Hi Everyone!

1998 certainly turned out to be a very eventful year for us. Last February, after almost 9 hectic years, I finally quit my job with Site Technologies (formerly DeltaPoint) and started working for a company in Pacific Grove, Altura Software/CatalogCity. Rita and her husband Jordan, who both work there, helped me get the job. It's really wonderful to work close to home again, in a nice atmosphere with pleasant people, and for a company that's profitable and with a promising future. The offices are located right above a coffee shop. Very nice. Check out http://www.catalogcity.com


Winter activities included several "sled-dogging" trips to Badger Pass. "Sled-dogs" are very short skis, not much larger than the ski boot itself. On a firm groomed surface they are a lot of fun. This picture was from one of our trips to Badger Pass with Rita and Jordan.

Last Spring the Collings Foundation came to Monterey with two beautifully restored World War 2 bombers, a B-17G and a B-24J. They offered tours and short flights - and, for a sizeable sum of money, the opportunity to 'pilot' the airplane. What a thrill it was! I sat in the co-pilot seat for about 15 minutes. Tried some VERY gentle banks left and right; climb and descent. The airplane feels VERY HEAVY compared to the small, lightplanes I've flown in the past. Definitely worth the high-priced "donation"! An interesting experience to imagine my father piloting a similar
aircraft during the war some 50 years ago. 

A few weeks later I found out that the Collings Foundation's B-24J was scheduled to be in Reno, Nevada for a few days. This happened to coincide with a trip Dad was making to visit my sister in Northern California. I really wanted to share the experience of going through the old airplane with my Dad, so we arranged to meet at my sister's house and then to drive over to Reno. For the first time, he talked with me about some of his war-time experiences. Not so much about battle - but about people and machines. I'm so glad we had the chance to do this. 

It was in intense year for martial arts activities and family crises - both strangely intertwined. I attended 14 Aikido seminars and several Kyudo seminars. This year was my 11th year to attend the Mt. Baldy Aikido retreat at the Mt. Baldy Zen Center in Southern California (picture at right). 

It was as we were returning from Mt. Baldy that we learned that my sister Jeanne had been readmitted to the hospital suffering from severe chest pains which were affecting her breathing. The diagnosis: her breast cancer, which we thought she had beaten, had metastasized with indications of cancer in several areas of her body.

The week of June 13 through 20, Danielle and I were out of town - first to Centerfield where
Danielle taught a one-day seminar, and then down to San Rafael for the Aikido Summer Retreat. We detoured between the two events to pick up Jeanne to take her to see Ammachi, a widely revered spiritual-teacher/healer from India

On Wednesday night we went into San Francisco to see a performance of "Riverdance". 

As we drove home from San Rafael, we got a call on the cellular phone from Danielle's son, Colin, who had just returned from a graduation trip to Hawaii. Danielle's mom had left a number of urgent messages on our answering machine. Danielle called and found out that her Mom (also named Jeanne) had been diagnosed with stomach cancer.

In the months since, my sister Jeanne has undergone several rounds of chemotherapy. Danielle's mom had surgery to remove a major portion of her stomach and spleen. She then underwent chemo and radiation therapy. Danielle's mom visited us over the Christmas/New Year's holidays and she is looking and feeling quite good. We made a quick trip up to visit my sister and she is looking quite well these days also. Hopefully they will both conquer this.

Aikido of Monterey celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1998 and the dojo held several special commemorative events, for which I created the image shown above. Among the highlights from these events:
At our annual Weapons Retreat in Big Sur we invited Tracy Bush as special guest instructor. Tracy is a taiko drum teacher and performer and is one of the few non-Japanese to perform as a member of a traveling Japanese taiko-drum group. She brought 25 drums with her, and, playing a "Matsuri" (Festival) piece she taught us, we raised quite a joyful noise through the redwood forest! The ranger said that we could be heard several miles away! Later, at an evening campfire, a student who had brought his 36" Symphonic Gong, led us through a sonic meditation that was truly a wondrous experience - especially for those who only associated a 1-note crashing noise with a gong.
Another highlight came during workshop with Frank Doran Sensei in November. As this was also the 25th anniversary year for Danielle in Aikido, the students had collected together to have a special gift made for her. At the end of the day we presented it to her - a special wooden training knife (tanto) with embedded silver characters for "Ai" "Ki" "Do". Then, in a surprise presentation of 5 roses, Frank Doran Sensei, who is the head of our organization, announced that Danielle was being recommended for promotion to the rank of 5th Dan.
The U.S. Kyudo Seminar was held July 23 - 26 in San Jose. At the end of the seminar I tested for my 2nd degree black belt. Although it was not essential to hit the target with my two arrows, it was very satisfying to have my second arrow hit the target, and quite close to the bull's eye! 
In the Fall Danielle flew out to Ohio to spend a few weeks with her mom. Near the end of her stay I flew out for a 4 day visit. It was a brief trip for me, but enjoyable nonetheless. Danielle's mom is doing pretty well, especially considering all that she's been through in the past months. Except for some problems with eating, one would not even be aware of the fact that she's fighting a pretty vicious cancer. We went out for a nice walk through one of the many forests that surround Cleveland. 

The fall colors were still on display. Nature, with her brilliant palette, had given the path through the woods an enchanting, almost surreal, look. Later, we took a drive around Cleveland; stopped at one of the local sandwich shops and had a corned beef sandwich that was large enough to easily feed 4 people! I'm sure there was more than a pound of sliced beef in there!

The picture above was taken at Squire's Castle Park, one of the many parks which form the "Emerald Necklace" surrounding Cleveland, Ohio.

The next day we drove down to Canton, Ohio and visited the NFL Football Hall of Fame. Then headed down to 'Amish' country for lunch and a leisurely drive home. We also spent a lot of time just chatting or playing a game of dominos.

Lastly, I thought I'd send you a picture of my new wheels! It's a HPV (Human Powered Vehicle) or, more commonly, a 'recumbent tricycle'. 
At any rate, it is definitely a 'different' ride from the old Mountain Bike! Besides being much more comfortable, it handles like a little go-cart. I'm using it to commute to work (when it's not raining!), so I can get in a bit of exercise and fresh air.


Michael & Danielle