• Category Archives Third Phase
  • Inner Weather: Cloudy

    Lughnasa and the Chesed Moon

    Wednesday gratefuls: Tarot. Kabbalah. CBE. Rabbi Jamie. Downton Abbey. High level schmalz. Sadness. Grief. The occasional desolation. Lymph nodes. Orgovyx, stretching itself. Rigel and her persistent communicating. Even when I don’t understand. Kate, always Kate. Ruth’s healing.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Jackie, my hair stylist, a sweetheart

    Tarot: Two of Cups


    I miss this woman. So much.

    Inner weather: cloudy with a chance of tears. Using my mussar practice for the month:  what’s the context? what are the feeling(s)? how do I choose to experience them?

    The immediate context includes graduating from p.t. on Monday morning, doing doggy things like nails and getting Kep’s allergy shot, getting my own hair cut, taking out the trash, getting groceries, having cancer in my left pelvic lymph nodes. And, five and a half months of grieving. Finishing up the Tarot and Kabbalah course. The imminence of the High Holidays.

    What are the feelings? Sudden desolation. Mourning. Sadness. Frustration. Joy. Attaboy. Resignation.

    How do I choose to experience them? The mourning, sadness, desolation. I embrace them, say yes to them. They are my psyche’s tools used to carve and paint and write a new vision for my life while honoring Kate. Visit a while. But, don’t overwhelm me. Unless, of course, you just have to.

    The frustration, an outgrowth of my now 6 and a half year experience with prostate cancer, prostate cancer treatment, tests, side effects. Cut it short. It’s past oriented and unhelpful. Resignation. Resist this one. It’s a road I do not wish to travel. Acceptance? Yes. Resignation, no. Joy. Come on in, dude. Make yourself at home. Stay a while, a long while. I sure need you.

    It’s been a tough week and a half. The PET scan, the bone scan, waiting on the results, the results themselves. I’m feeling vulnerable because of them, mortal. Also the strange road of the cancer that can be managed. A 2 year course of androgen deprivation therapy. Off and on for the rest of my life. Prostate cancer has become part of me, literally, and as an identifier. Oh, he’s the one with prostate cancer.

    On Friday I’m going to have homemade ice cream with a friend who has ovarian cancer and is on her third recurrence. Cancer is a bastard, and still too often a homicidal bastard. A lot of progress has been made, that’s true, but not enough for the word cancer to lose its bite.

    I’m achy, my body adjusting to the new med, Orgovyx. Even though I graduated from p.t. (no hat, darn it), I’ve not yet got my exercise routine back to, well, a routine. I keep scheduling things in the morning and by afternoon I’m too tired. Gotta change my scheduling practices. I’m part way there.

    The first impulses to prune, to reorganize have hit a temporary seawall. Cancer, my need to exercise, feeling low. I got a lot done, a lot. There is still more to do and right now I have no energy for it. Makes sense. A lot going on physically and emotionally. Still, it frustrates me.

    I want to get to a new life, a new way without Kate’s physical presence; but, I feel ground down, worn down with lots of steps between today and that new way of being. Whatever it will be.

    When I took the garbage out today, recycling and trash, I felt weak. Wondered what it will be like lugging them through the snow. Then, I remembered I lost my snow plow guy and have to find a new one. Another task to add to the list.

    It feels like I’m dog paddling, making a little progress with a lot of thrashing around, when what I want is the Australian crawl. Fast, crisp, leaving a wake behind.


    Tarot: Two of Cups Druid

    I continue to draw cards that focus on my anima. This one, though, may refer to the energy available when my anima and my animus work as one, focus together as lovers and creators.

    I sure need this sort of energy right now. It reminds me to not follow only one inner path, watch the one the anima takes, then the animus, find where they intersect. Stay a while. Enjoy the heat and the power.




  • The Year of Grieving ends in Wisdom and an Irish Wolfhound

    Lughnasa and the Chesed Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: 49 degree morning. Ruth, only a strained shoulder and sprained back in a car accident with Jen. Gabe o.k. A quiet three days. Subway. Tarot. Kabbalah. The Hermit. The Magician.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Ruth’s ok

    Tarot: finishing the Life spread


    As you may recall from yesterday, I created a new Tarot spread. Forgot to say it’s my final project in the class. We all have to show something we’ve learned. Not gonna go through the whole thing with them, too long. And, I imagine you didn’t read it through. But, I have. And, I will again.

    Why? Because the tarot cards have the capacity to breach the veil of consciousness into the collective unconscious, to call out and up to awareness archetypal energies at work in my life. The only way to do it? Hardly. Poetry. Art. Friends. Kabbalah. Torah. Sacred literature. Movies. Literature. Nature. The tarot works for me much to my surprise.

    #8. Samain/Binah, Three of Wands

    “Keywords: Confidence, Realizing goals

    Hard work begins to payoff…Realizing long term dreams and goals.” DTB

    Perhaps Steiner’s springtime of the soul. A man, a farmer? an arborist?, stands with his hand on a Tree, looking out to the horizon. Beside him three wands have begun to leaf out, signaling that his work is vital, growing. A scene of future possibility. The full grown tree recalls earlier work, perhaps of another such man, now mature.

    “Binah refers to the analytic, distinguishing aspects of God’s thought.

    It is the uppermost feminine element in the Godhead, and is symbolized as the mother of the Shekhinah. Many of the symbols associated with Binah are therefore identical to those of the Shekhinah.” Jewish Virtual Encyclopedia

    8 is infinity stood up straight.

    Samain is the time when the veil grows thin and the boundary between this world and the other world is at its most permeable. Thus, Halloween, Dia de los muertos, All Saints. Coco.

    The Celts chose to start their year now, at Summer’s End. The seasons between now and Ostara are Samain, Yule/Winter Solstice, and Imbolc. With Ostara these make up the first half of the Celtic year.

    All this suggests that my life after Kate’s death may take a turn at Samain rather than Michaelmas. If her spirit/soul lives on (I make no assumptions.), then she will be able to communicate easily with me. I will make her an offrenda, my altar surrounding her ashes is a good start.

    We’ll have a meal together, as Latin and Central Americans do in their graveyards on dia de los muertos. We’ll discuss her life and mine. She’ll have a glass of chardonnay, scallops and rare steak with fresh boiled asparagus. Finished off with some espresso, doppio, and a flan. I’ll have the rare steak, fried potatoes, and asparagus. Espresso and flan. A Paulaner Thomasbrau.

    Perhaps I will achieve binah about her death and my life, discerning understanding.

    #9 Yule/Tipharet  Ten of Wands

    “Keywords: Demands. Burdens. Overwork.

    Carrying the weight of responsibility or obligations on your shoulder…Uncomplaining acceptance of your perceived burden. Reassessing priorities and values.” DTB

    “Tipharet represents the ideal balance of Justice and Mercy needed for proper running of the universe.

    This Sefirah unites all the upper nine powers.” JVL

    The season of Yule, midwinter. The season beginning at the Winter Solstice. I feel strong, centered, in midwinter. 40 years a Minnesotan. The winter will not be ten wands on my back, though I would say that those wands don’t look all that heavy.

    The man here, who does look overburdened, has walked a long way and has now begun an uphill segment. Might be me, coming back from down the Hill and through the Valley of grief. Navigating now a new life, back up on the Mountain. It will be, could be, that the new understanding of life will have created a tension between the old ways of life with Kate and the new ways of a realized life without her physical presence. That may be the ten wands.

    But tipharet is the beautiful, the balanced place between Justice, Gevurah, and Mercy/Chesed. So it may also be that the wands will have begun to balance themselves, their weight distributed well for the climb.

    #10 Imbolc/Hokmah  Ten of Pentacles

    “Key words: Blessings. Prosperity. Legacy

    You may be in receipt of a legacy, or are creating one-either for your family or the wider community. Even difficult circumstances can carry hidden benefits. The chance to count our blessings and discover that they’re too numerous to count.” DTB

    This is the last card in the spread, having now come round the full Great Wheel from Ostara to Imbolc. That it should have an Irish Wolfhound on it tells me all I need to know. The circle of Kate and mine’s life is in this card.

    The woman stands in the black, out of the frame, perhaps out of this world. Perhaps in the other world. The gray headed man has a blond haired granddaughter by his side, Ruth, and a young man, perhaps Joseph over his shoulder. This represents the family left after the woman has gone into the blackness of death.

    Though dead, the woman still holds a pentacle, a symbol of earth and abundance. Her presence is yet a source of comfort and grace for the family still on this side of the veil.

    She is not absent from the lives of her family, just absent from Malkut, the physical realm.

    This card strongly suggests to me that a full year after Kate’s death will find me, and our family, living and celebrating together, informed and supported by Kate’s legacy, her person and the wealth that she created. The spirit of the Irish Wolfhound, kind, compassionate, loving, loyal made present to all of us.

    Since this is also the card for hokmah, or wisdom, I’m also inclined to believe that the year of grieving for Kate will bring to all of us a better sense of how to live our lives, both with each other and for each other.


  • I am

    Lughnasa and the Chesed Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Helen Reddy. I am Woman. The Women’s movement. Cancer. Its sequelae: pet scans, orgovyx, friends reaching out, fatigue, persistence. Shortness of breath. Family. T-shirts. Living in the moment. The Day. A Day. This Day.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The voice of the 1960’s

    Tarot:  Prince of Pentacles


    Watched I am Woman. A biopic about Helen Reddy. Got drawn in by a snippet of the movie in which Tilda Cobham-Hervey sings Delta Dawn. Didn’t know that was Helen Reddy. I’ve been listening to it in my head for weeks now, since I thought about a parody featuring the Delta variant.

    Not a great movie, but a good one. My anima is strong, perhaps even dominant. Movies which feature women overcoming obstacles and flourishing speak directly to me.

    Many tears. Why? Well, sixties music almost always moves me, reminds me of the passion, the wonder, the promise of those magical years. Speaking truth to power. Yes. Especially when the vulnerable do the speaking.

    Remembering Kate. Her determination to go to med school. The Dean who tried to turn her away because “You’re already married to a doctor.” Her determination to conquer the obstacles in her life: back pain, sexist managers, a lost voice, her final illness. A strong, smart woman. Ill-used by many of the men in her life. But always, always getting back up and going on.

    Cleansing, the lacrimae. Sacred waters. Draining pain and sadness and nostalgia. Bringing me into the present after a trip through the past.

    Got a lot done over the weekend. Money stuff. Pruning. Cleaning. Writing.

    What is a good use of time? A key question for those raised in the success obsessed American culture. I still clip articles about improving my productivity. Why? That ancientrail, my highest potential, trapped me in a long and narrow tunnel, one I’ve struggled against, embraced, knelt down and crawled through on my hands and knees.

    All those novels. Unpublished. Kate wanted me to publish before she died. All that injustice. Still there, seeming deeper and more entrenched now, after all the work. That damning number, carbon in the atmosphere. Still rising.

    And then we die. Leaving behind an unjust world, a world heating up behind human endurance, creative works birthed but never raised into adulthood.

    Tarot cards speaking to my anima, encouraging her, telling her to dive in, create, dance, sing-the High Priestess, the Lady, even the eight of Pentacles. Today, again, the Prince of Pentacles. That’s the patient, methodical, practical approach guy. Speaking to my animus.

    Animus and anima working together, literally yin and yang, vibrating, humming, feeding each other, feeding off of each other. My neshama emerging, cheering them both.

    I am Woman. I am Man. I am. Both.

  • Low Anxiety

    Lughnasa and the Chesed Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Eye moistener. Cool nights. Anxiety. Kep, a sometimes loft dog. Right now, for example. Rigel. Marshdale Burger Company. Fried cheese curds. (a Wisconsin health food) My chair. Friends like the Saltzmans and Tom. The Ancient Ones today.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The Lady

    Tarot: The Lady, #3 of the Major Arcana Druid Deck


    Trying to remain present and/or distracted. Woke up though wondering whether my usual morning aches were, really, BONE PAIN. Don’t think so, but that idea, once planted, seems determined to hang around. Reached over to pet Kep and I was right back in the day. Another good thing about Dogs. They’re in the present, all the time. And, have the capacity to take me there, too.

    That PET scan is on my mind. What will it show? Am I riddled with cancer? Probably not. But that thought wanders through. Not helpful. Are there metastases in parts of my body far from the prostate? Again, I don’t think so, but I have no evidence either way. Knowing with greater precision where the cancer likely is, the PET scan’s benefit, also means knowing I have cancer. With images. How much will they show? What will they mean?

    The Orgovyx which shows up on Wednesday means hot flashes, sarcopenia, fatigue. Big fun likely to last the remainder of my life. Oh, boy.

    OK. Yes. A bit over focused on these things right now. Hard to be casual about them. I know wondering, worrying will neither change the results nor help me now. I KNOW that. Have to figure out how to live it.

    No more Kate focused events until April 12, 2022. Her yahrzeit. Between today and then the off and on grief, integration of her presence, rehoming the remaining items of her personal life. Living with the fact of her absence, her death.

    This month through the end of September sees a lot of particular expenses: long term care insurance, 3rd quarter taxes, house staining, new hearing aid and microphone. Big ones for me. I’ve planned for them. And, the new Social Security payment should begin the third week of September.

    Cooking for one remains a challenge. It’s not that I don’t know how to cook, I do. But will I spend the time in a day to do it? It’s easy to fall into the easy, the big easy. Not make a salad, follow a recipe, make sure there are fruits and vegetables. Last night I went to Marshdale Burger Company, for example. Easy.

    I’ve gotten back into mussar, into MVP, taking my class on Tarot and Kabbalah. I find myself less willing to go to services and other events due to Delta. The risks still seem too high to me. Might be inertia. Can’t tell yet.

    A most unsettling fact about death is the ongoingness of life. How cars still whoosh past on Black Mountain Drive. How Centurylink and IREA still send their bills. How the people I know still look the same. How the days on the calendar keep coming and going. Death is so big it seems like it should blow up reality. Instead it rearranges bits.

    Later, all. If this sounds gloomy or unsettled, I do have those feelings. But I also have the Lady.


    The Lady: The Lord and the Lady are the lovers of Major Arcana 5 in the Druid deck. This card is the Lady alone. The God (Cernunnos) and the Goddess make love in the Spring. Fertility. The Lady oversees the time from Beltane to Samain in my thinking. The Maiden shows up at Imbolc, replacing the Crone, who appears at Samain. These are the three stages of womanhood, the full seasons of the year, the psychology wheel which turns in all of our psyches.

    This card, and the one from yesterday, the 8 of pentacles, make creativity, abundance, vitality a center piece. Suggesting the same for me. A suggestion I need. I’ve let that slide.



  • In This Body. Now.

    Lughnasa and the full Chesed Moon

    Saturday gratefuls: Cancer. The full Chesed Moon. Emergency responders in front of the house last night. Congregation Beth Evergreen. Alan. Pet scans. Orgovyx. Cool morning. The dogs who love me. Friends and family. Fatigue. Claire and her new life.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Soul Mirrors-tarot, torah, tanakh, astrology, friends, memories, art, literature, poetry, wilderness and wild things

    Tarot:  Eight of Pentacles


    Yesterday. A stay at home, I’m too tired to go out anyhow sorta day. Any time I feel weary now I hear Kristie, Dr. Eigner’s PA, asking, “Have you been experiencing fatigue? Bone pain?” Meaning, is the cancer causing you to experience either of these symptoms? Maybe I’m just tired? Or, maybe not. Acchh. Not needed.

    Cleaning up. All of Kate’s personal belongings have been donated or targeted to certain people like Ruth. That’s a key part of the first phase. Now I need to clean up the clutter, pitch the items that no one wanted (mostly toiletries). When that’s done and Marina Harris’s crew has cleaned the house (Monday), I’ll be ready to move furniture. Oops. No, I won’t. Ruth still needs to move her sewing things to Jon’s house. A lot.

    Anyhow, when they’re gone and the sewing room is empty, I plan to reuse it as a family dining area, a place for large meals. The grow room idea for the front part of this room is still in progress, uncertain. I also want to create a conversation area in front of the fireplace. That means getting rid of those two display cases. That’s not yet accomplished either. Someday soon.

    The conversation area will take Kate’s chair from downstairs, the Stickley, perhaps my chair from downstairs. Or, maybe I’ll leave the couch and put the Stickley and Kate’s chair across from it. TBD.

    At some point rooms will get painted, more art hung, and the photographs moved to the new dining area’s metal shelving. I’d like to accomplish all this before Thanksgiving, even better, before the end of September.

    Cancer news: Alan will take me to Aurora on Tuesday afternoon for my auximin scan. Have to be there at 12:30 for a 1:00 appointment. The inevitable and voluminous paperwork. The presentation of the cards. Then, an injection. “Axumin® (fluciclovine F 18) injection is indicated for positron emission tomography (PET) imaging in men with suspected prostate cancer recurrence based on elevated blood prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels following prior treatment.” Takes about 30 minutes to circulate before the PET scan can begin.

    Somewhere before that I’ll take whatever drug Kristie ordered for my claustrophobia. Enclosed spaces and me? Not a good combination. The scan itself takes around an hour, full body. A week later I’ll get the results unless something urgent is found. I hoping for a week later.

    On Wednesday I get my first shipment of Orgovyx, the pill-form replacement for Lupron. It has 50% less impact on cardio-vascular issues, important for me. Could cost as much as $140 a month. I balked, then remembered that I’m paying exactly the same for Kep’s cytopoint injections for his allergies.

    One step at a time. “A practical, patient, and methodical approach to a project may be needed. These qualities may be needed to improve your health and nutrition.” Tarot’s prince of pentacles. Especially important because this line from the 8 of Pentacles is also true: “(It)…usually will symbolize that you have been working hard for your health goal and yet you are not seeing the desired responses. (see below)

    Prostatectomy. Radiation. Androgen deprivation. All of that and I still have a 7.4 PSA. Not the desired response. I appreciate this as well: “Do not allow yourself to become overwhelmed with the larger picture.” A day at a time. Stay in the present. Be here now.

    I’m doing pretty well with that. I spin out once a while, but the ultimate question on the table, my mortalityspan, does not send me there. Dying is ok. Expected. Necessary. It’s the hassle of the last days, as Kate experienced, that challenges me. Again, though, not often. I try to stay here. In this body, in this place.



    “The Eight of Pentacles is a card that represents a work in progress. The card can be somewhat concerning in health because it usually will symbolize that you have been working hard for your health goal and yet you are not seeing the desired responses. Whatever your health concern is, right now you need to take a step back and look at the process you are taking. Consider what ways you are doing counter-productive actions and which efforts are simply not enough. Do not allow yourself to become overwhelmed with the larger picture at hand. Take one step at a time and do not lose sight of your goal.” Auntyflo

    “A positive card, you should expect good things to happen when you see it; especially aspects relating to a creative industry, or a project or part of your life that you have worked extremely hard on and dedicated yourself to. A good card to draw if you are intent on learning a skill or trade which you have a lot of passion for.”  tarot-explained




  • Blindfolded and Bound

    Lughnasa and the Chesed Moon

    Irises in Andover, 2014

    Friday gratefuls: Kate, sinking into the top Soil, nourishing the Irises. Her birthday. Now over. Seeing Mary. Jon. Ruth. Gabe. Yesterday. Mussar. Being seen and heard.  Living with cancer. Advanced. PET scan on Tuesday. Allergies waned. 45 degrees this morning.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: PET scans

    Tarot:  8 of Swords, Druid


    August, 2010, honey extraction

    I needed everyone gathered on Wednesday. Kate’s birthday. The first since her death. Their presence honoring her also buoyed me up, made the day rich, meaningful, even though painful and sad. I especially appreciated the sense of joy added with the balloons and the yellow Roses. Kate’s work with simcha, joy in Hebrew, included giving yellow Roses to each participant in our mussar class.

    Yesterday was a quieter day. I worked out in the a.m., took a nap, then went to mussar at CBE. Took the opportunity to tell folks about my PSA and Kate’s birthday. Being heard and seen. By folks who care. I said yes, I’m alone, but, not lonely. Living alone suits me, two thumbs up. Of course, I’d prefer if Kate were here, but, she’s not.

    On the way home I stopped again at the Chicago beef food truck; it’s parked on my way home. Two hot dogs with pickle, mustard, and relish. Two chili cheese dogs. Ruth and Gabe stayed the night on Wednesday. We all love hot dogs.

    Mary transferred out of the cabin Sarah rented through Air B’nB. She got a hotel downtown, ready for her first train trip to Chicago and then on to Tomah, Wisconsin to see her friend, Debbie. She’ll be in the continental U.S. for quite some time visiting relatives. BJ left yesterday morning.

    Mary, Jon, Ruth, and Gabe attended a Beatle’s cover band concert at Red Rocks last night. A cool, rainy evening. I had a ticket, but chose not to go. The last two days wore me out, down. Feeling a little lost in my inner world, needed time. Not to mention the crowd and the Delta variant.

    Eight of Swords: Gonna write about this in the main text. Because I resisted this one. Victimization? Sense of being trapped? No way out? The first card I’ve drawn since the Tarot/Kabbalah class began that didn’t make sense to me. I read a few interpretations, relooked at the card. Nope, not me.

    Then, as I wrote. Oh, maybe.

    I do not see myself as a victim. However. I do have two unyielding realities dominating my life right now: death and cancer. Both of these restrict me, bind me to themselves. And, I have no choice. Kate is dead. My cancer has returned. Trapped? Not exactly, but constrained, captured, bound? Yes.

    Looking at the card, it seems to me that a dawn has begun to emerge through the trees. The woman’s bare foot, her left appears ready to take a step, a step toward the opening in the swords. A way out of the dilemma. If she touches a sword, she’ll realize she can cut her bonds. Then remove the blindfold on her own.

    Both grief and serious illness have a way of cloistering us, making us self-involved, self-engaged. And often blind to the needs of others around us. Ourselves, too.

    Wednesday it was hard for me to focus on others, see them. Grief clouded my heart. Under the Chesed Moon and in this month of repentance and self-examination, Elul, I’m inclined to understand, forgive myself.

    Being unavailable to others is not where I want or intend to live. Yet. Scooping out Kate’s ashes, getting the date for my PET scan put me there on Wednesday and some of yesterday, too. In the late afternoon I felt the blindfold begin to slip, slip far enough that I could put my bare foot out another step, release myself from the binding by cutting them on the sword of reason.

    Yes. Cancer and death. This week’s emphasis, no doubt. Yes.

    My reaction to both of them is in my control. When I let myself remember that. Today I’m committed to staying conscious, aware, not letting either Kate’s death or this cancer recurrence dominate my inner world.

    “A practical, patient, and methodical approach to a project may be needed. These qualities may be needed to improve your health and nutrition.” The Prince of Pentacles from yesterday. These two cards together. I see.

    Both cancer and death need a practical, patient, methodical, grounded way. Allow each one the time they need. Follow through. Keep putting one foot out, then another. Cut the ties that bind, slip off the blindfold and see, really see.

  • The Weight

    Lughnasa and the Chesed Moon

    Wednesday gratefuls: Kate, always Kate. Her 77th. Sadness. Grief. Down. Plunging. Rigel, the slow to wake. Rain. Kate’s ashes. Touching them. Canning. Kate in the kitchen. Cancer. Treatment. PSA. 7.4. Life is short; death is sure.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: BJ and Mary here

    Tarot: The High Priestess, #2 of the major arcana


    Feeling the weight. Yesterday. Today. A sinking in, slowly, a light burden tied around my feet. Watching joy and peacefulness go by. The surface getting fainter. Can’t say I’m surprised.

    Wish it would have waited a day or two. The folks coming today. Kate’s ashes. Her birthday. Being a host not my thing. At all.

    Even my fingers seem slow. Not as nimble on the keys. An opaqueness behind my eyes.

    Talked with Diane yesterday. A good talk, mostly about cancer, but still good.

    Afterward I loaded almost all the remainder of Kate’s personal belongings in the Rav4, ready to donate to the resale shop in Bailey. Two and a half cases of nutrient liquid and adult diapers for Mt. Evans Hospice. Felt weak. I mean, geez.

    Waited on a call from Urology Associates. Got it. Rocky Mountain Cancer Care will do my pet scan. If my health plan approves it. They often drag their feet, the nurse from Urology Associates said of my insurance carrier. This may have been the stimulus for feeling the burden.

    It took me back to the bad old days before my radiation therapy and just after the recurrence, the first one. When I found out on the day of the test that a pet scan would not be covered. I felt abandoned and devastated. Then.

    Now. The specter of an insurance company closing its fist around my life. About all the various incidents with insurance around Kate. Around the imaging studies. The constant trips, waiting rooms. Diagnosis. Prognosis. Each time a little worse, not better.

    Feeling it all. In my chest, my face. My vision. A lassitude creeping over my muscles. An inertia in my bones. Not wanting to move. Take action. Be present.

    Grief. Sadness. The profound exhaustion and stress. Kate’s long illness. Today. All present. Visiting me at the same time.

    Won’t last. Will pass. Equanimity shattered for the moment.

    My practice.

    Name the moment: Kate’s birthday. Cancer matters swirling. People coming. A celebration of Kate’s life.

    Name the feelings: Loneliness. Sadness. Exhaustion. Inertia. Grief. Resignation.

    Choose: Yes, I’ll let these come. They all feel appropriate, timely. Necessary.

    An instant feeling of relief when I chose. No longer pushing them away, trying to rationalize, or deny. Yes. These are my feelings. And, I am not my feelings.

    The Jewish idea of the lev: the heart/mind. Which suggests to me, again, that the heart and mind are one, yet severable in a moment. The heart affects the mind and the mind affects the heart, they work in synchrony. Except when they don’t.

    Right now my lev is one. Wracked and wrecked. OK with it. Need help today. Especially. A tough one. Yes, there it is. I need help. Today.


    The High Priestess:  “Entering the stillness. The High Priestess seems to bar our way forward-don’t be in a rush to move onwards…true passivity is strong and fertile…Open to the stillness and the depth within you to gain strength and wisdom.” Druid Craft Tarot Deck


    Over the last week plus I’ve drawn the High Priestess card three time and the Queen of Swords twice. My anima. Gaining ground, becoming stronger. Taking me down and encouraging me to stay strong, to act when the time is right. Wu wei. The Te, the integrity, of the Tao, the way. Strength for me right now, the path, involves surrender, slowing, resting in my inner sanctuary.

    She who is me. And the feminine side of my intellect. Together. Nourishing each other. Counseling my animus to be still. To wait. To feel. To ask. Yes.



  • Sad

    Kate, Glenwood Springs

    Lughnasa and the Chesed Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Swinging low. Cool morning. Kate, always Kate. Jon. Rigel and Kep. Allergies calming down. Appointment today. My future with cancer. The Ancient Ones and Love. The clan gathering in person and in spirit.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Sleep.

    Tarot card: Seven of Swords, Druid Deck



    A bit of darkness in my mood this morning. Allowed, I guess. Cancer on the comeback trail. A focus on Kate, her life, her loved ones. Will bring her death closer. God, I loved her. Love her. Miss her. Sadness and longing for what cannot be.

    We had so many good years, so much mutual support and kindness. So many hours of gardening, cooking, dog caring, traveling this world. Enough, really. Desiring more may seem to make sense, but it doesn’t. Enough.

    With cancer raising its ugly presence again I’m tempted to say the thing about my own life. Enough. And, when death arrives I’m confident I will be able to say just that. Enough. Desiring more may seem to make sense, but it doesn’t.

    Singapore, 2016

    Kate, my strong, noble, beautiful Kate, knew that desire was no longer hers when she said to me, “Death with dignity.” Brave. Real. True to her self and to our relationship.

    No, I’m not there in any way. Not yet enough. Although I will say that what has been has been good, has been what I chose, what I needed. And, that I expect the same, living into the next few years with joy and anticipation.

    Not without the occasional darkness. Darkness, my old friend, comes to visit me each Winter Solstice. A determined, long night holding me, reminding me of the time before life and the time after. So, when darkness comes into my mood, as it has this morning, I welcome it. The sinking into myself, the quietening of outside noise, a veil between my feelings and the world. Necessary, at times.

    Not to say I want to stay there. No. But that I will go into myself, take my journey underground, hunt for Tiresias. Or, my Virgil. For the learning that comes from pursuing the inward and downward path, away from the sun, into the fecund night.

    Finding, as I often do, that writing about my feelings changes them. Feeling now more like tackling the day, getting on with what comes next: cancer, house rejiggering, the celebration of Kate.


    The Seven of Swords (Druid Craft Deck): “Insights. Strategy. Research. New ideas challenge old assumptions and great progress is made. Using intellect, wit, or charm to gain an advantage or recover something that has been lost..Strategic planning or research.” from the Druid Craft’s accompanying book.

    Bald, gray, intensely thoughtful. Seven different swords available for his use. Working late at night as a waning crescent moon shows itself among clouds.

    “Charlie, You’re a Druid!” John Ackerman, my spiritual advisor back in the mid-1980’s. I had gone deep into the Celtic world, begun to use the Great Wheel as a way of understanding life and death.

    Not exactly a Druid, but a man deep into the way of the natural world, the Te of the Tao. Following a path that’s often fuzzy, mysterious, yet comforting and ever present.

    I see myself in this card, willing to go into the darkness with or without illumination, to learn from it, to report back to the lit world.

    Will need new ideas today at 2 pm. How to counter the cancer’s return. Yes. Making great progress? I sure hope so.



  • It Means the World To Me

    Lughnasa and the Lughnasa Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Jon, Ruth, Gabe. The dinner they made. Their visit. Jon donating his Subaru to CPR. His management of his glucose levels and his depression. School starting for him this week. The kids in two. Kate, always. Rain. The Monsoon’s! Flank steak salad. Today.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Rigel’s indignant bark.

    Tarot: The World, #21 of the Major Arcana (on the right), Druid Craft*


    The Fates

    Ancient ones in the morning. The thread that runs through our lives. Mine = curiosity. Another’s: leadership and service. Another’s: being in the experience. Anothers: being unconventional. Anothers: agency. What thread appears throughout the tapestry of your life?

    Breakfast. Laundry. Nap. Jon, Ruth, and Gabe came up. They brought pasta salad, pasta with pesto, and steak. Not having to cook? Yeah. We ate a meal together. Jon and Gabe went out to remove items from the Subaru. Ruth went into the sewing room to sort out what she wants of Kate’s various quilting, sewing tools and cloth. I cleaned up the kitchen.


    At 3 we all gathered round electronic rectangles to talk with Sarah and Annie in North Carolina. They were in Annie’s spacious two-bedroom apartment in a Winston-Salem assisted living spot. Annie’s been there a couple of weeks now.

    We talked about the 18th, our plans as they have modified to accommodate Ruth and Gabe’s back to school day. Continental breakfast or brunch here. Cooking during the day for a meal after scattering Kate’s ashes. Family time. Collective grieving. A lesson from Judaism.

    Jon and the kids left to return to their mom’s, for their week with her. The energy level in the house dropped back down to normal.

    Love you all, I shouted out the door as they climbed into the Jeep gifted to them by Annie. We love you, too!

    Kate in Rehab, 2018, with the quilt made for her by the Bailey Patchworkers.

    The World. Stepping outside my comfort zone. See below. Grief wrenches you way outside your comfort zone, destroys it altogether for a bit. Pushes you beyond it because you have to go somewhere brand new and starkly different.

    It’s almost four months now since Kate died. Funeral. Shiva. Family. Food. Anguish. Fussy administrative stuff. Picking up Kate’s ashes. Six weeks in Hawai’i. Overdoing my right leg. Coming back to a Kateless house. Settling back in. Groceries. Cooking. Jon, Ruth, Gabe. CBE. Rigel and Kep. The house.

    Still moving with a bit of the slows. Not anguished anymore, but distracted. Pruning Kate’s closets, dresser, jewelry chests. Reorganizing her sewing room for Ruth and the Bailey Patchworkers. Tom’s help. Most of this accomplished from my end.

    Donating to Mountain Resource Center and the consignment shop in Bailey await Marilyn’s return. August 11th. On August 13th Laurie and Jamie will come to retrieve what Ruth does not want. Ruth has already begun to move things. Still targeting the 18th, a couple of days before, as the point when all of Kate’s left behinds will be gone.

    Seeing Jon and the kids pull away after a pleasant visit. Yes. P.T. still loosening up my I.T. band. A full freezer. The Tarot and Kabbalah class. Kep’s allergies resolved. Rigel eating well. House staining scheduled. The mini-split identified.

    The World card suggests that I’ve passed through an initial, and difficult phase of grieving. It feels true to me. Life with Jon and the kids seems set for a smoother, loving future. The most dramatic aspects following Kate’s death have come close to resolution. Pruning. All the administrative details. Living day to day without her physical presence. Taking charge of my own, independent life.

    “Right now you can rest in having achieved closure and the lessons you needed from this phase of your life.” Not sure I’d go quite this far. Closure has always been a suspect idea. I don’t want closure with Kate’s death. I want integration of my life with her and my life without her. Learning the initial lessons of grief? Yes, I believe I have.

    Leaving for Hawaii

    And, yes, there is a sense of satisfaction. I’ve not gone crazy, nor has despair put me down. But. I did not achieve these things alone, far, far from it. One of the lessons learned is the necessity of beloved community to weather hard times. So evident. Another lesson. Keep moving. Another. Keep Kate close. Always. Another. Work at transforming yourself and the relationships you have with others.

    And more, I’m sure. These are the ones evident right now.

    Yes. I’ll admit. I feel good about the months since Kate died. Not because they have been easy, but, to paraphrase JFK: because they have been hard.







    *”This represents a moment to acknowledge the hard work that got you where you are now. Along with this achievement is a sense of deep satisfaction.

    Right now you can rest in having achieved closure and the lessons you needed from this phase of your life.

    In a practical sense, the World can suggest pushing yourself to explore the world with confidence —especially if you have issues stepping out of your comfort zone. It can hint at adventures found traveling or overseas.” tarotluv




  • Kindred Spirits

    Last day of Summer and the Lughnasa Moon

    Saturday gratefuls: Mini-split air con units. Thanks, Tom. Mark’s suggestion for a topic on Sunday. Lotta sleep last night and this morning. Feeling good. An excellent meal with Jon yesterday evening. Rain. Cooler weather. Smoky on High. Lush mountain meadows, filled with waving stalks of pollen.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Sashimi. Japan.

    Tarot card: Ace of Wands, Druid Craft Deck


    Good news. At dinner with Jon we talked about our new relationship, one with Kate no longer physically present. Though she remains a psychic presence for us both in powerful ways. We agreed we wanted to continue, be family. Over sushi, sashimi, and crab wontons. Uplifting.

    I spent yesterday handling various matters. Groceries. Bills. Emails. Workout. The dinner with Jon. Must have worn me out because I slept 9 hours +. Also, rain and a cool night helped.

    Tom helped me find the mini-split air conditioning system. It will work for my downstairs. Just have to find a contractor and get it installed. Too late, unfortunately, for Kate.

    Taking this Saturday as a rest day, a travel day as Kate and I called it. We always took a rest day after long travel.

    It was a big week. Ruth and Gabe here Sunday night through Tuesday evening. A lot  of pruning work with Ruth. House cleaners on Tuesday. Kep into VRCC for his allergy shot. P.T. on Monday and Wednesday. Tarot and Kabbalah on Wednesday. Alan for breakfast, Jackie for a haircut, and mussar on Thursday. Donating the wheelchair and the rollator. Errands yesterday and the time with Jon and the evening. Not to mention laundry, folding clothes, cooking, feeding the dogs. You know, all that ordinary homestuff.

    Pruning goes well. I’m on a hiatus from it until Ruth makes up her mind about all the sewing related things. Still hoping to have it complete, or almost, before the 18th. Get furniture moved around over that time period. Try to get a new feel for the house sorted out by Thanksgiving.

    Have had to modify the 18th because we learned this week that Ruth and Gabe’s first day of school is the 18th. Shifted activities to late afternoon and evening. Only possible wrinkle? The Delta variant. If it continues to rage, as it has of late, it may interfere with travel. If that happens, we’ll push this out to 2022. See this from this mornings Washington Post:

    “The newly resurgent coronavirus could spark 140,000 to 300,000 cases a day in the United States come August, fueled by the highly transmissible delta variant and the widespread resumption of normal activities, disease trackers predict.”

    Thomas Cole and William Cullen Bryant, Kindred Spirits Painting by Asher Brown Durand

    Ace of wands. Rather than go to the Rider-Waite interpretations, I’m going to read this one on my own. The Druid Craft deck speaks to me as one grounded in Celtic lore and myth.

    A bull elk with an 8 or 10 point rack stands on a rock that reminds me of the Pulpit Rock in Strand, Norway. It also reminds me of a painting by Asher Durand.

    A steep cleft in the mountains separates the bull from another precipice, one shaded by an autumnal aspen grove.

    Above the mountains the blazing sun sends fire to the tree, the elk, the mountains, the sky while a full moon hangs, almost invisible in the fiery presence, above a small spire of rock behind the elk.

    Bull with water lily, 2015, Lake Evergreen

    The wand lays itself over the sun, perhaps having summoned its energy. Or, in the process of summoning it? The wand has reddish bark that seems still living, as if the wand had only recently been cut from a tree, or somehow remains alive anyhow. Perhaps a rowan? The wand as alive seems confirmed by the green leaves, eight in all, mysteriously falling away from it.

    The whole scene is peaceful. Some key words that come to mind: majestic. natural. communal. creativity. fire. determination. mountainous. lone elk. aspen grove. single wand.

    Black Mountain, 2015

    Perhaps the wand has become a conduit between the sun and the natural world at its fall change. The push of the sun’s fire has caused the wand to send its green leaves, which it needs to continue living, on a mission, as angels, messengers of the sun’s creative power.

    The elk and the aspen grove, animal and plants, both salute the sun. A bull elk with a rack like that is ready for the rut, the annual fertility rite for all elks. The aspen grove, with its just turning toward gold leaves, has begun to prepare for winter, a time when it will have to live off foods stored in and around its interlocked root system.

    The positive session with Jon last night, the on pace pruning, Tom’s visit a week ago, the Tarot and Kabbalah class have me feeling grounded, yet still transforming. Moving toward the creative energy of the sun, soaking it in with the Bull and the Aspen Grove. In the mountains. On my Pulpit Rock, where I stand with my kindred spirits, the river and mountain poets of Chinese history.

    Life on a different, yet familiar ancientrail.