Monday, December 31, 2007

It's a quarter of an hour down, and I'm beating down the gate. 

I'm ready to tear out, into the future. My feet hurt, but that's not stopped me before. 
I'm beaten up by my own expectations, but I've got more. 

I'm pacing, chomping at the bit. 

Ready to go, ready to go forward. Ready to let go of a situation which has let us down. It's part of the system here, at some point the airbags deploy, and deny an extension. 

I'm glad of it. Let me go, let him go. Let us all out of a situation which is only concerned with how much suction it can apply to its own appendage. 

We're in a place of ready waiting. 
We are a sprung trap for the future. 

Sipping Veuve Cliquot, nibbling blackeyes stewed slow in adobo and harissa, a smoked hock and a bay leaf I grew myself.. how can the indifferent revolution of the earth not be moved by our simple joy?

We are the luckiest people in the world. We have each other, this life, our experiences, memories, expectations, wonder, curiosity, adventure and optimism. 

We're ready to break the gate. 

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Friday, December 28, 2007

Bunnies under my bed?
Oh.. 











No wonder I never vacuum under there!
Fangy, toothy.. RUN!

Save yourselves!

Wr in ur dojo eatin yr footz!
Found this on Short Sharp Science New Scientist Blog and have been laughing my patootie off ever since. 

All Hail The Arachnid!

Just a cute little jumping spider strolling across a NASA camera during a launch... oopsie, aborted! Darn spiders. 

We Leik Science!
www.mofaha.com

We also like excuses to go "NOM NOM NOM"!!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

 I try to explain to my homeless Navy brat sweetie, time and again. I have a Home, and it's the needle that will show the way, again and again. I can live elsewhere and be happy, and maybe someday, some other special place will be Home. I'm not ruling it out. 

I'm not that hung up on Home. It's just like some kind of birthmark... I have one of those, as well. A kid with a splotch in the middle of their forehead may not look like that, when they grow up. If they're lucky. There it is, under the hair, for the rest of their lives. Maybe we're enslaved by it, maybe not. I'm choosing NOT, unless I need to come home, in which I'll take full advantage, and enjoy. 

The idea that I should live life as a tourist, with eyes open and wondering, instead of taking what's there for granted, has become an important one during our years overseas. 


I am not afraid of bees. My mom made sure of that. I like to pet them, they are soft and fuzzy and mostly very friendly. They don't like to be bothered, but then, neither do I. 
What I am afraid of, is my mom's house. She is a compulsive hoarder .

Going back home, I have to face this house, and this problem. 
I'm going to be very honest with you, this is like having to dig through the dumpster of your own life, plus ten. 

My mom is still functional, and trying to move out of her house, but I can only imagine the struggles she is enduring, to make some kind of movement. 

If she isn't out of there, by the time I come to town, I'll do everything I can to help. 

And hope, that I don't help too much. 

My mom's nickname is what makes the "bee" part relevant. No, I'm not afraid of bees, but let's just say I cultivate a healthy respect!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My mom asked me to attend a church service here in Germany, and it's just not something I'm going to do. 
Especially with the religious war the US is currently participating in, I just don't feel like like participating in religion. Not here, not there, not anywhere. 

This doesn't account for the panic attacks I've had in churches, quietly, over the years. If a person believes in past lives (and my jury is out on this one, pending further scientific study) if I was a hedgewitch then, as I am now, most likely I got burned in a couple of them. 

I'm not just agnostic when it comes to major religions, I'm also agnostic when it comes to New Age bullshit. You'd no sooner catch me lined up for a tarot reading, than you would catch me in church. 

Blogger varies between "Save Now" and "Saved" and I'm not sure if I should call Pat Robertson or not. 
I'm erring on the side of NOT.. 

I'm not sure I want to be "saved". There's many things in my life I would have liked to have been saved from, including idiotic teachers in high school and college (grew up in Texas, any questions?), my own stubbornness (except that it saves me more often than not)  and some injuries I still have to be careful of. My profession has saved me from far more of my mistakes than any religion could ever dream of. I don't approach what I do as cult activity, in fact, I tend to be more of an irritating thorn than a willing follower. Still, I love the work, and I do good work, in places where most R/SI'ers don't go (martial arts and the military).

Stepping outside under sparkling stars, marveling at tree roots and fungi, nibbling fall apples and rose hips, endlessly amused at life and my fellow humans (and astonished by their resourcefulness and endurance) and savoring this chance to not just live on one continent, I am incredibly blessed. 

Not by something outside myself. I stepped up, I took these chances, and I made the decision to be aware of my life. I don't live in the "palm to face" world most Americans have locked themselves into. I like to look up, and look around. 

I have observed many "cultural" Jews who are not necessarily observant of their religious traditions except as something to do with their families. I could be labeled a "cultural" Christian, except that I deeply embrace the concept of the Turning of the Light. My body responds to the seasons markedly, and, as I live there, my spirit does the same. Perhaps I am more in tune with this Northern European season, where we wait patiently until the light turns, and then start our lives anew, in the dark. 

Meanwhile, atheists are actually nicer.. news at 11.. 

http:/scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/12/bad_news_atheists_can_be_good.php

(I typed that link by hand, because Blogger won't paste it in Mac except on the bottom of the page, where it doesn't post and disappears.. um, conspiracy anyone? hell-OO? simple text paste? I hate typing code. )

Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's a particularly bittersweet holiday, this year. 

We walked Regensburg with friends, and I am always so uplifted by the lights and the happy people. 
The sensation of homesickness, this year, is deeply tinged with the impending knowledge that though I may get to go "home", I will always miss the gaiety in the darkness, this time of year in Bavaria provides. 

We're on a mad tour of Christmas markets, drinking gluehwein and enjoying the ambiance. 
I'm more likely to demand
 perfection of myself, than o
f life. 
My life, not so very long ago, was a train wreck. 
Now, after all these years of hard work on myself, and my environment, and the loving support and cultivation of my dear cg, past injuries become integrated scars, supporting a life's web of information. 
It's the best we can do with these things we crash into, hang on to too much, leave behind, and forget to let go. 
Most of all, I think we forget to find support for our Selves. We don't take advantage of the information that is there to 
climb up on. This is the time of year to delve.. I can spend endless dark evenings sipping hot wine and experimenting with my thoughts. 
I couldn't tell anyone else to do it, who didn't want to go a little mad. But I am convinced that we humans have a hard time telling the difference between madness and genius, and am willing to experiment with both (while admittedly having far more of one on hand, than the other... ). 

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Well, with the whole Chris Comer thing going on at the Texas (mis) Education Agency, a complete separation of the acromioclavicular ligament in one particular Mensch is No Big Deal!

The collarbone and some attached cartilage just kind of floats around above my shoulder. It doesn't hamper my movement much, but I can't, say, scratch my other shoulderblade like I used to. I tried today, not comfortable. I'm being very diligent about getting into the gym, and strengthening my arms as much as possible. 

Anyway, I'm doing well, feeling normal, and able to complete normal chores as expected. No left side shoulder rolls or ukemi for the forseeable future, but life goes on.

Dishes, laundry, ironing and work go on, as normal.

Never thought I'd be so grateful, just for that.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Took a little mild ukemi today, worked with the jo and threw with my right arm. 

Left shoulder burned a bit, biceps tendon complaining hotly down my arm. I figure it's an inflammation of the sheath of the tendon from the swelling on my shoulder, and have gone back to my ice pack for tonight. 

Down to one naproxen sodium today, Voltaren cream and ice. Using rubber tubing for exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff and brace cartilage now MIA. 

I'm quite functional, working is no longer uncomfortable and budo is becoming less so. I still like to keep my left hand in a jeans pocket rather than let it hang, and with this injury it may become a habit. 

I'm weighing what CG has told me for years, about the practicality of shoulder rolls, and wish I didn't have to understand what he's talking about, this way. 

I don't think I get another chance with this shoulder, and I'm not likely to take any. 
It's like stepping out of a photo negative.
I know, we don't see them so often any more, life is digital. My life is certainly digital, and I'm OK with that. But I remember life in photo negatives. The first photos of my early life, were in black and white.

Now that you know you're reading the diary of a Mature Person, maybe what I'm about to write about seems crazy.
Maybe someday, the idea that money was green and white, will seem crazy too. The Euro is much prettier in any case. If pretty equals worth, that explains a lot. Doesn't help me much ;-) .

I was doing martial arts (aikido), fell wrong, and ripped the top ligament which holds the collarbone down to the shoulder, right off. Now I have a lot of cartilage floating around and a shoulder which droops oddly beyond the slightly elevated shelf of the collarbone. I'll get a pic up here soon enough. One bit is too far up, the other too far down.

Meanwhile, I'm starting to feel more recovering, than injured. There's no surgical answer, the shoulder is too mobile a joint for surgeons to be happy with their limited options for repair. It wasn't recommended for me, and I was left to do my own physical therapy.
A friend gave us some tied-off color coded surgical tubing for Chuck's hip rehab, and I have adopted it for my shoulder rehab. Sitting on a physioball today, doing my 15 reps of 3 different angles, toning the supraspinatus up for its new job of holding my shoulder together, in the absence of the cartilage whose job it was, before.

I am also using "medicine balls" for simple range of movement, such as I would use in working.
Using the surgical tubing to build strength in the directions I am currently weak.

Gently, slowly, irrevocably.

I've never been one to take "no" for an answer, and I'm not about to start now.

I'll consider myself healed, when I can do kata without limitation, or make a basket without a hitch.
Not that I like basketball, just that throwing things up, right now, is not comfortable.

I'm not going to try aikido again, nor shoulder rolls. It's just not worth it, any more.
I prefer to have my shoulder to work, to do weapons kata, and daily life.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Having lived in Europe for just over 5 years, and being an interested observer in the US economy, I have some commentary, especially having to do with our current drubbing in the international economy.

Some people may not think of having your currency devalued internationally, as a drubbing. I'm not sure if it's a way to make our debt appear smaller, a way to benefit manufacturing at the expense of the rest of the population, or what.

In any case, our investment in the Euro via our bank account here, has been a good one. Expensive, but good return on our Euro purchase. I haven't worked the percentages out yet. Something which costs 99 Euros, currently costs about 148 US dollars. About a year ago we bought in at almost 2000 Euro. The value has gone up. Not sure of values yet. I try to think of buying Euro as an investment which, at this point, will only go up.

Health care.. GM's re-negotiation of their health care program led me to wonder: Could US companies be more competitive, if the cost of health care was shifted onto the state?
Our main competitors, Western Europe and Japan, have socialized health care. Manufacturing companies do not need to figure health insurance into their costs in these places. American companies do. At what point will we realize what a drag this is on industry, and socialize health care, as has every other civilized nation, and some we don't count as such? (Cuba, Iceland).

Health insurance coverage is decreasing in the US:
http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/hlthins/hlthin06/hlth06asc.html
Meanwhile, poverty is increasing.
http://www.census.gov/prod/2007pubs/p60-233.pdf
(don't read the text, just look at the numbers... )

Public transportation.. France and German have both had enormous train strikes.. resulting in enormous traffic jams. Trains save gas, they save lives (reducing traffic and therefore accidents) they save personal fortunes (no car payment, no insurance!) and they create jobs. Toll roads, hello Texas, do none of the above.

Total rail fatalities in the US were 911 (no, really..).
Total highway fatalities were 42, 642.
Pedestrians were 4, 784 (don't know if this was counted in traffic fatalities, assuming most were killed by cars)
Pedalcyclists died at a rate of 773 for the year of 2006.
766 people died as a result of air and air travel related accidents.
Source: http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_02_01.html

The only thing that kills more people than cars, are heart disease, cancer ("malignant neoplasms" nothing to do with cigarettes I'm sure) strokes and the like, chronic respiratory disease (gosh, could that be cigarettes, or, worse, air quality, possibly having to do with cars?), accidents (to include what?), the flu and pneumonia.
Source http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr56/nvsr56_05.pdf

What's shameful to me, is that the US can't conceive of the idea that, perhaps, somewhere, someone is doing something better than we are.

And if they are, that we could learn something from it.

Instead of everyone just picking up bad habits and overpriced blue jeans from us.

(I'm just kidding about Iceland. We recently met an Icelander on a train, an opera singer, who was utterly civilized and funny.. we just tend to forget about it as a country! but it's there, and the people are interesting)
Still healing.. still frustrated at not being able to train fully.
Using ice gel packs and naproxen sodium to manage discomfort, which isn't bad as long as I don't do too much, or anything stupid. Occasionally, doing nothing in particular, I get bright stars, little asterisks of pain. Possibly from things that used to connect, that don't, any more.

At any rate, I can swing a sword, I can work, and I can complete most daily tasks.

I can't sleep on my left side, or load the left side a lot.
It's interesting that I have to work, and work out, smarter.

If I have to get hurt, I'm going to get everything I can out of it.
Even if I don't want to.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Watching late fall winds, blowing leaves and snowflakes around in a damp and frosty mix.

My shoulder is healing fast, but the top AC ligament is pretty much shot. Fortunately, since the earlier injury, I have paid a lot of attention to getting in the gym and keeping my rotator cuff and shoulder musculature strong. That, and the intensive bodywork I have undergone, has made a huge difference in my adaptability to injury.

I've also done a lot of manual labor and swung a lot of steel, be it an axe, sling blade or katana.
The orthopedist remarked, on the wear on my bones.

Wasn't sure what to say, to his fascination with that.
He's happy with the mobility of the joint, and I can reach almost straight up (not quite, not yet). Normally, I can reach and hold my own fingers behind my shoulder blades. Not today, needless to say. The bruising has slipped down under my arm and into the space between the bulk of pec major and humerus. Not as ugly as it was. I've been religious with gel ice packs, Voltaren gel, and liniments (Kwan Loong and BioFreeze).

Overall, I'm not unhappy with my healing. Other than having to do it in the first place.

I skipped my naproxen dose last night and this morning, and was sorry. I've also got a little heel spur thing going on with my right foot, so between the foot drag and the bump on my shoulder, I might as well live in a bell tower.

Getting hurt isn't just about getting hurt, it's about where you start from, IF you're lucky enough to get the chance to get better. People in car and bike crashes don't make it, all the time. A point for telecommuting...

My general good condition, integration, psychological resilience (hard-won and a bit stretched, at the moment) and general deep stubbornness has all stood me in good stead.

I've become a fan of "Medi-Taping" a Japanese practice which has spread, happily, to Europe. The light, gentle elastic tapes provide a kind of support for the injured joint and counter-stimulus to injured and contracting muscles and nerves. The osteopath I hang out with as often as possible, taped me up the Monday after the injury, and it was great until Thursday, when it was itching like crazy and I took it off. Boy, was I sorry!
Next, I was scratching at the door of the physiotherapist's I knew, asking them to put some back on.
They were incredibly sweet and kind, and taped me back up.
It's a little itchy, but I don't care. I can scratch through the tape.

So, two points.. not starting from zero, and knowing kind folks, who will take in injured strays.

*shuffle, drag, hunch.. "yeth, Marthter... "

Saturday, November 03, 2007


Not much I can do, with a bum shoulder, so I'm taking myself on nice Walkies.

I've decided to make one more batch of delicious cranberry jam with the tiny, elusive wild cranberries which grow on the ground in the forests here.


Some little yellowish mushrooms caught my eye...

Hours of poring over mushroom books paid off! The Germans call them "Trompeten-Pfifferling". They are lovely little things with yellow stems, dark caps, and gills becoming light lilac as the fungi mature. My German book indicates they are "Cantherellus tubaeformis", though these look a little like the American var. Lutescens.

Our anniversary dinner was splendid, with these little beauties in a simple cream sauce over chicken breast, romanesque from our garden, polenta toasted in olive oil, and the last of our collection of Alsatian Reisling Gran Cru.

I found almost a kilo of these little beauties on the steep hillside. I shared a generous handful with our landlord, and dried another big handful of them to keep around for soups and such.

Yes, I'm contemplating another run out there, despite the despicable drippiness of the day!

I need to get some sloes and more cranberries anyway. Yeah.. that's my excuse..

Monday, October 29, 2007

First of all, I want you to know that I have never been "really" injured (knocks wood furiously).

I have never broken a bone, I have rarely bled, and I have never had to have surgery, so far, as a result of an injury in Japanese-paradigm based martial arts training.

I had a moderate medial ankle sprain to my deltoid ligament and supporting structures in 1998, and a mild shoulder separation/shoulder jam from 1995, and one Nov 27, 2007. The real pisser is, that something that happened 12 years ago, happened again. With trusted friends, in a technique whose ukemi I thought I had overcome. In seven years of training with Chuck, I have never had more than a bruise.

I got him to take a pic: Nice bruising, and the articulation between clavicle and shoulder capsule is standing up even more than it did before. The Rolfing process had brought it down to almost unnoticeable, and hopefully my colleagues can iron it out for me again, once I can stand to have it manipulated.

I saw the orthopedist, who instructed me to ice, take something for pain (Naproxen sodium 1000 mg per day, with Nexium to protect my stomach) and to "dangle" my arm down by my side to take the pressure off the swelled, jammed bursa. I've probably ripped the acromioclavicular ligament up again and the rear trap feels sore and stiff. I'm also getting stiff in the front and back from splinting, hematoma and swelling.

The good news is, I have good mobility and steadily lessening (thank goodness!!) pain. I checked my journal from the last time I did this, and I was swimming laps (while cursing) in about two weeks. I've called the local osteopath as well, and hope to get started on physical therapy next week. Last time, I didn't have health insurance!

I got on the mat casually, and was just sort of "messing about" and just didn't have my focus tuned in. It came back sharply after the injury, and I managed, somehow, to "go inside" and reduce the dislocation myself. I don't remember much about it but a deep determination and a soft POP, which everyone else heard.

The reason for the injury was my lack of focus.
It's not a problem I have on Chuck's mat, but I don't have my head on right for aikido, any more. I've never been an ukemi bunny... but I've managed to survive, and hopefully not be a complete idiot.

The pain is just that, pain. The feeling of being stupid, and WORSE! feeling like I let down everyone at the seminar, especially Peter and our own dojo. The feeling of failure, and not being able to participate, was way more painful than the injury.

I am still touched, by the people who ministered to me. The thrower was deeply apologetic, and the resident nurse made me promise to see the ortho and splinted the arm for me for the drive home. Peter sprayed me down with arnica, and Pauliina just put her hands on the owie and held it-- one of the best things for acute pain. Karl managed to find me ice, and Barbara brought me more. Pauliina hovered like a concerned mother ducky. I'm afraid I stole Peter's training towel to wrap the ice pack in.. will send that back with his notes.
Someone brought me homeopathic arnica, which I don't believe in, but, in extremis, what the hell.

The seminar was a blast, and a great success, and that's the important thing.
I'm especially grateful to everyone who stepped up and pitched in around the house.

Good friends are great blessings.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dear friends are warning me against returning.

It may be, that I have a choice, but, uninsulated by the Status of Forces agreement, incompetent in the language and laws of the land, and compelled by circumstance to cut the political umbilical cord which connects cg to free housing, utilities, and a kind of allowance against the death-spiral of the dollar (suppressed by our politics: http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/, thanks Cousin Frank!), we need to go back to what we know.

Or move to Costa Rica, whatever.

Researching the neighborhood I am thinking of moving to, Travis Heights in Austin, I find that someone I knew in high school was stabbed to death in a parking lot on the east side of the highway there, in June 2006. Schoolchildren found his body in the morning. I wonder, if he would have wanted to be a warning. Perhaps, he would have. I remember some author's mantra, if you can't be a good example, at least be a terrible warning.

I knew his sister, we worked together in high school. I knew he was a performer, but I had never seen him work. He dropped out of school, to become a juggler.

I used to work in the biggest theater in town, the Americana. It was surreal, not just because we were all young and experimenting with everything... well, I wasn't, chemically anyway. My grip on reality has always been slippery enough, without loosening it further with any kind of psychoactive WD40.

I hadn't thought about the guy since last I saw him, had never connected him with the Esther's Follies performances, and his little sister was just, like, oh, he does stuff... Shelly, I'm so sorry. His name was, is "Ryder" Red Ryder, Warren Schwarz. Sorry I am so late in my salute. Sorry I never saw him "do his thing" in person. Watched it on YouTube. You know, I used to wonder why he wore a top hat in school... figured he had a reason, thought it was cool.

We want to think well of the departed, but I think this guy is more than that. He made his mistakes, he was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, seen by the wrong person in the wrong circumstance. There's very little defense anyone can make use of, once these variables are tipped. I think he would have wanted to be an example. He was a good guy, and never meant to do harm. It's just hard to get past personal demons.. sometimes they win. Did I say I was sorry? It's a pitiful mantra, but it's all I've got.

Meanwhile, I feel now, like I'm stepping over the bones of the past, to come home. I've warned my ex, and we are having a nice email conversation. He is a great and generous person, and I would recommend him to anyone who could do right by him.

When you don't exactly burn your bridges, but you don't take time to put them out either, it's a delicate negotiation, to come back home. Unapologetic Dixie Chix fan that I am, just listen to Long Way Home and you'll get the way I've been on.

Dear friends have warned me against most of the things I have held, and will hold dear, in my life.
You'll just have to keep loving me, when I nod, give you a hug, and go do whateverthatstupidthing was that worried you so much, understand that even I don't understand the path I'm on. How can I? Women in budo don't exactly have a blazed trail to follow.

When Opportunity calls me home, there must be something there for me to do.
I ended up over here, and, while I am no christian, I have tried to be an instrument of peace, deep in the entrails of war. I have never loved a fight so much, as what I have had, here.

With my mate by my side, I have raked over coals many comfortable bureaucrats who would rather hold down a chair, than benefit the people who pay their salary.
I have taken in the stragglers the medical community would, well, medicate out of existence, and made them walk again. Literally. I make soldiers who would be useless, on medication, function.
Throw that away, if you have the IQ of a stapler. Contact me, otherwise.

Brother Peter, brother Francis, you know I have work here, to do. You know I will make myself mobile and available to those who call out for laying on of hands in a particularly effective manner, to keep the Word (of budo) alive.

Through it, around it, and by my own inability to pay attention to whatever the damnfool StatQuo thinks it's on about, maybe we can educate some folks still able to Pay Attention.

Ryder, I took those Texas Employment Tests, and they said I would excel at Sleight of Hand.

You'd love, where I took that joke.

Right up their noses.
No, really..

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I'm one of those rare modern Americans who has a home.
It's Austin, Texas, if you ask my mother, who was there (after a fashion) at the time.

I'm doubly lucky in that my home is one national leaders have falsely claimed as their own, to gain the imperative of respect. If you count luck as the Dutch do, Austin is lucky. We are the Amsterdam of the Southwest US.

I can say "we" again.

While I was in Austin last March, I asked a veteran in my profession (SI) what it was like to be in a town which respected, and supported, what she did.

She smiled, said it was a great joy and a great honor.
You know, we never needed to say anything... I felt it in her, and she felt it in me.
I was on the verge of my homesick tears, and she comforted me, in a very grounding, structural way.

Since then, every time I have gotten a session (damn few, due to my remote location!), I have gotten up ready to "to go" in a place slow to orient, evolve and accept. I can only hammer one will at a time to what I do... and if I don't have Chuck's job to give me time and space, I don't have time to beat my way through the brush. Stuck in Army limbo, it's hard to make a commitment, except to the Army. And that's not going to happen. Too many broken bodies, broken lives, too little care, too little time, too little too late, too many demands on folks considered in this administration an underclass, rewarded with capital letters and rotting rehabilitation facilities... too much heartbreak.

I've lost my patience, and am not willing to lose my mind, break my fingers and my will against a multitude of stubbornnesses and stupidities.
The Oberpfalzers like to watch everything for years, before they give it a try. They won't have time to wait, with me. The very nature of my existence here is ephemeral, as far as they are concerned. And they will miss what I have been taught, because they were too slow to try it.

I've learned the language, I've learned to appreciate the culture, there are things I love, and things I can't get. I would stay, but the environment is not pro-business, and the language, bureaucracy and culture are deeply opaque. I have gone in further than most non-natives, and can converse in a limited fashion. I hate the limits, though. I suppose I would hate them, anywhere.

The Army is, if anything, slower and more stubborn as an organization. Individuals who discover the benefit, like the lieutenant I saw today, putting her body together 10 months after the birth of her first child and made a passing grade on her PT test for the first time, are quick adapters. The rheumatologist who came to me with jaw problems for herself, and sends me the most interesting clients, is another quick adapter. Her efforts to bring SI work into wider exposure have been beautiful and ambitious. However, preaching to stones is preaching to stones. I cannot bring people into responsibility. I can just prod them upright...

So when this same veteran put out the call for professionals in her area at a new holistic health center in Austin, I sent a small sad note that I wish I could respond. She said, they'd be glad to have me.

I talked to my husband, who has not been extended in Germany, by a penny-pinching administration.
He encouraged me, and knows I've been suppressing my homesickness for our good, and his career, for years now.

He is willing to do what it takes, to support what it is I am here to do.
This is what started the whole odyssey.

So I find myself back at the beginning of the maze, possibly with a lot of cheese.
As long as we're not starving, I'll hope it's not Velveeta.



Apple crunches sweet and sour
fall sunshine.
Piercing regret,
sweetness lingers.













Endless summer girl
I don't mourn the summer slipping
Only the slip
Of time and memory.














Fall is
sinking into the Dark.
We Fall...
Life is ever in the balance

of Dark.
There is no fear.
Only bright splashes of color
exploration
preservation of the Light
and survival.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007



I've got a love letter in my soul, for Bavaria.

The implacable goddess with her swords and her arrows, hunting hounds at her feet and the harvest at her breast, the direct mother of the Texas star. Beer-gardens, hunting stands, fields and trees, industry and agriculture combined with a live free or die lifestyle has been the Bayer's lifestyle since they were tribes.

I've been living with my love letter to Austin, tucked into my sport bra, worn to illegibility, secret and sweaty, up until this time. Even I can't read it any more. Something about the soulfulness of always being overheated, stuck in traffic, overcharged for beer or coffee, and grumbling about trendies and tourists taking over the place.

I've got a love letter in my soul, for Europe.

She's been dealing with the idealists, slackers and drunks and druggies of the world as long as the Continent has been dry. One weekend in Amsterdam will teach anyone the limits of human tolerance to addictive idiocy. Everyone wonders why the French are so crabby in Paris -- I'm sure the average native Austinite feels the same about SXSW.

Somewhere, someone drew the short straw, and I got an invitation to go Home.

I'm pretty sure I'm ready.
Just don't ask me to stay during boiling August and early September, or juniper-poisoned January/mid February. For the rest of the time, I'm ready to get my feet on the ground, and my hands into people willing and ready to change.

I'm ready to get life off the starting line.

Meanwhile, I've fallen in love with damp, cold Bavaria, and will miss her sweet, clammy hands... the fall colors, the quick seasons, the fall colors, the SNOW, the feverish short summers, mushrooms, apples, berries and bittersweet sloes.

It's part of the cost of musashugyo, to miss all the places you visited.
I'm lucky enough to have this experience, and will never forget it.

Actual love letters coming shortly...

Monday, September 17, 2007


On a Rolfing mailing list I blather at sometimes:
(I provided a) New Scientist quote:>> Researchers are working hard to harness the body's inner power - not
>> some mystical life force, but the chemical energy locked up in the
>> body's own food stores - and convert some of that into electricity.

Another wrote:
>"Rolfers work with the mystical life force - but instead of saying that
>we say "fascia".That we say we don't understand the mystical life force, makes us understandable to science. >When we say we understand the mystical life force, science can make no sense of us."

What I had to say was:
Well, more specifically, what I'm trying to wave at is...
It's NOT mystical. It's *right there*. We just haven't been measuring it. I believe Robert Schleip's research is getting into that area of measuring the conductivity of fascia, to begin to get a scientific, rational handle on what we have, so far had this very limited conceptual vocabulary to talk about. (
www.somatics.de, but I think you all know!)
Because we have been limited by our "scientifically tested" understanding, we sound vague, freaky, yes, "mystical" and we can't agree. This has held the SI discipline back for too many years.

Nice guy wrote:
> It is important to know that Science also believes in a mystical life force

Quote again:
>> "Researchers are working hard to harness the body's inner power - ***_not_ some mystical life force**, but the chemical energy locked up in the body's own food stores - and convert some of that into electricity. "

The point is that it's NOT mystical. It is measurable (chemical, mechanical), and therefore real. The job of science is to walk into mystery, and enjoy the view. To enter the world of science is to be an explorer of mystery, observing, measuring, and making what sense we can of this great, fascinating, challenging and ultimately real and beautiful world. Think Star Trek. Cue tricorders... ;-)

Smooth fascia will probably transmit energy better than tangled fascia. Certainly it works for mechanical energy! and who knows what we will discover on the way! what a wonderful experiment!

> We distance ourselves and our discipline from science, as Rolfers when we make a loud point of things that can't >be taken out of the bucket, for when we speak this way we are speaking against science... whose job is to take >things out of the bucket.

The job is to understand and measure what the behavior is of whatever we have in the bucket. Like Schroedinger's cat, it may or may not be alive, once you take it out of its environment.

> and some things can't be taken out of the bucket but we don't know what that is (at least insofar as we are being > >scientific).


We won't know that until we try. Fascia outside of its environment quickly loses its qualities, if you read Robert's reports:
http://www.fasciaresearch.de/
Good ideas withstand testing, are worth testing, and are fun to test.
My idea in forwarding the article was not that Science understands Mystery, but that through Science everyone can understand what was, previously, mysterious.
It levels the playing ground, creates common ideas (mechanical or chemical energy understood) instead of speaking in overly general or limited terms. This scientific understanding of "energy" could move us from a "Middle Ages" terminology of "humours" into a real conversation and exploration of what happens when you lengthen the fascia of the soleus and get greater potential for mechanical energy. Or lengthen the fascia of the psoas, free the movement of the kidney, and create greater potential, through hydration, for greater chemical energy of that organ.
I think we should ask ourselves if we have to do anything "mystical" to play a symphony, perform good kata, or have a beautiful garden.

If you just did "mystical" things, what would happen?
If you worked hard and practiced, what would happen?

Like the man who asked the old guy on the corner "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?"
"Practice, my son. Practice."


More specifically on Science:
http://www.mofaha.com/tw_fps_gallery.asp?imgNum=0

Sunday, September 09, 2007


One of my "devotions" is wild foods. I haven't talked about it so overtly, but now that it's fall, it's harvest season, and I'm out and about with my bags and my basket, I should. It's such a huge part of my life.
Having read the historical novel by Gabaldon, I am drawn back to my love of this kind of story, be it the Jean Auel or Anne McCaffrey books.
Females are drawn to "gathering" and we are enticed to do so at many modern edifices, from Tuesday Morning to WalMart to flea markets and auction houses.
This is a falsely led instinct, in my own book. Our instincts lead us to the woods, where there are specials every month. It's always free, and needs only our strolling approval to participate.

This month, it's Bay Boletes. Wow, look at those beauties! I also picked up handfuls of cranberries and a few blackberries. Blueberries I simply grabbed off the elevated trailside (above pollution by fox-bandworm levels) and nibbled for their rich tartness and high protein.

Rather than just read about people gathering the natural world to them, I have chosen to participate. It began in Texas, helping my mom with Muscadine grape jelly. Later, I gathered my own, starting with dewberries in the steaming Texas spring. Mushrooms in Texas are not a common thing, not anything sanely edible, anyway.

My love of mushrooms really got started in Indiana where I learned about Morels and learned to hunt them, no thanks to the local selfish (short) park ranger at the state park in Lawrence.

I figured it out, I gathered kilos of them, I gathered oyster and Judas ear mushrooms and plentiful puffballs as well. I stuck to the easy ones, nothing which could ever be confused with something poisonous.

Later, having landed in Germany, I read up on Boletes and Cantherellus, as well as other temperate specialties. I experimented (with spore prints) and got better and better, more confident. Now I am pretty sure about my "easy" mushrooms and my "don't try it" ones.

In the wake of all the China food scares, I just hope they don't manufacture Iams cat food over there, because that's all our elderly kitty will eat.

For myself, I'd be perfectly happy tending some chickens, rabbits, fish, or hunting regularly for all of the above plus venison. I know that I eat animals, I'm OK with that. I have killed for food before, and find it far more comfortable and ethical than just buying cold flesh in styrofoam.

Let me loose in the woods, and I'll keep us fed more often than not. I love nuts, mushrooms, berries and I can tickle a fish from the water, given fish in said water. I love this lifestyle, and find it more evident in fall, when I set out to the woods with a carefully divided and sorted bag over my shoulder. I also gather rose hips for health tonic.

I buy local German eggs, and I'll keep looking for ways to keep eating locally in this so-tight European economy.
I have to drive with these trucks on the highway, so the motivation is very real, to keep them to a minimum.

I have a garden full of sunflowers, Romanesque, green onions, crookneck squash and collards. I even have sweet corn and strawberries! My herb garden has parsley, mints, tarragon, sage, savory, oregano/majoram, thyme, lemongrass and bay.

Each of us just have to find ways to do for ourselves. Eat local. Never mind bio, never mind organic. Eat local. See what's good, check it out, enjoy it!

Life is good in every season. Just give it a try.
I love fall in Germany. There is simply no comparison to the dessicated oven heat of the Texas "fall" and the silent screams of the leaves as they leave tiny smoke trails, burnt from the trees in 90- 100 degree heat.

In Texas, we lived for the "blue norther"a violent sweep of cold air from the Plains refreshing the Texas oven.

Today the German winds were blustery, but in a friendly way. The sun came out and warmed things up, and the wind kept playfully tossing boughs, leaves, and smaller livestock about. If something larger than a cow blows across the alley, we know to stay in. Temps were above 50 F, which is downright summery for this part of the world.

I took advantage of the good weather (read, not precipitating) to head up the nearest hill into the outdoor grocery. You never know what's on special, this time of year! Blueberries and cranberries both hang around for months. The mushrooms really get down to business in the cool damp of fall. I just had to look around to see what the "specia
l" was.
Turns out it was Marone, Xerocomus badius, the Bay Bolete. I got a couple of other strays in there, and decided one was a Bitter Bolete. Good thing, too, those damn things can ruin an entire dish.

Here, it's a time-honored tradition to set out into the woods with a bag or basket. The old folks (Oma and Opa) will ask you what you found, gladly inspect it, and offer commentary in thick dialect.

In my hiking boots and woodland greens, my DEET-soaked hat, staff, and shoulder bag, I was obviously "in Schwammerle gehen" going into the sponges/mushrooms.

Batting, pinching and flicking away the friendly deer lice (imagine a giant flying louse, just as bad as it sounds!) despite the pure DEET I've sprayed on cuffs, socks, hat and collar, I set up the gentle hillside though blueberry bushes and pine forest. The deer lice are only mildly nonplussed by DEET, fortunately they are soft, detectable and easy to kill. Four of
them came out of my hair in the shower, despite the hat. I wear a black Permethrin ballcap.

Immediately, I began to find the bay boletes, some attacked by another white fungus. I didn't collect these, as it's not wise to mix fungi. My bag filled with nice bay boletes, and I found many almost 10 inches (23 cm) in breadth, though they were riddled with other fungi and worms. I left them to spread spores.

I had no luck with Cantherellus cibarius, or Pfifferlinge in German.
I did find a Sparassus crispus, or cauliflower mushroom. Having seen it before, I collected bunches of it to take hom
e and double, triple and quadruple check. I've always loved the rich smell of this one, but I am so careful of fungi I am not acquainted with, and don't take new ones home easily.

I cooked the crispus with roots of the Jerusalem Artichoke, or Topinambur as it's known here, in regular and herb butters with shallots. I nibbled several handfuls with salt, and will note any effects later. It was very good, and would be so nice with eggs or in soup! I just have to see how *I* react to it. I don't do well with Lactarius, they give me the trots (diarrhea) so I have learned to be extra super careful.

I made a cream and red wine sauce of the bay boletes to go with the meatloaf (also containing bay boletes) and mashed potatoes I made for a man sick with a stomach virus, who is also recovering from hip replacement surgery.

It brings out the medicine woman in me, when my man gets sick in the fall.. he does it every fall. As much as he loves Germany, the onset of cold weather does him in every year. If not in fall, then in February, around his birthday. I'm not sure how different it would be in any other climate, but here, it's very predictable.


I've beat up and made tea of my old Korean ginseng root, I've slipped echinacea extract into his fresh (from our gardens, thanks to our landlord) apple juice, and stewed and smashed rose hips into spiced wine for his improvement. In the woods, I hoped to find Grifola frondosa, or "hen of the woods" to feed him, for immunity.

It's bad every year, but if we can't get his endurance above water after the surgery this year, it's going to be bloody miserable.

This is the medicine woman, going out to collect handfuls and handfuls of rose hips, for lots of tea and constant dosings.The mechanical fixes perhaps don't pay attention to the function of the deep long bone marrow in terms of immunity, endurance, vitality, and deep, general health.

This is the difference between what the allopathic docs do, no matter how much we need it.. and what we can do for ourselves.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Zonin 2006 Chardonnay friuli, origine Aquileia: Too sweet and a little watery, without the tart tautness I enjoy in Italian Chards. Not undrinkable, but disappointing. Makes a nice spritzer with mineral water and an ice cube.

Last week I also sipped a Rioja. (Vina Pasarela 2006, Calificada {Espana} Bodegas Isidro Milagro, Alfaro, Spain. Rich, fruity, with nicely spicy undertones. Another good "spaghetti wine". You can't go wrong with a sassy Rioja.

Sitting here in an untouched and waiting bottle is a 2001 Gran Reserva Vina Cierzo, origin Carinena. San Valero, Espana is the bottler. This bottle of silky whoop-ass is waiting for a rich meal of beef or spicy stir-fry, or perhaps one of my "French dinners" when I nibble the season's heavenly old-style "here-and-there" apples, a variety of rich cheeses (Irish Cheddars, Brie, and if I'm quite lucky I find an aged Mimette or Gruyere to revel in) instead of bothering to cook.

I haven't spent over four Euros for any of these wines, by the way. The Gran Reserva is under three at the local Aldi. For the array of Chards I've listed, I had to go to the "supermarket" in the closest big town, Weiden (which means "willows"). This is where I got the nice Pinot Noir mentioned earlier.

The Alsace St Emilion Gran Cru over there in the rack is waiting for a special occasion. Friends gave it to me for helping unload it out of their van a couple years ago, when they got back from the wine fest in Dambach LaVille. They've seen it in restaurants for about 300 Euros. I doubt we could touch it, in the states, for love or money.

There it sits, in the rack, waiting patiently, as only a good red wine can.

Friday, September 07, 2007

I haven't indulged in hysterical novels for some time now, tending rather to various works of nonfiction such as Dawkins or Bryson.

A friend sent me Diana Gabaldon's _Outlander_, and I gave it a try.
I thought myself soft-headed for being a trifle transfixed.

It's a romp about a 1945 Army field surgical nurse transported to 17th century Scotland through a stone circle. At that, I'll never touch a one again. The damp, impoverished (economic and intellectual) misery of the times is not stinted. Of course there is a love story thereby, with many intriguing undercurrents, with a younger Highlander laddie.

As a mature woman who fell more than headlong for a modern Gordon Highlander, despite my best efforts, intentions, strategy and wishes, and as a trained, headstrong and more than occasionally scatterbrained healer type ending up in a place not of my choosing, but making it work, I see why my friend sent me the book.

Living here in Europe where I can stroll into our little town and touch 12th century tumbledown walls, and the aspect of my neighbors is something I'd only seen in the woodcuts of Durer, history is real.

A few minutes stroll from the front door of our massive yellow rented house are wheat and oat fields lined by double-track dirt roads. The trails lead up into the timber forests on the hills, lined with blackthorn, elder, and berry bushes. On a lucky day I have time to stroll and ponder, and perhaps bring home some mushrooms.

Reading the book brought me back to the too-short trip we took to Ayrshire on the coastal South of Scotland. We rode the train though rough fields of heather with its vivid dark greens and lavenders, and walked the fine sand coast barefoot to an old ruined castle. We still plan to visit the Highlands as well.

We also spent a long and delightful week in Ireland. This small island makes itself smaller by measuring speed in miles per hour, and distances in kilometers. Just driving there was a mad adventure! Ireland is also expensive, but the Euro is a bit more bearable. It felt like home... I've always leaned towards my Irish side, and found myself just fitting, there.
http://s22.photobucket.com/albums/b347/cgordon/Ireland/

We still dream of walking Hadrian's wall. However, the Pound Sterling at worth twice the dollar, it's a financial sting we're not interested in bearing. Not this year, anyway!

When Chuck is walking again, if we can stay, then we can plan a trip. Otherwise we just wait for a while.



Thursday, September 06, 2007

A week or two of wine in review:

Gran Reserva 2001 Jumilla La Terraza: Harsh, unforgiving. Very tart and tannic with not enough depth to balance.

Chardonnay 2006 Trentino, Mezzacorona: Typical dry-grass Chard, but a bit flat, despite good tartness.

Edelzwicker 2005, Vin d'Alsace, Arthur Metz: Not a fan of Edelzwicker, but it's tart, pleasant enough and has a good body. Not Pam Anderson, but maybe the girl next door on a good day.

Chardonnay 2005, Aromo Estate, Chile, D.O. Maule Valley: too strong for its flavor. This is a problem with the Chards these days, they are trying to hard to taste like Penfolds, which I used to like and now find to be a bit too close to kangaroo piss to actually bother drinking, or paying for. I don't want to chew on the oak most of the time, I just want to smell it in the distance, and I like the Chard grape to really sparkle in its beautiful tartness. This one ain't it.

Vasco de Gama 2001 Dao Reserva, Anadia, Portugal : Heavenly. Deep, balanced and clean. Matched the brie, walnuts and apples I was nibbling perfectly.

Weisser Burgunder 2006 Mosel Saar Ruwer, Moselland eG Winzergenossenschaft: Lovely light fizz, tart, deep and cheap at the local Aldi.

Valpolicella Classico 2005, Lamberti Santepietre: Slightly fruity, probably a good spaghetti wine. Flat, after sipping the Dao Reserva.

Pinot Noir 2005, Nicolas Napoleon (France): this is one of those "go back and pick up a boxful" wines. Rich, deep, balanced without either too much fruit or tannin. Great nose, silky in the mouth like Belgian chocolate.

Chardonnay 2005 Tierra di Chieti, Farnese (Farneto Valley, Italy): This is how I like my Chard to taste these days. This is the kind of wine which drove me to my Italian Chard kick.. like a crisp fall apple off the tree, without having the chew the tree down like a beaver first. Strong, but gentle. Crisp, but a lingering sweetness after the sip. Apples, sunshine, and clover hay.

Most of this stuff hard to find stateside, but it's so easy for us to play in it over here, I thought it would be fun to provide the occasional review from our glass recycling bag.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Wandered into the Czech Republik again today.
The little country that could has rebounded since the lifting of the Soviet bootheel from its neck.

The tiny town of Loket, known as Elbogen in German, has a tiny stronghold on a deep bend in the Elbe, or Ohre in Czech. I'm sorry, I'm not getting the diacritical marks right on my American keyboard.

Here is an official link:
http://www.loket.cz/english/index.php

All good fortresses have a devoted guardian, and this one had a little black girl-kitty who followed us around, amused by Chuck's four-legged gait, I suppose. Maybe she just knew suckers for kitties when she saw them.
I think she would have liked petting, but had some history to preclude easy contact. I got a brush of her damp, silky coat as she wove through a stair railing next to me.


We didn't have time to go into the fortress itself. The time it took to check out the town and grab some lunch precluded a real savory experience of poking through a nice artifact. I was not, however, kept from window shopping. I wonder if flies are free with all overpriced porcelain?

Starving by the time we made our way through soggy little towns
and border crossings, we stopped at the Goethe Restaurant. By this time a dry tent would have been warm and inviting, so we paused for beer and sustenance. I had a fabulously fresh trout (pstruh) and CG had his usual fried chicken/Cordon Bleu variation with fried potato substances. We had the obligatory cold Becherovka and split some Pilsener Urquell. The food was lovely, the girl looked like a tall version of a pouty 30s beauty, and spoke very good German. We savored the hoppy beer, the spicy liqueur, and the fresh, carefully prepared food. The entire meal cost about $25 American. Ask yourself, could you get this, with the scenery, for this price, in the states? The drinks alone would cost that much. Oh, and we each had a Viennese coffee (Vdanska kava) hot coffee with loads of whipped cream on top.

By this time, the castle was closing in 30 minutes (at 4:30pm) and we decided to come back another time.

We did take the time to meander the walls of the fortress, enjoying the forested walks and views of the castle walls from outside.

The rain took a break for our tour, and got right back to pissing when we got back on the road back to our home in Bavaria.

Driving along between imaginary country lines, I think of Bill Bryson and his book "Neither Here nor There" which is pretty much where I'm living these days.

I'm contemplating an unknown path, with a high wall on one side, and a muddy river on the other. I'm afraid of heights, and hate water I can't see the bottom of, though I swim like a fish and climb rather well. I just dislike the inconvenience.



Saturday, September 01, 2007



In these days when we realize that our time may be short, for everyone, the travel goals become a little frenetic. We have realized that we have yet to visit the open, egalitarian paradise that is Amsterdam.
Or, if you like, the sinfest that is Amsterdam.It all depends on your definition of sin. Our impression will probably be based on how much time we spend dealing with the petty crime, from pickpockets to waiters with creative surcharges, which goes with any large city, anywhere.

In US morality, if no one in current power makes money from it, it must be sinful. If not, it's perfectly legal...

Personally, I don't have a good reaction to or enjoy cannabis products. I like a beer or glass of wine, if it's good quality and won't bust my head in the morning (most of them do) but I was an asthmatic kid and breathing smoke of any kind (my mom was a smoker) I've just had enough of that.

For me, just entering a new culture is enough of a trip.
Despite sharing a name and some initials, I am not the biggest Emily Dickinson fan. Meanwhile, something she said stays with me as a very real truth: "To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else".

I live the same life as everyone else. I go to bed (often too late) and wake up (also often too late) I go to work, I get home and cook dinner and clean up. I go to the dojo and the gym, we shop and go out to eat.

We just happen to do it all in Germany or on an Army post.
We drive a car, we flush toilets, we mow lawns and run dishwashers. We recycle (mandatory, fortunately the bins are literally 4 steps from our driveway) we shop (on and off post, and at the duty-free where we get coffee a Euro cheaper per packet!) we go for walks and bike rides, and we travel.

So far, we've been to the Alsace, London (bleah, never again! too crime-ridden and expensive), Prague (v. cool) Berlin, Munich (my second home in Bavaria due to so much time there training with the European Rolfing Association) Scotland, Ireland (can't wait to go again!) Frankfurt, Freiburg, and beautiful Greece.

The pic is from our friend Geoff at Paleoartisans.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

It's one of those gorgeous sunny cool German summer afternoons when all is well and truly well with the world.

The apples are ripening on the trees, and the leaves are hinting at a turn.

Got KGSR on the intraweb radio-thingy, got some marinated BBQ chickie on the grill with homegrown corn on the cob in its own husk, soaked in the sink and wrapped in foil. Got yellow squash with giant Chinese garlic from the Christian Turk veg shop down the way (they speak Aramaic with each other). I drizzled a generous amount of our precious Greek olive oil in the foil before I set the squash, pepper, rock salt and fresh basil in.

We're going to miss our September trip to Greece like crazy, but maybe we can go somewhere else and play in the water and bask in the sun. It's sad, but he's on crutches until he reaches full weight bearing, and that's 10 kilos a week to 95 kilos. He's not past 20 until this Wednesday. Not good for air travel or mountainous Greece. Bummer. Meanwhile we take walks on sunny days, and hit the local Greek place for retsina, mezediki, ouzo and coffee frappe.

My sunflowers are over 10 feet tall, the corn is producing several ears per stalk, and the yellow squash is pumping out squishies at a tremendous rate. I've been nibbling the sugar peas as they come out, so poor CG hasn't had a chance to stir fry a one. ;-(

The great stone fountain gurgles soothingly, our tiny city makes its evening noises and the neighbors wave and beckon and bring beer. Scooters buzz down the alley at odd, startling intervals. Not so loud as in Greece.

I got to reconnect with an old friend/mentor back in Austin.. I had some "esplaining" to do about our last few connections before I went into dysfunctional obscurity and left Austin. I had become really difficult to be around, due to my personal difficulties, and I'm not sure how many broken branches I left in the wake of my escape.

I'm truly sorry for each one.. some were due to standing in what I saw as my way, and while I ducked as much as I could, please try to understand that I was chewing off my own limbs to get out of a trap very much of my own making.

In my own life, this experience has given me deep compassion for difficult people. Often they are simply a symptom of their own difficult times. Well, yes, sometimes they are just assholes, but time proves or disproves that theory pretty quickly. I'm not entirely sure I've disproved that theory about myself, but I am trying to live a life which brings me joy and lets me be productive, and supportive of everyone around me.

Those who really could have stood in my way (dojo and blood family, mostly), let me go.

It's a hard gift to give, but they gave it. Wonderingly, bewildered... no one in my family had left Texas or even the US since my great-aunt Alice Shaw, who was married to Charles Major up in Indiana. They travelled extensively together, and my father still has the postcards from her to her grand-nephews.

Clara Shaw married a damned Irishman (John Dolan) went to Texas and got forgotten. Except that the Irish gene for social activism, writing, and banging on things until you get something done, didn't go away.

I'm trying to give up the "banging on" part, and learn to step back, gain some perspective, and let go when I need to.


Saturday, August 25, 2007

We got to play with an MMA guy the other day. Very young fellow, reminds me of a particularly aggressive hobbit.
This guy could wind darn near anybody up who decided to play his game his way. I appreciate his trust, his generosity, his good manners and enthusiasm. I have enjoyed watching him play on the same mat while we were playing, and said so. I just love seeing joy in training in action.

I'm not a fighter, my motivations for training have nothing to do with competition, or even so much to do with kicking ass. I'm pretty sure this guy could knock me
over and wind me up, but I'm also pretty sure I'd be grabbing a piece of re-bar while he was going for the shoot... yeah I keep one in my office, thicker than my thumb, just in case.

What I've been learning has been about antiquated systems, weapons and principles. We wear weird pajamas, freaky culottes, and carry weapons not much used since the early 20th century. Not a long time by Asian or European standards, but by US standards it's too long to think about or find relevant.

The kid came over to instruct me several times (I don't mind this, he's so motivated and I'm curious) even though he was born when I was in high school. I've been doing budo of some kind or other since he was in kindergarten.

Still, he came over and taught me how to do this, that, and the other thing if this guy does this and then you do that and... I broke in on the monologue and said, "Dude, I am going to kick the guy in the head, smash his windpipe and run, not stick around and cuddle!" which seemed to be a new concept to a kid focussed on winning BJJ-centred, closely controlled grappling contests. I don't want to stay in contact with a stranger who wants to hurt me. I want to make them stop and break contact.

I like the "short and sweet" version of techniques, since they are so practical for the, er, non-complex like me. In this way, I enjoyed what he shared, but I just couldn't get into the various ways of getting all so on the ground with some big sweaty smelly oaf... my usual training partner is a prince of a guy who would give the late Raoul Julia a run for his money, so it's not normally a problem. My good friend and partner helps me train. The things I have to do to get his attention, would truly mangle a normal person.

MMA guy was trying a lock I showed that works great on my partner, and getting all wound up and bent over in it, and I stopped him (it took a minute) and asked him to look again.

I sat up on my heels (kiza) and showed the lock again (for aikido/jujutsuka, the shiho-nage pin with the elbow held distal and the wrist twisted distal with kime to the wrist joint) demonstrating that I was not just involved with the pin, but that I was also in "zanshin" and tried to explain the concept to him.

I was worried about this kid, I felt like he was missing something. I had read the stories about the bars in Fort Sill and how the locals had learned that the soldiers had been trained in BJJ. Locals would send one guy to tangle the main fighter up, and then everyone would gather 'round to kick his head in while he concentrated on grappling with their "fall guy". Soldiers were ending up in the hospital.

Soldiers these days face enough dangers from IEDs and cranial trauma without getting their fool heads kicked in because they are going for points instead of paying attention to reality.

We told him the story, and I showed him better posture and the importance of 360 degree awareness and the ability to reach your cell phone while in control of an attacker, and stay in control of the situation, not just the fight.

I'm not a fighter, I'm not tough, and I'd never in my life enter any kumite, shiai, or other contest. I rely on my body to do my work, and it's a damned stupid proposition for me to do anything to damage my body, and thus my income.

I can only hope that this middle-aged budo babe's experiences, along with some instruction from an old guy recovering from hip replacement surgery sitting on a physioball overseeing the training, and a younger, talented, wrestler-judoka with joints of vulcanized rubber, had some impact on this kid's perspective.

We call them kids, but these soldiers are facing tough situations and tough choices. I know the recent trend in military newspapers is to capitalize "Soldier" but for the ink and administrivia they spent on that, couldn't they have just paid them more, protected them better, and given them better benefits?

I'll do anything to help them out, and I found myself really speaking out, taking risks and confronting ideologies to try and give this kid an edge up, as I saw it. I don't have anything on the line, so anything I give is free.

One of the military credos is: "No good deed goes unpunished".
I'll take my punishment for this one.
Gladly.

Not willingly, but gladly.
If that makes sense to you, you get me.

My training has been about coming to terms with the fight IN ME, and has not much to do with anyone else. This point in my training is a new one.