Sunday, April 25, 2010

I took my first mushroom foray today. No morels or anyone else presented themselves for picking, but the season has been long and cold, and I don't think the mycelium is fruiting just yet. I did find tons and tons of fiddleheads, much later than what I was finding on the C&O. Gambrill's elevation really does have an effect on the arrival of the seasons.

I drove Chuck to work, got into the post gym for my cardio, and got to the dentist's.
I've been spending entirely too much quality time with my dentist lately. Fortunately, he's a great guy, and a good dentist, it's just not my idea of a good time. Luckily, most of my teeth are good.

My reward was a day in the woods.. the silent whisper of the leaves, the birds singing 'each to each' and I am also certain, that they sing to me.

Gambrill is part of the ridge visible from our back windows and porch, and I love to get out there and see what's going on. I tend to pick a certain area to study the markers of the change of seasons. Others may become bored with the same path, while I become deeply enthralled with how different it can be, from month to month. Gambrill seems to be my reference/learning spot.
The wind was blustery and the day cold, unless I was walking uphill.

I got to see a cluster of ladyslipper orchids, and the tree azaleas in bloom, what a treat! I had never seen ladyslippers before. I got pictures, and will post them if they turn out.

Next time, I'm hoping for morels!!
I'm also just happy to get to walk around in the Sky Cathedral.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I have to come out with my experience in these weeks, since Frank left us.

I worked on an ovarian cancer surgery scar today, which would have been exactly the same work I would have done for Frank, the work I planned for him, post-recovery.

I told my client, I thanked her, for letting me do the work.
I am still grieving Frank, and I don't plan to stop, until I am done..
Getting to to the ovarian cancer scar work was a real step in the right direction.

I thanked my client, for letting me do the work, I wanted to do, for the friend I had lost. She thanked me, for being so there with her experience.
She got it, and she was so glad and grateful to be the recipient of my planning, of my compassion, of my pent-up healing intention.

Frank is not letting me go. I didn't figure he would.
I'm not ready to say goodbye, and Frank is not ready to say goodbye to me.
I'm OK with that. He had a lot of Good Work in mind for me, I am still working on understanding it.

The work I am here to do, is bigger than me.
Frank wants you to know, that he keeps reminding me.
I'm listening, is what I want you to know.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The last weekend with Quintin Chambers and the little jodo group here, served as a thoroughgoing wakeup call for my own practice. Crossing sticks with someone nearly twice my age and feeling that authenticity, that gleeful combative edge from QC, was a reality check most of us never have the opportunity to get slapped with. I understand why his students hold him so dear.. because now I do, too.

Admittedly, I've been whining and grumbling and feeling sorry for myself. We started SMR Jodo at my own insistence, because it's been so hard for cg & I to create space to train in. He needs to train, just to keep moving, and I just need to train. My twice separated shoulder and the bulging disk in my neck can't take any more ukemi, but by damn, I'll not put down weapons training. Chuck has been leaning more towards weapons for years, more since the hip replacement, which has really slowed him down.

I didn't really understand what Jodo was about, I just knew it was something good, and what we had done with Peter was incredibly interesting. I didn't understand what Aikido was about, or Kokoro Ryu, or Rolfing for that matter, when I started. I've been coasting on that gut feeling that guides most primates, most of the time.
Like the eight-ball in the corner in the corner pocket, I've just gotten lucky, so many times.

QC asked me why, after having done so many things, I ended up in SMR Jodo.
It flashed through my mind that this was completely backwards, that I should be interviewing HIM.. but..
The reason was the same.
I wanted something I could do for the rest of my life. I like the depth and the variety of the art. I am more naturally a sword person, but there's room for that, and room to grow with other weapons.

I was exposed to a depth of humility, compassion, endless inquiry, passion and talent for teaching, integrity, elegance and simple, savage joy in combat, that just blew me away. And I got to speak conversational German, learn more about that and other languages, exchange puns, and just enjoy sharing with good people.

The first day I spent the morning dealing with a possible ovarian cyst rupture, and accompanying rolling around on the floor at 6am, and doctor visit just to be sure I was all right to practice. It was a bad morning, at least I didn't throw up on the poor cat, who was trying to comfort me.. all I cared about, was that I didn't have to hostess the weekend from a hospital bed.
Chuck got me a hot pack and in to a PA, who pronounced me sound after extensive palpation, discussion, and urine sample. Chuck dropped me off at home, and I finished my (delayed) hostess work, then walked to the Bernard Brown Center where we had rented a wonderful, cheap space for training. I was so pale and sweaty from that little stroll, that Dan S tactfully negotiated a "rest day" for me, not realizing that I wasn't leaving the room.. He kept asking if it was still OK for everyone to stay with us.. Dan is still getting to know me.. heaven help him. Brendan, please provide tech support. 8-)
For me, I'll stand up and show up, if my limbs work, and my nervous system will get me there.

By then, I was starving, which I took as a Good Sign, and got lunch with the group, but I still didn't dress out or attempt to train for the rest of the day, mostly because I was just still too shaky to trust my weapons control. I took a lot of pictures, some of which are quite good due to incredible lighting in the space, and I look forward to sharing them.

We got through the day, got everyone fed, settled, and back to the house. By then I was back to functional.
The morning came, and I got everyone out the door, showed up and dressed out. The weekend progressed pretty normally from there. We learned three new kata, and Joe and QC pushed us out of Seitei into Omote (basically, you're not raw beginners any more).

I'm still the P!nk of budo, I'll do anything I think I can get away with, and laugh my ass off trying.

I found a real kindred soul in QC, and he kicked my @ss, just bowing in.
He settles down slowly on that reconstructed knee, and bows in just like anyone else.
From that start point, my Bad Morning was a coffee spill.

The thing that QC does, with that infectious combat glee, is infuse practice with a real spark of life and death, a real awareness that what we are doing is lethal. QC's training smile is a dragon's grin.. you never forget it, or those eyes rimmed with the blue of time, fixed on you, with humor and perception.. what have you got, where are you going, how will you get there.. always thinking of the riai. Even when nothing else is going on, moving and thinking, all the time. QC is hyperkinetic even at seven plus decades of life. We should all be so vital, so lucky, so motivated.

"That's what we do, we attack the weapon"..
He talked about controlling the line of attack, as I have been taught by Chuck. The angle is not quite as suicidal, most of the time. Many times, I've wondered, how much of that was CG, and how much of that was what he was taught. The options are many, and this beginner's mind can only begin to comprehend.

I understand why Frank Gordon broke down, in private conversation with me, after training in the seminar with Sugano, after his first battle with cancer. he was just so glad to reach those levels of practice, again. I share it because he would want me to, to make my point. I wish we could have a moment like that again, in fact, I had hoped for it. I will always be sorry that we won't (Frank Gordon died of a blood clot after followup cancer surgery).

QC has given me clearer understanding, of the kind of intensity one can attain, despite physical infirmities, in one's practice.

In fact, QC, and Frank, have given me an ever clearer directive in terms of my training.

Ichi Go, Ichi E.

One life, one meeting.

I may never see you again, but I will never forget what I have learned from you.
I will also not wait, to find the sweetness, the intensity of survival, in my training.

Friday, April 02, 2010

To break a lease:

Don't clean up after 2 large dogs pooping and peeing in 3 meters sq with no regard to anyone elses' property lines.
Yell and holler after 10pm on a regular basis
Abuse, denigrate and yell racial epithets at your neighbor at all hours.
Your neighbor looks about like you do..
No conversation below "HOLLER" at any time of day.
Unlicenced vehicles, constant police calls and general disruption at any time of day or night.

Recently, they've started giving the dogs commands in German, so we won't understand.

yeah. umm. talk about Not Paying Attention and Dumbass..

So here I am in what looks like the conservative's chair.

I don't care one bit about pot. People who smoke rarely get in fights, though they shouldn't drive. Most Americans shouldn't drive. No one is more careless, and no one has a higher death rate.

I've been unemployed, and during this time, I was not only working, but desperately looking for full time work, and materially participating in the construction of my own house (built the gable ends, mudded all interior walls, set and mortared slate, finished doors.. )

I was busier when I was "unemployed" than any time I spent holding down some chair for a government agency or company.
Now, I help people and deal with the administrivia, over 40 hrs per week.

Three hours or more of this, I write off to the Vultures. HSA forms, explanation calls, and more.
I can't imagine what it's like for a conforming organization, except that I used to work for one.
I was on both confirmation and collection calls... I hated the organization, and saw the owner dip into the cash box for party money, and said so.. I didn't do well there.

At the same time, I do conscientiously pay my taxes (preferably with education and other fees) I strenuously adhere to local regulations, and I report muthafuckas who don't.

I'm dealing in an awful world right now.
I got a week in Austin, and it was like visiting the idea Disney wants to sell you, where everything is beautiful, and everyone loves you.
It really was.. I actually had delusions of moving back, partially because it was so nice and cool.. but I saw those junipers waiting for me, and I felt the sun pressing me down.. and ..
I miss everyone so much, and it is all so beautiful to see all of you, to be with you and be enlightened, so enlightened and uplifted by your company.. that is the only thing which might draw me back.

Frederick is a thorny world for us right now.
My practice is a heaven on earth, of people who have been waiting for me to show up.

But I am walking in a land of ghosts and demons, a land of what is, and where I was.
In Germany, my neighbors never would have been hideously unsocialized drug addicted redneck ruffian trash.

Here, it just seems to be some kind of casual matter of course.
Back in Texas, I could have just shot them, and moved on.
Here, the state won't do anything, and won't let me do anything. The only choice, is to drag the landlord over the block, dollars sent to the legal profession.

I am praying to my Real Estate Guru Frank Gordon..

Frank, I heard your voice today.. you said to me.. "doggonit, I wasn't supposed to die".

Frank, I put it out to you before, but it was hard to say.
You may have others who listen better, but I am here, and you know my ears, my heart and my mind were always open.