- quite an intense year! But then, what else would we expect?
The major highlight of the year was our involvement in hosting the Doshu 2004 Seminar at the Oakland Convention Center, the biggest Aikido event the California Aikido Association (CAA) has ever conducted. We were in a constant state of stress and exhaustion, trying to keep up with all the preparations for this event - along with everything else going on in our lives. So it really didn't help to find myself hospitalized for several days in mid-January with an abscess that required surgery. Perhaps Danielle was right in saying that my physical ailments were a sign of all the stress catching up with me, i.e. that I'm manifesting my own illusions (saying "pain in the butt!" one too many times)!
The Doshu 2004 Event itself was an amazing experience. Certainly our nearly 12 months of preparation really paid off as everything ran quite smoothly and was very well received by those attending. Danielle, as President of the CAA, had many opportunities to spend time with Doshu (Moriteru Ueshiba, grandson of the founder of Aikido) and his wife during their stay in California. For us personally one of the major highlights was the few unplanned moments that Doshu spent visiting our dojo. That, and the few moments when I took ukemi from Doshu (see picture). Oh, yes! and the photo of him sitting on my Harley! For more pictures and details click here:
Other Aikido highlights during the year included hosting workshops at our dojo with Mary Heiny Sensei and Motomichi Anno Sensei (from Shingu, Japan). In June we again attended the annual weeklong Aikido camp up in Palo Alto.
In July I went with an Aikibojitsu group on a backpacking trip to Grizzly Lake in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. It turned into a rather difficult trip, especially since both my knees were already giving me problems. Then, to make matters worse, both my feet blistered pretty badly :-( Still, this is one of the most beautiful areas I have ever traveled into, and its remoteness and difficult access limits the number of people who actually find their way to it. This was my second trip to Grizzly Lake - the last time it was later in the year and most of us went for a brief (!) swim. But this year the lake still had ice floating in it, so not even the dogs went in ;-) The orange dot in the middle of the second picture is my tent. The physical toll, however, lingers - a later MRI on my left knee revealed a fissure in the cartilage that will hopefully heal without requiring surgery!
In August, Danielle and I went with Colin up to Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park. Our intention was to backpack in to Nelson Lake, but just as we reached the trailhead, Colin (who had not been feeling well) became quite sick with what was apparently a stomach flu.
Fortunately the nearby Tuolumne Lodge had an available tent-cabin, so we ended up spending the weekend relaxing there along the Tuolumne River. We took a day-hike up the river, carrying lunch, our favorite book, and portable hammocks. Aaahhh!
In September we held our 13th Annual Aikido Weapons retreat. This year's guest instructor was Hiroshi Ikeda, Shihan, from Boulder Aikikai. His classes were interesting and challenging: mostly paired practices (jo vs bokken, etc) - and I took all the ukemi! Although I'd never seen many of the techniques, his technique is so clear that it was not actually that difficult. But it was hard to hold onto my stick through the force of some of his parries!
It was a bit intimidating for me to teach my "Tatsumaki" jo kata with Ikeda Sensei in the class - I think he was 'amused'...
As soon as the Weapons Retreat was successfully over, Danielle and I took off on the Harley for a few days vacation. We drove up to Gualala, on the California coast about 2 1/2 hours north of San Francisco. We stayed 3 nights at the SeaCliff motel.The weather was perfect. We hiked along the beach and at Gualala Point Regional Park.
The inn provides a complementary bottle of champagne each night, so we opted to picnic for dinner each night on our private deck and watch the sunset. I even played 9 holes of golf at the nearby Sea Ranch golf course (yes, I am wearing a kilt -- it is, after all, a Scottish Links style course!).
On Friday we drove further north along the coast, and spent the night in Mendocino. Enjoyed dinner at Café Beaujolais - their sturgeon entrée is the most flavorful dish I have ever tasted anywhere, and fish is something I rarely get excited about. The next day we drove inland on Highway 20, which runs from Fort Bragg to Willits, through the redwood covered coastal mountain range. Riding leisurely along on the motorcycle (very little traffic on this road) allows us to feel the coolness of the forest, breathe and smell the scents of the pine trees and wildflowers, and to enjoy the scenery in a fuller panorama (width and height) than is possible from an automobile. We continued northeast into a rather isolated area of Humboldt County to spend the night at a friend's cabin home near Blocksburg. On Sunday we began our trip home, first traveling north a bit more so that we could take in another scenic road, Highway 36. Check out the website
Thanksgiving this year was at our house! Not everyone could come, but we still had 14 people.No room to have everyone inside, so we set up tables on the back deck. Mother Nature was mostly cooperative - with a couple of patio heaters it all worked out pretty well!
Jeanne's two children, Charles and Chelsea, were able to come. It was really good to have them there.
In December we spent a weekend in San Francisco with Rita and Jordan, Cyndy Hayashi and her new boyfriend Keith (from our dojo! the one in the kilt). On Saturday evening we attended a performance of Tchaikovsky's opera "Eugen Onegin". I think I enjoyed this opera more than any I've attended in the past - the music was beautiful.
In mid-December we took a 7-day cruise, San Diego to several ports in Mexico and back. Originally, we were going to be traveling with just Rita and Jordan. But my brother John, his fiancée Andrea, her mother and a friend, all booked onto the same cruise! Seems like everyone wants to get away for some R&R during the holidays.
Much remains the same with work, lots to do and not nearly enough money for doing it. Still we are much better off than a year ago at this time. One major change is the shift to our new identity as SHOP.COM. And, if you check out our website (www.shop.com), under the Gift Center/eGifts, you will find a feature that I've been having a bit of fun with lately called "eGift of the Day". Also check out the "previous winners". Actually, despite the various (pseudo) credits given, I've created all but one of these; the one to Juliet from Romeo is one of my favorites.