We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.

The New West

Written By: Charles - Nov• 18•20

Samain and the Moon of Thanksgiving

Wednesday gratefuls: Mountain Waste. Doctors. The one here and the ones out there. Roads. The builders of Colorado Mountain roads. His Dark Materials. Phillip Pullman. Friends. Caregiving. Tsundoku. Collecting books you have not read. William Schmidt. Bill. As he goes through the next 14 days. Tom on December 1st. Carne asada unthawing. Carnitas and beans for supper.

Red Sky in the morning through the Lodgepoles. A western greeting. When it’s red like this, I always think of Louis L’Amour. I’ve only read one of his. It surprised me. The prose was more like Dashiel Hammet. I think it was Riders of the Purple Sage.

When we moved out here, I expected cowboy hats, western shirts, cowboy boots, maybe guns on the hip. Bars with half-doors on spring pivots. Lotta chaw. I have been disappointed. There is the occasional Stetson. Cowboy boots are the most common of the things I mentioned. Very few western shirts, though attending the Great Western National Stockshow saw many of them. It’s the rodeo guys, the paid cowboy entertainers, who dress western.

Although. Yesterday when we got our hair done, Jackie showed me pictures of her son’s wedding. The minister, her son and his bride stood on a large boulder. Her proud father, all dressed in black with a black Stetson and belt with silver stood off to the side below as did the small number of wedding guests. The chairs were hay bales with Diné blankets. This western culture lives on among ranchers. It’s more of a rural thing.

Denver and its metro area, including the Front Range where Kate and I live, is the New West. Skiers, hikers, back country campers, and many millennials have added themselves to the state. In spite of the many bumper stickers like Native, Colorado: We’re full. This change irritates the hell out of “native” Coloradans. Who are, in my opinion, feeling a slight taste of the angst their ancestors gave the Utes, the Apaches, and the Comanches who lived here first. They’re not native here. No one is, in the longview. It took those wandering tribes from Asia a while to populate North America, but even the earliest of them weren’t here 50,000 years ago. But, as we used to say in the first grade, those early nations did have dibs on the land.

This change in the human population has changed both the physical and political landscapes. The number of hard rock mines here, hard rock mines with toxic runoff and piles of toxic tailings literally dot the mountainous part of the state. After the Indian wars, the settlement of Colorado got a big push from Eastern mining and railroad interests, plus one pulse of gold diggers. Pikes Peak or bust. Most, almost all, busted. There was gold here. And silver. And magnesium. So many minerals that a college, The Colorado School of Mines, has taken a storied place in both the states recent past and mining around the world. The mines, the railroads, even the stockyards that grew up around the ranches and the confluence of north/south rail lines, were not locally owned, nor locally controlled. Colorado was, back then, a vassal state of financiers, industrialists, and railroad owners like James J. Hill.

That’s the second big lie behind the nativist bumper stickers. These faux natives of Colorado did not “own” it. Those who saw the West, the Rockies in particular, as a source of resources for their own plans, did. They controlled the politics and the wealth. Those so-called natives descended from peasants who worked the land and mountains for Wall Street feudal lords. The New West, the new Colorado, has its own Fortune 500 companies. The space, technology and military presence here makes Colorado a unique blend of highly educated workers and outdoors enthusiasts. It also means that the state has gone from red to purple to blue over the last few decades. Again, a process highly irritating to those who want to close our borders to new residents.

Kate and I are part of the New West, the new Colorado. So are many of our neighbors. We have moved West as Horace Greeley once urged young men to do. Sort of. Many of us came from the humid east, but many come from Texas and California. Colorado, by a slim majority, became the first state to mandate by popular vote, the reintroduction of wolves. The natives were the chief opposition. The rancher crowd and the hunting oriented outdoors folks. This will not be their first defeat along environmental lines. We also elected a gay Governor, Jared Polis, two years ago, after having been called the Hate State not twenty years ago.

When I consider all this, I’m not surprised any more at the low relevance of old west motifs. My fleece and plaid shirt, denim and hiking shoes, are the dress of the New West. At least for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for the Body Contact

Written By: Charles - Nov• 17•20

Samain and the Moon of Thanksgiving

Tuesday gratefuls: Kate’s good days. Cottage pie. Rigel in the bed. Her licking my hand this morning. Kep peeking over the edge of the bed, “Get up, Get up!” Charlie Haislet, may his treatments succeed. CBE. The blues shabbat this Friday. Chess. Stefan Zweig. His Dark Materials. Phillip Pullman. Vaccines. Covid. Sleep. Electric blanket. Cool nights.

 

The other night Kep got up, turned around three times, and laid down with his back snug up against mine. I know this is probably weird to non-dog people and that some dog people say my dog will never be in my bed. Fair enough. For me, however, it was an affirmation of the hug. Of love between species. And, it got me thinking. About hugs and sex and general body contact.

When I was in Seminary in the early 1970’s, all of us had to go through the University of Minnesota’s sex education seminar. No, it was not pictures of penises and vaginas with pointers and the guy who couldn’t teach anything else in charge. No, this was a week long event, the chairs were bean bags, and there was the “desensitization” morning where they showed multiple pornographic films at the same time. The idea was to produce clergy who were not afraid of either their sexuality or the sexuality of their parishioners. Not sure whether it achieved that lofty goal, but it did make conversations about sex and sexuality easier.

“Thank you for the body contact.” We learned to say this whenever we bumped into someone or accidentally brushed up against another person. I know. But, it was the 1970’s. The purpose of this phrase was laudable, imo. Normalize body contact, don’t fear the touch of another. Of course, boundaries. Of course. But don’t treat contact with another as if it meant they had cooties. Or, Covid. Yes, in today’s Covid infected world this advice would be anathema, but Covid won’t last. Hugs and touching will.

Anyhow, I went immediately, as you might imagine, to the concept of dasein. Heidegger’s idea of being there, of being in the world, reminds us that our place in this world extends beyond the limits of our body, beyond our skin, into the worlds of the other. In some ways this is obvious since our sensorium collects information from all around us, even from very far away. In a variation on this idea I’ve seen recent articles suggest mind is not limited to our body either, and for some of the same reasons.

Existence before essence*. Wherever you may stand on this philosophical chestnut, hugs and sex and hand shaking and accidental bumps into another affirm the existence of an-other. If you think hard about being in your own body, you can come to the conclusion, as the Sophists did, that you and your body is the only thing that matters. In fact, you can stretch it to include the idea that you might be the only thing in existence. That’s solipsism. You’ll just have to trust me that you can get there logically, unless you already knew that. I reject it, as I imagine you might, too.

Though we might not go that far, it is easy, especially now during the wear a mask, don’t touch, wash your hands moment we’re all having, to not contact another warm body. Spouses and dogs, children being the important exceptions. Feeling Kep’s 102 degree body heat radiating from his body to mine made his presence very real. As did the weight of him. More than that. It was love that prompted him to lie down next to me, close enough that we touched. Kep’s dasein and mine became entangled for that time.

In my world existence does precede essence. Your presence and how you show up is much more important to me than your “human nature.” As my presence and how I show up is more important to myself than whatever human nature I might be said to have. We need reminding though of the flesh and blood reality of the other. That they are like us in some fundamental manner even if it’s not something we can understand or access. Hugs. Sex. Handshakes. Crowded rooms. Or, the simple act of a dog, a friend, a life partner.

Thanks, Kep, for the body contact.

 

 

*The proposition that existence precedes essence is a central claim of existentialism, which reverses the traditional philosophical view that the essence of a thing is more fundamental and immutable than its existence.Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

 

Covid Noise

Written By: Charles - Nov• 16•20

 

Samain and the Moon of Thanksgiving

Monday gratefuls: Sushi Win. Spring rolls. Sushi Win special roll. Wonton soup. Dumplings. Night off from cooking. Tonight: Easy Entrees Cottage Pie. A new Moon. The power of democratic traditions and norms. Evident now, at least to me. The Stars in the Heavens. The Mountains and Oceans on Earth. The fruited plains. The dark soils of the Midwest. The Colorado River. The Central Valley of California. The Yangtze. The Danube. The Mississippi. The Missouri.

Soon there will be turkey and dressing and pumpkin pie.

But. We’ll need to imagine going over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house because gram and gramps are at high risk for two deadly diseases: the flu and Covid 19. It’s gonna be a long distance holiday, as I imagine Christmas will be, too. This holiseason will be memorable for what we don’t do more than what we do. Talked with Joe the other day and we’re thinking July, around Seoah’s July 4 birthday. Maybe in their new home on Oahu. Virtual dessert with Kate’s sisters, maybe the same with Jon and the kids. Christmas and Hanukah. To be decided.

Good news about the vaccines. Two different companies reporting 90% and 95% effectiveness. Yes. Maybe we’ll be able to see this whole thing in the rear view by next summer or fall. God, I hope so. Right now I’m satisfied with the disappearance of Trump from my list of things to consider when I wake up. I mean really satisfied. So much so that Covid seems distant, static being played on the planet’s radio. The noise doesn’t get here.

Not true though. Jackie, our hair stylist, got it. She’s a friend. The closest in to our circle that I know who’s had it. We see her tomorrow. No, we’re not gonna join in the great American Covid experiment if we can help it.  Too old, too much risk. When I drove over to Sushi Win yesterday to get some take out, a small restaurant had a banner sign that said, “Come on, Evergreen. Let’s get busy living.” On their patio, in 45 degree weather, several sat maskless eating. It’s that attitude and that sort of carelessness that is driving our current surge. And, note, this is a surge in the first wave. We never flattened the curve. We sorta smushed it toward down a couple of times, but we never behaved well enough to gain control. If we had…

The era of corporate logos on astronauts and space mining took a blazing step forward with the SpaceX launch of crew headed to the space station. Up, up, and away!

Zeisty

Written By: Charles - Nov• 15•20

 

Samain and the moon of Thanksgiving

Sunday gratefuls: The Wind. Snow. The Stars at Night through the bedroom window, between the Lodgepoles and the Aspen. Kate’s good day yesterday. Conversation with Marilyn and Irv on Zoom. Seeing their two Puppies. Biden wins Arizona and Georgia. Living in the Rocky Mountains. The Snow fall yesterday. Beautiful. Holiday feeling. Talking to Joe yesterday. Murdoch and his eventual trip to Hawaii. Brenton. A very good guy.

Before falling asleep last night the zeitgeist kept coming up. Yeah, I know. But, what are you gonna do? The mind goes where it wants sometimes. I leaned into it. Tried to see the world from 90,000 feet. What’s really going on right now that’s unique to our time, transformational? I came up with four core things: late stage capitalism, climate change, identity politics, and covid. These four drive, I believe, the forces that make our time so chaotic. This is not the first chaotic time in world history, nor will it be the last, but it is ours.

Late stage capitalism. I’m no Marxist. I don’t know enough about Marxist economics. But this idea, at least as I understand, seems true. In the latter stages of a capitalist economy a funny thing happens on the way to store. You get a consumer driven economy. That’s the end result hoped for and now realized in the U.S., getting there in China, Europe’s there, so is Singapore.

Here’s the problem. It’s the Gordon Gecko, “Greed is good.” dilemma. Sure, greed drives a lot of imaginative innovation. Sure, a capitalist economy delivers a lot of stuff to a lot of people. And, yes, greed has lifted a lot of people out of poverty. Greed is the dirty intimate secret of the last 75 years, not often discussed in polite conversation, but felt in by so many of us. The problem with capitalism is that it doesn’t understand the concept of enough.

No, this is not a screed against profits. Profits are necessary for businesses to, well, stay in business. I get that. The problem lies in the so called mandate to always deliver the most value to the share holders. Or, the mandate to collect as much as you can in cash and other assets from whatever business you choose. That means you gotta drive wages as low as you can. That’s a major cost factor. But. The lower wages go, the less an individual can consume. It’s the classic ouroborous moment where the snake begins to eat itself. But, the mandate is to collect as many profits as possible. Greed, shareholder value, whatever floats your boat, The Good Old Rationalization. It’s a yacht, no doubt.

The endpoint of this process is our current Gilded Age where money and assets get driven up the class structure until we have the patently absurd situation where the top 10 percent own 70 percent of U.S. wealth and since 1989 the top 1 percent expanded their wealth share from 24 percent to 32 percent. Statista. Then comes a recession. Or, a covid based contraction of the economy. Suddenly the consuming classes no longer have jobs and begin bleeding out any assets they may have accumulated. The economy tilts badly. The more wealth at the top, the less there is for consumers to use to drive the economy. And, this is driven directly by the logic of capitalism. Greed, Gecko type greed. That is late stage capitalism working its way toward a time when the 70 percent have so little share in the economy that they can no longer participate or their participation level becomes insufficient to support a consumer based economy.

Running right alongside late stage capitalism is climate change. Late stage capitalism is, I believe, the primary driver in the authoritarian political renaissance. Workers and families whose share of the pie decreases are ripe for exploitation by demagogues. Make America Great Again. Economic tension also raises the stakes for racists who see the other as taking away what that small piece they have. And, in their minds, are entitled to. Well, it is also drive climate change. The mad dash for profits funneling wealth up to the top 10%, the top 1%, is literally fueled by fossil fuels. Any major transition away from fossil fuels eats into profits. This makes even those who understand the science behind climate change hesitant to incur the costs associated with renewable energy. It means the existing energy system, which has concentrated a lot of the wealth, has a political stake in the status quo.

Intersectional identity politics, that is, getting and retaining justice for persons marginalized by the broom sweeping money upward, and/or marginalized for some other reason, has taken hold. A core demand of the new era will be an economy and a social structure that includes the other: the person of a different color, a different gender, a different belief, a different nationality, a different economic status.

And, finally, covid. Of the four it is the least important over the long term and by far the most significant over the short term. It makes thinking about how to move forward so difficult. It kicks so many out of work. It kills so many and disables so many others. And, for each of those killed or disabled, there are families harmed. It will not be easy to dig out from under the after effects of covid. Though I do believe it helped push the Donald back where he belongs, out of the presidency and hopefully into prison. It also ups the ante for late stage capitalism. In many ways.

Anyhow, that’s my spirit of the age thoughts from last night before I went to sleep.

Building a Pier

Written By: Charles - Nov• 14•20

Samain and the waning crescent of the Moon of Radical Change

Saturday gratefuls: Romertopf clay cookers. The chicken who gave its life for our meal. The root vegetables in it, too: potatoes, carrots, leeks, garlic. The snow, may it keep coming.  Kate in a better day so far today. Caring Bridge and those who reply on it. Biden. The POTUS: Pouter of the United States. Kamala Harris. Joe on Oahu. Seoah. Mary. Margus. Diane. Feeling good about cooking.

 

What a bare and sad existence the New Atheists must have. The vast poetry and insight of the world’s religions cast away by a reductive “philosophical” argument. A shame they couldn’t just be atheists-like so many of us-and not make the mistake of intellectual ignorance and arrogance. Let’s say there was a God, of some kind. Would a true God waste any time on people who insisted She didn’t exist? Of course not. Oh, She might throw the small doubt in there occasionally, She might do a miracle or two, you know, just to piss them off; but, otherwise so what? Why waste energy on folks whose mean existence requires tearing down the beliefs and hopes of others.

Oh, I have had my new atheist moments, yes. They’re easy to come by when white evangelicals link arms with white racists and the Pouter POTUS. Or, when shouts of allahu akbar ring out before an explosion in a crowded spot. Or, when each new revelation of child rape by a Roman Catholic priest surfaces. But in fact all of these use their belief as an excuse. The behavior they exhibit is anathema and blasphemy even within their own faiths.

Me, I’m taking guidance wherever I can find it. My friend Paul Strickland mentioned in a conversation a while back that I seem to take things from many religions. That’s true, but I’m no syncretist. I’m not searching for the underlying unity of the world’s faiths. And, btw, they are NOT all teaching love. I also take guidance from art, other cultures, especially Japan and China, and folks I meet.

Paul’s comment got me thinking about what does constitute religious/spiritual guidance in my life. Here’s a list. I’m not going to expound on them now, and it’s a partial list anyhow, by definition. I wanted to get a start on thinking about the melange I’ve put together.

Ideas, concepts, practices that inform my worldview and my sense of how I as an individual fit into the world/cosmos.

Ayn Sof – Kabbalah

Becoming Native to This Place – Wes Jackson

Ikigai – Japan

Ichi-go ichi-e – Japan

Wabi-sabi – Japan

Wu wei – Taoism

The Tao – Taoism

The Great Wheel – Celts

Bear the burden of the other – Judaism

Chesed (loving kindness) – Judaism

Tikkun Olam – Judaism

Golden rule – Christianity and Judaism

No fear of death – Yamantaka, Tibetan Buddhism, Christianity

The Great Work – Thomas Berry

Vitalist, not a mechanist – mainly Alfred North Whitehead, but also in the Grammar of Animacy from Braiding Sweetgrass

Always learning – Goya

The quest – Tarot, Homer, Joseph Campbell

Dasein – Heidegger

Justice – Christianity and Judaism and the UAW and the civil rights movement

Emergence – Complexity institute

I’m sure I’ll think of more, but right now these are the ones that come to mind. You can think of these as individual pilings in the pier I’m slowly building into the vastness of All.

What’s Now?

Written By: Charles - Nov• 13•20

Samain and the waning crescent Moon of Radical Change

Friday gratefuls: That Kate’s extreme shortness of breath resolved. The fall salad from Easy Entrees. Using the gift cards from Mary, Mark, and Diane at Easy Entrees. Thanks. Seoah and her organized approach to domestic chores. I learned a lot from her. More yet to learn. Seoah and Joe as they try to make a Covid context move from Singapore to Hawai’i. Murdoch’s upcoming journey from Loveland, Colorado to Hawai’i. The Legend of Fuyao. The Winds. Over 20 mph gusts this morning. Moving the Lodgepoles and the Aspen.

The Winds. Our Atmosphere moving weather systems from here to there. A bit warmer weather pushing out the winter like temperatures we had. Winds draw Moisture from the Soil, evaporate Snow, lifts Water out of Creeks, and dries out Plants. Since we’re in a drought and have had very high to extreme fire danger for weeks, the Winds make it worse. The election lifted the Trump off my list of worries (Yes, I know. He’s still there. But, he won’t be.) and I would like Winter and Snows to cancel fire dangers for a while. Let me get back to Kate and Covid.

Kate. Yesterday morning. Extreme shortness of Breath that didn’t resolve until she was in bed for some minutes. Usually lying down takes care of less severe sob (shortness of breath). This morning she has the typical mild fever of a Sjogren’s flare. These incidents exhaust her Body and extinguish any Energy she might have for sewing or other creative projects. Tough. And, we never know when to expect these changes.

She’s resilient and takes these things as they happen. If she didn’t, our situation here would be worse. Even so.

Trump pouting around the Whitehouse. “I won. I really, really won. I won bigly. Voter fraud. Voter fraud. Cheaters and liars. Get me a cheeseburger.” The election drained away his power for me. He’s a lameduck, a has-been, a reject, a loser. A sucker. What happened in the election? What’s going to happen next? How will the next year look? I’m ready to go there. My joy at trump’s ejection has had its moment in my psyche. Not that it’s gone, not at all, but the question of a nation divided, yet needing to move ahead on so many fronts consumes me.

The zeitgeist will determine much of what’s possible. What is the spirit or genius of this age? Depends in part on how you define age. I’m gonna take a big gulp and say this age runs from the end of WWII to whatever is on its way. Why? WWII established the U.S. as a world power. Hard to remember for those in the baby boom since we grew up during the cold war. The Soviet Union and the U.S.ofA. locked in a folie à deux. A psychotic dance routine that featured world eliminating weapon systems, norad, the B52, and spy versus spy. Later on the once and future Trump, Ronald Reagan, would proclaim victory in that cold war. The Berlin Wall fell. And for a brief glaring moment, the US was no longer a world power, but the world power. The Hegemon. Wow. Pretty floaty stuff.

Didn’t last long though. Gore v. Bush. Hanging chads. Those planes. The towers. The falling man. The Hegemon was under attack, under attack by asymmetrical warfare. We lost one war, lost it. Those guys in black pajamas. Tunnels and punji sticks. You would think. But, no. From steamy tropical deserts to the sandy Middle East. Then, into the great sinkhole of imperial powers: Afghanistan. Still there. Still fighting an enemy we don’t understand with weapons honed for big wars. For the cold war.

The Hegemon humbled. The dark powers of the Bush II Presidency, men like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and women like Condoleeza Rice embroiled us in a forever war with people who are not our enemies. Just like the Vietnamese. We could have treated 9/11 as a police matter and used law enforcement. Instead, we went full throttle bomb and kill, just like Bin Laden hoped we would. We may have killed him and it may have felt good. But, he won. We’re stuck in wars with people whose lives were already miserable and we’re ensuring they’ll stay that way for years.

The zietgeist is a realigning of the world order. We’re headed toward regional powers with no superpower. Just how the globe will look, say fifty years from now, I don’t know, but we will not be world police anymore. This realignment has allowed populist demagogues to take power in places like China, Hungary, Brazil, the U.S. By accident it’s happening in the midst of a global pandemic and at a time when the window for effective action on climate change is closing.

What’s the most compelling art work that captures this era?

Diwali. The Hindu celebration of light

Written By: Charles - Nov• 12•20

Samain and the crescent moon of Radical Change with Venus

Thursday gratefuls: A charcuterie of sorts for dinner last night. Marilyn, a true friend, and Irv. Alan today. Ovation West. More good days for Kate. Quieter. More peaceful. Lisa Gidday, retiring. Covid. Snow for its beauty, its moisture, its fire suppression. Good sleeping. Mirabegron. This life, a good one.

Joseph, Seoah, and Mary went to Little India the other night to celebrate the start of Diwali. I went with Mary to the start of Diwali in 2004 when I visited Singapore. Little India has lights, lights, lights. A big Diwali sign graces the main street leading into Little India, stalls are set up selling various kinds of Diwali decorations, and other items related to Hindu gods and goddesses.

Singapore’s Veerama Kali Amman Temple, built by Joseph’s fellow Bengali’s in 1881, has extra significance during Diwali since Bengali’s worship the dark goddess for its whole five days. In other parts of India Diwali focuses more on Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and wisdom.

Diwali began as a harvest festival and is still mainly that in rural India. The rice harvest is in, its time to dance and sing, do puja, especially honoring Lakshmi.  Or, Kali, if you’re a Bengali. Joseph was born in Calcutta, now Kolkatta, the capital of Bengal and the third largest urban economy in all India. He’s not been there since so this Diwali in Little India is special for him.

Diwali is the “biggest and brightest” of all Hindu festivals according to DiwaliLifeFestival.org. As a harvest festival and a festival of lights Diwali conflates Samain, the end of summer and the final harvest festival for the Celts, and Hanukah/Christmas, both holidays that features lots of color, lights, candles.

Several years ago, probably 2000, Asian Arts curator Bob Jacobsen taught us new guides at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts about the South and Southeast Asian objects in its collection. In one session he had slides of a trip he had done to Cambodia where he focused on Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat just means Angkor temple and there are over 70 temples in the Angkor area complex, home for centuries to Khmer devarajas, god-kings. Each new devaraja built his own temple.

The temple most often identified as Angkor Wat is the first temple you encounter after passing through the tree shrouded impossibly loud thanks to the howler monkeys road from Siem Reap to Angkor. Bob showed us slides of the churning of the sea of milk, part of a frieze that extends completely around the temple’s first level, a quarter of a mile of carved relief sculpture at eye level. Not sure why but I immediately felt I needed to see it. In person.

When my dad died in 2003, he left each of us a small inheritance and I decided to use some of that money to visit my sister Mary in Singapore, go to Bangkok, and then onto Siem Reap and Angkor in Cambodia. The trip was in 2004. I did not realize then the importance of the churning of the sea of milk to Diwali*, the celebration I had experienced the week before in Singapore’s Little India.

Lakshmi and Ganesha, see picture below, receive puja together during Diwali. Ganesha opens the way, creates opportunities. Lakshmi uses them to create wealth, knowledge, and wisdom.

Diwali is not a well known holiday in the U.S. Even so, I have several personal connections to it and welcome all of them during this delightful time. If you want, you could visit a Hindu temple in your city or area. Lots to see right now.

 

 

  • Lakshmi’s Incarnation into being

The story of Lakshmi’s birth begins when the Devas (minor gods) were in a race against the Asuras (demons) to obtain amrit (the nectar of immorality). The Devas consulted Vishnu who was on earth as Kurma, a tortoise. They decided they would churn the oceans for the amrit. They created to churn by the threading the serpent Vasuki around Mount Mandara. Kurma dived to the ocean floor and balanced Mount Mandara on his back.

In the grip of Kurma’s cosmic clutch, the mountain could not sink into the ocean bed. The gods churned and received the Nectar of Immortality from Lakshmi Devi and then fourteen treasures came to their hands. Lakshmi Chose Vishnu as Her Consort. Vishnu carried Lakshmi from the ocean into His heaven. Each time Vishnu descends on earth as an avatar. He is accompanied by an avatar of Lakshmi.   Diwalilifefestival.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate. And, dance to the music.

Written By: Charles - Nov• 10•20

Samain and the Moon of Radical Change

Tuesday gratefuls: Kate’s long streak of no/little nausea. 4 inches of new snow. White, fluffy. 19 degrees. Most excellent sleeping. Rigel with her head on my pillow last night when I came to bed. Shoveling this morning. My new LL Bean 8″ duckies. Covid. Wildfire risk suppression. All of us, all of us, in the U.S.

 

We’re in holiseason and I want to take a few posts before Thanksgiving to look at holidays that come up during this time period. Over the course of the next couple of weeks we’ll look at Diwali, Thanksgiving, Advent, Posada. Maybe even Black Friday. Ancientrails has been going for 15 years now, 2,000,000 plus words, and time to look back at its roots. When I started Ancientrails after my Achilles tendon surgery and long recovery, I also had an email focused on the Great Wheel holidays. I discontinued that long ago, but I’m feeling the energy from it again. I also want to remind us to widen our focus beyond our self-imposed lockdowns, the transition underway in American politics, the constant news of climate change, hurricanes, wildfires, rabid jellyfish. The universe and our corner of it, this swirling blue planet, are the context for everything. Holiseason offers us several opportunities to place ourselves in it.

Snow covers our solar panels shutting us off from energy generation for the moment. Broken cumulus Clouds have begun to transist from early morning pink to their daytime white. Clear blue Sky behind them. Black Mountain’s 10,000 foot peak has whitened Lodgepoles, as if they reflect the Clouds. It’s been warm here, now edging back toward Winter. A holiday feel at last.

It’s easy for us to get swamped by the quotidian. Groceries. Supper. Illnesses. Masks. Presidents and governments. To imagine that our lives exist only to navigate our way through the material world, putting on clothes and taking them off. Buying a new car. Worrying about retirement. Too easy. Our narrow sensory range, our minds attuned to the present risk, our hearts guarded from hurt. Close us in. We are far more. In a moment we can imagine ourselves in Kathmandu or Shanghai or on the Moon. We can lift our eyes from our phones and see Orion, a crescent moon, an ocean, a far away field. We can take a chance with another person. Open ourselves just a bit more than usual.

Holidays, I think, give us the periodic reminder to do that. Look to history with the Maccabees and Hanukah. Look to gratitude for family and friends at Thanksgiving. Look toward the birth of a death conqueror. Advent. Celebrate the journey of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus into Egypt. Posada. The victory of light over darkness, good over evil, ignorance over knowledge. Diwali. The profoundity and fecundity of the longest night. Winter Solstice/Yule.

Celebrate and dance to the music. Sing the songs. Eat the turkey. Hang a Christmas ornament. Spin a dreidel. Open a flap on an Advent calendar. Let your soul come out to play in this wonderful, magical, gracefilled universe.

Joy, Joy, Joy Deep in My Heart

Written By: Charles - Nov• 09•20

Samain and the Moon of Radical Change

Monday gratefuls: 20 degrees. Some snow on the ground. A marathoner kicking past the house around 6:30 a.m. Training. A Trumpless Whitehouse. The Denver Post delivered. Those ribs from Easy Entrees. Kate’s scallops. The Johnson girls. As they get older. Their sis zoom bar. The Ancient Ones, with Alan added. That strong feeling I get now when I get in the kitchen. I’m a cook. The epitome of androgyny Kate said last night. A compliment in my eyes.

Meme: You know why your candidate lost? You didn’t put enough flags on your truck. Ha.

One thing I keep wanting to do and haven’t gotten around to: figure out how to display an American flag regularly. I don’t want the Gadsden flag crew and their Confederate battle flag allies to continue having exclusive rights. Displaying a flag does not make you a patriot, but its display almost exclusively by the right wing sends that message. The way to reclaim it for all America is for those of on the left, and liberals, too, to fly it. No, I’m not attaching twin gigundos to the back of Ruby. Not even an American flag decal. But, on the property here. Yes. I’ll figure it out. Maybe you will, too.

I will be ready for the post-election critiques. I will. But not just yet. I want to roll in the hay we made last week. Dive into it from the upper deck of the hay mow. Disappear in it, swimming through the hay like a happy, happy fish. That hay mow smell, that’s America, the old America, the one I grew up in.

The farm. Many of us had one in our family because many families created by WWII vets had farmers in their family. The farm in our family was just outside Morristown, Indiana. Family lore has it that Grandpa won it on a bet at the horse track. Its believable, he was that sorta guy, but I do not know the truth of it. Riley, the only boy out of my Mom’s four sibs, ended up living on the farm. I don’t know the story behind how that happened. Many summers I would spend a week or so there along with some time in town with my Grandma, Mabel.

Lots of good memories. The smell of cedar. The old artesian well that kept the milk cans cool for collection. The moss on it and the damp darkness of its shed. The corn crib with its shucked ears of feed corn. And, the hay mow. Of course, this was all a really long time ago. 60 plus years for some of the memories, but they feel current, alive. Just down the gravel road back toward town, after a bend in the road, is Hancock cemetery. Many of my Keaton relatives, including Uncle Riley and Aunt Virginia, Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt Barbara and several others are buried there. Richard, my first cousin, now lives on the farm, and, like Uncle Riley, is the main caretaker for the cemetery. Small town, rural roots. Me.

Those were good times, but of course they had their darkness. As does this election. This is not the time for either. Now is the time for connecting today with yesterday and through that lens seeing tomorrow. Enjoy the victory. I sure am.

Roll Up Your Sleeves

Written By: Charles - Nov• 08•20

Samain and the Moon of Radical Change

Sunday gratefuls: My country. Released. Our country. Freed. This experiment in justice and equality as a way of governing continues after a four year 180 degree turn. Pressure. Beautiful political pressure on this moment from: Covid! Thank you, thank you, thank you. Climate change. Just cool it. Black Lives Matter. Change policing. Fight systemic racism. And those of us who wanted to remove the Presidency and the Federal government from our list of worries. And, to that great wakin’ up mornin’ on January 20th. Yes.

Can you imagine? The Proud Boys. The Three Percenters. The Klan. All lining up for protection detail. To keep Biden alive! Because look who’s waiting just next door. A woman! OMG. And, she’s black. She’s Indian. Don’t let him die, lord.

Want to get your worry mode back on for a minute? America’s Next Strongman Will Be Much More Competent. Thank you Atlantic for the perfect antidote to joy.

Looking forward to Thanksgiving. Yes. Thanks, America. Thanks. I mean, really. I’m grateful that enough of us recognized the evil that lurked behind the Resolute Desk to ram his pirate ship and sink it. He stole the treasure that was our peace of mind. He stole the lives of so many in the Covid crisis. He stole our reputation in the international community. He grabbed Lady Liberty by her short hairs and would. not. let. go. He mocked the disabled, caged children, and started tariff wars with our allies. He loved the strongmen and ridiculed the sane, stable, steady leaders of the world. He had, as one meme has it: no books, no art, no music, no decency, no history. He was id on wheels. And, he was, for a way too long period of time, our President.

Not sure about Joe Biden’s actual politics. What he might have wanted to do in a Presidency. I am sure history’s weight now falls on his shoulders. So much to be done. Covid, a rational and scientific response. Climate Change, the same. Lifting up and renewing the lives of black, brown, red, yellow citizens. Delivering the fruits of our strong economy to the working class and to those who’ve give up  on finding work. Modeling the sort of relationship men and women, adult men and women, can and should have with each other. That’s plenty. Let’s get to work on that.