• Tag Archives Woolly Mammoths
  • Happy Either Way

    63  bar steady 29.96  1mph S  dew-point 55  sunrise 7:17  set  6:45

    First Quarter of the Blood Moon  rise 2:49 pm  set 11:08 pm

    The Woollies met tonight at the Red Stag Inn.   The financial crunch was a topic of conversation.  Scott talked about national currencies and local currencies as stable economies.  One of us couldn’t take the ride and sold out last week into treasury certificates.  Not me.

    We had an interesting conversation of what would happen if things go from bad to worse.  We realized we could provide mutual aid.  Minnesota has a great tradition of co-operative ventures and I think our commonweal could make the shift to barebones style of living.  It wouldn’t be easy, but it might surprise us.

    Perhaps I’m too easily lulled to sleep by the people who think they know something, but so far I have not thought about jumping off even our deck.  In fact, I will not.  The money does not matter to me.  Living with Kate I have had access to a far richer life-style, both financially and emotionally, than I ever imagined I could have.  I’ve lived with little and a lot.  I can do either one and be happy.

    We’ll see.

  • A Houseless Life

    72  bar rises 29.73  0mph WNW dew-point 62    Summer, pleasant

    Waxing Crescent of the Thunder Moon

    “It is not how old you are, but how you are old.” – Jules Renard

    Elizabeth Odegard has West Nile virus.  She’s lethargic, stays in bed.  Not much to do, but support your body and wait it out.  Mark thinks she may have gotten it in Thailand when they stayed on a houseboat.  Mark has the most unusual current lifestyle among the Woollies.  He and Elizabeth, then real estate agents, sold his house in Marine of St. Croix, pooled their retirement funds and began living a houseless life.

    He often refers to himself as homeless, but what he actually is houseless.   His home is the Twin Cities and he’s rooted here.  He and Elizabeth went to Hawai’i three years ago and got the Cambridge certification in teaching English as a second language.  With that credential and a cash flow generated from investments (managed by Scott Simpson) they have moved from spot to spot:  Buenos Aires, Peru, Shanghai, Bangkok sprinkled with returns home.  Here they housesit for folks they know.

    They leave for France later on this summer, where they will spend time with Mark’s brother and his family before heading off Morocco or Turkey or Chile.  Sometimes they work, sometimes one does and the other doesn’t.  It’s been all ESL.  Mark worked on a healthy sexuality exhibit in Thailand, for example.  They ponder a commitment in Japan, where the English language jobs require a year contract.  Most of their stints have been four months or less.

    We talk about travel often at the Woollies.  We are a well-traveled group.  Paul and Sarah made a round the world trip early in their marriage.  Paul jets off to Africa, Syria and Cuba now and then.  Frank is in Ireland right now for the eight or ninth time.  Bill spent over a year in Japan building a nuclear power plant.  Tom travels the US every week.  Charlie Haislet and Barbara cruise in Europe, go to Africa now and again.  Stefan has been many places.

    Last night Stefan talked about a childhood trip to Egypt.  “It made me want to be an architect.  Karnak.  With those great pillars shaved back and sloping upward.  And the details on the gate.”

    We are atypical as a group in so many ways:  level of education, diversity of employment, life paths dominated by values, intimacy among men that has lasted over two decades.  Our level of income is high.  We lead lives of privilege in the most powerful country the world has ever seen.

  • The Wild Man

    71  bar steady  29.66  1pmh ENE dew-point 49  Beltane, sunny and warm

                     First Quarter of the Flower Moon

    We have had only 3 days above 80 this year.  The weather stays cool, which is fine, but the plants don’t like it.  They grow slowly.

    Tonight is the Wild Man meeting of the Woolly Mammoths at Charlie Haislet’s pent-house condo overlooking downtown Minneapolis.  Not exactly the abode of a wild man.  Still, most of us would have trouble with it, too.  

    This week feels compressed since I leave on Saturday for Maxwell AFB and Gettysburg.  It means I’m on the kind of work attitude I get into before a trip.  This time it will last a week.

    Thankfully this time I head out on Hwy 94 not 35.  I will skirt Chicago by heading down the middle of Illinois, then on south, into the heat.  I can only hope that the hot weather will subside, at least a bit, before I get into Tennessee.

  • A Happy Story about the Big C

    78  bar falls 29.59  1mph W  dew-point 55  Beltane, cloudy and warm

                   Waxing Crescent of the Flower Moon

    Grocery shopping.  Lunch and feed the dogs, then off to Minneapolis to Abbott-Northwestern Hospital.  When I got into the Piper Building, the information desk had no one there.  Up to the second floor.  They directed me to the east elevators and floor 3.  Lonnie was in 3556.

    A closed door.  I asked the nurse to go check. Stefan was in there.  Lonnie had had a rough night and was still anxious from the meds she had on board.  But.  If the path from frozen sections on Wednesday confirm the initial findings during surgery, she will not need chemo or radiation.  That means a clean excision.  No penetration of the uterine wall.  Therefore no cancer floating in the body at large.

    Stefan and I talked for awhile.  About waiting.  Waiting for an appointment with an oncologist.  Waiting for surgery and the prep for surgery.  Waiting for the results of the surgery.  Now, a much easier form of waiting.  Waiting until Lonnie improves enough to go home.

    A happy story about the big C.  Not the one’s I recall from the paper.  Diagnosed last week, dead this week.  One to remember.

    Taylor came by while Stefan and I talked.  He had made jello for Lonnie, but it took longer than he thought to jell.  He was on his way to a recording studio.  He’s laid down 50 hip-hop songs, “kept 30 of them.”  He has serious folks interested in his work. His ambition is impressive and his willingness to lay it out there suggests to me that he will succeed. 

    He had on a big billed hat with gold and logos, a hooded sweat shirt done in an almost 50’s preppy sock diagonal plaid.  His pants, the low hanging denim variety have purple stitching on the rolled up cuffs and gold threaded designs on extra large back pockets.   Trippy.

    Back home for  a snack and now a workout before Kate comes home from work.

  • The Most Ancient Trail of All

    54  bar falls 30.06  1mph NE  dew-point 51  Beltane, cloudy and drizzly

                       Last Quarter of the Hare Moon

    A change has begun to creep over the Woolly Mammoths.  It is at least late fall for us.  One of us had an episode of Bell’s Palsy over the weekend.  He first thought, as I would have, stroke.  The effects lingered into this week. 

    Late last night came news of a Woolly spouse.  Cancer of the utereus.  Adenocarcinoma.  A hopeful prognosis if tests next week find it in an early stage.  Even so.   

    Frank’s heart attack before he came to the Woolly’s and his bypass surgery after have kept medical issues in front of us, yes, but these are new.  Fresh.  Signals that we have begun to age.  The fact is that such matters are no longer unusual in our period of life.  While still not common, they will begin to pop with increasing incidence until, one by one, this herd of Woolly Mammoths and their spouses follow those of the Ice Age on that most ancient trail of all.

    On a cloudy, cool day with a light rain falling this news could be depressing, but I find it just so.  These matters are as key to our developmental age as were graduations in our 20’s and weddings in our late 20’s and early 30’s.  Like those earlier rites of passage, the action is not in the event itself, but in our reaction to it over time. (to paraphrase Saul Alinsky)

    I spent an hour and half outside today, planting and transplanting.  Cloudy, cool, drizzly.  Perfect for that work.  Blue fescue, Maiden Grass, cucumbers, watermelon, squash and morning glories will each enjoy the rain on their first day in their new locations.  The daylily transplant project was part of this and continues, in dribs and drabs, as it will until we finish it, probably some time in July. 

    We go out to see RJ Devick, our financial planner/money manager, today.  These situations become more and more pertinent as Kate nears retirment age and I  enter that time when eligibility for both pension and social security are upon me.  Considering these matters thoughtfully are also part of our development period.  We are at the cusp of a major change in our lives.

  • Seeking Mastery Within

    54  bar steady 29.78  1mph NW  dew-point 44  Beltane, sunny and cool

                                           Full Hare Moon

    The weather remains cool.  This is not a long spring; it’s a long late March or early April.  The gardening upside has been longer lasting blooms on the tulips and the daffodils and the scylla.  This weather has also proved excellent for transplanting, reducing transplant shock to a minimum and resulting in little wilting after a move.  The downside has been slow germination (no germination?) for some vegetable seeds planted and slow growth for the ones that have sprouted.  From the humans who live here in Andover perspective it’s been a great season.  Cool weather to work outside and to further many landscaping projects.

    Last night’s conversation about mastery at Tom’s lingers today.  At one point we asked each person to claim what mastery they found in themselves, then we offered evidence of mastery we found in them, too, from an outsider’s perspective.  Various Woolly’s were masters of soulfullness, love, living, listening, communicating, design, the big picture, and drawing others out to see the best in themselves. 

    Tom and I were wrong in our assumption that individual Woollys would find it difficult to claim a sense of mastery.  And delighted to be wrong, too.  We affirmed what each Woolly saw as their area of mastery and added ones they hadn’t seen or chose to ignore, e.g. mastery of forensic engineering, computer skills and sheepshead, making the complex accessible, letting go, the body in motion.

    In my case, for example, I admitted I couldn’t find anything to claim since I’ve lead such a curiousity driven life, often running full speed down divergent paths at the same time.  Then, I said, “Well, I guess I could claim being a master student.”  That got modified in the eyes of the group to seeker after essential, radical truth.  OK, I can see that.  “You’re a master teacher, too.”  Hadn’t occurred to me, but that’s become a theme in various areas of my life of late, so it must be there in spite of my opacity to it.     

    Tom initiated a get together for designing the evening and having me as a co-facilitator, rather than a servant lackey.  He made the food simple, sandwiches and soup followed by a big, really big, cookie.  Others seemed to appreciate the act of co-operation in design of the evening.  Tom and I wanted to introduce better time managment, and we did; but, that was not appreciate by everyone.  “Felt forced.”  Well, yes.  But every time together has its limits and therefore its limits on contribution.

    As we closed, Tom observed that the Woolly’s as a group are a master that each of us can turn to for guidance in life.  I nuanced that a bit by suggesting that as a group, over 20+ years together, we have mastered groupness.  We are a living community, best evidenced, as someone said, by the fact that we show up.

    I have signed out for the summer at the Art Institute.  I need the break.  I’ll use the time for writing, family and our land.

  • Anne Looked Grand

    43  bar steep rise 29.74  1mph NW  dew-point 41  Beltane

                                     Full Hare Moon

    Whoa.   More socializing today than I get in a normal month.  AM Eric Kjerlling, curator of Oceanic art at the Met, gave an information packed lecture on this vast geographic region and its varied art forms.  He was funny, knowledgeable and deep.  An excellent introduction that I will want to revisit if I get the Asmat special exhibition year.  It was my number 2 choice after William Holman Hunt and the Pre-Raphaelites.  The Pre-Raphaelites are among my favorites in Western art and I hope I get that exhibition.

    Saw several folks at the coffee on break during the lecture, but then retired to St. Paul, 1394 Lincoln, for a wonderful couple of hours seeing others from our docent class.  Careen Heggard’s house is appointed by an architect, Careen, and wonderfully casual  and elegant at the same time.  She has a small cottage on the grounds, a former gardner’s residence, which she uses a cabin to which she does not have to drive, tea-house, escape.  Looks an ohana dwelling like we see in Hawai’i.

    Morry, Joy and I stood out in the rain by the fire discussing literature.  Joy had a great line, one I hadn’t heard before, “Oh, that.  It’s just my stigmata acting up.”

    Anne Grand was there and looked great.  She also seemed sharp.  Quite a relief.  I had worried about her.  Bill Bomash showed up, too, on crutches and looking wan.  I had to leave just as he came so I didn’t get a chance to chat.

    Home for a nap at 2:30.  The morning and the lunch tired me out, as socializing tends to do.  I got up from my nap, went out in the rain, dug siberian iris, bearded iris and hemerocallis for Yin.  Scott brought three big bags of  hosta.  I felt like a piker.  I assured him there were more plants.

    Woolly meeting at Tom’s.  On mastery.  Ode was home and it was great to see  him.  His report on the exhibit he did for UNESCO, sex ed for Thai teens, inspired me.  The meeting was a good one, deep and funny.  More later.  Paul and Charlie H. couldn’t make it.  More on the content tomorrow.

  • My Y Chromosome

    32  bar steep rise 30.08 1mh NNW dewpoint 27 Spring

                  Waxing Crescent Moon of Growing

    This  invitation is also for any of you read this blog and would like to come.   I’d love to see you.

    Sierra Club Power 2 Change House Party Monday, April 14th 


    Hosted by Charles Buckman-Ellis 3122 153rd Ave. NW. Andover.Learn about the Power 2 Change campaign, an effort to educate the public about what is at stake in the 2008 elections. High gas prices and America‘s dependence on foreign oil have made energy one of the most pressing and important issues of this political season.  We face a crossroads, and we need to challenge all of our elected officials, including the next President, to provide the leadership we need to move America in a new direction on energy.  Between now and Earth Day on April 22nd, the Sierra Club is working to get the word out that we need leadership who will make the right choices.  Join us for refreshments, meet your neighbors and learn how you can take actionRSVP to Margaret at 612-659-9124 ext. 306 or Margaret.levin@sierraclub.org Visit the web site to learn more about this important effort: http://www.sierraclub.org/power2change/minnesota/ 

    Note: This is NOT a fundraiser.

     Come to the event if you can.  I’d love to see you.  (Anybody who reads this is welcome.)

    Whenever Kate comes home and I’m watching a football game or a basketball game, she’ll say, “Aha. Caught you with your Y chromosome in action.”  Doesn’t happen often, but had she not been in San Francisco, she could have found me watching the last half and the overtime of the Kansas/Memphis game of the NCAA finals. Whoa.  What a game! Kansas, down by 9 with 2:12 left to play and down by 3 with less 2.0 seconds left to play. Chalmers hits the three.  Tie.  In overtime Kansas takes advantage of a missing big man (Dorsey) and goes on to win pulling away.   

    That wasn’t all though.  Tonight was also Woolly night at the Istanbul.  This is a y-chromosome only club.  We talked about Rome, about China-Tibet, Danish desserts and Pawlenty’s veto of the Central Corridor light rail.  Stefan and Bill celebrated birthdays.  A guy’s night out. 

    Talked to Kate when I got home.  She’d called the home phone, left a message and said she forgot I was the Woolly’s and that she’d call tomorrow.  I picked up the cell phone, called her cell phone.  She answered.  I said, “I just called to tell you we’re old farts.”  “Why?”  “Because I could have had my phone turned on and you could have called me at the Istanbul.”  “You called me on the cell phone just to see if I’d answer?”  “Yeah.  If you hadn’t, that would have meant we were O.F.’s for sure.” 

    Mailed another package to the serviceman in my life.  Still strange.


  • Up At 5AM and Hard At It

    33  bar steep fall 30.11  6mph N  windchill 33

        Waxing Gibbous Moon of Winds

    Boy is my sense of time screwed up.  Got up at 4:30AM for the bathroom.  Went back to bed.  No sleep.  Waited.  Still no sleep.  So at 5AM I got up, went downstairs, opened by John Weber collection catalogue and tried to figure out what to do next.  This was difficult because I had put my notes for the tour in the carrier I take when I go into the museum.  That location didn’t occur to me until ten sleepy minutes had gone by shuffling this paper and that trying to locate the item I needed to finish the tour.  Those notes.

    But I did find them.  As a quiet spring snow began to fall outside in the dark, I entered again the world of the Heian poets, the Shining Prince Genji and the floating world of courtesans, no theatre and elegant costume.  Japan and China are strange and distant cultures for most Westerners so entree into their world does not come without some struggle, some setting aside of preconceived notions. 

    Over the last three years in particular I have worked hard to get a handle on the historical context in both Japan and China.  I’ve worked harder on China, but Japan has had some time from me, too.  As so often happens in the life of the mind, eventually the heart begins to follow and somewhere along the line I went from interested to captivated. 

    It was easy then to begin comparing poems used in the poetry competitions, mythical contests in which cultured Japanese matched poets from different eras, then matched two of their poems that seem to have resonance.  The competition was not between the two poets in question of course, but among the Japanese who created the matches.  It would be like, say, putting Robert Frost’s “Snowy Evening” against one of Emily Dickinson’s darker pieces, Wallace Stevens and Coleridge. 

    So it went for two hours until the dogs began to whine and I let them out of their crates, fed them and began my own breakfast.

    After breakfast I caught another hour and a half or so of sleep, then drove into the Common Roots Cafe where the docent book club gathered to discuss the (apparent) lack of religion/spirituality in contemporary art.  I guided this discussion, but I’m afraid I didn’t conceive a way to do it fruitfully.  We had a lot of conversation, though, and I think we may have gotten greater clarity from it than was immediately obvious. 

    It was Tom Blyfeld’s 80th birthday.  He celebrates his 56th wedding anniversary on Friday.  He mentioned the doctor who delivered two of his children, a man 90 something who has great-great grandchildren. Amazing.  He will celebrate his 65th wedding anniversary.  These are numbers unattainable by most of us in the divorce generation.

    Tonight is the celebration of St. Patrick’s day at Frank Broderick’s.  He bought the meat last Friday.  His table always groans with meat and potatoes and cabbage.  I look forward to it each year.

  • A Retreat, Then An Advance

    19  82%  21%  omph ENE bar29.90  windchill19  Winter

                 Waning Gibbous Winter Moon

    A DVR.  Hadn’t planned on getting one, but the hdmi connection with the TV demanded it over the HD converter box alone.  Surprise.  I like it.  Already I’ve taped two movies, Cronicas and Killer of Sheep.  When I’m watching a movie, I prefer to start at the beginning and the start times of movies often don’t conform to my schedule.  In the past I would check the replay schedules and try to find a time that worked or I’d skip it.  Now I can press the record button and the DVR records the movie and I can replay when I wish.  Kate’s also used it to tape a TPT series, Jewish Americans.  Guess you never know.

    No more tours until March.  I have ten days before I go to Dwelling in the Woods, days I’ll use to finish the garden planning, edit my sermon for Groveland and produce a 1-page Transcendentalism for Brights, work on my new novel and a short story.  Also, I’ll do the various pre-trip preparations like stopping the newspaper, the mail, reserving a ride on the Airport Shuttle, packing. 

    Also have to plan a one-hour presentation to the brothers, something I want to share with them, a passion or a part of my life right now.  Could be anything.  We switched to this format last year and we liked it.  The way we’d done it before involved a focus on a theme and a common thread in what we presented:  Fathers, Mothers, Death, Myth.  Last year we had a theme, Darkness, but the suggestion was to present the theme in a creative manner.  I chose a ritual of darkness which involved reading poetry excerpts (Dover Beach, The Night by Rilke, Stopping by the Woods on A Snowy Evening that sort) and, in a room lit only with candles, extinguishing a candle with each reading.   This year, don’t know yet.