• Category Archives Hermitage
  • Introversion. Remembering.

    Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

    Monday gratefuls: The Indy 500. The Monaco Grand Prix. Grandsons. Granddaughters. Kate, missing her this Memorial Day. May be for those fallen in war, yes, but I take it too for those fallen from that most terminal of diseases: life. A second bright blue Sky in a row. The thirst quenched Lodgepoles green and healthy. Aspens beginning to Leaf out. The Iris emerging from the Soil. Kate’s Lilacs have bud’s. Korea. A high apartment. Moving day for my son and his wife. Baseball, America’s game, like basketball, now played all over the world. Neither though as big as soccer.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Gabe, his sweet smile

    One brief shining: Sometimes I doubt my introversion since I enjoy being with people, talking, listening, laughing, learning then I have a week like last week Dismantling Racism, lunch with Marilyn and Irv and Heidi, dogsitting Leo, getting Kep’s remains, Rabbi Jamie, then Rebecca, Leslie’s funeral, Ode and Dennis that night, a missed massage due to traffic delays in Evergreen, mussar, breakfast with Alan in Denver, three hard workouts, and then baseball with Gabe even with some down time interspersed the emotional intensity of last week drained my social battery, left me with no charge and I thought oh I see yes you introverted guy.

     

    Glad to have a full day here on Shadow Mountain with nothing to do. Saturday the same helped but baseball wore me out all over again. The driving. All the people. Those hard seats. Dealing with parking. Yeah. Fun, sure. But also. Oh, my.

    Days with nothing on the calendar shine for me. I can work on Ancientrails, cook for myself, maybe do some chores. Read. Watch a movie. Hike. I’ve begun too putting these on my calendar: go anywhere days. Also days with nothing in them but days I can get up in the morning and drive to Gunnison, see the Black Canyon. Stay overnight somewhere if I want. Short trips, beginning to see Colorado. None yet but coming up this summer.

    Today has these elements: breakfast, workout. Watch the Monaco Grand Prix on F1 TV. Recorded. Make some lunch or not. Dinner if not. Start reading Fever in the Heartland. Thanks, Ode. Get outside some.

     

    A word about Memorial Day. Imagine all the graves, all over the world. The dead from wars of all kinds. Colonial wars. Wars for land, for slaves, for God and country, blood and soil. Wars of liberation. Wars between Kings, between countries, between tribes. Economic wars where the winners scoop up all the wealth and leave hardly any for the gleaners who work in filling station convenience stores, bag groceries, run the cash register at Walmart, Petsmart, Subway. We speak here of lives cut short, lives worn down death coming from exhaustion and depression.

    Dennis Ice. Richard Lawson. Others from my high school killed in Vietnam. So. Damned. Senseless. Those WW I and II veterans who lie in Europe in the fields of Normandy, in the Argonne Forest, along the Maginot line, in Germany and Italy and northern Africa. The victims of the Holocaust. Also memorialized here this day.

    We remember of course to acknowledge sacrifice, yes, but can we also remember to learn? I hope so.

     

     


  • Laying-In

    Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

    Thursday gratefuls: Leslie. Her laying-in. CBE. Steve and Jamie Bernstein. Rebecca. Joann. Tara. Irene. Rabbi Jamie. Mark and Dennis. Good conversation last night. Prostate cancer. Liver cancer. Breast cancer. Aging. Stents. Psilocybin. DMT. Bufo Frogs. Mescaline. The 60’s.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Human composting

    One brief shining: Ode thinks my work needs on occasion more juice the trail of droplets not so easy to follow as the short sometimes terse words of my main voice and he’s not wrong but this kind of sentence takes more more of what I’m not sure but more and I do not always have more just what I say and that’s that and I write on.

     

    Leslie’s funeral in addition to the usual kaddish and eulogizing by the Rabbi and memorilization by family and friends had on the title of the service a laying-in ceremony which sounded to me like something for babies you know putting one in the crib for the first time or beside the mother for nursing. Obviously not it. So what.

    After the service had concluded and Leslie’s wonderful life had brought smiles and tears and laughter the two young attendants from Feldman’s mortuary went over to the pine box that held Leslie’s body and took off the top. Inside Leslie had a covering of silk on which those at the service poured wood chips and compost. The laying-in. Human composting.

    Judy Sherman died of ovarian cancer earlier this year. She chose aquamation and had the liquid result poured around a special tree at Seven Stones Cemetery. Body disposal practices have begun to change and change dramatically. Two years ago I did what Kate wanted and had her body cremated. I’ll choose one of these alternatives. Not sure which. Research. The thing they have in common is less to no pollution.

    I found the laying-in ceremony at the same time thoughtful and affecting. Given a paper cup we all dug around in sacks of the wood chips and compost for enough material to fill the cup. Moving to the Pine box we chose where we wanted to distribute the material. I chose what I imagined was her head. Each in turn passed the cup to the next person in line.

    Instead of dust to dust which has an evanescence about it this felt more like earth to earth, a return to the Mother in the way of all animals and plants. It was typical Leslie. A pioneer and in a way that had a certain political edge but a gentle one.

    I dressed up. Sport coat. Gray slacks. Blue shirt. Silk tie. Panama hat. First time in nine years. I knew Leslie and wanted to respect her life. Still felt weird. More like costuming. I remarked to Irene, the dream lady, that it came from a past life.

     

    Dennis and Mark came last night around five. We talked about drugs and art and Mark’s road trip. The upcoming conference in Aspen. I’ll buy them breakfast this morning and send them on their to Paonia where both Dennis and his brother Terence are from. Also where the High Country News is published.

    Good to have Mark here in the flesh. It’s been a while. Dennis is an unassuming guy, bright and like the rest of us hearing aided and surgically restored. In his case six stents thanks to a recent stint in the hospital.

    Massage later this morning, then on to Mussar.


  • Well. That Sucks.

    Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

    Tuesday gratefuls: Leo. Marilyn and Irv. Heidi and Rider. Primo’s. Kep, his ashes and paw print. Another beautiful day in the Mountain hood. Rabbi Jamie talking about ritual. Rebecca. Ode and Dennis. Luke picking up Leo. Blood draw for PSA and testosterone. A good workout. Resting heart rate down to 61. Weight at 145. 5.5 inches tall, down from 5′ 7″. 76. Being alive.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Heidi

    One brief shining: Picked up Kep’s ashes yesterday the receptionist remembered them all she said Rigel was a star as her voice broke when I came back to the car Leo wagged his tail happy to see me in my hand a bag with cloth cord handles, a bamboo box in a blue cloth sack and a small box with silver that held the imprint of Kep’s paw.

     

    When the doctor blurted out Leslie’s diagnosis including that she had less than a month to live, she said, well. That sucks. I won’t be going to Poland. You had to know Leslie but it was in character and a solid way, imho, to meet the guy in black with the sickle. Acknowledgement. No bargaining. Reality. A bit of humor.

    Her service is tomorrow. I’ll be there. And at her shiva tomorrow evening. How we do it.

     

    Left 15 minutes early this morning for an appointment with Rabbi Jamie. Why? Downtown Evergreen is a must see now thanks to a summer long detour away from the lake. On Sunday it took me twenty minutes to get from my side of Evergreen to the synagogue side. Today. No trouble at all so I ended up 15 minutes early rather than 20 minutes late. Sunday was with tourists. Today not so much.

    Rabbi Jamie and I discussed a ritual for crossing the threshold.  A mezuzah hanging will be part of it. Something also about being an elder and a male. We’ll discuss it over time. October 8th at ten am. He told me of a delightful ritual in Nepal. Apparently at 7 a boy becomes a man expected to participate in family and village life in a positive way. That phase lasts for 70 years. Then at 77, the man becomes a child again. On his 77th birthday the man leads a parade through the town where everyone greets him, blesses him. I like that idea, too. We’re going to discuss a late life ritual for men as well for my own situation.

    Also his dad may go on the Israel trip and we could room together. Save us both $1,100. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

     

    After breakfast with Rebecca. Rebecca teaches ESL at a nunnery in northern India, one related to the Tibetan Buddhist diaspora. She’s 80 and travels there once a year for four months or so, living in the same quarters as the nuns. We sat outside at the Parkside in lovely 67 degree and sunny weather Colorado dogs and their humans coming back and forth through the tables.

    Rebecca believes Leslie got a good result with a healthy life up till two weeks before her death. Probably right about that.

    Life in the Mountains. And death.

     

     


  • Regression

    Beltane and the Shadow Mountain Moon

    Monday gratefuls: Gabe and Seo. Aspen Perks. Twist and Shout. Denver. My circuitous route to it courtesy of my GPS. Denver East. High school freshmen. Ruth. A senior in one week. Sounding good. Working two jobs, Starbucks and Rocketfizz. Mia. Leslie, may her memory be for a blessing. Regression? Organizing. Mark and Dennis in Aspen at the Psychedelic Symposium. Then coming here. Leo, quite a good boy. Israel. Korea. Ecuador. Seeing the world again. Mark teaching nurses in Saudi Arabia. Mary winding down the semester in Eau Claire. My son and his wife, their first days back in Korea.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Ruth’s voice last night when we talked

    One brief shining: A modern horror story in one long sentence would be my friend Leslie going into the hospital for a hepatitis workup, coming out with a diagnosis of liver cancer that had metastasized, returning home not to continue her interesting life as a docent at the Denver Art Museum and a retired city planner and a long time member of CBE but to hospice cared for by her daughter Megan and dying yesterday in her sleep, winking out of her world and our world with little more than a week gone by from her visit to the hospital.

     

    The world is too much with us late and soon. Until suddenly it isn’t. Leslie’s death shocked our mussar group and CBE as a whole. So fast. And from a seemingly healthy state. Ye know not the day nor the hour. If she follows Jewish custom, the chevra kadisha committee from CBE will sit with her body around the clock for the three days before her burial. Jews believe the soul doesn’t leave the body for three days after death. A pine box and a grave follow. Shiva for the family. These days, as with Kate, often only one or two days rather than the traditional seven.

    Don’t know Leslie’s age, but she was a rough contemporary.

     

    Spent the morning and early afternoon with Seo and Gabe. Breakfast at Aspen Perks. A drive into Denver to go to the Twist and Shout vinyl record store. Gabe picked up Dark Side of the Moon. Dropped them off at their homes and went back to Shadow Mountain for a brief, thirty minute lie down, then over to CBE for the last of Dismantling Racism classes. At which we discussed next steps. An odd feeling came over me as this discussion went on. I found myself pulling back, listening to the ideas thrown back and forth, no one settling on a direction, a plan. My inner organizer winced, felt tired.

    As I drove home, I wondered if this might be a regressive activity for me. I had one before when I tried to reenter the ministry as a UU clergy. Spent a long time getting through the process, then to an internship in Unity at St. Paul. Kate said it was a mistake. I couldn’t see it. Then I made the very stupid decision to say yes to a job there as their minister of development. Again Kate said it was a mistake. It was. About as far from what I’m good at as I can imagine. I resigned, finally, to everyone’s relief.

    Regressions find us wanting to go back, pick up something we left behind, something that was unfinished. These feelings made me return to the Marginalian to pick up this paragraph, a summary of Karen Horney’s thoughts in her last book.* The organizer is one of those Russian nesting dolls that lives now deep within me. Followed by the writer, Kate’s husband, the dog lover, the horticulturist, the cook, the docent, the Coloradan, the mourner and the griever, the Grandpa, the camp follower Jew, the Hermit on Shadow Mountain, the lover of deepening relationships, the traveler. He’s of the past, still loved and appreciated, held in a position of honor among my past selves, but really not me anymore. He likes to feel he could still flex his muscles, stand in front of a group of strangers and call out from them a course of action that would give them at least a partial remedy to the pains of their lives.

    He was good at what he did and his work satisfied the me of my thirties and early forties in a profound way. Making a substantial difference for at least a few people for a particular moment in time. Some differences still at work like the Jobs Now Coalition, The Minnesota Council on Non-Profits, The Metropolitan Interfaith Coalition for Affordable Housing, many businesses and affordable housing units on the West Bank in Minneapolis. And many others in fact.

    But his time is past. Not sure where that leaves me now. More investigation required. Fortunately, the future of CBE’s antiracism efforts do not depend on me.

     

     

    *The measure of growth is not how much we have changed, but how harmoniously we have integrated our changes with all the selves we have been — those vessels of personhood stacked within the current self like Russian nesting dolls, not to be outgrown but to be tenderly incorporated. True growth is immensely difficult precisely because it requires befriending the parts of ourselves we have rejected or forgotten — what James Baldwin so memorably called “the doom and glory of knowing who you are and what you are”; it requires shedding all the inauthentic personae we have put on in the course of life under the forces of convention and compulsion; it requires living amicably with who we have been in order to fully live into who we can be.


  • Swole. Art.

    Beltane and the Mesa View Moon

    Tuesday gratefuls: Robin and Michele. More pruning and hanging of art. Leo. Luke. Sleep. Getting up on time. Chatbotgpt4. Mountain Streams. Water running free. Beaver Ponds. Park County #63. Burning Bear Trail. Marmosets in Staunton State Park. That young Moose Bull roaming around here. The Black Bears out of hibernation. Elk Calves and Mule Deer Fawns. The Great Wheel turns in the mountains.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: William Wordsworth

    One brief shining: The treadmill, invented as a source of punishment in England I believe, has served me well these many years as a place to think, a place to watch movies, a place to keep my heart working at or near its healthiest, when I climb on my body knows its time to work, work hard and sweat, these bodies of ours they need, need, need to move.

     

    Mondays. Wednesdays. Fridays. I’ve gotten back to my old routines. 130 minutes yesterday. Treadmill. Anytime on the machines. Prioritizing workouts now. Not seeing them as intrusions but as key components of my week, of my self care. Feeling stronger and healthier. Resting bpm down to 62. I’d love to get it below 60.

    Anytime Fitness has the machines I feel better using for now. It also has a large carpeted area for free weights. Each time I go I sit on one of the machines the leg press, the leg curl, the leg extension, the shoulder press, the bicep curl, the chest fly and while I do, I watch the swole guys grunting, putting on weights in the 200 pound range. Then dropping them. Clank.

    They seem pretty serious. As if the weights were some woke Antifa protesters they got their hands around at last. Probably stereotyping. There are too the more slender folks, women mostly but some men. I wonder what they train for. Up here it might be rock climbing, hiking, skiing, trail running, mountain biking.

    Humans come in many sizes with varying motivations for all that they do.

     

    Today Robin and Michele come. More closets cleaned out. A pile of unused sweaters on a chair. Old pillows and sheets from our queen sized bed no longer needed. Same for duvets. Some tech to go. Like that internet radio. Never could make it work right. Found four more pairs of jeans I didn’t know I had. Some winter wear that I’m saving. Keeping all the boots. The Sorels. The LL Bean duckies. The new, lighter Snow boots. Cleared out old tennis shoes. More quilting books. A monitor.

    If we have time, we’ll work on the storage beneath the benches that Jon built. I don’t even know what’s in there.

    Top priority though is hanging art. Retrieving some from the loft, other spots. I have most of it already placed. But there’s more I want to get down. Looking forward to this. Next up after this is reupholstering the couch. I also want to get a company out here to deep clean all my tile floors and rugs. And, maybe, somebody to clean the windows, too. Finishing touches to two years of work.

     

    First character study acting class tonight. Tal at CBE. A busy day. Gotta make sure I eat.


  • 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.

     

     

     

     


  • Friends and Acquaintances

    Beltane and the Mesa View Moon

    Saturday gratefuls: Joann. Rebecca. Terry. Coal Mine Chinese Restaurant. Evergreen, my Mountain town. Grieving. Alan. The Wildflower Cafe. Anytime Fitness. Doug Doverspike, bit in the face by a Catahoula. Dave. Urku. Catacachi, Ecuador. Rabbi Jamie. Tal. Character Study class. Kate. Her Creek running full into Maxwell Creek. Daffodils. Red Tips on the Aspen Branches.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Friends

    One brief, shining moment: A blossoming time for me, a Beltane aspect of my Winter years, friends becoming richer and more available, travel prospects offering themselves, workouts back to resistance as well as cardio, a hobby with F1 and motorsports for diversion, feels like coming out of Plato’s Cave.

     

    Small groups like mussar, mvp, dining out with friends either one-to-one or maybe four at most. Yes. Needed. Appreciated. Loved. More than that? Draining. Exhausting. So. I don’t do those hardly ever.

    Last night out with Joann Greenberg, Rebecca Martin, and Terry, Rebecca’s partner. The Coal Mine Chinese Restaurant in Evergreen. They all knew the owner and all the owner’s kids. Lots of Evergreen years among those three. A thick culture. And with Rebecca and Joann even more years as friends. Back before CBE. Both at its beginning. 50 years ago. Felt privileged to be included.

     

    In the morning yesterday breakfast with Alan at the Wildflower Cafe. Sitting at at their outside tables on the Evergreen boardwalk. Breakfast nachos with carne asada, cheese, red sauce, Avocado’s. Coffee. Alan shaved his beard! For my craft, he said. He’s in a play that required him to play a younger character. Only the third time since 1977 he’s shaved. Grows back in about a month. No big deal. That’s Alan. He takes what comes and smiles about it.

    After he left, I spent a little time wandering around the shops. I rarely do this because this part of Evergreen is touristy. Went into two places geared to separating the visitor from their money. Not interesting. However, the longtime shoe repair had a going out of business sale and I picked up a couple of pocket knives, nice ones, for $30.

     

    Worked out for the second time at Anytime Fitness. Cardio at home, then 10 minutes over there. Swipe my fob. Hit the machines. Legs and upper body. What I needed. Not having to think about form. I already feel the pleasant exhaustion in my muscles afterward. Not sure how long I’ll use the machines because I’m used to using my own equipment. Though. Right now I need the ease of using the machines to get some strength back.

    I did run into Dr. Doverspike there. He got bit by a Catahoula. And had the healing scars to prove it. The Dog launched himself at Doug’s face. Did not puncture his skull. But could have. Yikes!

     

    Beltane celebrates the start of the growing season after the first renewal of Spring. Hand fasting marriages contracted for a year and a day. Farm labor hired. Sympathetic magic. Sex in the fields to encourage the union of the Maid and the Green Man. Jumping over fires for fertility. The May Pole.

    I feel right in synch with the season. And it feels good.

     


  • The Time Has Come To Cross

    Spring and the Mesa View Moon

    Sunday gratefuls: Luke. Leo. Rommertopf. Psilocybin. Younger friends. Tal. Character study class. Murphy and Pete. Kat. My son and his wife. Their furry one. Snow. Melting. A Mountain morning. Sunlight on the Lodgepoles. The Snow that stays on the north side of my house. That Mule Deer Doe.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: The threshold. *reposted the O’Donohue quote

    One brief, shining moment: Liminal spaces, third spaces, often overlooked, undervalued, yet the Dawn and the Dusk, the doorway and the window, the death bed, the coffee shop, the neighborhood bar, churches and synagogues, neither home nor work, neither light nor dark, neither in nor out, neither life nor death, points of transformation, places where we can practice being another version of ourselves, meet people we would not otherwise know, thresholds between this life moment and the next, or between this life and what comes after.

     

    I’m an old man. Been a lot of places. Experienced weirdness. I identify with the Grateful Dead’s: what a long, strange trip it’s been. Yet these last few days have left me marveling at what’s happening.

    Now that I’m writing about it, I think it may have begun to crystallize when I spoke with my son last Sunday. Be spontaneous, he said. Go for it. Take the trip. We had been discussing my trip to Korea and the trip to Israel.

    And, I did. I raised my hand. Yes, I’m going with you. I’ll be there in Jerusalem. Not an hour later.

    Dismantling Racism class, a mussar approach came next. Mainlining my past with talk of injustice, the struggle, la lucha. Going down old pathways with new folks, from a new perspective.

    A heavy workout on Monday. Another heavy one Wednesday. Where I was left shaky, feeling off. My resting heart rate actually increasing. Worried me. Made me feel vulnerable.

    On Thursday I had breakfast with Alan, catching up. Then my massage and Thursday mussar. Where Rebecca and Leslie both kissed me on the head. After mussar I encountered Luke and Tal outside the synagogue. Tal told me the next acting class was going to be character studies. Sounds good to me. Ready to continue expanding.

    On Friday I went to sign up at Anytime Fitness. With Dave, the 65 year old manager. Quite the talker. Where you from? Raised in Indiana. Really! Where! Alexandria. Anderson. Muncie. I know them. I was raised on the southside of Chicago. But we moved to Calumet. Ah, I said. Da region. He laughed. Right. My brother worked in the Calumet mill.

    Not sure how the conversation veered to his life as a battery salesman working out of Madison, Wisconsin. His alcoholism, cocaine addiction. 25 years sober, he said. 43  years here. Instant deep connection. In the program. Lifers.

    A thick, muscular young guy walked past. Clayton, Dave hollered. Clayton, meet Charles. 43  years sober. Clayton’s got 109 days. Clayton and I fist bumped.

    A strange but instant fellowship, wrought by inability or unwillingness to contain appetites. Then, to wake up. See another way. And walk it. With others.

    Went back home. Clicked on a zoom link. First time with the Dream group. Dreamers and dreams. The dream of of the White Tomb. Realizing the threshold had come to meet me. People on the call from Santa Fe, England, the Netherlands, Conifer, Evergreen.

    Then. Later that day. In the desert of the afternoon hours. Feeling aimless. Projects around the house winding down. No Dogs or humans to care for. More hours than I needed.

    Next morning. Off to Aspen Perks to have breakfast, begin my re-read of Why Liberalism Failed. Maybe see Kat. She was there. She smiled when she saw me, came over and squatted down. What  you reading? I showed her. I don’t agree with all of his arguments, but it’s a powerful read. She looked at it. Yeah, I have a Steven Hawking book like this. I put it down. Take it up. Well, I’m trying to really understand this guy’s arguments. So I’m doing something unusual. Rereading.

    Ate my chorizo and scrambled eggs. Read Deneen. Got up to go. A tall man, maybe 50’s, sitting with an older man, closer to my age. Hey, I was wondering. What ya reading? I showed him the book. Gave him the two minute version. He reached over to shake my hand. Murphy. Matt Murphy. This is Pete. I want to have some time to bother you about that. What do they call ya? I told him. See you next time I come in maybe. We’ll talk.

    Went over to Safeway. Picked up the Chicken, Carrots, Potatoes, Pearl Onions, Garlic for the Rommertopf Chicken. Back  home I did the prep. Soak the Rommertopf. Peel the Pearl Onions. Cut up the Potatoes. Slice and quarter an Apple. Stuff it in the Chicken. Put butter and Garlic under the skin of the breast. In the oven.

    Luke came and stayed for three, four hours. Leo sniffing around. Finding things.

    Can you feel the threshold moving toward me? I sure can. Definitely time. Gonna discuss a ritual with Rabbi Jamie, Tal.

     

    *”At any time you can ask yourself: At which threshold am I now standing? At this time in my life, what am I leaving? Where am I about to enter? What is preventing me from crossing my next threshold? What gift would enable me to do it? A threshold is not a simple boundary; it is a frontier that divides two different territories, rhythms, and atmospheres. Indeed, it is a lovely testimony to the fullness and integrity of an experience or a stage of life that it intensifies toward the end into a real frontier that cannot be crossed without the heart being passionately engaged and woken up. At this threshold a great complexity of emotion comes alive: confusion, fear, excitement, sadness, hope. This is one of the reasons such vital crossings were always clothed in ritual. It is wise in your own life to be able to recognize and acknowledge the key thresholds: to take your time; to feel all the varieties of presence that accrue there; to listen inward with complete attention until you hear the inner voice calling you forward. The time has come to cross.” John O’Donohue in his book, To Bless the Space Between Us.


  • Round Three

    Spring and the Kepler Moon

    Thursday gratefuls: MVP. Tara. Marilyn. Susan. Jamie. Rich. Ron. Bitachon, trust. Kate’s memory, a blessing in all ways. Cooler today. Snow. Good workout. Furball Cleaning. Ana and friend.  A clean house. The new colors. That threshold. Coming closer. Irv. Adoptable dogs. Radiation #3. Joy. Simcha. Embracing joy. Living joyfully.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: Eudaimonia

     

    Hit the treadmill for 65 minutes. 101 total minutes of exercise with the 2 minutes for every intense minute calculation. Felt good. Coffee and albuterol, oatmeal and peanut butter on board before hand.

    While I exercised, Ana and her friend cleaned the house. It needed it. The last of Kep’s hair. The leftover from Doug’s painting. Ruth, Gabe, and Mia’s visit. Plus it had been three and a half weeks since it was last cleaned. Feels so good to have a clean house. A clean house with a fresh look. Mental health. Moving forward, over that threshold.

     

    MVP last night. The topic, the middot, was bitachon, trust. I said that I trust everyone. To be who they are. Realized I need to modify that. I trust everyone to be who I know them to be. I can’t truly know another’s essence. But I can know how I experience them. In the moment and over time.

    This means I have varying levels of trust, many of them. None blind. All based on experience, not hope. If you tend to show up late, I know that. If you do what you say, I know that. If you anger easily, I know that. If you steal things, I hide what’s valuable to me. Either emotions or goods.

    We all agreed we had trouble, for various reasons, keeping our mouths shut about others. Not that we gossip, but that some circumstances arise. Ones where we start sharing things about others that aren’t ours to tell. Not necessarily secrets or negative things. Just things that belong to others. One person gave the example of a neighbor asking about a divorce. She found herself offering more detail than she needed. Wanting to keep the friend. That sort of thing.

    So our mutual practice for this month is. Value the vault. Keep what we know to ourselves. Allow others to tell their own stories. If they want to.

     

    Round three of radiation on my left hip lymph node today. Though the radiation itself is both invisible and non-tactile at my sensory level it’s still powerful. Find myself sleeping longer and harder. Fatigue, not awful, but there. The thing about radiation is that its side effects can show up a year, two years later. And I won’t know for sure whether it killed my two mets until later this year when I have a P.E.T. scan. An odd form of therapy. You can’t feel it and you can’t tell if it worked until sometime after. Glad it’s available though.

    Next week we get started on my T3 thoracic vertebrae. This is the one where the possible side effects become dire. Including, but not limited to, paralysis. After several conversations with docs, I decided the risk made sense. There is a chance, albeit a small chance, that if we kill these two mets I could be cured. Wouldn’t that be something?

    Not counting on that. But I will extend my time off Erleada and Orgovyx when I go on a drug holiday later this year.

    Neil Young for music today.

     


  • Good News

    Spring and Kepler’s Moon

    Tuesday gratefuls: A good colonoscopy report. Tara. That catfish po’boy and beignets. Susan, my nurse. Luke, the doc. Propofol. Little pictures of the inside of my insides. A really long nap afterward. Sleeping in this morning, a bright one well underway at 7 am. Melting snow. Dark Sky communities. 5 in Colorado. The Milky Way. Our Galactic neighborhood. The Spiral Arm. Our street. The James Webb. Science. Community. The Humanities. A sad time.

    Sparks of Joy and Awe: That Threshold, becoming more clear

     

    Small polyp. Benign, Evans said. But. Sent to pathology anyhow. That propofol. A white solution injected into my iv. I watched as the fluid went in and woke up later back in the same small curtained off area I had left for the exam room. In between Evans had pumped CO2 in my intestines and run a scope up them looking for cancer. None. Good news. Also. You’ve graduated. No more colonoscopies. Yay! But. Can I still do the prep every once in a while, just for fun?

    When I did wake up, I wanted to go back to sleep. I felt so good. So good. I go back to sleep. Charlie, are you ready? Huh? No, not yet. A bit more time went by. Charlie! Are you ready? Oh, uh, yeah. Getting up now. (I wasn’t.) Charlie. A frustrated gal. Ok, ok. Swing your legs over the edge of the bed. Ok, ok. How do you feel? Dizzy. Sleepy. But. I’ll get dressed. I promise. And so I did.

    Tara, who took me, smiled when I came out. She took me to Nono’s and bought me a catfish po’boy and two beignets. Then home. A sweet woman and important in my life. I was at her house for a seder last week.

    We discussed the history of Christianity. A bit fuzzy if your life orientation is Jewish. Also parenting. Jon, Vincent, Sofia. And, just. Life. You know.

    Back home I ate my sandwich and the beignets. Watched TV. Took a three hour nap.

     

    Now that Doug has finished, I can begin making decisions about where to put my art. Going to take my time. Not rush. Maybe get in some work on the loft, too. Clear off my art table. Maybe reshelve some books. Move files downstairs to the home office. Have Ana clean it when I get done. When I get the art figured out, I’ll get Vince to come over and hang everything.

    I have a list of property management chores for him and as soon as it warms up I’ll get him started on those.

     

    My journey into the dark and confusing reality of our current political situation continues. Why Liberalism Failed will help me crystallize my understanding. Without getting too far into Deneen’s argument right now I will say that he’s coming at liberalism as a political philosophy and not using the term as we do in the U.S. for party politics. In his broader argument most U.S. conservatives are liberals, too. That is, both parties (bracketing Trumpists and the new Far Right) support free enterprise, science as a way to gain dominion over nature, the autonomous individual, and government that derives its authority from the consent of those individuals.