Black Mountain. All the time. Sort of like the Jesus Prayer. Trying to make it subliminal, yet also present as I move around through my day.

    In this way I can learn to take up the right amount of space in my life. Not too much, not too little. Not minimizing my gifts, not over emphasizing them. Making sure I remember to bring my whole self to each precious moment. Since it will not be repeated, it’s the only chance I have.


    I have now hiked what I’ve begun to think of as my trail, at least when I’m on it, three times since Gabe and I were on it last Saturday. I may go again this morning. Yesterday after my time with Stephanie, Dr. Gonzales’ PA and a sweet lady, I hiked it with the ichi-go, ichi-e focus phrase.

    I saw that patch of Wild Strawberry blooms and thought of Ingmar Bergman’s film of the same name. A favorite. The Mountain Rose Bushes are in full Flower, too, five white Petals brightening the trail. They will give way to Rose Hips as the Wild Strawberry Blooms will to Strawberries.

    The little Stream, I don’t know its name, flows a bit less vigorously as the Snow melt and Rains subside. Still it sings, dancing over Rocks, falling down the Mountainside, continuing its creation of this holy Valley.

    Oddly, as I thought about this trail last night, I realized I’ve done just this, exercised outside in spots that became favorites for a very long time. I used to hike the trail along the Mississippi down by the Ford Avenue Bridge. Then I moved on to the Crosby Nature Farm, also along the Mississippi. When I worked for the Presbytery, I often exercised or walked at the Eloise Butler Garden and Wildlife Sanctuary. 

    In Andover I went to the Rum River Regional Park and snowshoed a trail through Woods behind the new library in the Winter, spent other times at Boot Lake SNA. Now I’m on my trail just off Brook Forest Road. Up here though the options are much more abundant. I’ve also been on Upper Maxwell Falls, The Geneva Creek trail outside of Grant, and plan to hit the Mt. Rosalie Trail soon.

    My equivalent of the Celtic Christian practice of peregrinatio. The Skunk Cabbages are probably blooming right now at Eloise Butler. I miss seeing them and the bright yellow of the Marsh Marigolds. The power of the mighty Mississippi, too. Though a Mountain Valley is equal to them in its own way. Love the one you’re with. Eh?

  • Self Compassion

    Spring and Kate’s Yahrzeit Moon

    A bit blurry, but it shows Kate’s grace in any situation. Seoah’s mom has on traditional Korean wedding wear. April 10, 2016

    Sunday gratefuls: Kate, always Kate. Sarah. Her gift. Jon fixed my window! Ruth on a date. In her new realm now. Boygirl land. Gabe. Being Gabe. Scattered Snow. A dusting of white on the Lodgepoles. Kep. My loft Dog. This crazy, awful, wonderful grief. Kate’s yahrzeit coming up. Acting.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The Wind


    Alan as the beggar in Fiddler

    Alan has finished three plays now with Evergreen Players. A couple of Irish plays and Dementiaville. He’s an actor. His role in Dementiaville called for emotional depth. It was there. His wife went down the memory gradient into dementia. Just like his now dead brother Dan did not all that long ago. This play was personal for many of the cast members.

    I admire his willingness to take on a difficult transition from corporate manager to community theater actor and singer. It keeps him meeting new people and exercises, as Hercule Poirot says, ze little gray cells.

    Rabbi Jamie’s son Tal is one of the principals in Evergreen Players.

    We had breakfast at the Bread Lounge where I picked up my Pullman loaf of Sourdough bread. It’s gone up in price. Way up. Inflation hits the bread line. I chose yogurt parfait in my ongoing journey to shift slowly toward a Mediterranean diet. I assured Alan that I had a filet mignon the night before so I wasn’t leaving carnivore land in toto. He seemed reassured.

    After breakfast the stop at Nellybelle’s General Store did result in a couple of purchases, but no center piece for my mantle. The large wheel like object is a cool work and the price was right, but the color’s too dull for the rest of what’s on the mantle. It’s going to go up here in the loft.


    Gabe’s bris

    Jon and Gabe came up yesterday afternoon. Jon fixed my bedroom window which didn’t quite close. It’s a casement. No problem during the winter months when I like cold in the room, a gift of Kate’s. But. In the late spring and early summer the allergens come out. Why I bought the mini-splits. So I could close all the windows and still sleep in a cool room. I have two air purifiers purchased and ready to go as well. That window had to close all the way.

    Pollen season in the Mountains has made me miserable every year I’ve been up here. Don’t need it. So, I took action. I hope this works. Also, the Pine Pollen, Lodgepole sex, is a yellow nuisance as well. It sifts inside, coats everything. I understand. Wind and Pine Cones and Pollen make Lodgepole Pines. And I love them. I just don’t want their fun times on my kitchen counter. Geez.


    Haven’t gotten as much done as I planned. We’ll see later today. People intervened. And, I’m glad. There’s time to finish. Goal is by next weekend. I want to have a larger dining room available for holidays and times like the week of the 18th. I’ll make it.

    I would say the major shift for me, opening itself right now, is just that. There’s time. Wu wei suggests there is always time if we allow the flow of chi to guide us. Things will get done. No need to push. Or resist.


    Her next to last day

    The imminence of Kate’s yahrzeit has affected me. Feelings more variable. Intensity increasing. My one shard of guilt, not being there when Kate died, blossoming in full force as the anniversary of that night approaches. Sarah wrote me a very sweet and powerful email which has allowed me to gain perspective.

    Here’s a bit of it:

    “You WERE there, Charlie. Kate could feel you I know. Don’t forget too that just 20 minutes more or less before she left she heard me say Charlie is going to be ok – Seoah’s coming on Tuesday, BJ came back from Idaho so we sisters are all here together until Wednesday for him, Jon and the grandkids are there for him too. Your love and dedication to her is enough. As she wrote.

    She was so concerned about your exhaustion and really wanted to ease the pain and fatigue she knew you were in for once she had passed. And it was not only a privilege for me to be entrusted with her last nights, Charlie, but it was also a profoundly deep and healing honor. I loved her so, too. Thank you to both of you. I hope this helps you let go of any feelings of guilt.”

    A lot of tears after I read this. Good, cleansing rib heaving sobs. I feel like I can put that guilt aside. I couldn’t be at the hospital twenty-four hours. I had dogs to care for and I had to sleep. Being there during the day for hours over her last week or so then going home to feed Rigel and Kep, and sometimes going back to the hospital in the evening. It overwhelmed me physically and emotionally.

    Family. So important.



  • Charlie’s Difficult, Wonderful Week

    Imbolc and the 3/4 Moon

    At the VRCC, Jan. 2018

    Thursday gratefuls: Rigel. Her death. Kep. That hole in my heart. Tom. Here. Cannabis. Leah. Marilyn and Irv. Susan Marcus and Thoreau. Rich Levine. Dr. Palmini. VRCC. The new kitchen. The new furniture and lamp. Snow. A good bit. Stopped early morning. Plowed Black Mountain Drive. Bright Sun. Robin Egg’s Sky. White Lodgepoles and a white Black Mountain.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Rigel’s death. And, her life.


    My life flows on in endless song,
    above earth’s lamentation.
    I catch the sweet, though far-off hymn
    that hails a new creation.    The Hymnary

    Yes, it’s surprising, but this is how I feel. Eager for the new creation while sad about Rigel, about Kate, about the life that included them in the body. No, I’m not moving out of the present moment. I anticipate nothing. I regret nothing. I yearn for nothing.

    Part of this equilibrium I have Tom Crane to thank for. He came here, to Shadow Mountain. And cousin Diane Keaton, my best person when Kate and I married. I speak with her once a week. Part of it has to do with the Great Wheel which has turned for Kate and Rigel and will one day turn for me. Part of it has do with the loving and loved members of Congregation Beth Evergreen and the Ancient Brothers. They hold me in a fine net of their care, mystic cords of love.

    And, of course, part of it lies within me. One now turned toward the earth rather the heavens of the old three story universe. One reading the torah of mother nature, listening to midrash about her. Her oral torah loosed in the songs of birds, the bugling of the elk, the silence of snow falling.

    Leaving now for breakfast with Tom. More in a while.

    Kate, Nov. 29th, 2019

    No, the deep sorrow has not left me. If someone says something kind about Kate or the conversation turns to death and dying, sometimes tears will press up, coming from a holy well of honor for her, for us. This will, I imagine, lessen over time. It did with my mother. It has with each of the dogs. Vega’s death took the longest to assimilate because she died suddenly and after we had been gone for four weeks.

    Tom’s willingness to be here and his actual presence has, as my Jewish friends say of the deceased, been for a blessing. We know each other. Pain. Flaws. Joys. Anguish. Inner compasses aligned.

    Kep and I have begun to negotiate life after Rigel. Just us boys. He comes up to the loft, but he’s not eager to stay. He likes to roam. Gertie would lie down on her bed, from time to time gaze up at me, and leave with reluctance.

    Tom, Durango, Co.

    Today is body-mind-spirit day. Breakfast with Tom. Therapy with David Sanders. Annual physical with Kristine Gonzalez. New workout with personal trainer, Deb Brown.

    Did not finish this yesterday. So, I’ll just go on from here.

    David Sanders called me an exceptionally intelligent person. Nice to hear. In these tough days a few compliments help. He also noted my breadth of knowledge. OK. Enough back patting. He convinced me to send him some of my work. I sent him the first fifty pages of Superior Wolf. And, I admitted that I probably had a book in me about the Great Wheel, tactile spirituality, the ur-religion. Feels like he moved the meter in my head back toward creative work.

    Saw Kristine Gonzalez, my new primary care provider. What a delight! She loves taking care of folks over 65, listened to me, discussed my health with me like an adult. To my Bill Schmidt inspired question about what I needed to do to love (meant live, but this works, too) until I’m 90, she said, “Just do it. Your prostate cancer is under control. You should be able to.” A big sigh of relief to be in a smaller medical practice and with a competent, caring doc. I told her Kate would have liked her a lot.

    Dave and Deb, owners of On the Move Fitness

    Then, over to On the Move Fitness for a kick start to my workout routines which I’d let slide. Deb is the person who lost her husband David to glioblastoma in June of 2020 as the Covid pandemic began to wrap its coils around our lives. Dave and I bonded over cancer recurrences and now Deb and I have over grief. She gently guided me back to a new routine. Slowly, slowly.

    By the time I got home I was exhausted. Called Tom and said so. He graciously agreed to let me rest. He’s coming here for breakfast before his board meeting, then we’ll probably head over to the Happy Camper. Might go to Scooter’s for lunch.

    One of the upsides of all the angst this last year has been an immersion in love. Folks from all parts of my life from high school to college, family to friends, Minnesota to Colorado, Evergreen to Conifer, Judaism to Christianity have reached out, offered or given me support. It’s had the result I’ve needed. I’m not alone. I’m both needed and accepted as I am. Good to know at 75.



  • Why I Stay

    Imbolc and the 3/4 Moon

    Saturday gratefuls: Award Winning Pet Grooming. Beautiful Rigel. Shaggy Sheep’s carnitas taco. South Park and the Continental Divide. Beautiful with Snow. McKesson Biologic. Erleada. Happy Camper. Cheeba Chews. Making dreams come. Driving on a Snow packed highway. Like old times. Park County. The Mountains. The Valleys. The blue, blue Sky. Warmer. Getting stuff done.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: South Park, the High Plains



    This was home though

    The Rocky Mountains. My chief complaint about Andover was that there was no there. Until I got on our property. Meaning: whenever I drove into the Cities, I’d come home via I35 or I94 to Hwy 10, then up Round Lake Blvd. It was businesses, homes, industrial buildings, four lane zipping here and there, sometimes six or eight lanes. I never left the comfortable built cocoon of human habitation and its concrete and steel support system. Uninspiring. Deinspiring. Blah. Bah. Humbug.

    To be fair Anoka County was wonderful. An (relatively) undiscovered gem of the Twin Cities Metro. Boot Lake Nature Reserve. Oak Savannah. Rum River County Park. The Cedar Creek Nature Center. But even these existed as cordoned off chunks of the natural world. Protected. And the protection was necessary. Exurbation.

    In a very real sense I don’t live in Colorado, I live in the Rocky Mountains. Colorado is the Denver Metro, the big ranches on the Eastern Plains, and the even bigger ranches in the Western part of the state. Here the dominant reality is Mountains. Streams. Valleys. Pines and Aspen. Mule Deer, Moose, Elk. Mountain Lions and Marmosets. Sudden changes in weather that can breathe bone chilling cold, bursts of vehicle covering Snow, hot and dry winds, and glorious clear blue Sky.

    I go down the hill as little as possible. Not because I hate the city. I love cities. But because I love the Mountains more. One of the coolest parts of living up here is that ordinary tasks, like taking Rigel to the groomers is an adventure. A drive most folks would buy an airplane ticket to have. Kate stayed here until her death because, she said, “I felt every day like I was on vacation.”

    With the exception of certain medical appointments and the occasional outings with family, I have no need to leave the Mountains. Just changed my primary care provider from Littleton to Evergreen for that reason. Well, ok, I’d grown disgusted with the care from New West Physicians. That provided an incentive.

    Here are a few photos from today’s trip to Bailey and beyond.

    Lazy Bull Ranch, west of Kenosha Pass
    South Park, a Park in the Mountains is a large flat section, High Plains, surrounded by Mountains. In this case the Continental Divide. This is BTW, The South Park. Hundreds of square miles. Looks like Minnesota west on Hwy 12
    A ranch further West of the Lazy Bull
    Kenosha Pass. 11,000 plus feet. Living here the Mountain Pass has become an important feature of driving. Did not understand how important before I moved here.

  • The Consolation of the Natural World

    Yule and the Moon of the New Year, at 4% Crescent

    The Webb in its L2 orbit:

    “Telescope deployment is complete. Webb is now orbiting L2. Ongoing cooldown and eventual instrument turn-on, testing and calibration occur. Telescope mirror alignment and calibration also begin as temperatures fall within range and instruments are enabled.

    The telescope and scientific instruments started to cool rapidly in the shade of the sunshield once it was deployed, but it will take several weeks for them to cool all the way down to stable operational temperatures. This cooldown will be carefully controlled with strategically-placed electric heater strips. The remaining five months of commissioning will be all about aligning the optics and calibrating the scientific instruments.” NASA

    Monday gratefuls: Mental health care for teens. Jon’s care for Ruth yesterday. The tenderloin roast. Yumm. The blizzard in Maine. The cold in Minnesota. The mind numbing 45 degrees we had here today. Ode in Mexico. Peak TV. All the wonderful series on now. Righteous Gemstones. Pennyworth. Bulgasal. Hotel del Luna. Qin Empire. New Book-Becky Chamber’s, A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Life



    Tom asked me this morning how I got along so well with prostate cancer. With grief. With living alone. OK, he didn’t ask those last two, but I figure he implied them.

    When first diagnosed in May of 2015, six months after we moved to Colorado, cancer hit me hard. I sat there in Eigner’s office listening. Who me?

    When I got in the car to drive back home, the first thought was: Don’t drive when in the grip of strong emotions. Oh. Yeah. Sat there for a minute wondering if it was a good idea to pull out of the parking lot. But. How am I gonna get home?

    The mountains were still new to me then. Amazing me each time I went somewhere. Still true, yes, but then my amazement was new, too. I chose to drive back Deer Creek Canyon Road, a sort of back way from Littleton to Conifer.

    Turning left about three miles north of the Denver Botanical Gardens, I began the trek up the site, millions of years ago, of the Rocky Mountain Orogeny.  Rocky Cliffs rose from the Earth and the road began to climb as Cliffs and Streams and Boulders began to dominate. Colorado Blue Spruce, Ponderosa Pine, Lodgepole Pine. Aspen. A few Willows and Dogwoods along Deer Creek

    Numb. Yes, numb. But then. These Mountains. The layer cake of their formations. One strata on top of another pushed up, up, up out of the Bedrock during the Laramid Orogeny, 80 to 55 million years ago. This Rock was ancient then, resting in place, awaiting the slow changes that come even to the seemingly obdurate.

    These facts were fresh with me because, as is my way, I’d been reading a lot about the Rockies before and after our move. I like to know where I am. And how it got to be there.

    Huh. It hit me. I’m such a Mayfly. Even my cancer is such a small thing. Big to my life, sure, but in the scope and sweep of these Mountains, Granite and Gneiss and Marble and Shale exposed after a long, long sleep. A sweep of the second hand.

    As is also my way my Body went out to the Mountains, following them as I drove. Embracing them as teachers, as guides on this Planet we share. I gradually became calm, understanding that my life and the life of the Mountains are not separate, but joined. Now and forever.

    There is a Great Wheel not wedded to the Seasons of temperate latitudes, but one wedded to the creation, life, and inevitable doom of this Rocky, Watery place we call home. I am part of that Great Wheel’s turning. As are each of you who read this.

    Before what I have long called the Consolation of Deer Creek Canyon, I experienced the Consolation of the Great Anoka Sand Plain, the shore of the Glacial River Warren. There in Andover I planted, Kate weeded. Flowers and vegetables grew. Dogs ran here and there in the Woods. Bees flew in and out of the Gardens, the Orchard.

    Each fall I would find Folk Alley radio on the internet, turn it up so I could hear on our small brick patio outside the lower level. There I would replenish the soil with compost and other nutrients. Digging out onto a tarp, then shoveling it back in. When that was finished I would open the boxes of Bulbs, Corms, and Tubers and Rhizomes. They would go in the Soil, with a bit of fertilizer, at the right depth, then get tucked in with a hard pat. Next Spring there would be Lilies, Tulips, Iris brightly signaling a new growing season.

    I loved that work on those fall afternoons. I’d often hear the Andover Marching Band practicing. The Garden of course had its rhythms. It was finishing as I planted the perennial Flowers.

    The Garden fed us all year. Fresh veggies, canned veggies. Fruits, too. Raspberries, Honey Crisp Apples. Plums. Cherries. The Bees gave us Honey.

    The Garden was part of me and I, after the eating the produce and the Honey, was part of it. I call this the true transubstantiation.

    In all Seasons I would hike to my Tree in the Boot Lake Scientific and Natural Area. I would sit with my back against it, looking at all of its Children who grew in an irregular circle around it. I sprinkled Tully’s ashes there. She was a sweetheart and I wanted to honor her.

    I’ve gone on too long. The point is, I long ago found my place in the Natural World, its bounty, its death, its ongoingness. And as the Mountains along Deer Creek Canyon reminded me, that was and is enough.

  • Impermanence

    Yule and the Moon of the New Year

    Where’s the Webb? 791ooo miles from home. 108000 miles to L2 insertion. 88% of the way. .1769 mps. Sunshield: 131 F. Primary Mirror: -328 F.



    Saturday gratefuls: Snow. Fresh and white. A friend’s Dog, cancer. The house changing, transforming. The Hermitage. Brown. Color. Kep’s abundant, luxuriant, always growing fur. The Mountains in Winter. The Lodgepoles with heavy bows. The Arcosanti bell has a white fairy cap. The outdoor table has a round, snowy table covering exactly its size. Medical Guardian. Uncertainty.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The love we have for our Dogs. And the love they have for us.

    Tarot: Page of Arrows, The Wren


    Frantisec Kupka: The Path of Silence

    A friend’s dog diagnosed with inoperable cancer. A friend on her third or fourth round of chemo for ovarian cancer. Kate dead. My own, more tractable cancer. Life. Then death. The way of the animate world. It says something about our need, our lust for permanence that disease followed by death exacts such a toll. But it does. Death is no more, no less prevalent than birth and life; but, it insults us, destroys our fabricated lives.

    When the snow fell today, all day, as it hasn’t in a while, it covered the driveway, my solar panels, this Shadow Mountain. Even our daily views are impermanent, changing often in the temperate latitudes where I’ve lived all my life.

    Ichi-go, ichi-e. Every moment, every encounter is once in a lifetime. The tea ceremony is a beautiful expression, a reminder of this oh, so important truth. Kate will never be here on this plane again. Unique and significant in her quick intelligence, her dry wit, her chesed, her love for me, for Jon, Ruth, Gabe. My friend’s dog, whom I’ve met many times, likewise. Stolid. Built low to the ground. Attentive, but mostly arranging himself near Rich. Each time I met him was a whole moment. Complete and wonderful. As was each day with Kate.

    This summer my friend with ovarian cancer made home-made strawberry ice-cream and we shared it at a table in Mt. Falcon Park, near Morrison. We both had the brand of the impermanent burned into our bodies with blood draws, sleepless nights, worry, treatments. If we could, as the Buddhists I think recommend, lean into the impermanence, grant it the piquancy it brings, the poignance of ichi-go, ichi-e as a home truth, if we could, we might still mourn and grieve, but we might also find room to celebrate the passing of each once-in-a-lifetime instance.

    Kate may 2013

    Each spring in Andover plants would push up from the cold, cold Earth. The Grape Hyacinths, the Daffodils, the Crocus, the Anemones. The Spring Ephemerals. Those plants whose strategy is to store food during a burst of growth before Leaves on Trees and Bushes, taller Flowers block them out. Such a joyous, brilliant, hopeful life. Yet, brief. Ephemeral. Gone in a couple of weeks, three, four at the most.

    Oh, how I miss those delights of the cold, wet days of late Winter, early Spring. I no longer miss caring for the Gardens, but I miss them nonetheless. Those gardens were an immersion, like foreign language immersion, in the ongoing lives of plants, in the dance of life and the inevitability of death. Each fall we composted the dead stalks that delivered food to the roots of vegetables and flowers. They had more to give even though they were now lifeless.

    The Earth gives us daily lessons in impermanence, but we rationalize, smooth over, just don’t see them. I’m writing this now in the 10th month after Kate’s death. Her memory blesses me every day. Her lessons, the things she taught me. The same. I leave the door open on the washer so it won’t mildew. I trust my doctors. I love Judaism and the Jews that I know. Impermanence has permanently changed me.



  • Honoring Ancestors

    Samain and the Holiseason Moon

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

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

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

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


    Holly and the quilt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

    Black Mountain, two days ago

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

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