Saturday, June 30, 2007

Racing the Weedwacker

Warren's Buffet

A luncheon with Warren Buffett recently sold for $650,100 during a charity auction. I love hearing about stuff like that. It brings up questions. I love questions!
  • What would I want bring to the table (no pun intended)?
  • How could I super size the results of that lunch (know as much as I could about him and his beliefs that is publicly available so the time could be spent gleaning fresh, deep insights, promote favorite charities, ensure a followup meeting.)
  • What questions would I love to have him answer? (What one mistake or failure invoked your greatest growth? What runs through your mind last thing at night, first thing in the morning, and in the face of an avoidable catastrophe? What one principle or statement would have the greatest impact on individual prosperity and the economy as a whole?)
  • Who would I pay even more to hang out with? (the people I keep coming up with are dead. Check back later!)
  • What would I want to get out of that time with him to validate the $650k investment (albeit a tax deduction)?
  • And for a purely material buzz, how would it feel to donate $650k to charity in one shot, and how much would I be making that $650k would be the equivalent to what a turkey sub and a medium Dr. Pepper is to what I make now? (That made no sense. Remember the bubble tests? Sub-n-soda: My current income:: Lunch with Warren: What I could be making. Capiche?)
I really love the winner's reaction. Mohnish Pabrai states, "he has had a major influence on the way I've invested, and also on the way I give back. To the extent societal rules or the wiring of your brains make it easy to acquire a lot of assets, then to the extent you can, you should try to improve the world."

Friday, June 29, 2007

Urban Legend Debunked, Ustream Discovered

Tonight I weave words with cat-herding simplicity. In other words--not. Several drafts now languish in queue. Much to say, little coherency.

I crash around the web looking for one of my favorite Goethe quotes and learn it was not Goethe at all but W.H. Murray during the Scottish Himalaya Expedition in 1951. (Shoulda known--if it's not Scottish, it crrrrap!)

On the same page I learn about, touted as a "Youtube beater." Strong words, those, and I'm excited. Will "live, interactive video for everyone" change my life? I'm already dreaming of the possibilities :-)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hugging for Maximum Effectiveness (tm)

I trot downstairs to the smell of coffee and Jim reciting.

"After 20 seconds of hugging, Oxytocin (the nuturing hormone) is released."

I chortle at the thought of hugging for maximum effectiveness, but I'm a big fan of both: hugging AND maximum effectiveness. I grab up my 6-year old cousin in one arm and start a wrestling count with the other. "One, two, three...!"

Louise chides through her chuckles, "I don't think that's quite the emotional response we're going for!"

Skye and I finish our 20 seconds. She heads to art camp, I head up to the barn. Both of us are grinning.

Yup, Hugging for Maximum Effectiveness (tm). Give it a go!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Participation Requested

Wolf has some cheesy B-flick in the background. He IMs this quote:

"What will I do with my life to make it worthy of the life I was given?"

He later confides it was the best part. "Its like someone came up with a great line and wrote an entire movie around it."

So I throw that question out to all y'all like prime rib to starving lions. Chew on it, digest it, let it feed your strength. What do you think?

I'd love to hear about the movies we can write around the answers!


Tethered Dragon


Chained behind memory's ruin,

No will to strain against steel.

Despite your iron bridle,

Your forgotten, folded wings:

Your words reawakened
will once more ignite!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Requiem for a Dream

Years ago I used to have this recurring dream around a stairway. Sometimes I was being chased, sometimes I was following someone, sometimes I was just climbing to get somewhere I really wanted to be. But always the stairway (no one particular stairway) became more treacherous as I went along. The stairs would lie further and further apart or swing wildly underfoot or disappear altogether. The bannister ended as the steps themselves narrowed until they were almost flush with the wall. Sometimes there would be no landing between flights, and I would have to leap over Wile E. Coyote's worst nightmare to the next level. Perhaps these dreams birthed my now-conquered adult onset fear of heights.

Most often the stairs were anonymous to my waking mind. But way more than once, what are now MY steps starred in the nightmare: the steps I now ascend to my haven in the Tallest Tower. At the time, the thought of living here lay well outside the realm of possibility. Now, these steps bear me strongly, surely as they bore my ancestors.
Now, they carry me out into the world and back again into sanctuary.

In the dream, the scene often shifted while I was still stuck by lack of confidence in myself. "There's NO WAY I have the balance and agility and accuracy to scale this breaking, precarious path! NO WAY I can make the landing after I take the leap!"

When I defeat disbelief, I CAN scale the path. I CAN make the landing. I know that like everyone, I have abilities far beyond what I actually give myself credit for. More importantly, I also know I don't need to rely solely on my own strength.

Perhaps I haven't fully conquered the metaphorical monster. At least now it's named-- and somewhat tamed-- and the nightmare resides in the realm of memory.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Leaves Alight

The Other Side of the Story

I can't resist exploring my darker side. The scary thing is that Mouse said the same thing about me almost verbatim last week (except the criminally insane part. I'm definitely no criminal.) I do think his purple gloves are tres sharp....

Your results:
You are The Joker

The Joker
Lex Luthor
Dark Phoenix
Dr. Doom
Green Goblin
Poison Ivy
Mr. Freeze
The Clown Prince of Crime. You are a brilliant mastermind but are criminally insane. You love to joke around while accomplishing the task at hand.

Click here to take the "Which Super Villain are you?" quiz...


Oh! Oh! And mend electric fence. Oh yes! Please!


While you're at it, can you whip up some code that'll stack that hay for me?

Multi-Dimensional Blogging

Who can write code for multi-dimensional blogging? You know, the kind which breaks free of linear communication and lets you chase simultaneous tangents into length and depth and width and breadth and time and spirit and emotion?

I'll let one of you techies figure it out. Gotta go heave more hay.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It astonishes me the way things work out. Serendipty, synchronicity and impossibly intricate timing mark these past few days. I just stand, amazed and grateful.

My eyes are nearly crossing now and I'm staggering off to sleep, but pictures from the Washington County 4H Schooling Jumper Show are up on the SmugMug site.
I generally grab my camera as I race out the door. Tonight I don't--we're "just" heading down to Food Lion-- and I know better.

The two shots I miss:

Tengwar, Tolkein's luscious elvish script, lyrically loping down the sides and across the trunk of an otherwise undistinguished car. It's been waaay too long: I can't read it. The decals are laser-sharp, obviously professional work. When we get home, we try what we remember of the website it promoted, to no avail.

The black bear darting across the road. We wheel out of the turn we were about to make to get a better look, but he is instantly swallowed in the underbrush.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Money Musing

Great Barrington, MA, has joined a handful of other communities in producing their own currency. I remember hearing about a community that even went so far as to produce "barter bucks" as a way to avoid the use of cash. Let people pay for their coffee with a few homegrown eggs by using barter bucks as the intermediary.

In one respect, I like the idea. It reminds me of a passage in Walden which transformed my relationship with money when I was a teenager. The exact quote eludes me now and I'm not going to take the time to look for it (if any of you recognize it, give me a shout!) The gist was: the value of money is a measure of the amount of life you have invested.

It's once thing to think about the pleasures of a new purchase. It's quite another to translate that purchase into the life you expended earning it.

How productive is taking the time and trouble to create and account with "barter bucks" (alongside good ole greenbacks) when the concept is already built into money? Perhaps that continual and blatant reminder is value enough. Perhaps the value lies in a fresh paradigm around a subject that has become so loaded and often misunderstood.

More critically, where is the line between community pride and elitism or outright secession?

I just read the article, and am not going to take the time to think about it more right now. It raises some interesting questions, which balloon as you dig deeper.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Today's exhaustion
Brings sun-taste to winter's feasts
I'll let Tink explain

Monday, June 18, 2007

SmugMug Update

Round 1 of pictures from this spring's Eagles Wings Breakthrough is finally posted on the SmugMug site.

At some point I'll actually post the stories behind the scenes!


"Ashes, Wanderers"

In this battle we do not hold
a shield in front to us. When

we turn in sama, we do not hear
the flute or the tambourine.

Underneath these feet we become
nazar, the guide's glance, ashes,

wanderers: as the moon diminishes
every day and then it's gone, to

come back changed. Send for the
planet Venus to play here! Flute,

drum, and strings are not enough.
No. Who but these musicians could

stand the heat that melts the sun?


-- Version by Coleman Barks, with Nevit Ergin
"The Glance"
Viking-Penguin, 1999

Focus: Part II- Straight from the Horse's Mouth

Boogie says, "Winners focus ON the spray!"


Saturday, June 16, 2007


"Winners focus, losers spray" is a popular mantra among personal achievement gurus. Fine, be that way. Now how many things can I focus on at once?

I teach Michaela how to juggle tennis balls while the rest of the tribe is actually hitting them with rackets (no no no! not the same balls we are juggling!) "Throw it up and focus on it! When its all the way up, throw up the next one and one watch IT. When it's all the way up throw the NEXT one up and watch it! Just let your hands figure out how to catch the ones coming down...."

For maximum personal achievement, send as many fun-colored balls skyward as you can. Focus intently when they are at their peak, then let your mind let them go as they descend. Trust your reflexes, your past learning and the systems you've created to catch them before they hit the gound. At the same time, focus on the next soaring ball.

If you drop a few, laugh hysterically, create better systems, and start again with fewer balls if you wish. DON'T GET CRANKY! It's part of the game you signed up for.

If you wimp out and decide you hate juggling, you can always put one ball on the table and stare at it intently. I guess that's a kind of focus, and you won't risk dropping it that way. But what is really WRONG with dropping balls, other than what we make it mean? Actually it's kinda reassuring to know gravity isn't doing anything unexpected. And ask yourself, if you really hate falling balls, why the heck did you want to juggle to begin with?

...If you get REALLY aggravated, you can always grab a racket and whale the heck outta that ball!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Identity Crisis

The Film Geek rants about being Green Lantern, which he just discovered through the Superhero quiz. How could he go through life and not know?!

I find out I'm Wonder Woman. But I don't even wear a push-up bra! I take it again to be sure. Darn it, I REALLY want to be Batman.

Wait a minute, I get the Invisible Jet! And that magic lasso's gonna come in really handy with the horses....

Your results:
You are Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman
Iron Man
Green Lantern
The Flash
You are a beautiful princess
with great strength of character.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

A Well-Deserved Huzzah!

I decide I'm not going to post today until I complete yesterday's #2: writing that book, or at least a draft.

This article catches my eye: the last of Bulgaria's dancing bears were ransomed today by animal rights activists. My inner animal lover and trainer have several reactions, but the humanitarian is moved to break today's self-imposed blogging ban.

The article reveals: "Because dancing bears are illegal, authorities could simply have taken Mima, Misho and Svetla away from their owners in the eastern village of Getsovo.

Instead, the Four Paws Foundation decided to pay for their freedom by giving their owners small grants to set up new businesses. It did not reveal how much was paid. In return, the owners signed declarations pledging never to take up the bear dancing business again."

To sieze the bears would have been just. To destroy the ex-owners' livelihood, a well-deserved side-effect ("that's what you get for expoiting and torturing animals, you scabs!") To purchase the bears and give their ex-owners an entrepreneurial hand-up: that's mercy.

I proclaim the rosy prophesy that the activists' grace will change the ex-bear-owners' hearts, which in turn will multiply change for the good in their wrinkle of the world.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ta-Dah! #1

Round one of the florals is up on the Smug Mug site.

The timing is perfect: as the last image uploads, the teaching teleconference I've been listening to wraps up. That is another one of my mentor's mandates--listen every day to experts in your fields. Liz and I were talking last week about how we've both gotten away from that, and how we notice the absense.

I'm tempted to play with some horsey, vintage style pix that are clamoring for attention. Reluctantly, I close the browser window.

Today's To-Dos and Ta-Dahs!

Today breaks blissfully grey and rainy. My morning and afternoon lessons cancel and long hours open up to focused and long-neglected inside work. On today's list:
  • Post floral photos on for the delightful Lexingtonian who wants to decorate her rental property
  • Write a horse training manual for kids
  • Figure out what the heck I'm gonna say at the demo tomorrow with a totally unknown horse
But first things first: Liz, the Buffet Grump, is out of town. I call up Cy:

Can ya smell the steak sizzlin', can you taste the shrimp fryins
I just gotta know, do ya wanna go to Ryan's?

Breakfast with Napoleon

Napoleon Hill's Master Key to Riches is my current bedtime companion. (Or course the riches he highlights far transcend moneymoneymoney and embrace relationships, happiness, significance, etc.) Here are some nuggets from the first few chapters:

A state of mind is the one and only thing over which any person has complete, unchallenged right of control. It is highly significant that the Creator provided man with control over nothing except the power to shape his own thoughts and the priviledge of fitting them to any pattern of his choice.

Happiness comes only by sharing....All riches may be embellished and mulitiplied by this simple process of sharing them where they may serve others.

When one is ready for a thing it is sure to appear.... There is a vast difference between one's "needs" and one's "readiness to receive."

All who have aquire enduring riches have ascended the ladder of opulence with two outstretched hands: one extended upwards to receive the help of others who have reached the peak, and the other extended downward to aid those who are still climbing.

Every adversity carries with it the seed of equivalent benefit.

A temporary defeat is but a testing ground which may prove a blessing in disguise if not accepted as final.

Yesterday is gone forever! Tomorrow will never arrive, but Today is yesterday's Tomorrow within your reach.

I especially like this last one. With our current grasp of physics, this is my best chance at time-travel.

Return to Reading

For several years I was working with a brilliant mentor. One of his simplest and most profound assignments was to read at least 15 minutes a night before going to bed from a book by a credible author. Idally, have four books going at once addressing business, relationships/people skills, spirituality, and personal growth. (Yes, Virginia, that adds up to over 15 minutes.)

The reasons are numerous: Reading lets you leverage other people's life experiences so you can get results with only a minimum of crashing around clueless. Reading before you sleep gives your mind all that lovely, distractionless time to chew on ideas and mingle them with your own life's happenings and synthesize solutions or mind-blowing breakthroughs. Reading gets your focus off of problems and onto solutions, and programs your brain's reticular activating system to draw resources and applications from world around you. (Not often I get to use "reticular activating system" in casual conversation!)

The challenge of course, is staying awake. The results speak for themselves.

Over the last few months, I let the discipline and intention slip. Too tired, no books catch my eye, just kinda forget about it, insert lame excuse here.

And the results speak for themselves.

So I kick in the habit again. While I'm waiting for some new gems to catch my eye, I'm rereading old classics--and gleaning fresh insight. Any of you have suggestions for my mental midnight snack?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Refrigerator Poetry

See my inborn magic grow
Castle dreaming heart a-glow!


Apple cries, "Friend!
Imagine a garden where FrogSong rains in color,
Butterfly-springing down winter's light."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Summer Evening: Picnic

Raising the Bar: Part II

The point is brought home immediately. Within hours I notice a new incoming link, and trace it to the Mouse's brand new blog. The link reads "The Gypsinator's Blog--She's my Hero."


I get that from my students, but Mouse is not a student. It maybe wouldn't surprise me coming from someone I've known awhile, who I have been able to serve or help in some way, but I haven't known her long.

That link instantly raises the bar. It reminds me that regardless of how we choose to see things, we are not living for ourselves. Every single one of us is a walking example for the world, for better or worse, whether we agree to be or not.

When I'm around Mouse, "being a hero" is furthest from my mind, choked out by laughter and how can we shatter the fun-barrier and what flavor Blizzard is best for breakfast? Makes no difference that I never interviewed for the position--frankly, the responsibility is frightening.

This is where we all stand. Accidental warriors in an army of unlikely heroes unknowingly fighting for the heart of the world. Every action, every word spoken or written becomes ammunition, regardless of intention... or even awareness.

Let that sink in.

And sink in some more.

Thank you, Mouse, for that reminder. And come home soon so we can whack at each other with escrima sticks!

Raising the Bar: Part I

Over the course of a day or two, I have the same conversation several times over with unrelated people about blog content, for no reason other than happenstance. Where do you draw the line around what is appropriate?

In a content-focused blog it's pretty darn clear. You can be sure, for example, posts by billydaking or Film Geek will have something to do with cinema, however far the connection may be stretched.

In a journal-y blog, though, anything goes and its up to the writer to draw the line in the sand. My own standard had been anything I wouldn't mind my youngest student reading and showing the parents. Of course, it could be argued that almost anything I don't want her or him to read I probably shouldn't be doing/thinking/writing about anyway, but that's a whole nother conversation.

The reasoning is less about the impact controversial posts would have on my or my subjects personal and professional lives (not that I live some racy, underground double life), but about the world immediately around me. It's a law of the universe: we get what we focus on. What do I want to create? What do I want to magnify and multiply? What seeds to I want to sow in others' minds, bearing in mind the eventual harvest will inevitably touch me too?

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Full Circle

In C'Town I pull up behind a strangely familiar jeep. Sure enough, there's the smiley sticker from this morning. Eight hours later, I follow him towards home.

Old Mill

The sun flashes off the little waterfall by the old mill. Entranced, I wheel Little Joy into the parking lot, dodging actors still arrayed after a local performance of Pride and Prejudice. They mill about (doh!), radiant with glorious, post-performance excitement.

I wander the grounds, which remind me of the opening scene of Labyrinth:

"Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child which you have stolen. For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom as great... You have no power over me!"

I always thought I'd make a good Sarah (the one in the film was too whiny!) despite the lack of horses. David Bowie is acceptable compensation...
Princess Muffinhead thinks she'd look smashing in diamonds.

Budweiser Upperville Jumper Classic

Today I'm here for just the Jumpers. Margie Engle, a hero of mine since my teens, qualifies not one but two horses for the jump off. She sets the time to beat, then beats herself with her second horse. Up Chiqui, the final horse to jump off, kicks out crankily several times as he gallops towards the first fence, then hits his stride. Fast and clean, he shaves whole seconds off Margie's best time and clinches the win.

Horse Show Parking Lot

A Glimpse of Upperville

Today is the last day of the week-long Upperville Colt and Horse Show, the oldest show in America. I head down after church to catch the Grand Prix Jumping and some concentrated people watching. The show pulls in everyone: sunburnt and workworn horsemen and women, pillars of local society, wealthy equestrian wannabees and socialites seeing and being seen in the springtime sunshine. Festive hats are de rigeur. The crowds are thick and the sno-cone line outsnakes the the portapotty line.

Upperville showcases the horses, but also caters to
Washington's elite seeking a day in the country. They offer traditional performance classes, but tip their hat to family, tradition and fun with more unusual offerings such as Sidesaddle and Coach Driving. Last year I watch a reporter I've "known" all my life get bucked off in a celebrity charity class, then cheer on a quintet representing 4 generations mounted on matching grey steeds (they won the family class). Horses have always been a way of life in this area of Virginia. The Upperville Show keeps that spirit alive.

Vendor booths of all kinds line the narrow lines packed with equines, humans and the occasional oversize horse van labouriously squeezing through. Last year I try on some exquisite high boots and a lusciously long leather coat that evokes rambling along the misty moors. The salesman warms me to his wares with champagne and his lyrical Irish brogue. That's the way things are at Upperville.

Starting out Sunday

Head into church for the first time in... 3 weeks? Waaay too long! (I still crack myself up when I say stuff like this, having spent the vast majority of my life anti-church!) I've been out of town the other Sundays, except the week Cy spoke at his church on Rwanda--of course I couldn't miss that!

SO GREAT to be back! My church is... intense. No, it's not church itself that's intense. The powers-that-be know when to step aside cause God's taking charge, and that's when things get lively.

Arlene, a delightful woman probably in her eighties sums it up with her understated charm: "It's just the most INTERESTING place!" Today is no exception.

As I roll out of C'Town I notice an unusual smiley sticker on the jeep in front of me.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Never a Dull Vote

A few weeks ago Liz didn't bother to vote for city councilman-- and it ended up a tie. No biggie, except that a friend of ours was running and her vote would have sealed his win. DOH!

That incident fresh in my mind, I'm not missing out on this vote, especially since I actually give a hoot about the outcome.
I get into the poling place 9 minutes before they close.

"Did you speed to make it here?" asks the guy at the end of the table.

"Of course not! Are you a cop?" I grin.

"Loudon County" the other monitor affirms.

"And I never forget a face!" the officer adds. Note to self-- don't speed tomorrow on the way to Upperville.

It's a surreal experience. I tell the woman handling the "L"s my name and she hands me a ticket and a slip of paper. She must be omniscient--she doesn't even need to see ID to know I'm me. The paper says "YES" and "NO" with a box by each one to check. I guess they don't want to risk voting-machine fraud. I glance around for voting booths. The room is bare but for the check-in table. "Just don't let us see what you write!" Mrs. Omniscience advises.

I mark my choice, then circle it to be sure, then draw a few stars around it because when else will I be able to? I hand the ballot to the one monitor and the ticket to the cop, who is still flirting mercilessly.

Dangling chads seem downright mundane.

As I escape a final straggler hurries in. "You made it just in time!"

Friday, June 8, 2007


Liz and I fall into the Explorer, grateful for the air conditioning. We head to the Old Opera House.

Sueva has been taking an incredible class. A painting teacher, a drawing teacher, and a photography teacher collaborated with a belly dance troupe over the course of several weeks. Tonight's reception is the fruit of their labors: a multi-media, multisensory feast for the senses, including a dance performance and middle eastern food. Sueva's Sekenjuban is ecstacy: the recipe was a hit 300 years ago, it remains a hit today!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


We wrap up my last lesson. As I go to tack up a horse in training, my student's dad brings Max in from the pasture. "Goin' riding?" I ask.

"Yup," he smiles.

"Glad he's working out so well for you!" I beam with delight. They bought Max for a song at a local auction a few weeks ago. As if the Appaloosa knows how close he came to an uncertain, even horrifying future, he has given his heart to his new family in gratitude. Dad swings into the saddle and rides out.

I think about how seldom I just ride for fun. Not that I don't HAVE fun when I ride--I'm blessed and deeply grateful that my passion and my vocation are one. But to just tack up and ride off into the beauty of the world when I'm not getting paid, when it's not on The List... inconceivable! I think the last time was Thanksgiving when I brushed the mud and retirement off Knight and we plundered the woods for cedar boughs to make Christmas garland. And we're not talking this past Thanksgiving.

I've set it up this way--leverage my fun so I don't have to have a separate and soul-numbing J.O.B.--so I can't complain about the tradeoffs. I CAN push towards continual evolution to transform the banes into boons.

My client's horse and I are deep in concentration and exertion when they come back. Somewhere out in the rolling green Dad met up with his daughter, who had taken her shadowy mare for a post-lesson cool-down ride around the farm. Time taken to enjoy a kind horse, a beautiful day, and close family. Together, they amble home through the golden evening.

Monday, June 4, 2007


Bugs far outnumber humans in this house. We get the most intriguing array of complexity, size and temperament. Cicada killers are the only ones who have ignited a personal vendetta: I will chase them down and destroy them as soon as I hear that telltale hum. They are viscious and expert tacticians, and the battle is bound to be fierce.

Most other bugs, though, are benevolent cohabitators. I rescue the ones perilously close to drains or gas burners, and stare unabashedly at the more alien and interesting insects.

This fella joins me as I brush my teeth this morning. I think I'll invite him to come along when I move to Castle Ridge-- he's scaled appropriately.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Trip Home

"Maybe we should just turn around and go back to the interstate."
"We're not goin' back. Have some faith. It's supposed to be a challenge. That's why they call it a shortcut. If it was easy, it would just be The Way."

--"Road Trip"

The DVD player keeps the five kids quiet as we explore a more...ahem...scenic route home from Karate Camp than initially planned. We drive through quaint rural towns ("Demolition Derby! Monster Trucks! Cool!" Denise and I shout in unison), past Fonzarelli's Body Shop, through dense herds of speeding semis, through a blinding deluge with nary a twitch. A quarter mile from home a deer bounds out of the twilight and only the anti-stop brakes prevent us from twirling a 360, a move we learned in class.

The Gypsinator is home. My muscles ache from laughing nonstop, and I am so ready for bed--after night feeding and a fence repair.

As I get my stuff out of the car the kids decide I need to go on their family vacation next week. The front door bangs shut on their "PLEEEEAAAASE?!"

Saturday, June 2, 2007

I realize in the lunch line I left my shades by the waterslide. When I go back to claim them, I'm grateful that's all I forgot. How did not one, but TWO guys walk off and leave their shorts?!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Ropes Revisited

Tink goes to check on her kids and I head down to the ropes course. I'm a little cocky-- I figure I conquered the high course at the Eagles Wings Breakthrough, this'll be a cake walk.

Thankfully no fall follows this pride. Just humble revelation.

The course is empty. The girl belaying me is a little slip of thing outweighed by her Kiwi accent. We chitchat--she lives on the north island close to where some friends of mine used to live.

Up I climb. The first challenge is a wobbly walkway of short boards unevenly spaced along cable. I look waaaaay down, and ask again, "are you SURE you're big enough to hold me?" She assures me she is. I gulp and consider stepping out.

Now, at Eagles Wings, there were kids on obstacles everywhere, kids facing fears far greater than mine. I could unstick myself simply by encouraging someone else making their way through the treetops. I also had a cheering committee overlooking my abject terror and rooting me on.

Here, I am alone. I pick my way across the catwalk. My hands grip the belaying rope, as if to say, we are responsible for creating civiliations, we're not leaving survival up to anything else. Their grip does no good, but somehow comforts.

The next challenge is a narrow log suspended up in the clouds. Again, no hand cables, no inference of separation from thin and hungry air. I cling to the telephone pole before stepping out.

Reason tries to pump me up: "you're athletic and strong and toughminded. You're ahead of the game. If this course weren't safe for woosy couch potatos their lawyers would take it down in a New York minute."

Reason is unconvincing.

For a long second, I actually consider climbing back down. Realizing this moment of weakness, I want to cry. Instead I make that imposible first step onto the log.

After a few steps (and fierce prayer!) I realize, this isn't deadly. I keep up a paraphrased patter as the comforting upright pole receeds into the distance: It's God who arms me with strength and makes my ways perfect, my steps hold to your path, my feet do not slip, You gives me hind's feet in high places.... Step, step, step. I even stretch my arms out to the sides at the Kiwi's urging.

Tink and the tribe mosey around the bend as I step back across for the drop off. The ropes course officially closes for the evening.

Earthbound again, I feel little elation. I need to think about this.

Of Jedi Dresses and Hurting Pretty

We aren't qualified to take this class--we don't have the required falling skills--but we poke our heads in anyway. Most of the people are wearing long black robes.

"Who are the guys in the Jedi dresses?" I whisper. Thinking about the first skirted warriors that come to mind, I add, "I don't recall any solid black tartans. I wonder if they're all going regimental...."

Tink chokes on her giggles. I'm being serious.

An older man sits peacefully on the floor. He's in an armlock with the woman standing over him. They appear motionless, but she is straining, pouring out her strength and obvious skill. WA-BAM! She is airborne, then hits the matts. It is a sound I come to love.

The woman is the director of the camp as well as the Sensei of the Suigetsu Dojo. Later, she reflects: "you can hurt people, or..." her face brightens and beams, "you can hurt people pretty!"

First Class

First class, Inner Arts taught by The Tribe's Sensei. We go around the circle for introductions. “I’m blahblahblah from the Bronx. I’m a third dan black belt in jujutsu and I’m going for my black belt in tai kwon do (just for kicks ;-) I want to learn the Secret Chi Spiral Tsunami for Pain and Profit ™ ”

“I’m the Gypsinator. I’m a black and purple sparkly belt Master of the Universe and I’m going to pump YOU up”

NOnono! There’s too much pomp and seriosity for goofing around so I just say something like “I’m from West Virginia and I don’t know anything. I want to learn everything!”

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, to Karate Kamp We Go!

Or more appropriately:
HI YA! HI YI! To Karate Camp Wich-ya!

Someone asks "why on earth are you going to Karate Camp?" I look at him, befuddled. "Because I CAN!" DUH!

The oldest of Denise's 7 kids didn't make the grades she needed for ROTC so she's grounded. Denise invites me in her place. It's a no-brainer.

Now, I teach Centered Riding, and many incorporate much eastern energy work into my training. I can Tai my Chi with the best of them, but I haven’t had any formal martial arts training since a brief stint with Shotokan in the dim and distant past. If I had several of me to send out into the world, martial arts would be a passion. I am jumping out of my skin with excitement!

The kids are watching Open Season on the way up, so we naturally we decide we all need cool nicknames. I am dubbed… The Gypsinator! (I’ll be baaaack).