• Tag Archives Bill
  • Woolly Mammoths, 6 pm

    Samain                            Moon of the Winter Solstice

    First time at the Marsh, out on Minnetonka Blvd.  The Western burbs version of a California health spa.  In a small room off the dining area for their food service was a sign:  Woolly Mammoths, 6:00 pm.

    Inside were Bill , Warren , Frank , Stefan and Mark.  Tales of the trip, yes, but mostly we were there to support Warren whose mother received a cancer diagnosis two days before Thanksgiving.  She’s now in hospice care at an assisted living center, asking only for palliative care.

    Warren has been intimately involved with both his parents and his wife’s parents in their aging and decline.  They represent a degree of love and concern in that situation seen all too rarely.

    On the way back I couldn’t find any music I liked, so, as I’ve done a lot lately while driving, I turned the radio off and entered into a road trip state of mind, a little bit country and a little bit Zen.


  • The Woollys of September

    Lughnasa                                                       Waning Harvest Moon

    Woolly Mammoths on reading.  We had a meeting focused on current books, readings underway or accomplished during the summer.  Guys brought out books recounting the Battle of Little Big Horn hour by hour, the agony of the war in Vietnam, a Chinese classic with the attendant multiple volumes, the built in adaptive structures in the below consciousness part of our awareness.  Woollys are readers.

    We also learned Charlie has a solid offer on his condo atop a warehouse district building.  Scott has still not come back to Minnesota from his time in Colorado and Utah.  Frank still doesn’t like the nuns in the Catholic school he attended.  Bill’s focused on Regina’s needs rights now.  Stefan attended the Men’s conference this year and brought back Zack, an aspiring actor and writer, who read a powerful example of his work.

    Ode’s knee has gone from good to worse and now will require a third operation.  Frank’s new granddaughter is roly-poly. Warren, in the humor highlight of the evening, realized he had not yet signed up for Social Security.  Why humor?  Well, he does cover aging for the Star-Tribune and has done so for a long time.

    We also discussed, a favorite topic, our retreat.  Some want to be near water, others want tradition at the Dwelling or Valhelga.  We agreed on the last week of April, the first week of May.  That’s a start.


  • Each Others Lives

    Lughnasa                                                                       Waxing Honey Extraction Moon

    “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” – Lao Tzu

    Five men came together tonight at the Black Forest.  Brothers.  Men who have stood shoulder to shoulder for over twenty years, through marriage and divorce, through conflict and calm.  We sat outside, under a clear plastic roof that sprayed water on us while we talked when the wind blew up.  The usual conversation.  Mark’s knee.  Getting better.  Frank’s trip to Ireland.  Everyone had a great time.  Stefan’s sons.  My brother.  Bill and I talked computers, how to back up ancientrails, whether I might mine it for a book, or two.  How I might redesign it.

    We went over each others lives, we know the history, the background, the context.  We listened and nodded, ate our polish sausages and sauerkraut or lentil and sausage soup, felt the late heat of a stormy day begin to creep out from under the clouds.

    We see each other twice a month at least, sometimes more.  Always we stay alert to each other, exchanging e-mails, funny and serious.

    I’m proud to call these men my friends.

  • Art and Friends

    Beltane                                                       Waning Garlic Moon

    Two meetings today.  The guides group met today to focus on continuing education.  A lot of very good ideas were thrown out and compiled.  Over the next week or so I’ll organize them and put together a mailing to go to our list, asking for more input.  After that, we will create a specific communication outlining possible avenues for dealing with the problem created by no longer having Monday’s available and declining attendance on Thursdays.  This may create a vehicle for organizing the three guide councils and for communicating our ideas further up the museum organizational chart.

    Morry was a gracious host in a lovely home.  He provided meat, cheese and crackers along with beverages while other folks brought desert.  The only oddity of the day was those chairs in the master bedroom.  Those of you who here there know what I mean.

    Woolly’s tonight.  Charlie H. has decided to retire and move out of the condo, up to the woods of Wisconsin.  Bill continued to express appreciation for his brother Pat in words and in deeds, a website and an upcoming service for Pat in Ankenny, Iowa.  Paul was back from his vision quest in the Santa Cruz mountains.  He reports that going without food for that length of time heightened his senses and made his dreams more vivid.  He wants to be a person of impeccable love and kindness, starting with himself.

    Jim was his usual bigger than life self.  He had an article in the South Dakota magazine along with several of his photographs.  He has a show opening soon in Aberdeen and has begun negotiating for one here, too, perhaps at MCAD.

    Mark’s knee has him in rehab and ahead of schedule, looking forward again.

  • Woolly’s. Again.


    Beltane                                                                      Full Last Frost Moon

    The meeting last night.  The note written late last night did not do this meeting justice.  The guest, Jay, told stories of his father, a Metropolitan Life Insurance Executive who hated his job, kept a print of racing sailboats gunnels in the water as they rounded a turn across from his desk and retired, in 1959 at the age of 55, picked up the family, put them in the sail boat and made their way to Ft. Lauderdale where he had bought a house.   Jay’s father, he said, attracted trouble.  He had 25 diseases, sailed through four typhoons and two hurricanes and had numerous close calls while sailing.  Jay’s openness about his relationship with his father, “We disagreed on everything, except sailing.  Sailing we could be together, often without talking.” made many of us reflect on our fathers.  Few of us in the Woollies had dad’s with whom we had a positive bond.

    Jay also spoke of two other powerful subjects.  The Gulf Stream, at points 40 miles wide and three miles deep, moving at 4 knots, keeping England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and parts of Europe temperate rather than freezing, has a vitality and strength, a magnetic pull to sailors.  His father’s ashes were cast into the Gulf Stream as, Jay says, his, too, will be someday.

    The second is his creative work which focuses on expressing the unrevealed, the dark places where we think we’ve been, but where we’ve actually only touched the surface.  Much like the ocean?

    Scott told of his opportunity, turned his way by his ex-wife, also a drummer, to play percussion in an off-broadway musical beginning its initial work in Aspen this June.  It’s a 4 and 1/2 week gig, paid, and he gets to be with his son, Corey, at the same time.  The music is a blend of jazz and rock and roll, music Scott’s always wanted to play.

    Mark O. goes under the knife today (nope, next Tuesday.  I stand corrected.) for a new knee and Jay does, too, to have a gall bladder removed.  Paul and Sarah Strickland have helped found an organization, 10,000 Friends of the Maine Coast, which has ambitions to create sustainable jobs and, perhaps, expand down the Eastern seaboard.  Frank took pot roast to a friend of Mary’s undergoing chemotherapy and plans to go back on Thursday with some more.  Tom Crane had weekend a crammed full of ex-spouse in-law’s and the ex-spouse at one point–of Roxann.  Bill spoke about Regina, the reality they have to face, the difficulties and blessings involved.  A tough place, full of paradox.  Brother Mark talked about reverse culture shock from his return, 22 years later, to the American mainland.  “America is such a virile place, bursting with energy.  Hard to absorb.  Yes.”

    It was a strong meeting, full of feeling and heartbreak and joy and confusion.  Real life.

  • Knocking on the Door

    Beltane                                                                             New Last Frost Moon

    There are times and this is one of them, when death seems behind every door.  My friend Bill has learned that his wife’s cancer is stage 4.  A grave diagnosis with a grave prognosis.   American’s exult in the streets over the death of Osama Bin Laden.  A friend sent out a quote from Martin Luther King* that expressed my feelings.  Today Vega, one of our younger dogs, tested positive for Lyme’s disease.  Not a big deal, treatable, unless the kidney is involved.  Hers may be.  If it is?  Difficult to impossible to treat.

    Since I started today already in somewhat of a funk, all this darkness hovering around has reinforced it, made the day two or three shades grayer.

    Death does not surprise us.  It lurks beside us all our born days until the last one.  Its reality, its starkness, its finality, especially that last one, passing from the quick to the dead, still strike heavy hammer blows to the heart.

    Death’s most severe wounds come from the source of our greatest joy, love.  Without love death counts only as an incident, something happening to someone else, an event of little consequence.  We know this each day we read the obituary pages.  Even the death of someone we have known, but not loved, does not shake us at our foundations.  When, however, death comes to call for one close and important in our lives, the very bound of love lacerates the heart, accelerates our fear, amplifies our sense of loss. Continue reading  Post ID 12251

  • Grasshopper, You Are About To Be A Grandfather

    Spring                                                                           Full Bee Hiving Moon

    Men.  Emotions surprise us, batter us into consciousness, wake us up.  Hello, grasshopper, you are about to be A GRANDFATHER. Huh?  How did that happen?  Of course, you know exactly how it happened, but it still reaches inside and turns on the amazement switch.

    Some old man, dimly known, shambles out of your past and you say, “Could that be me? That old fella?”

    “Nah, I’m too young,” you say.

    The event comes to pass and there you are with Ruth or Dave or Holly or Ava, a tiny pink wonder, yet, too, the most common event of all among us, a baby, a fledgling human, vulnerable, needy.  Somehow ours.  Somehow not ours.

    Shaken but perhaps not yet stirred a gong sounds somewhere, a genetic clang or a cultural bong, but whatever deep, resonant, compelling and there you are at the door reserved for Elders Only.  This door, this torii, guards the pathway to the future, a divided path on which your grandchild will walk as a living memory in one direction while you stride resolute toward our last great journey.

    Here’s the joy.  We can walk along this path a ways, maybe even a long ways, together.

    What’s the nature of this walk?  Who knows?  One grandparent, one grandchild.  A unique way, created by the two, reserved for them alone.  Another grandchild, another way.

    We spoke of these things tonight at Tom Crane’s house.  Mark, brother Mark, went along.  Warren, Charlie, Bill, Scott, Tom, Frank, Mark, Stefan were there.  We remembered our grandfather dying in front of us at four, of grandfather’s disappeared by distance and alcohol, of grandfather’s willing to play along with a silly joke, a grandfather who drank and drank and drank, having his last jug delivered the day after he died, of a grandfather with green flannel underwear that buttoned, puzzlingly, in the rear, who poured coffee into a cup, then a saucer and drank from the saucer, who made syrup from water and sugar, of grandfathers in the house, there to talk to, to go to, grandfathers abused by fathers.  We spoke of all these things nestled inside our own hopes, our joys, the wonders of our own journey through the torii of  generation.

    Men wonder about these things, dream about them, hope for them.  See themselves with a tiny hand in theirs, walking along, picking dragons and mermaids out of the clouds.  Whistling.

  • Precious

    Imbolc                                                  Waning Bridgit Moon

    Sheepshead tonight.  I took in honey for Ed, Dick, Roy and Bill plus honeycake that Kate made from our honey.  Artemis Hives honors the ancient Greek Goddess of the hunt who also had honeybees within her domain.  Worshippers took to her altar honeycake as an offering.  My original idea was to call Artemis honey, “The honeycake honey” and include honeycake recipe and a bit about Artemis with each sale.  Might still happen, some year.

    The card gods were good to me tonight, again.  They gave me three good hands when I dealt, a good position when playing sheepshead.  Ed and Bill both spoke about their wives with Bill reporting the good news that Regina’s cancer score has already begun to trend down after only a brief time on the hormone therapy.  That’s the kind of news it’s good to hear.

    Ed’s wife has challenges surrounding a knee replacement gone bad compounded by her other health related issues.  She’s in a transitional living facility right now while they try to calm her body down.

    As life goes on, I appreciate more and more the precious nature of the relationships I have at this sheepshead table, at the Museum, among the Sierra Club folks and the Woolly Mammoths.  Each place enriches me and gives me a place to just be, be who I am.  What a gift.

    So, good night to you and to Artemis Hives matron Goddess.

  • Friends

    Spring                                                  Waxing Flower Moon

    The Woollies met last night at Stratford Wood where Bill and Regina live.  The topic of the evening was friendship, requiring time one said, trust another, play yet another.  We evoked our history as a group of men who have given each other time, trust and vulnerability.  We talked about the vessel, the container we have created, a place of safety and love.  We wondered about men and the trajectory of men’s lives that leads away from the easy friendships of youth and into the barren land of male competition and ambition.

    One of us spoke of his wonderful physical.  His doctor commended him on lowering his blood pressure through diet alone.  All looked well.  Until the phone call.  Which said his hemoglobin numbers were well below normal.  Since then he’s been endoscoped, colonoscoped and even put on film by a small bowel camera.  No joy.  No explanation.  Only shortness of breath going upstairs and fatigue.  He sees a hematologist this week.  Kate thinks the hematologist will probably take a bone marrow biopsy.

    My swollen hand and bruised middle finger got some attention.  We discussed, again, the bees.  Charlie said I should get an epi pin right away.  Kate, who sees a lot of bee stings in urgent care, has a more moderate evaluation.  A localized reaction to multiple stings.  I think she’s right.

    Cybermage Bill Schmidt’s brother in Iowa still lives, though in hospice care.  Another brother, Bob, had a near deal with sepsis.  Life is fragile and wonderful, treat with gladness.

  • Woollys, Grandkids

    Summer                     Waxing Summer Moon

    Tomorrow we get the full on Summer Moon.  We’ll have a warm, but not hot night with a brilliant satellite.  No good for astronomy, but great for moon viewing, a favorite activity among the Japanese.

    Woolly’s met tonight at the Black Forest.  Mark, Stefan, Bill, Tom, Frank and myself showed up.  Mark got the dam site job.  He reports next Monday morning to Lock and Dam #1, the first official lock on the Mississippi River.  The job runs until the river ices over and the barges cannot come.  Stefan’s been giving himself fits over his children.  A potential liability of parenthood.

    I showed off the Kindle.  I’m a fan.

    Jon, Jen, Ruth and Gabe are back from a weekend in Chicago.  There was a Bandel family reunion with rooms at the Doubletree and visits to Grandma and Grandpa, Ruth and Gabe’s great-grandparents.  They are back here for four days, then they strike out for home in Denver.