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  • Faith

    Winter and the Winter Solstice Moon

    Wednesday gratefuls: Marilyn and Irv. Tara. The dark. Gradualism. Getting things done, slowly. Surrender. Emunah. Faith. The Jewish Way. Mussar. Torah. Shabbat. Holidays. Zen. Taoism. Easy Entrees. Kavanah for 2025. Choosing a way forward. Including surrender. On signs and portents. Trash day delay. Mark, mail carrier. Ana and Lita, housecleaners. Vince, handyman and Snow plower. Helping me live independently.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Surrender

    One brief shining: Opening my arms and leaning back, letting 2025 come at me with all its got while I smile and wait knowing this next year is the one I’ve been waiting for, the one when magical and miraculous things will happen, when love will be the only thing left, when I will once again live as I’m meant to with human and wild, life and death, intellect and ignorance.


    I could explain it with cognitive bias. Or whatever it’s called when you have something front of mind and you keep seeing references to it in newspapers, books, hear it come into conversation, happen upon a magazine article that features it. But I won’t.  Let me give an example. Long ago I bought an Anne Rice book featuring angels. This maven of the vampire world decided to write a book about goodness instead of evil, I guess. I liked Lestat and the Mayfair witches so I’d give it a go. It was on my Kindle and I never got around to it.

    This week I picked it up. It has, in the beginning, a heavily Roman Catholic emphasis and if you know Anne Rice that won’t surprise you. What surprised me was the main story line about Jews in thirteenth century England. It would have been a curiosity to me when I bought the book, now it has existential meaning. This is not a great book by any means, though an offhand comment by Fluria, a bright and capable Jewish woman, struck me. She spoke about Jews in Oxford being harassed, their homes burned, “It spreads like a plague,” she said, worrying about her community in Norwich. Oh, just like Israel v. Hamas affects Jewish life in the U.S.

    My inner life has taken a new direction and my mind reinforces it whenever it can. Yes. But why did I pick up the book now? Why did my decision to convert coincide with the Israel Hamas tragedy? I chose emunah, faith, as my mussar evening long before I chose to convert. Now it challenges me, as I wanted it to, in a way much different to what I intended. How did it happen that I would have a bar mitzvah?

    I’m choosing to surrender to the notion that cognitive bias works in mysterious ways its wonders to perform. That my new, dare I call it faith, in a Jewish life comforts and supports me, gives me confidence that my life will grow in purpose and love. That’s what my conversion meant. For me, Judaism evokes faith in a grounded experience, one rooted in the soil of Mother Earth and in the souls of my sacred community, nourished by compost from a rich and varied tradition.






  • So much to see. To learn.

    Winter and the Wolf Moon

    Tuesday gratefuls: 8 years in Colorado. On the Solstice. The long dog ride with Tom. Memories. Challenges. Family. Death. Divorce. Mental and physical illnesses. Beauty. The Rocky Mountains. The Wild Neighbors. Mountain hiking. Deep snow. Sudden. Then, suddenly gone. Living at altitude. Becoming a member of CBE. Elk and Mule Deer visiting our back. Blue Skies. Black Mountain. Vega. Gertie. Rigel. Kep. Kate, always Kate. Who loved the Mountains.

    Sparks of joy and awe: That dog ride 8 years ago. Talking story.


    Back of the car anthropology. Two vanity plates. YAHWEHS. ODACIOUS. The first on a jet black fancy Audi. The other on a Lexus sedan. Also. Stickers. I heart Aging and Dying. No baby on board. Feel free to ram me. Toyoda. With yoda ears on the T and the a. I love the way we express ourselves on the back of our vehicles. So revealing. Full disclosure. I have a large decal of Lake Superior on the back window of Ruby. And, an ADL Dissent is Patriotic on a side window. There are too the cars seemingly held together by stickers like the occupants got started on the project and just. couldn’t. stop.


    On December 20th, 2014 Tom Crane and I loaded Rigel, Vega, and Kep in Ivory. All three trazodoned. Tom drove straight through. We talked the whole way. Talking story. The conversation continues now, eight years later. Gertie rode with Kate in the rental van filled with stuff we didn’t want the movers to take. I remember Kate telling me she bought Gertie a hamburger at one of their stops. A satisfied dog.

    These have not been easy years. No. They have been fulfilling, satisfying years though. Deep intimacy between Kate and me, especially as she began her long decline. Putting cancer in the chronic illness box. Being here for the kids and Jon after the divorce. Now for Ruth and Gabe after Jon’s death. Becoming part of the CBE community. Making friends. Learning from the ancient civilization of the Jews. Kabbalah. The Torah. Mussar. Talmud. Mitzvahs.

    The Wild Neighbors. The Mountains. The Streams. The hiking. Mountain adjustments. Four Seasons. Eight Seasons. The Mountain Fall. Golden Aspens. Against green Lodgepoles. Black Mountain punctuated with gold, then green. Snow flocked in Winter. Wildflowers in the Mountain Spring. Fawns. Kits. Cubs. Elk and Moose Calves. The long Summers. Beautiful in their own right, yet also angsty with the ever present threat of Wildfire.

    Living here has been, is an adventure. In relationships. In deep learning. An immersion in the world of Mountains. After the world of Lakes and Rivers and rich Soil.

    So much more to see. To learn.


    Visited Carmax yesterday. The Jeep. Prepared to sell it, then Uber home. A first for me. But. Can’t take a North Carolina power of attorney. Colorado makes it difficult. Do you want me to get you the necessary papers? Yes. Talked to Sarah while the nice lady in the blue Carmax smock did that. Took fifteen minutes. Many pieces of paper. Post it notes. Sign here stickers. OK. Thanks. Back up the hill.


    Got two calendars as presents.  Aimed at different parts of me. A Zen Calendar from Tom. A New Yorker Cartoons calendar from Sarah and Jerry. Yep. I recognize both of those guys as resident within me. Wonderful to be seen.



  • I witness. I wait.

    Beltane and the Moon of Sorrow

    Thursday gratefuls: MVP last night on calmness of soul. Calmness of soul. Kate’s many improvements, her seder practice. Seoah’s frittata. Rain. Thunder. Another cool morning. Pictures of nearby bears on Nextdoor Shadow Mountain. One really big guy. Cataracts maturing. The morning sun, rising bright.

    I have no clue how others see me. For some reason. Weird to discover this at 73, but there you are. The person my ancient friends described a couple of weeks ago? Huh? I mentioned this to Kate and she said, well, you’ve never cared how others see you. True. And, not true. I mean, I want to be seen favorably; but, I’m not willing to pay for it with my integrity. No one wants to be reviled. At least I don’t think so. Not sure what this means, but it feels strange to realize.

    Got pretty far behind on the Talmud. Questioning my commitment. Is it worth the amount of time required? Maybe not for me. I can’t tell if this question has arisen because I’ve let it slip, 7 days now, or because I find it interesting, but only sometimes. Maybe not enough to keep at it for seven and a half years? Yes, I like long projects. But. I also have to like the long project itself. Leaning toward bagging it.

    Loft reorganization report. Yes, you might be surprised to know that this is still underway. Getting much closer, but the fiddly stuff toward the end always takes a while. Filing. Redoing some decisions. Maybe this week? Really looking forward to a finished job.

    Why so slow? A major job. Paying attention to other things led to me piling books and papers here and there. Not exactly new, but I let it go on for a while. Then. OK. This is too much. Things have to change. Passed that point well over a month ago. I’m moving furniture, books, files, painting and sumi-e brushes, inks, paints. Had to clear off the tops of the book shelves to accommodate new additions to my library.

    Also, I can only work on it for a limited period of time until I get weary. This is a psychic thing I don’t fully understand. Yes, there’s a lot of mental energy in deciding what to do with this and that, where that file or set of files needs to be, which books go together, how I can set up my painting and sumi-e to best support my work. OK. Maybe that explains it actually. Well, that plus Lupron.

    Oh. Final introspection. My practice for calmness of soul is, whenever I see my image-mirror, zoom, elsewhere-I will recall this phrase from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself: I witness and I wait. See below.

    From Song of Myself, Walt Whitman

    Trippers and askers surround me,
    People I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward and city I live in, or the nation,
    The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors old and new,
    My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues,
    The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I love,
    The sickness of one of my folks or of myself, or ill-doing or loss or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations,
    Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news, the fitful events;
    These come to me days and nights and go from me again,
    But they are not the Me myself.

    Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
    Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,
    Looks down, is erect, or bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,
    Looking with side-curved head curious what will come next,
    Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it.

    Backward I see in my own days where I sweated through fog with linguists and contenders,
    I have no mockings or arguments, I witness and wait

  • To Rigel

    Beltane and the Corona Lunacy II

    Tuesday gratefuls: Rigel, our amazing 11 year old. “She could pass for five,” said the vet at her physical yesterday. Cool mountain nights. Blue Colorado sky. Being home, having a home. Rocks piled up high, high, high. Streams racing to the leave the Mountain top, to carry its message to the sea.

    Busy Tuesday morning. 7 am meeting of the Clan. Clan Keaton. We celebrate and continue my mom’s family. Right after I took Rigel back to the vet for another tooth removal. Cracked. She comes home in about an hour. High intensity workout. Read Talmud. Nap. The morning.

    Kate goes in tomorrow morning to see the reconstructive surgeon who worked on her fingertips. The scars have mostly healed, but they hurt at the tips and her sensitivity there has not returned. She can sew, but with less dexterity.

    A Mountain spring is here. The forest service moved our wildfire danger from low to moderate. There have already been two smaller fires in Conifer. Covid will impact fire response crews. Those fighting difficult fires are often bunked close together, share equipment, and dining space. Not to mention exhaustion, dehydration. Whatever the impact it will not be positive.

    Another clue about spring. The fine yellow mist shaken from new Lodgepole pine cones has begun to spread on Mountain Winds. There’s a faint layer on my computer keyboard. Animacy is in the air.

    Mark and Mary have finished their terms, but there’s a two week grade challenge window which keeps them at work. Grade challenge window? Geez. Education has changed, eh? Diane’s choral music class from San Francisco’s Community Education program has moved online. She seems resigned to eventually getting Covid. She tested negative in a community testing program last week. The clan wends its international way through this international pandemic.

  • Thanks for coming to work

    Spring and the 1% sliver of the Leap Year Moon

    Monday gratefuls: A chicken! King Sooper had a chicken! I got the second to last one. Drug makers. Pharmacists. Nurses, especially nurses. All health care workers, all around the world. Politicians, in particular U.S. governors and mayors, actually confronting the crisis. Democrat senators holding the line for working people. Fear. Keeps people inside.

    Grateful for Brother Mark, confronting a difficult time in Saudi Arabia, doing well. Staying in touch with his colleagues, learning new tech. So many of us have to make dramatic changes in our working lives. Those who can. Hurray!

    I think about all those folks like waiters and chefs and busboys and retail store workers whose jobs have disappeared. A good time to be retired. A good time to have sold your company. Though there is that falling market thing.

    I’m on daf 8b, the second side of page 8, of Shabbat, the second tractate of the Talmud, a collection of commentary on the mishnah, written legal theory from the older oral tradition. I just got daf 17 of Shabbat today, so I’m closing in on being current. I’ll get back to one a day this week for sure.

    Went to the grocery store, King Sooper, yesterday. Found, 9 days after I started looking, a whole chicken. That means I can make the chicken noodle soup that Kate likes so well. After my workout this morning. No more than 3 chicken products, no more than 3 ground beef. Signs. King Sooper looked somewhat less devastated than Safeway did last week. Perhaps the panicked ones have begun to calm down, realizing this is a marathon, not a sprint.

    Pharmaceuticals. I went to King Sooper because I needed to pick up an albuterol inhaler that I use for exercise. Oh, the clerk said, I have two for you. Of the same thing? Yes, I’ll take the $10 one. She laughed. The other, brand name inhaler, was $94. Same drug, same amount, same delivery method. Which one would you choose? Everybody got a good laugh.

    I tell each clerk thank you for coming to work. We need you and you’re here. At the liquor store I asked the guy how business was. Slow today, but really busy last week. Well. You might have to help out the other small businesses. You’re right, he said. I might.

    King Sooper was not crowded unlike my Safeway trip. In Safeway the aisles were full, people looked dazed. At King Sooper yesterday folks looked like purposeful shoppers, finding what they needed, not in OMG I gotta get to the toilet paper aisle mode. The tables were gone, but the in-story Starbucks was open.

    Tried to get some takeout from Rocky Mountain Wraps, but they had closed. Sunday hours. We’re encouraged here to get takeout from restaurants and tip well, try to help the small business folks. I plan to over the next weeks. It’s nice to have some variety. Seoah made a shrimp and pasta meal last night that was very good.

    Saw today that restrictions need to get tighter if we’re to control the viruses spread. OK with us.

  • Cut Precious Stones

    Spring and the Leap Year Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: the long shabbat. the damage being done to Trump’s presidency. By himself. The solar snow shovel. Scott Simpson’s note about his journey back from Colorado. Ode’s crane stories. Crane. Again, still, the truckers, shelvers, nurses, clerks, doctors, cleaners, gas station attendants. Hope we remember their service afterward. The loft.

    Shelter in place. Not yet an order here in Colorado. But. I looked at its parameters in California. Only essential visits: medical facilities, groceries, outdoor activities with others 6 feet away, caring for others who need in home assistance. Then I thought. Huh. Kate and I have been doing shelter in place for more than a year and a half. CBE events being the only major deviation. Odd, but the case.

    Reading the news is like watching a slow motion car wreck. Can’t watch. Can’t look away. A mathematics professor from the U.ofCo.’s Biofrontiers Institute compared our current situation to those in Florida awaiting a predicted hurricane. Everything looks normal, feels the same. But 8 days away is a powerful disrupter. It’s not a question of whether, but when.

    Got way behind on reading the Talmud, but the stay-at-home mode has allowed me to begin catching up. Maybe today. Wondered the other day about why I was doing this. It’s a huge commitment and it isn’t my tradition. If I found it uninteresting, I would quit. And, some of it is pretty boring. Berkahot, the first tractate which I finished yesterday, had many entries about the times for prayer, about where to pray, how many folks it took to pray. It ended strong though with many entries on modesty and where to defecate. Yes, really. The Talmud finds all of life worthy of commentary.

    It’s like travel for me. Immersing myself in a strange world, one complete unto itself. Not mine, but human. Therefore interesting. There’s another aspect of it that’s like travel. I can say I’ve been there. Outside the world of Judaism nobody would care, but within Beth Evergreen, in other Jewish places, having done the Daf Yomi is like having gone on the Haj. It’s a mark of honor.

    Perhaps the most salient reason is that the Talmud provides context for my life on the ancientrail of former slaves from Egypt, a people whose wandering is not over.

    Here’s an example from near the end of Tractate Berkahot: “Bar Kappara taught: A person should always teach his child a clean and simple craft. The Gemara asks: What craft is considered clean and simple? Rav Ḥisda said: Cutting precious stones.”

  • Seven years, five months, 26 days to go

    Winter and the Future Moon

    Tuesday gratefuls: Kate removing my sutures. Shelly for a quick and relatively painless shot of Lupron. Ali Baba for great gyros, hummus. Those who built the mountain roads. Those who built and maintain the mountain power lines. Golden Solar for installing our solar panels.

    Fourth day of Daf Yomi. Only seven years, 5 months and 26 days to go. I’ve always liked long books, long movies, long tv series. Daf Yomi has a similar resonance though its length puts it in a class all by itself. Well, wait. Not quite. Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the great Chinese classic novel, is well over 2,000 pages, too. It’s not, however, as dense and clever as the Talmud. It took a long while to read, but not years. Months.

    Reading the Talmud, as a first-timer, is a challenging and intriguing experience. It swerves from topic to topic, sometimes in apparently unrelated ways, but seems to come back to a particular issue.

    Let me give you an example. The major question since the first page has been when to recite the Shema: Hear o Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. (longer, but this is the essential verse.) The affirmation of monotheism is bedrock for Jewish faith and practice.

    Reciting the Shema during the night, when to do it, has taken up the first four Talmudic pages. The questions are many. When is it night? When is it midnight? When is it morning? How do we know the three (or, maybe four) watches of the night? In a time before precise clocks these were urgent questions if reciting these prayers was critically important. And, their recitation was critically important.

    In the discussion about how we know when it’s midnight, one rabbi answers that David got up at midnight to pray and study Torah. How did he know it was midnight? He hung his lyre by his bed and when the north wind blew on the lyre its sounds marked midnight. On the question.

    But then the question becomes one of David’s piety. Raised, I suppose, by the fact that he got up at midnight to pray and study. Several paragraphs go back and forth on the question of his piety, then we return to the central issue, how do know when to recite the night time Shema?

    This may sound dry, even Jesuitical (eh, Bill?), but it’s actually lively, full of stories and a certain kind of logic chopping that I’m familiar with from philosophy. In short, I’m liking it.

    Better than a Lupron shot in the butt. Which I also got yesterday.

    But wait. I can hear one of the Rabbi’s say, the Lupron shot was to save your life, how is reading the Talmud better than saving your life? Because its significance goes beyond life to matters of the soul.

    This is tricky for me since my belief system shuttles away from particular traditions, but I recognize the questions and love the playfulness with which they are addressed. Reading Talmud for me, like reading Torah or the New Testament is a lesson in metaphor, analogy, not in prescriptions. More on this later, too.

  • Daf Yomi

    Winter and the Future Moon

    later Monday gratefuls: The Talmud, the extraordinary reach of Jewish history, CBE, Rabbi Jamie, Alan. Mussar. Kabbalah.

    Because the time seemed propitious I’ve embarked on a seven and a half year journey called Daf Yomi. A Daf is both sides of a page, A and B, in the Talmud. Daf Yomi means “daily page.” It’s an old, old discipline of reading through the entire 2,711 pages of the Babylonian Talmud at the pace of Daf Yomi, a page a day.

    A cycle begins every seven and a half years. Jews and other interested folks all over the world follow the Daf Yomi schedule. It’s easy in that Sefaria, an online library of Jewish traditional texts, has the entire Babylonian Talmud (there’s a Jerusalem Talmud, too) online. MyJewishLearning has a set of brief e-mails, one a day, that provide a link to the text on Sefaria, and a short commentary.

    Not sure what this will bring, but it’s another way of learning about the tribe among whom I live.