• Tag Archives Scott
  • Yet More Loss

    Beltane                                                              Beltane Moon

    Got back from the retreat about 12:30.  Took a shower, rested a bit, then hopped in the car for Moon’s reviewal at Washburn-McCreavy in Bloomington.

    The bulk of the mourners were Chinese, the Fong family, but there were friends of Scott and of Yin who, like me, are round eyes.   A bowl of red envelopes, take one please, sat next to cards of hand-written calligraphy and a second bowl of hard candy.  An order of service for the funeral the next day had a color photograph of Moon on the cover.

    Moon lay in a casket at the end of the first hall, hands crossed over her chest, fabric work and calligraphy with her.  Next to the coffin a video played, showing pictures from Moon’s life, including one with a curly headed Yin, young and beautiful.

    Mourners wore red bands to indicate celebration of Moon’s life, though a few wore black bands to indicate her centenary; while 97 at her death, Chinese custom adds four years, so her age according to Chinese tradition was 101.

    There were the usual clots of well-wishers gathered around person they know, wandering from board to board of photographs and watching, again, the video shown in two places in a hall separate from the reviewal room itself.

    I spoke to Yin, then to Scott, said we’d talk later and left.

    When I got home, I had an e-mail from Warren that his father, Wayne, whom he had put in hospice care only Wednesday, had completed his journey.  Warren’s phrase.  Warren, referencing the end of Longfellow’s Hiawatha, said he thought his Dad might last longer, but “he was in a faster canoe.”

    These are times of transition, of change, of loss, of gathering in the lessons of a lifetime and using them for this third, last phase of our own journeys.  We knew it before the retreat and now we have fresh and poignant evidence.


  • Moon Also Rises

    Spring                                                           Beltane Moon

    The second rainy chilly day.  Perfect.  Tomorrow and Tuesday will be outside days again, planting and other things, but now I have my gas stove turned on, the study is warm and I’m going to have another day of writing, reading and watching movies.

    A friend’s mother-in-law, 97, lies at home, hospice care.  A Chinese national, born in Canton, she has created a long and active life, filled with calligraphy, gardening, cooking, writing, reading and family.

    Another friend went out and stayed the night with her yesterday.

    Moon’s decline underscores the transition for our men’s group.  Death and serious illness has become common, no longer stories of other’s lives.  Perhaps Moon, as well as any other,  shows a way to live into the Third Phase.

    She did not give up the things that made her who she was.  She stayed rooted in her tradition, yet took parts of it and made them her own and, in so doing, transformed them from things of yesterday into things of today and tomorrow.  Each of the Woolly’s have our names in Chinese courtesy of Moon.  She wrote poetry and a book of hers was published a couple of years ago by her family.

    Many were the meals at Scott’s house in which Moon added her touches to Yin’s work.  She had a quiet way, yet exuded a person who knew who she was, a person complete and whole, a real presence in the world.  No one’s cipher.

    Now Moon rises in the night sky.  She will not be forgotten.

  • Woolly Mammoths Tramp Through The Marsh

    Samain                                      Moon of the Winter Solstice

    Woollies tonight at the Marsh in Minnetonka.  We met in the moon room, a dining room with several tables overlooking, I imagine, the marsh, but it was dark.

    Tom Crane gave every one a sharp bladed pocket knife with a mammoth bone embedded in the handle.  Nice.

    Kate and I gave a half pint of honey to everyone and I passed out the small paintings I picked up in Ecuador.  It was a Christmassy sort of moment.  Scott gave Kate and me gift tags that Yin had found.  They have bee hives printed on them.

    We caught up on family matters and projects around the table.  Discussed the Edo Pop show at the MIA.

    A short meeting, but a good one.

  • All Ha’il

    Fall                                              Waxing Harvest Moon

    First communication back from Mark in Saudi Arabia.  He says he hasn’t set up his computer yet and that the school seems to have a good connection.  He mentions the school is in Ha’il*.  Guess that’s where he is now.  So far that’s all I know.

    Met with the Woolly’s last night at our once and forever location:  the Black Forest.  Tom Crane, Mark Odegard, Frank Broderick, Scott Simpson and Warren Wolfe showed up.  We went around the table, catching each other up on this and that.  Mark’s leaving.  Our cruise.  Tom and Roxann’s trip to Florida.  Mark O’s knee.  Warren’s upcoming article on Medicare.

    Scott and I talked about something called latency trading.  Here’s an article that explains some of it.  The part it doesn’t explain is the drive, now well established, to position large supercomputer networks as close as physically possible to stock exchanges around the world.  Why?  To capture the millisecond advantage in data transmission that results from close proximity to the data feed itself.  Each millisecond can mean tens of millions of dollars in trading advantage.  According to Scott, physical proximity can yield as much as a 3 millisecond advantage.  Do the math.

    On the drive home, the half Autumn moon hung in the night sky.  The moon roof was open and stars shone down through it.  The air was mild, with just that hint of fall.  Perfect.

    *Ha’il (Arabic: حائل‎ Ḥā’il), also spelled Hail, Ha’yel, or Hayil, is an oasis city in Nejd in northwestern Saudi Arabia. It is the capital of the Ha’il Province. The city has a population of 356,876 according to Ha’il Province.

    Ha’il is largely agricultural, with significant grain, date, and fruit production. A large percentage of the kingdom’s wheat production comes from Ha’il Province, where the area to the northeast, 60 km to 100 km away, consists of irrigated gardens. Traditionally Ha’il derived its wealth from being on the camel caravan route of the Hajj. Ha’il is well known by the generosity of its people in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world as it is the place where Hatim al-Tai lived.


  • 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.


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Friends

    Samhain                                        Waning Harvest Moon

    Talking with the woollies at the Black Forest.  Scott, Frank, Warren, Stefan.  Eating here at this lasting monument to Gemütlichkeit we lived it.  Sharing with each other in our cozy, intimate way, a way borne of decades now together.  My claustrophobia, anothers workshop on codependence, Frank’s tooth, Scott’s restructuring of his hours at work, Warren’s cold.  All of these and the usual commentary on the upcoming election, the Vikings and the waiver of Randy Moss.  Friends eating together, putting another layer of mortar on the linkages among us.

    Yet another trip through the night from downtown Minneapolis to the exurbs, from bright lights and people jaywalking, biking, loitering to the dark drive north of Coon Creek Road, past the eutrophying Round Lake and the vast peat bog across the road from it, the basis for Field’s large truck farm.

    Now home, letting the dogs out, a note here, then upstairs to read, watch TV, relax.

  • First Monday Woollies

    Samhain                                   Full Dark Moon

    When I left for the first Monday Woolly dinner, the moon hung just above the tree line, silver and luminous.  As I returned, it had retreated to a high point, moving away from the horizon toward the open sky.  There are so many nights when the moon outdoes the best human artists can do, so many nights when the moon joins with planets, other solar system neighbors, to create a scene of light against the darkness of space, and we stand feet on the ground, looking up from our home into the vastness from which Earth came and to which it shall return.

    Mark Odegard has a job with the river.  He came into Christos tonight wearing a sweatshirt with the US Army Corps of Engineers logo, the mark of his employer at Lock and Dam #1, a spot from which he watches the economy swing through barge traffic, for example regular 2 a.m. barges loaded with steel filings from a company upriver in Fridley have begun to pass through his lock headed for the smelters in St. Louis and New Orleans.  The Great Recession had suppressed steel sales so the filings had piled up in Fridley, the filings came in but none went out, finally though, just in the last couple of weeks the price of steel has begun to go up and now the rush is on to move the filings before the river freezes and the locks become unusable until spring.

    This is shift work and Mark rotates through days, evenings and nights every 9 days, 7 days on and 2 off, his body clock taking a beating, so much of one that he has come to know the pleasures of the couch, his creative urge quieted by the shifting hormones his body deploys in the interest of managing his unusual sleep cycles.

    Stefan comes with news of children’s woes.  Taylor in Hollywood.  Melina in frat houses at the University of Minnesota.  Frank says Mary has eased into her retirement and spoke of his grandson who has continued to attend school, caddy and play hockey while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation for sarcoma.  Warren tells the unbelievable story about which he will write more of the dairy farmer in Clearwater County who was arrested and charged with false imprisonment for using a chain to restrain his wife, a victim of Alzheimers.  Scott’s daughter is about to give birth, perhaps not only to a baby, but to a new life as a parent, a changed life from her recent past.

    On my account the tale was of Kate, of her recovery, the toughness of this Norwegian I love and the gradual return to a daily routine, walker and cane at at the ready, but moving unaided with surprising agility.

    When we meet, we Woolly Mammoths, a dense net of past and present walks into the room and sits down, the lives of not only ourselves, but of our families and our friends, their troubles and their delights, our worries and our loves, these times together transform us from solitary males, culled out from the herd, into members of a hardy clan able to stand shoulder to shoulder, backs to the north wind, protecting the little tusks from the cold.

  • A Yellow Moon

    Lughnasa                        Waxing Green Corn Moon

    A yellowed moon hung in the sky tonight, almost full.  It made the drive back in from Minneapolis a delight as it sailed in and out of view.

    In tonight for the Land Use and Transportation Committee meeting.  What a dynamic group!  They are still fighting the Stillwater Bridge issue after all these years.  They also have transit oriented development on their agenda as well as a new issue called Complete Streets.  In essence Complete Streets wants street planning to have all users in mind (pedestrians, bicyclists, cars and the handicapped in particular)

    A crisp meeting that ran on time.

    Thunder has begun to roll in so I’m going to have shut down soon.  After the Sierra Club meeting, I drove over to the Black Forest where the Woolly’s first monday meeting had just begun to wind down.  I saw Mark and Frank and Stefan before they left.  Warren and Scott stayed and we talked about Moon, Scott’s 95 year old Cantonese mother-in-law who lives with them.  She’s having a show of her calligraphy and painting at the Marsh.  It goes up on August 16th.  There will also be a book of her work available at the show.  Amazing.

    China tour tomorrow for 7-8th graders.  I added a tour this Friday of Chilean students connected with St. Johns who want a tour of American art.