Saturday, April 18, 2009

Kiss of Death

That's what my father-in-law has taken to calling me lately, and rather what it feels like to me.

For some reason a lot of people I know peripherally are either getting sick or dying. None of them are close friends, no relatives, nothing terribly traumatic for me (as opposed to their friends and family, some of these are major tragedies), but the aggregate of sheer numbers is starting to get to me.

To stick to this week alone: Sunday, my FIL's lady friend landed in the ICU with congestive heart failure and is now scheduled for a valve replacement. Tuesday my yoga teacher's father (met once) died. And Friday our neighbor across the street died. None of these people had known problems a week ago. Our neighbor is particularly shocking. He was only five years or so older than Rob & I, and while he was on disability for a bad back, there was nothing known wrong that should have caused a sudden death. Rob & I are trying to figure out what we can do for his wife & kid (he had a 14-year old boy). Offers of "anything we can do" all to often turn out to mean nothing because people don't want to impose, so we're trying to think of something more concrete we can offer.

I was very glad to get to a particularly vigorous karate class last night, I needed the sheer physical work to shake my head clear. M was back again, and Sensei had him teach part of the class, which became a quickie primer on jiu-jitsu style ground work. Fascinating and vigorous, even if it gives me a somewhat sore neck this morning, due to working on fending off a full-speed/force choke attempt.

Other random news - Robbie is signed up for band in middle school next year. He'll be playing flute. Rob has started adding fish to his salt water tank: chromis, clownfish, niger, and a white-tail angel fish. And Dad W. has got to get a hobby or something, because I'm starting to feel like I have a retired husband - but I never married this guy!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Return of the Routine

This is the first week in a month where I've actually managed to get back into my usual exercise routine, and it felt really good - sore muscles and all. Between Dad W. moving in, straining the tendon in my foot, having Aaron come down with strep, vacation, and other general life stuff, the morning couple of hours at the gym just hasn't been happening.

Most especially it's been an excellent week for karate. Tuesday was a straight up fight night, and I found a new strategy that's working nicely for the moment. We'll see how long it takes my fellow karateka to figure out what I'm doing. Essentially, I've been a consistent left-sided fighter for the last several years. I much prefer to kick left-footed, and in keeping that side forward, I've become more comfortable with my left hand than with my right as well (I'm ambidextrous in the rest of my life). Which has led to not using my right side adequately, and in particular never throwing my otherwise good reverse punch.

Well, in trying to even up and keep the right side forward, I discovered that precisely because I'm more comfortable and quick with my left, if my right side is forward, I do use my left reverse punch. Sensei is thrilled (he's been yelling at me to use my reverse for ages now), but hasn't yet realized why I've suddenly gotten the hint. Even better, because he's used to my left side being my preferred side, he keeps maneuvering around to my right and setting himself up *evil grin*.

We've switched from a Thursday to a Friday class, and not everybody has made the schedule switch yet. So we were missing several people Friday, and as it shook out, we had a brown belt only class - which meant we went over in detail exactly everything I've been needing to go over. I polished up the last little bit of both Kusanku and Kusanku Sai that I was dicey on (different spots, oddly enough), got a good viewing and critique of Tokumine no Kun (Bo kata) and Sunsu, and got to practice the last three self-defense sequences - which until Friday I could only practice with Sensei because the other brown belts hadn't been taught them yet.

Generally, I'm extremely pleased with how my kata are shaping up. I need to be careful on Tokumine no Kun - apparently my jo-length practice staff (for indoor practice) is giving me bad habits, like a too narrow grip - but my memory of it is solid. Everything I need to know is in there solidly now, it's just polish, polish, polish. Plus working on speed and snap.

I will say that ending up back where I started with Sunsu is driving me a little crazy though. It seems like 90% of the kata is spent moving forward, with very little backward motion, yet somehow I need to end up exactly where I bowed in. I've improved over the last couple of weeks, going from ending up five feet forward and three right to only two feet forward and one right, but it's still not close enough. That I get 1-2 practice sessions a week where I can accurately track my starting and finishing positions isn't helping any - but I'll get there. Thank God ending where I started isn't a requirement for the weapons katas.

In other news, Robbie is doing extremely well with his guitar lessons this time around. What a difference a year makes! Last year he had to be threatened or bribed into practicing and just never developed much forward momentum, so after six months we gave up. This year he wanted to start again. We told him that if we were going to pay, he needed to practice. Well, he's holding to his side of the bargain. He's missed maybe three days of practice in the last six weeks, and he's improving by leaps and bounds. His teacher is telling me pretty much weekly what a wonderful memory Robbie has, and how amazingly fast he's progressing. Even more interesting, the middle school where he'll go next year has free music lessons for band instruments. Robbie wants to take percussion and seems completely unfazed by the idea that this means practicing two kinds of instrument each day. I'm crossing my fingers that this works out - especially as rhythm is the one thing Robbie is having consistent trouble with (in the more problematic "can't hear what he's doing wrong" mode, rather than the "can hear the problem but can't seem to fix it") Percussion training could do wonders for him in short order if things go right.

The dogs are settling into their new pack order. Unexpectedly, Nicky (up until now known as the world's most submissive dog), has stepped up and started enforcing his standards of behavior. This has resulted in a blissfully quick drop in the amount of barking around here, as Nicky *does not approve* of random noise for no good reason. The ultimate shake out seems to be that Rascal (henceforth known as the WLD or Wee Little Doggie for his unfortunate attitude towards house-breaking and marking) is technically alpha dog, but largely ignored by the others because he's elderly and simply doesn't get around much. The WLD still barks the house down regularly, but as Nicky steps up as the de facto pack leader, the other two are starting to walk away when the WLD gets going instead of joining him.

There's no two ways about it, though. We're going to have to replace the carpets in this house when the dog situation is history. They're already past salvage (not that they were in great shape before), and we've only had the full pack for a month.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Random musings

I'm still here. I'm not quite sure why I haven't been posting these last few weeks (except for the week I wasn't home, that was obvious), but coming here and writing a blog post has just not tended to even occur to me while I'm sitting at the computer this last little bit.

It might have something to do with there being simultaneously too much and too little going on. I.e. there's a lot of stuff that keeps me busy, but it's all stuff that either makes for boring blog entries (like the various complications of getting my FIL stashed up here with us from TN), or I've discussed before.

Today's my fortieth birthday, and it feels like that ought to mean something. Like I should have my life together by now, or at least have a firm direction. I mean a 40-year-old ought to know what she wants to be when she grows up, right? But like topics for blog posts, there's simultaneously too much and too little. Many, many things I would love to do or be, but none that has that deep drive that would compel me in that one direction.

Maybe it's my mid-life crisis - in which case a month of dithering in a circle instead of blog posting is probably getting off easy.

The actual day today has been pretty nice. I made pumpkin scones in the morning to take to Aaron's class fiesta in the afternoon, then spent the afternoon first at the fiesta, then taking the boys out for ice cream. When Rob came home we went out to Erika's Restaurant (excellent German food) for dinner, though we decided to take a rain check on the planned movie - a combination of tired, full, and lack of enthusiasm for the current available set of movies. He gave me a gift card for some new clothes and a Wavemaster freestanding heavy bag for my presents. Tomorrow we juggle some of the basement furnishings to give me a place to set it up (right next to the giant fish tanks somehow seems like a bad idea...).

No karate this week, which makes two weeks running (drat!). Tuesday Aaron came down with strep and Rob had to work late, so that was a no-go. Thursday, Sensei called at nearly the last minute to cancel class due to an unspecified family problem combined with awful weather (thunderstorms). Between that and last week I'm feeling seriously under-exercised and under-practiced. I've gone through my katas a few times, but not the kind of concentrated practice I can get in when I go to the Y or to the dojo. I am hoping that if we can set up a corner of the basement for me, I'll be able to improve the quality of my at-home workouts. Though I have yet to convince Rob to let me practice my self-defense sequences on him. He just doesn't trust that I won't misjudge the hip throw and actually slam him on his back on the concrete.

Anyway, presuming that nobody comes down with strep next week, I should be back to a more normal schedule next week. I'll try to ensure more normal posting to go with it!