• Category Archives Photography
  • 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.





  • All ye need to know

    Summer and the Moon of Justice

    Friday gratefuls: Getting a start on cleaning up the garage. Buying dope. The continental divide yesterday, hazy with wildfire smoke. Kate. Our sad birthday tomorrow. Grocery pick-up order in. The vasty deeps. The airless heights. The Rub Al Kahli. Longing. Water. Beauty. What does it mean? Simplicity. Joy.

    Is this a beautiful idea? Does this idea bring me joy? My mussar practices right now. And, interesting ones. What makes an idea beautiful? According to one perspective, all things are beautiful, if we bring beauty to them, look for it until we find it. Not all ideas are beautiful. Of this, I am sure. But, some are.

    A recent example for me comes from Braiding Sweetgrass and its chapter title: A Grammar of Animacy. The idea here is the Potawatomi language’s division between animacy and artifice. All things not built or made by humans are animate to the Potawatomi. This is a beautiful idea. It’s surprising. Rocks and mountains. Grass and water. Fire and wind. All part of the spirited world, the ensouled world. It’s novel. It takes me to Shinto, to Western mythology, to the Faery Faith of the Celts. It challenges my received understanding.

    Beauty is a contested idea. Just ask Picasso, DuChamp, Kandinsky, DeKoonig, Rothko. Are only representational paintings beautiful? If so, what makes them so? Space, color, line. At least. No color, no pleasing line, no well-defined space, no beauty.

    But. What if the primary subject of a painting was color? Think the Rothko chapel. Or, the color blooms of Morris Louis. What if it were line? Like Cy Wombly. Or, imagine a sculpture of wire, dangling from a ceiling, defining and redefining the space in which it hangs? Calder. Or, what if the primary subject of a painting deconstructed a face, a table, a tableau? Picasso. Braque.

    Each of these artist’s works would have been shunned as unintelligible for most of the history of Western art. That accusation still gets thrown at them, even in this, the third millennium. Why, my kid could do THAT!

    The next few weeks of mussar will focus on beauty as a middot, a character trait. Perhaps this will be the kick in the ass I’ve needed to get back into the world of art. I hope so.

  • One small step

    Summer and the Radiation Moon

    Let’s see. Heat waves. Bad ones. The moon landing at 50. 50? And, of course, Send them back! Send them back! I really tried to stop it in the biggest way. Nobody could have tried to stop it harder. Nobody.

    Consequential. Each of them. I still remember the first time I was in Phoenix. 107. Might have been August or September. Walking from the motel a few blocks to experience the heat I could feel the sidewalk through the soles of my shoes. The air was still.

    Downtown Phoenix had several places that had misters, spraying a sheen of water out and over sidewalks, open air cafes. Fans aided the cooling effect. It was delicious. A revelation. But. It was still hot.

    On a CME venture with Kate early in our marriage we went to Mexico City where Kate saw Rigoberta Menchu. Afterward we went to Oaxaca and Merida. We stayed at Casa de Balam, the House of the Leopard, in Merida. Our bodies have conditionings of which we are unaware until they are challenged.


    It was hot. And, humid, unlike Phoenix. In the afternoon rain clouds gathered over Merida. Rain fell. And the heat and humidity got worse. It was like an open air steam bath. Rain washes away heat. After the rain comes a cool breeze, a sigh of relief. Nope. Not in Merida. Not that day. It shocked my body before I even realized what was odd.

    Both of those times stick in my mind (plus that trek across Singapore’s Botanical Garden in 2016) as outliers, extreme situations occurring in places I visited infrequently. Now, Merida is coming to a city near you.

    The moon landing. July 20, 1969. College was done. Judy and I had a small apartment in Muncie. It was hot. No AC. No misting water. Just sweat. I put aluminum foil on the rabbit ears of our tiny television, waved them through the air to find our best reception. The most complicated electric appliance in our apartment was my Selectric typewriter, the one with the ball.

    We wore as little as possible. The moon was new that night, so the sky was starry. I remember the scratchy voice of Walter Cronkite saying something. The scene, like a set from a 1950’s sci fi movie, had a strange desolation, Buzz Aldrin would the call the moonscape, “Magnificent desolation.”


    Cold beer. A joint. As night fell, we began to wonder if the astronauts would ever come out. The Eagle had landed at 3:17 pm and now it was nearing ten. Then, the hatch opened, a bulky white suit emerged and went slowly down the metal ladder. A human about to touch a surface other than earth’s. “One small step for a man, one giant step for mankind.” (btw: correct quote according to NASA and Armstrong.)

    Our chests flew open, all of us, that night. We saw the unimaginable. We were alive when the first human walked on the moon. I was 22, drunk and stoned. But high, too. Up there. With Buzz and Neil.

    No visa required. No passport control. No detention centers in the Sea of Tranquility.

    the apple, the tree

    Our current sadness. The smallness of the fearful white person. Fed by the orange would be Julius. On July 20, 1969, the federal government gave us a moment of wonder, of awe, a moment shared with the world. On the 50th anniversary of this remarkable human accomplishment this once great country now separates families at detention centers. Its President tells four U.S. citizens to go home. He encourages the cries of his base base, Send them back. Send them back.

    And that heat. Study shows opening up Federal lands to oil and gas exploitation will increase climate change. Huh? Really? The administration has silenced scientific analysis, by government scientists, on the risks posed by climate change. Including the military, which sees climate change as a national security issue.


    Oh to slide back into the wonder of the moon landing. To imagine a world where feats of human innovation still wow us. Where government fights racism instead of propogating it. That’s a backward look though. Let’s look forward instead. To a new, cooler time with awesome moments still ahead.

  • 10,000 Things

    Beltane                                                                       Moon of the Summer Solstice

    Hiking Staunton State Park yesterday launched me on my first day ever of 10,000 steps, actually 11,435. A weird thing to be proud of, I know, but still, I am. My eventual goal is to hit at least 10,000 every day. First though, I had to do it once and yesterday was that day.

    A few memories of that hike:

    20170610_08375420170610_09011620170610_092514 20170610_094341

  • A Few Trees

    Beltane                                                                                                Rushing Waters Moon



    ram dass

    Ponderosa, Beth Evergreen
    Ponderosa, Beth Evergreen
    Ponderosa, Flying J Ranch
    Ponderosa, Flying J Ranch
    Ponderosa, Flying J Ranch
    Ponderosa, Flying J Ranch
    Ponderosa, Flying J Ranch
    Ponderosa, Flying J Ranch
    Flying J Ranch
    Flying J Ranch
    Grandmother Ponderosa, Beth Evergreen
    Grandmother Ponderosa, Beth Evergreen

  • Love is Enough

    Lugnasa                                                                           Superior Wolf (new) Moon

    love is enough
    love is enough

    A gray morning on Shadow Mountain. Cooled down yesterday, feels good. The painting and staining are done. Next up is the downstairs bathroom. Zero entry shower. Some quiet here right now.

    Kate finished a project begun after my 2013 trip to the Pre-Raphaelite show at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. This needlepoint came from the museum shop for the Pre-Raph show. When we get it framed, it will have a small plaque that reads, Vega.

    Jon starts back to his work tomorrow. He’s the art teacher at Montview Elementary in Aurora, an eastern suburb of Denver. It’s been a summer of lawyers and courts, frustrations and doubts for him. He’s looking forward to getting back to work with his students. The commute from here to his school, we’re some distance west from the west edge of Denver and Aurora’s on the eastern edge, is substantial, but common for folks who live in the Conifer area.

    While at the Denver County Fair, I got this photograph of three young Latinas dressed up to party.

    Latinas at the Denver County Fair



  • Works of Art in an Age of Digital Reproduction

    Beltane                                                                  Running Creeks Moon

    Kate, May 2013
    Kate, May 2013

    It’s taken me a week and a half, but I’ve cleaned up Ancientrails. All images are either mine or ones from sources without copyright issues. The time it took was penance for not being attentive to this issue for over ten years. There is, too, a financial penalty, negotiated between a lawyer and myself for using a copyrighted photograph.

    I feel like a raven whose stash of pretty things has been stolen. But, ravens are thieves and I was, too, though not in a possessive way. Both Richard Prince, an artist who reuses the photographs of others, and Walter Benjamin, who wrote a famous essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” have been on my mind during this time.

    Once I’ve taken a break from the computer, today I’m going to do a lot of straightening up and rearranging up here in the loft, I’m going to give the whole issue of copyrights, attributions and fair use a concentrated look. Included in that will be a rereading of Benjamin and some of the follow on scholarship plus material about Richard Prince and others like him.


  • Hangman, Vigilante, Desperado

    Beltane                                                                          Running Creeks Moon

    Trying to get some printing done, photographs on fabric. Having a hard time. Our H.P. refuses to recognize its own ink cartridges. A friend of Kate’s who lives outside Bailey had an inkjet that refused to perform, too. Looking for other options in Denver and I’ve found some.

    Puerto Mont, Chile tapedero
    Puerto Mont, Chile tapedero

    When we visited Judy Young, Kate’s friend, on Tapedero Drive, getting there gave us that odd insight street names give to an area’s early shapers. We turned off Cty. 43 onto Hangman Road. Off Hangman onto Vigilante Avenue. Hitchrack Road and Desperado Street intersected. Tapedero is a covering for the front of the stirrup so the boot won’t slip through.

    An old west fantasy was on the mind of whomever platted this area.