Monday, October 12

denial, anger, grief, acceptance

These are the four stages people tend to go through when they are confronted by a problem out of their control. First we persist on our trajectory, denying that our plans are ruined. Once we recognize the problem, we tend to get angry, trying to fight to rectify the situation to our liking. After anger comes grief, when we realize that we cannot get our way, no matter how hard we may fight. We mourn the loss of what could have been. Eventually, we move through grief into a stage of acceptance, some semblance of peace.

I had errands to run today, and found myself in the vicinity of Rebecca's school around lunchtime. Whenever this happiness, I'll send her a text, and see if she's available to meet up during her rare free time.

Today she had to mail out a package, so we met outside the post office, which is located inside a shopping mall.

I don't think anyone likes going to the post office. I might actually enjoy it, but only because I never go there when I have a time crunch. I always go optimistically, patiently, and ready for a show.

The post office we used to go to in Chicago was always a trip. You could never get in and out of there in under 45 minutes. The people receiving packages from me during those days never knew what it took to get their gifts in the mail. One day, Rebecca and I were lucky enough to witness two customers have existential breakdowns when, after waiting in line for so long, the schizophrenic postal clerk mocked them for being unable to read the broken down credit card terminal screen. "This is the WORST post office in the ENTIRE CITY!!!" the man declared, yelling, stomping off into the Chicago air.

The Downers Grove post office is always fun. I have a favorite teller there, a black man with a bald head, fuzzy beard, and friendly disposition. Every time I go there, I wind up shooting the breeze with him, because he's friendly, and because there's never a line of people waiting at that post office. The last time I was there I needed stamps. I was offended that he brought me the forever stamp. I said, "don't you have anything a little more exciting?" He offered me the Thanksgiving Parade line of stamps. I was outraged. "Come on, give me the good stuff..." He said, "Oh, OK. You'd probably like the Kelp Forest stamps..." You're damn right I do like the Kelp Forest stamps. They come on a huge sheet, a mural, and you have to hunt down each stamp amid the undersea creatures. Now we're talking.

So, today, Rebecca and I met outside the Lombard post office, inside the Yorktown mall. This post office has never been as fun as the one in Downers Grove, but it's usually a quick trip, minimal lines, etc. When I walked up to the post office, the wide entrance was well lit, and there was access to the PO boxes, and some mail slots. However, there was a metal door pulled down over the area where the teller would normally be. "Columbus day," explained Rebecca.

I don't mean to get started on Columbus day and what a crock of shit I think it is. Let's just say that I'm in no hurry to celebrate another white guy ruining an otherwise perfectly good indigenous civilization.

Time was short, so we just sat on a bench outside the post office, eating some fancy potato chips, the kind made out of taro root, and parsnips. The best part of our short time there was watching the occasional person walk down the hallway, packages and envelopes in hand, heading towards the deceptively well-lit post office, their face radiating a silent sense of accomplishment, a confident grin that says, "I did it. I finally made it to the post office to mail this thing. It's been on my list forever, and I finally made the time in my week-on a Monday, no less- to get this thing mailed out and taken care of. What a great day..."

Denial. Everyone went through it. It was hilarious, fascinating. Undoubtedly, the potential postal customer would confidently swagger in, thinking "Wow, no line. This is going to be quick!" only to be frozen in their tracks two steps into the room, when the stainless steel curtain sends the unmistakable message of defeat to their subconscious mind. "Nice try, but not today," says the cold metal. Their subconscious minds know this, but the conscious mind cannot accept the fact. They stare at the metal curtain, frozen in denial. They look around the room. Only when they receive the explanation in the form of a small sign can they move into the second stage.

Anger. Grief. We watched a woman mouth the word "Crap." to herself as she discretely tucked her envelope away into her purse. Another day perhaps. Another woman made eye contact with us as she retreated. She put her fingers into the shape of a gun and discharged an imaginary round into the side of her own head.

Even if none of them believe that Columbus was a war criminal, and human rights violator, everyone who walked out of the post office seemed to agree, Columbus day is a bunch of crap.

We watched a very happy man carrying a large box walk down the hallway, towards the post office. Rebecca nudged my shoulder. The universal law we had discovered was simple: the more optimistic they were, the more entertaining the scene would be. The poor guy, we thought. He had no chance.

Upon his discovery that he would have to return to the post office at a later date, the man kept his smile, kept his grace. He came out and saw us smiling at him, trying to laugh with him. He smiled back, and Rebecca confessed that she had wanted to mail something out today, and had also been stymied by the "holiday."

I don't know if the man ever moved fully into the acceptance phase, but he left us with some words that seemed to put the whole ordeal into perspective.

"It ain't a holiday if I have to work! This is bullshit."

We are all in this together.

Wednesday, October 7

midnight mouse

The pumpkin seeds started the whole thing.

The autumn has returned, and with it comes the return of the crock pot master! I love cooking with the crock pot, such little effort, with such a great payoff. Dump some veggies, spices, and water in there, wait a few hours, and you have a delicious, nutritious, hearty warm meal. The apartment always smells amazing with a crock pot going. It's just a win all around.

The other day I made a crock pot full of butternut squash, coconut milk, onions, peppers, rice, etc. When there was mostly broth remaining, I threw three sweet potatoes in there and let them cook overnight, and had them at breakfast.

Yesterday, continuing in this trend, I loaded up the pot with broth, lentils, and cubed pumpkin. Nutmeg, cinnamon, etc. It's delicious. When I was gutting the pumpkin, I set the seeds aside. At the end, I cleaned the seeds and spread them out to be roasted. I figured I'd use the toaster oven since there was such a small amount of them.

Five minutes into it, the smoke alarm went off. The toaster oven is a good toaster, but a terrible oven. Everything burns in there. I thought it would be different with the little seeds but I was wrong. I removed the tray of charred, blackened seeds, and set it on the back porch to cool off in the light rain.

Going on with my day, I forgot about the little tray on the porch. The winds came last evening, and scattered the ashen seeds across our porch (and hopefully onto our cigarette friendly downstairs neighbor).

As we were getting ready for bed, Charles was going wild by the glass door, pacing around, thrusting her head through the hanging shades. I had a feeling an animal was out there.

We've spotted a raccoon in the parking lot a few times. Once he was in the dumpster when I went to take the trash out at night, a silhouetted bulk, emerging from the depths in the night air. Startled the hell out of me.

I could tell from Charles' confidence level that whatever was out there was no raccoon. She wouldn't have been so excitable, so brazen. It took a little patience, but eventually my suspicions were confirmed, and the little visitor showed himself.

Yea, get your night vision goggles out. That little mouse is fast. He (?) basically had a routine down of scooping up seeds, and then running into our little planter box and burying them among the thriving basil, and the cabbages that never quite were. I think he may be saving them for the winter?

Feeling guilty that he had climbed the side of our building for charred scraps, we threw a bag of sunflower seeds out there for him. Those are the ones in the video.

I watched him dig holes in our little garden, so deep that only his thin tail suck out while he hid his prizes. When I woke up this morning, all of the sunflower seeds were gone. I found barely any evidence he had been in the planter; he had covered his tracks. The only thing to give him away was a pile of discarded sunflower seed shells by our door.

Tuesday, October 6

lotus flowers, cymbal rush

For once, I wish I hadn't moved from southern california, as I could've seen this show....

Wednesday, September 30

october and other moonths

Did you ever wonder why the tenth month is called October? "Octo" is a Latin prefix meaning eight, for example octagon, octopus, octave, etc. "Decem" would signify ten, as in the words decade, decimal, decathlon.

As it turns out, the Romans used to begin the year in the month of Mars, the god of war. This month is called March. So, starting with March as month 1, we fall into a pattern where SEPTember is # 7, OCTOber #8, NOVember #9, and DECEmber #10.

Interestingly, February comes from the Latin Februum, which means "purification." February being the last month of the year, it was thought of as a month of cleansing, before the new year began.

Other months are named after gods. January is named after Janus. May, from Maya, a Roman earth goddess. June, from Juno, the goddess of women and marriage. We get words like junior from the same root, which may also have been used to mean young ones.

April is named for the goddess Venus, aka Aphrodite, aka Apru. There are many names of the goddess, including austron, astarte, istar, and these words eventually give us the woman's name Esther, and the holy day "Easter" which happens to fall in the month of Venus. The folk name for April was "eastermonad." Have a look at some other words that come from this same goddess root- asterisk, and star. I find it fascinating that Easter Island was so named due to the date of its "discovery," but the native Polynesian name for it was "Mata-kite-ran" which translates as "the eyes that watch the STARS."

July used to be called Quintilis, due to it's being the fifth month of the old system, however was renamed to honor Julius Caesar, who was born in that month.

A similar story for August, which was renamed to honor Augustus Casaer. Augustus meant something favorable, and we find that word still in use in the form of augury, and augment. August's former name was weodmanad, or "weed month."

Before the Romanization, and deification of the month names, the old English names often had an earthly, agricultural significance.

February used to be called "solmonad" (mud month), May was "primilce" (the month in which cows can be milked three times a day), June was "lide se aerra" (early mildness), July was "lida se aefterra" (later mildness), September was "haerfestmanad" (harvest month), our own October was "winterfylled," since winter was supposed to begin on the full moon (fylleth) of this month. November was called "blotmonad" (blood month) since that was the time when the Saxons would sacrifice many animals, butchering them and storing the meat for the winter.

Sunday, September 27

fast as you can

I'm into day 2 of a (hopefully 3 day) fast. I say hopefully because, seriously, this one is a tough one. With the cool autumn weather comes cravings for all the delicious things that cinnamon comes on, including: gingerbread, pumpkin bread, carrot cake, cinnamon buns, chai tea, cinnamon toast, ... you get the picture. Oh, did I mention cinnamon french toast?

As you can tell my mind is on food right now, this being a difficult fast. I think it's beneficial though, to go without food every now and then, let the body rest and clean itself. It's crazy what you crave when you're fasting. For example, I would kill for a vanilla lady finger right now (those long donuts with white frosting on top).

I've been performing an extensive elimination diet for a while now, eating only vegetables and nuts for the last two weeks, culminating in this fast. When I do break it, I will eat only veggies again for a week or two, and then bring in fruits, and then who knows what else...

I do plan on enjoying wheat, eggs, and sugar (three foods I seem to have trouble with) in all of they're wonderful combinations. That's what I'm working toward anyway. I should definitely be able to partake in whatever dishes come my way by Thanksgiving....

Tuesday, September 15

Tuesday, September 8

Sunday, August 23

i ching - hexagram 38


Heaven and Earth, day and night, and man and woman are opposite polarities. The process of life comes into being through attraction and balance. But if people or life forces confront one another irreconcilably, something goes wrong. Temporary goals are left unfulfilled. Differences of opinion can never be discounted in the area of relationships. Conflicting forces are at work even within one person. Try not to repress the conflict but understand it instead as a spur to development. Don't aggravate conflict unnecessarily. Avoid biased or hostile behavior. Begin to see things in terms of their overall interrelation. You reach inner harmony if you find unity within the conflicting forces at work.

{which of the following apply to you?}

-You will remain an outsider for as long as you continue to be at odds with the group. You will find support with a bit of goodwill. You overcome the difficulties together.

-Hold on firmly to those ideals which mean something to you even if it seems that everyone is sworn against you. For all the bad times, everything will turn out all right in the end.

-You will come across a person or idea of further help to you. Furthermore, you need the help of external circumstances; everything is so near and yet seems so far away.

-Harmony cannot be forced when estrangement sets in between two people who belong together. What really belongs together will grow back together by itself. This is how the law of polarity works.

Thursday, August 6

"the parking lot gives me gifts"

We don't have internet in our apartment. It saves money, and forces us to walk across the complex to the business center to use the free internet there. The exercise is nice. Last time we had internet in our home, it became a bit of a vampire. We are both reluctant to get cable for the same reason.

Just now, I stepped out of my apartment, to make the walk, get online.

Stream of consciousness culminating in synchronous (unlikely) event:
[recounted here for your pleasure]

Wow, the sun is bright today. I can't even look at it. Face turned to the sky to be blinded. Repeat. Repeat. Strange how we forget how dependent we are on the sun for life. The sun is our father. The moon is our mother. Why is the moon our mother? Oh, yea, the correlation to the menstrual cycle. Women wax and wane with the moon. The call it "getting their moon," "being on their moon." That time of the month. That time of the moonth. Oh, that's it. Eyes pointed to the ground, avoiding the glare of the 5 o'clock sun, placing one foot in front of the next. On my way. There are thirteen moons in a year. It used to be, after the thirteenth moon/month, the king would be killed, a new king chosen; this would guarantee appeasement of the diety, a bountiful harvest, survival of the tribe. One king decided to use his authority to change tradition, give us twelve months, not thirteen. Thirteen becomes the unlucky number. Who was it, Mitch Hedberg? He said, "A lot of buildings go from floor 12 right to 14, they don't have a thirteenth floor. But everyone on floor '14' you know what floor you're really on..." Face points down, avoiding the glare. Having been in the car so often these past few weeks, under the sun, roasting with the other commuters, I feel no desire to "get my vitamin D." Makes me think about all of those other 'repression of the goddess' themes. The paradigm of the dominator culture, yang, individualistic, conquistador, overwhelming the partnership culture, yin, group-minded, earth mother. Tom Robbins wrote a lot about this in Skinny Legs and All. Terrence McKenna wrote a lot about this in Food of the Gods. Easter is named after Astarte/Ashtar/Ishtar, a former name of the divine goddess. We don't know this about our own traditions. I wonder where else the signs of the coup are. I suppose if you want to change a culture, you change their holidays, their holy days. You change the rituals of the masses. Every culture has them: Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Chinese New Year, etc. There is a universal desire in us to have parties, dates on our calendars, social codes with irrational traditions and behaviors that somehow unify the strangers in the same strange land. The sabbath. The fourth of July. Christmas. Wow, don't get me started on Christmas. The one with possibly the most interesting hybrid of backstories behind it, the purest of holidays in principle, the one most easily mangled into a marketing/consumer/shopping mall/landfill orgy.
Head pointed down, eyes averting the sun. A green flicker, my eye focuses on the pavement just ahead. I squat down to inspect the tiny piece of litter, to receive the August gift of the asphalt parking lot:

Tuesday, August 4

two years

Well, it's august. That means that this blog has been going for two years already. How time does fly. We all know what kind of twists and turns life has taken in the last two years, so dramatic. Personally, and despite the turmoil beyond my control, I look back on the past two years and feel a huge sense of accomplishment. I finished school, got the girl, and started working. This Friday I test for my black belt with the AJJF. I'm starting a business. I just dropped my new suit off for tailoring with the little korean woman in Downers Grove. It's still hot out here, but there's a watermelon waiting for me in the kitchen.

Things are looking up.

Monday, July 20

eye opener

Working in a Chiropractic office has its perks for sure. Particularly, I was able to procure Chiropractic pillows for myself and Rebecca at a discount. They are extremely comfortable, and will aid in reclaiming the cervical curve that I have lost due to four years of looking down to read and write in school.

The pillows are so comfortable, in fact, that I have to fight for mine, always going to sleep peacefully, and waking halfway through the night to discover that Abra has invaded my pillow, positioning her body in the depression where my head is supposed to fit so perfectly. She does this methodically, during the night and early morning. A major strategy she employs is to sidle up to my head, and begin licking my scalp. This inevitably causes me to edge away from the sandpaper tongue and wave of catbreath, and she inches in. Licking again, I yield in my semiconscious state, and ultimately, she has claimed the pillow. My neck gets mangled as I search for a new place to set my sleeping head. Sometimes I am able to negotiate for a corner of Rebecca's pillow, sometimes not, but I wake up feelign like I was in a mild car accident regardless.

This morning I took a stand. When I came to, and realized she was in full possession of my space, I picked her up and tried to set up another pillow for her to sleep on. In my weakened state, I did not see the claws of the panicky cat, as they swung toward my face in a desperate attempt for her to find ground in midair.

One claw connected and tore a quarter-inch cut in my lower eyelid. She missed my eyeball by a half inch. I did not get back to sleep.

To her credit, Rebecca became instantly aware that something was wrong, even though (I think?) I failed to anounce it by swearing or shouting. I'm pretty sure I just sat there putting pressure on it for a minute until I could wake up/compose myself enough to go to the bathroom and have a look. My sleepy nurse cleaned the cut with hydrogen peroxide, and I grabbed a little bandaid from one of the many first aid kits in the house.

I don't think I need stitches, and I'm going to be very diligent in preventing infection. Strangely enough, it doesn't really hurt. This could have been a lot worse.

Thursday, July 9

breakfast potatoes

Sweet Potatoes
Regular Potatoes
Coconut Oil
Ground Black Pepper

Would be delicious with a dippy egg on it...

two expensive pieces of paper

We celebrate with new bandanas!

Friday, June 26

14 seconds of fame

I'm sure you remember this video.

Click the link, and please, look at the amount of times this video has been viewed. It blows my mind.

Four websites besides this blog link to this video.

There are three pages of comments.

Rating: 4 and a half stars!

We've got a little celebrity in the house.

from the library

Whoa I don't really do all that well in the heat. I suppose the entire country is feeling a heatwave right now. I'm not alone. But yeah, been rather unproductive lately in regards to anythign requiring motion during the day.

However, I have been running for the past couple days. I go out to the forest preserve around 7:45 pm when it's cooling off. I found an owl in a tree out there. I took the night off last night, but will go back out tonight. I feel like I have an owl appointment. It does wonders...

Ate a bunch of watermelon yesterday, so that's a bonus in the heat.

Considering shaving Abra, give her a lion cut (keep the mane and tail, everything else goes) but ultimately deciding against it. Maybe her self image isn't that established still. She would be mortified.

Apologies for the scanty posts. Internet access has been hit or miss. Just realized the Downers Grove Public Library has free Wi Fi (and air conditioning) so expect more detailed posts in the future...

Monday, June 22

i might be wrong

It takes them about 1:30 to get it together, but it's well worth it...

Thursday, June 18

student for life

Two things I spend a lot of time thinking about are two things that I'll never completely understand: Chinese medicine, and Ju Jutsu. Really, these two things are variations on one endless theme, the human body.

Understanding is a big word. I have realized that I can only understand anything to a certain point, "my understanding" of it. Whenever I think I understand something completely, the universe finds a way for me to be confronted with how much there actually still is to learn. We can never really know.

This, for me, is encouraging. Through my studies of Chinese Medicine, and especially, of Ju Jutsu, I have had to learn how to accept criticism for what it is, help. I have had, and still have many teachers. They take so many shapes. Of course, they all have differing teaching styles with varying degrees of stringency, but what all the good ones have in common is a desire to help me (the student) improve. I am grateful to them for this.

There are hierarchies everywhere, and it's been a long road for me to realize and accept that I have a place in at least one, despite my preference for thriving just outside the system, mentally operating on the outskirts of the village, in the shaman's hut.

I have become a better student (and we are all students!) by realizing that accepting criticism, and suggestions, does not automatically imply that I was doing something wrong. It's easy to be offended or embarrassed when someone shows me a new way to do something, a way that could be considered "better" than the way I was doing it. Feeling defensive and upset about this situation has only served to close me off. How could I ever improve at anything if I remain stubborn?

This is not to say that anytime someone has shown me something, I have accepted it at face value and immediately changed who I was. This is no way to progress either, no way to improve understanding, no way to develop character. The difference between dogma and advice is the question WHY. If someone shows me a new way to do something, and they can tell me WHY it's actually more effective/safe/quick/whatever, I know it is something to consider, a potential to grow. If this person cannot tell me WHY the differences matter, then it seems to be merely a matter of preference or style, and no reason to change what I do.

None of this learning can take place if I am not receptive enough to receive the new information and then evaluate it. It can be difficult to corral the ego into admitting that another person might actually have more experience at something I identify myself with. If I refuse to even let new things in (due to whatever reason: impatience, my own dogma, fear, or simply embarrassment) I miss out. If I keep shutting things out, eventually people will stop knocking. This is a difficult lesson to learn, to get out of my own way. The world is full of people that want to help me, despite what the evening news might say. Most of the time, they are inspired by selfless generosity, and interest in my success. It's amazing when you think about it, the ways we share what we've learned, the ways we automatically try to help others.

Monday, June 15

worker man

I'm into my third week of professional acupuncturing. I'm not as busy as I'd like to be (busy = productive, not simply occupied) but I suppose these things take a little bit. As much as I enjoy the Zen aspect of life, I am still one of those people that sets goals, and then gets retardedly antsy when I have to wait on external forces to make them happen. Really, I'm waiting for the patients to come, so in the mean time, thinking of ways to get the word out more effectively, to encourage them. Trying not to lose too much time watching movies.

For sure, I'm no salesman. Fortunatley, acupuncture sells itself. So many people out there can benefit from what I have to offer, it's really a matter of educating them. Last week we had a marketing event at an elementary school, talking to teachers and fcaulty. After all this time, I'm still surprised at how much discomfort people simply live with, thinking there's nothing they can do about it.

It's easy to feel like there's nothing I can do right now. Feeling down about being bored, like I'm failing at this already. Today I realized that I'm not failing, I just haven't succeeded yet, which is a huge difference.

Monday, June 8

mind the gap

Apologies for the gap in writing. I've been very busy trying to keep myself busy.

That sort of thing is a surefire temporal headache waiting to happen, especially in this humidity.

Slightly grouchy, optimistic, but not all that much to report. My first week of working was great. I really enjoy my job, helping people, doing acupuncture, picking out herbs. It's amazing. I saw more patients than I had expected for my first week, but still not enough to keep me very busy, so I work on my own patience...

Speaking of minding gaps, which is what they say on the public transport in London when the doors open from train to platform, and a delightful British voice announces, "Mind the gap..." in the most charming way possible (as opposed to Chicago's "Doors closing!") that is when you know you've arrived. I sit in traffic on the freeway, and the Blue Line races past me. It's a shame that train doesn't go anywhere near my apartment or my job, but merely swings by to tease me as I roast on the asphalt with the rest of the people who forgot to not be on the freeway. But enough about trains.

Mind this gap. The statistical animations are fascinating/inspiring...

Monday, May 25

back from a walk, couchless

Just a quick update - my license went through last week! I'm officially an LAc in Illinois. Had a meeting with Bourdage Chiropractic Saturday, and they'll start scheduling me on Wednesday of this week...

I'm in the process of putting together the order for my granular herbal pharmacy.

Lastly, Rebecca and I have been waiting until today to go to Ikea, because I found a cool futon they were offering for $100 off on a one-day only memorial day sale. They opened at 10 am this morning, and we pulled into the parking lot at 10:03. They were sold out. The place was mobbed. We couldn't believe it. A sales lady told us, "MmmmHmm. There were people lined up around the building at 7:30 this morning. You gotta get here early if you want that kind of thing. It's like black friday here every 3 weeks."

Something tells me they opened a little earlier than 10 today. But, in three weeks we will return, camping out in the parking lot for the perfect futon.

Our apartment looks good empty anyway. We admire our empty space, potential abounding...

***Tune in next time, when I'll show you how to turn 100,000 tiny pieces of paper into 1 large piece***

Wednesday, May 13

sabbatical - day one

Sabbatical (noun):
any extended period of leave from one's customary work, esp. for rest, to acquire new skills or training, etc.

Monday, May 11

a pact with the forest

Yesterday was our first day back in Downers Grove. We spent last week in upstate New York. Since I have just graduated, I thought a trip to the place I grew up was in order, a full circle sort of thing.

We saw a lot of friends, and had a great time on our visit, but one of the main reasons for the trip was a little more primal. I wanted to walk the forest I grew up with.

Rebecca stood beside me as I knocked on the door of the house I was raised in, and a woman answered, a bit surprised at the sight of two unannounced visitors. I quickly identified myself, and she invited us in. Walking through the house was wild. A flood of memories would arrive in each room. It also seemed so small. I must've been smaller when I was making all those memories.

The tour of the house was quite an experience, but what I really wanted was to hike through the woods behind the house.

Only now do I realize how lucky I was to grow up so close to nature. Living in San Diego for three years left me starved for trees, and a part of me still holds a quiet sympathy for the children of that city, of any city. The ones with an alley for a backyard, a trip to the park the only routine contact with anything resembling the natural world. Chicago is definitely greener, but the longing for a tangible forest persists.

I've been thinking alot about where to live, where to create a home. Since I had so much nature as a child, I owe it to my children to give them more than concrete. I owe it to myself as well.

This trip to New York was meant to put things in perspective for me. Are my memories of the woods out of proportion? Would the forest feel as small as the big house did upon my return? I had to know, and had to show Rebecca where I came from, what inspires me.

We walked into the woods, past my old tree fort, a route I could walk in pitch dark.

To be perfectly honest, another reason for this adventure was to help me put my past behind myself. Since I moved away in 2005 I've been pining away for the place I grew up. Nostalgia is only useful as a device to help create a better future. I can't be stuck in the past, no matter how clean it felt.

I set two intentions in those woods.

One: to leave a part of myself there, the part that can't be anywhere else. To this aim, I brought the hair we cut off during my graduation ceremony. I scattered the hair in those woods, freeing what's left of myself from the bonds of nostalgia.

Two: to find a souvenir. I was going to leave a tiny piece of my body there, as well as a large chunk of my life. I asked the forest for a souvenir, something to remember it by, something to inspire me, free of attachment. This second objective proved more elusive than the first.

The difficult thing about asking the forest for a gift is being able to recognize it without looking for it. You have to let it come to you.

I've collected a lot of rocks, pinecones, twigs, etc from the places I've been. For that reason, I thought this souvenir would be something a little different, like an antler, or an animal bone. Beggars definitely can't be choosers though.

We walked, and always the souvenir was in the back of my mind. I almost drove myself crazy. It was like an easter egg hunt, my mind always asking, "maybe it's over there? maybe it's behind this log? maybe it is this log?"

I stopped looking, nearly forgot about it. We were on a favorite stretch of trail (aren't they all favorites?) and I saw some garbage, the remains of a styrofoam takeout container. My instinct was to pick up the trash, make the woods better. But the maintenance of this land was no longer my duty, and I hesitated. Then I knew it. If I picked up he garbage, I would find the souvenir. It was a pact with the forest. I had to earn my prize. I stepped off the trail and walked the 20 or 30 feet to the litter. I plucked the greying styrofoam from the soil, half expecting to find a diamond underneath it. There was no diamond, though. Only dirt.

I turned back toward the trail, and saw Rebecca sitting on a treestump. She was smiling with a secret, peering at me through the hollow old bone that she had just picked up from the ground.

Sunday, May 10

paying respects to an old friend

The first tree I ever climbed is dying. I am lucky to have been able to say goodbye.

unofficial tour

We like this place a lot. This shot was taken as we were scrambling to get all of our possessions in. We moved everything in a few days, and without unpacking, headed straight to New York.

I'll send more photos as they come.

Wednesday, April 29


I got back into Chicago yesterday morning. Since then it's been an almost nonstop endeavor to relocate to our new dwelling. Rebecca and I found a cool apartment out in Downers Grove, which, as far as I can tell is the only place in the Chicago area that doesn't feel like you're in the Chicago area. We're real excited about the new situation, a lot of that excitement is due to the presence of a LOFT in the new place.


Sunday, April 26


You can definitely tell which one is the brains of the operation here...

Bye, Goats!

Friday, April 24

coffee underground

I had a night on the town with a couple birds- my Mom and her friend/librarian Marilyn. We caught a little live blues in downtown Greenville, went for a delicious fish/veggie dinner, and then had (couldn't help it) coffee. I have an elephant full of soy milk...

Wish you were here...

(Oh yea, and I got a new T-Shirt: "HOMELAND SECURITY, fighting terrorism since 1492")

Tuesday, April 21

greenville, tomorrow

Don't forget to water all the sprouts when I'm gone!

Sunday, April 19

water and grain

I've started a second blog to show/sell my paintings on. It is located at

You can find it in the "branches" section to the right as well.

Take care...

Tuesday, April 14

it's official

I had my last clinic shift this morning. It is official. Graduated. I'm not going to be in attendance at the PCOM sanctioned graduation event, so Rebecca and I created our own ceremony to mark the occasion. We've been planning this for a while. I haven't shaved or gotten a haircut in ages, saving it all for this special day.

We do keep a lot in our hair. They say it has a memory of its own. I've shaved my head a bunch of times, and every time I do, I feel so lighter, like I was able to do away with something otherwise intangible. This was the first time I'd ever had such a beard before though, so it was an even more drastic change.

They look like brothers, don't they?

The beard was more than a fashion statement; I grew it seasonally, some extra insulation for a cold Chicago winter.

Some people like to poke fun at me about keeping a beard for warmth. They suppose that it can't make all that much of a difference in winter. I would ask those people then, if it doesn't make much of a difference, would they want one on their face during a hot humid summer?

Me neither. And now that it's gone, I find myself hoping Spring actually does arrive soon.

I suppose I can still wear a scarf.

Sunday, April 12

Monday, April 6

the eleventh week fourteen (of eleven)

Today marks the beginning of my last week of classes. I have a presentation due tonight in practice management class, an interview. I sent an interview out to an interesting supervisor I had in San Diego. I've typed that up, along with an assignment I gave myself: solicit words of wisdom from people who have been in my shoes before. I'll present all this tonight in class.

Tuesday brings a clinic shift in the morning, and then I teach Ju Jutsu until 2pm.

Thursday, I have a paper due. I'm working on it now. 80% done I'd say.

That is it for classes. Next week I have a clinic shift on Tuesday morning, which is my very last obligation to the PCOM curriculum. Upon finishing this shift, I will shave my head and beard, become reborn, renewed, fresh, a bald baby, with a dirty white belt.

My application for IL state licensure goes out in the mail today (with a $500 check, of course....). They will build a file on me, fill it in with the other bureaucrats' papers, and one day I'll get my license in the mail.

Now, what to do with this indeterminate stretch of free time?

I bought a ticket to Greenville from April 22-28. Bond with the parents, thank them for their unending support through all this. Get out for some walks/hikes/dog wrestling/whatever. Sleep in a quiet room.

When I get back, Rebecca and I will have to move. We're looking for a house.

Early May we drive out to upstate New York for a few days. Get back to my roots. Come full circle. Try to remember who I was in august 2005, optimistic kid, driving off to California to learn something, find something. I want to see the place I grew up, see what it's like now that nothing's left of it. Show Rebecca, help her imagine who I used to be, let her remind me.

When we get back to IL, I've arranged to take a sabbatical at Toni and Jerry's place. I'll stay up there for a bit, spending the days doing manual labor to clear my mind, calm my spirit, and squeeze the sedentary life of a student from my young body. I'm lucky in this situation, as they live in a quiet home, with a basement that needs sheetrock, and a backyard full of buckthorn, patiently awaiting my machete. I plan to get good with the blade.

The license will come, the work will come, money, satisfaction, creative thinking, service to others, they will all come.

First though, I have to stop procrastinating on this Blog, and finish my paper for Thursday...

Wednesday, April 1

seven pounds

I don't want to ruin this movie for you by summarizing the plot, but I should say this is one of the few things that has come out lately that has been original, thought provoking, and actually touching. It's a good one. Rent it.

Friday, March 27

charred bones

I'm doing a little research to see what tattoo ink is made of, and if it is a good idea to get a new tattoo. (It will still be a long while before I do it, but it never hurts to learn a little).

Truth be told, there is not much research out there about tattoo ink safety. The FDA is supposed to monitor these things, but apparently has slacked on this task. That's probably for the best, since I'm not sure I would trust their decision anyway.

The consensus seems to be, "No one exactly knows if the ink is bad for the body, or what it does to your system." If this was a food item, I would definitely walk away. Adding something that we "created" and are unsure of to my system is usually a "no-go."

That being said, tattoos are so cool. Will I suffer for my vanity? Well, I already have one, and I'm no more screwed up than I was when I got it. I did find some information with a breakdown of the different color inks (which aren't actually "ink") and their typical ingredients. The tattoo I have on my left arm is made of black and green ink. Black is typically made from the charred remains of burnt animal bones or kerosene, or magnetite crystals, or powdered jet. Green is often made from copper, but can also come from many other sources including malachite, and some iron based chemicals. They are considered safe.

I have convinced myself that the tattoo I already have is made of charcoal, magnetite, copper, and malachite. Those substances sound pretty cool, magical. I can live with that.

Interestingly, the article mentions red as being the most likely pigment to be dangerous. Also, yellow is a problem simply due to how much pigment they must use just to get a decent value on the color.

So, the question remains, is the potential risk of having these materials inserted into your skin outweighed by the power that the symbol brings to the wearer?

I suppose I can always just get a clever tan.

(that's an insightful artist. look at this...)

Sunday, March 22

this is necessary (mana)

I had to celebrate passing my boards, so Rebecca and I went out to a new (for us) restaurant in Chicago, Mana.

Highly recommended. The dishes were delicious, and they offer small portions so you can order a bunch of stuff and share it.

I've been feeling the Spring, eating a lot more fresh vegetables, raw salads, etc. Also, the more I learn about food production and the animal industry, the less inclined I am to eat farmed meat. I've flirted with being a vegetarian before, and I'm flirting with it again. Just seems like these days, the higher up on the foodchain something is, the more contaminated it will be.

Also, what with the infiltration of big businesses imposing their own interests upon the USDA and FDA, food labeling barely means anything anymore. The definitions of such appealing terms as "natural," "free range," "cage free," and even "USDA Organic" are so loose that they've lost their original meanings.

It's a sad state of affairs when we don't even know what we're eating anymore.

The ethics of eating are complicated. As much as I would love to be driven by ahimsa, that philosophy would force me to define what is and isn't alive. The distinction between plants and animals can become very ambiguous; there are so many things that unite us. The fact is, though, that we have to eat something in order to survive. A favorite book of mine, Omori Sogen: The Art of a Zen Master contains a passage about this:

"But even a man of noble and god-like character cannot live a single day without depriving other forms of life of their life. This is the sad reality of human beings. Even the most honest and compassionate man must snatch water from the earth without paying for it, must breathe the air from the sky without authorization, and must steal energy from the sun. Without these acts, he could not sustain his existence even for an instant. This is the tragic fate of man. Because of this dilemma, everyone bears the original sin of dualism.

Consequently, even if a man really loves peace, he must kill the cow, kill the pig, kill the chicken, kill the fish, and kill the vegetables in order to strive toward this noble aim. To put it paradoxically, this man himself is part of the carnage caused by the survival of the fittest. Therefore, one can say that because there is no peace, he desires peace. Man's existence is subject to this dialectic structure. There can be no human life that does not participate in killing and death."

That's zen. So much matters that nothing matters. What I'm having a hard time with is the blatant disrespect that the food industry has for the things it is in charge of.

So I am alive, depriving other forms of life their existence, but I can at least take comfort in knowing that the plants I am eating can't possibly have been as mistreated as the animals would be.

Also, I've been sprouting mung beans, and adzuki beans. It's so easy, and so worthwhile. Hopefully I give them a good life, and a good death. I didn't take this photo:

Tool hinted at this dilemma in their album, Undertow. The very last track of the album contains a brief diatribe/sermon about the holocaust of the carrots:

And the angel of the lord came unto me, snatching me up from my place of slumber. And took me on high, and higher still until we moved to the spaces betwixt the air itself. And he brought me into a vast farmlands of our own midwest. And as we descended, cries of impending doom rose from the soil. One thousand, nay a million voices full of fear. And terror possesed me then. And I begged, "Angel of the Lord, what are these tortured screams?" And the angel said unto me, "These are the cries of the carrots, the cries of the carrots! You see, Reverend Maynard, tomorrow is harvest day and to them it is the holocaust." And I sprang from my slumber drenched in sweat like the tears of one million terrified brothers and roared, "Hear me now, I have seen the light! They have a consciousness, they have a life, they have a soul! Damn you! Let the rabbits wear glasses! Save our brothers!"

This epiphany is followed by a beautifully dark chant: "This is necessary. This is necessary. Life feeds on life, feeds on life, feeds on life."

This is necessary. I'm trying to feed on life of whole grains and vegetables. Quinoa, brown rice, broccoli, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, avocados, green beans, spring greens, kale, chard, spinach, squash, carrots, adzuki beans, beets, sweet potatoes, mung beans...

I still eat some dairy products, like cottage cheese and yogurt, but I try not to go crazy on those.

Nuts and seeds are good too, and I've been eating coconut butter on brown rice toast for breakfast lately.

And of course, chips and salsa have become symbiotically linked with me.

Eating really well seems to happen in cycles for me. Sometimes I find that I've been eating irregularly, usually a lot of sugar/snacky things. Sometimes I realize I've been eating well, making my own meals, etc.

It's a good sign when the cutting board is always dirty.

Friday, March 20


On Monday, when I tried to get a sense of what my week was going to look like, I made sure to set aside time on Friday to study for my last two board exams on Saturday.

Wednesday, I actually looked in my planner, and discovered that the exams were actually Friday, not Saturday.

It doesn't matter! I just finished them, and passed both sections. Now, all I have left to do is finish classes, and pay some more fees to some more bureaucrats, and I am licensed (within 6-8 weeks of completing all checklists of course...).

Big things are coming.

Wednesday, March 18

ficus carica (wet dream)

I was in a gourmet fig shop last night. I made my selections from the varieties of the delicious fruit behind the glass. The girl behind the counter moved from shelf to shelf, as my interest darted about.

There were fresh figs, and dried figs, of all different colors. Dates, and similar fruits were there as well, but I focused only on the figs. They were so large and juicy, even the dried figs looked plump and bursting with flavor.

I finally finished putting together my order, and eagerly anticipated digging into the bag. I could almost taste the sweet fruit.

I sprung awake. Confused. Why was my mouth was soaking wet? I recalled the dream of figs, as the cats took turns sniffing my beard, investigating the drool as it dried.

Today was bound to be an interesting day.

Monday, March 16


A few weeks ago, Rebecca found a flyer for a farm just outside of Chicago. It was an open invitation to come "lambing" at the farm. Apparently, lambing is when you go to a place where there are lambs and then look at them, while an old man talks about how he removes their tails and castrates them with rubber bands. It was actually pretty fun, despite awareness of the bleak future of the male lambs, and especially the black ones, who are all destined for the kitchen table. The animals are funny to watch though:

When they want milk, the babies stand underneath a female sheep, and then ram their heads into her lower abdomen, insisting for the nipple.

They also had cows (turn the audio up for this one):

Of course there was a chicken coup as well. Rebecca has a thing for poultry, so she she was agog with this discovery:

We found a bucket of baby chicks as well. There was a young girl (besides Rebecca) there who was completely obsessed with holding the chicks. Reminds me of Lennie Small from "Of Mice and Men" or Elmyra from Animaniacs.

As the girl's parents were preparing to drag her away, we moved in for the cuteness:

I hope the volume is up so you can hear the buzz. I knew there'd be an apiary on the premises, and I had my moment of awe when we found the hives:


do not go to this movie.

Saturday, March 7

two down

The Biomed portion of my board exams is over! I passed.

Since 2005, I've been accumulating pieces of paper and hoarding them, with the mindset of, "I'd better save this, so I can use it to study for my Boards."

Now I can finally throw out all that stuff.

It's really raining here. I saw horizontal lightning ripping across the sky all morning.

Friday, March 6


I had to rush to grab the camera, so it's a short video. Looks like it's officially warming up in our neighborhood...

Thursday, March 5

mister manifester

It must be spring.

I am unfolding myself from the funk I've been in. My head is still heavy here and there, morale can get low, some dizziness at times, but I'm feeling much more clear.

I've been doing manifestation experiments this week. My report follows:

1. On Monday, when I stepped out of the house to go to class, I put an intention out to the universe. I set my thoughts on speedy public transportation. I thought about the train arriving just as I was at the station, and then the bus being there when I arrived at the bus stop. But that's not enough, I also pictured my trip home going just as quickly and smoothly. I was amazed that the train arrived at the station just as I did, and there was a mere 30 second wait for the bus to arrive. The return trip home is usually the worst. There is something about it being 8pm that makes every transfer a wait. I left class and started walking down the street towards the bus stop. I had a feeling I would miss the bus, and just then I saw it pass through the intersection. I know sometimes you have to work with the universe a little bit, so I sprinted through a parking lot and an alley, and intercepted it at the next stop. When I arrived at the train station, I could hear my train arriving overhead as I walked through the doors. I knew it would be close, but I swiped my pass, and ran up the steps, past the people arriving. I hopped into the waiting open doors of the train, just in time, and said aloud, "I did it." It was only then that I remembered the intention I had set earlier, and realized that it came true.

2. For the past eight weeks, I've pretty much had the same schedule at clinic. I have 9am, 10am, and 11am patient slots on my Tuesday shift. I have a regular that comes at 9, and another that comes at 11. So, for the most part, I've been finding ways to amuse myself (and others) during my free time from 10-11. I decided this Tuesday that I would set the intention that I would be fully booked for all three slots. I arrived at the clinic and checked my schedule, to my surprise, I only had a patient at 9am. The 11am person was out of town this week. I was surprised that the one day I wanted some work was the one day I had a huge amount of free time. However, through the twists and turns of life, another intern was absent, and I took one of her patients. Then, an older patient walked in and scheduled for my last slot. My assistant was getting a little sick, so I wound up treating her too. Crazy.

3. On Wednesday, I figured I'd put it out to the universe that I wanted some money to come into my life. What the hell, right? It was in the back of my mind all day, but I didn't find any extra cash lying around. When I got out of school at four o'clock, I was going to go to a nearby park and practice some Ju Jutsu falling techniques. It was starting to get chilly by the time I got home, so I decided to save it. Today (Thursday) it's been a beautiful spring day, with strong breezes and winds. I skipped class (whoops.) and instead went to that park to practice my breakfalls. I found a nice place to practice on a hill, far away from anyone else. The wind would kick up in bursts. Midway through my practice, I found a dollar on the ground.

Wednesday, March 4

flower power

Since you're away, I'll update you on Charles and her day of spiritual transformation.

She had a hard time under the massage table, looking for action. She also was struggling with the comb.

Her misdirected energy even got in the way of interpersonal relations. A standoff.

Where will she find her peace?

Until Charles discovered the power of flowers...

And her nasovomer gland...

And with flowers, come peace and love.

{a cheesy ass blog, I know, but that's what went down today...}

Tuesday, March 3

home alone

Rebecca's in Santa Cruz for some sister time; I find myself the master of a large, lonely apartment. So far so good, since I have my Biomed comps this Saturday, I've been busy studying. I somehow find time to pump myself up on the trailer for the new Wolverine movie:

I fill the air with drum and bass, Sage Francis, and dub reggae, and tear through practice tests online, fistfulls of Gorilla Munch as my only sustenance.

Wednesday, February 25

speech, speech

I just gave a nice presentation (on second thought it was definitely a jeremiad) in my Nutrition class summarizing cultural diets (mediterranean diet, okinawan diet, etc.) and some of the problems in America with the way we eat.

I find this topic interesting, since I'm such a food fan.

Leave a comment or email me if you'd like a copy of the presentation (.doc) emailed to you.

Speaking of food, we picked up some avocados from Trader Joe's the other day. They are finally ripe, and it's warm enough outside to open the windows in the apartment. I sit, eating guacamole and chips, with a spring breeze in the air. The cats go wild at the smell of the outdoors, running all over each other, fighting for the best windowsill spaces. Spring is in the air, change is all around. Everyone's ready for a little of that right now...

Monday, February 23


There are four (4) test modules to pass in order to become NCCAOM certified, which is a requirement to get a license to practice acupuncture & herbs in IL, and many other states. This morning, I took and passed the Herbology module. Sweet!

One down, three to go. I have BioMed in two weeks, and Acupuncture, along with Chinese Medical Theory on Mar 20.

Gotta study up for the Biomed!

Thursday, February 19


Remover of obstacles, bringer of good fortune, let's hang out this spring!

I've got a lot going on right now, slightly frazzled, but happy to be where I'm at.

Some people* have wondered why there is a visible curse word on my whiteboard. This is in reference to Burn After Reading. It is a general term that the main character uses to summarize the people that are bothering him. It is the title of my To-Do list, when I want to procrastinate. When it's time to address the tasks, I change the heading to "Friends."

That seems to work.

There is a lot involved in transitioning from full time student to self employed acupuncturist. Most of the work is behind me, but I still have to project my energy toward:

-Passing my national comp exams (all four of which have been scheduled. The first one is this Monday! The last two are Mar 20).

-Creating marketing materials for a corporate acupuncture program I am starting.

-Starting a collective practice with three other classmates.

-Getting ready to work in a chiropractor's office.

-There is also the possibility of renting some space in which to teach Ju Jutsu.

-I also have to keep up on assignments for the CLASSES that I must complete still, strangely enough.

I am not bored now, and should not be when I finish school!

It's all rewarding work though, and exciting. I just needed to take a breather and write this note. Take care.

*Yes, you.

Tuesday, February 17

door county

My birthday celebration culminated in a weekend trip to Door County, the magical peninsula of Wisconsin, where no chain stores are allowed. Wow.

By the time we arrived on Friday, it was already dark. I could feel the seclusion of the area, but I had no idea what the landscape really looked like until the morning. We woke up, and opened the curtains to be greeted by a beautiful February morning.

We spent a lot of time driving around the island, moving from town to town, none of which had a population over 1000.


Rebecca did some research and discovered a candlelight hike through the woods at dusk. This apparently is an annual event at one of the state parks on the peninsula. Usually it's candlelight skiing, but this year there wasn't enough snow for cross country, but that made for a perfect hike.

We arrived at the perfect time, just as it was getting dark. Not many people were around. It was beautiful, silent.

Of course, as the night went on, more people showed up, many wearing headlamps, projecting an offensive beam in whatever direction their obnoxious heads bobbed.

That sort of thing misses the point of a candlelight walk if you ask me.


On Sunday, we had a couple Americanos before hitting the road. The view from the coffeeshop is sweeping. If you look hard enough, you can make out the ice fishermen.


(always full of surprises, this one...)

dark clouds

By the way, The weather was great until we got near the WI/IL border. IT was looking like it was going to rain or storm, the whole sky had a thick layer of grey, with clear blue skies off in the distance. Only when I scanned the horizon did I realize that the cloud was a direct result of some sort of disgusting emissions from some sort of disgusting industrial building.

It baffles me that the police are so concerned about pulling over speeders when a public offense like this goes on daily, marring the sky. We need real laws.

You can see the two towers of this abomination in this map (scroll right slightly):

View Larger Map

Monday, February 16


Update: We brought the cupboard home!

It's a hit...

the office

For those of you that think all I do is fool around with archery, venison, and martial arts, I'd like to present two videos of a typical day for me in the home office. These should set the record straight:

sausage party

I am now officially in the clan. There's no turning back at this point.

The yearly Furlano venison sausage-making event was a couple weekends ago. We went up to Toni and Jerry's and met up with a seasoned group of experts for the big event.

Jerry covered his basement in plastic and newspaper, and we went straight to work, bright and early.

They take the venison (about six deers worth) to the butcher and have it ground with a SECRET blend of spices that has been perfected over countless generations.

They also order a quantity of pig intestines to use as the casing. Guts.

The guts have to be rinsed and "turned." This, of course, is best done early on a Saturday morning.

The guts are loaded onto the sausage press. Here's a shot of some of the assembly line. You'll see Jerry wandering around looking very busy:

You've gotta crank the press to get the meat to go into the casing. When I say "You" I really mean "Me." This is the new guy's job, the grunt work. It was actually a great task for me because I got to practice using Ju Jutsu motion qualities to make a lot of muscle work very easy. I use my whole body to turn the crank, so my arms don't get tired. I've actually noticed my training shining through a lot of aspects of my life, making things easier all around:

You see Rebecca doing some sausage tying. This requires some skill. Toni helps her with the details. However, this was also Rebecca's first time at the sausage party, so she had to crank for a while. I took a shot at tying the links off:

A lovely display of meat:

Some of the sausage is designated not to be dried, but wrapped and just fried up. I actually like the fried stuff the most. Look at these skills:

Here, the links are hanging up to dry. We made sure they'd be out of the way of the punching bag.

And the final haul:

Yes, that's a lot of sausage!

Tuesday, February 10

twenty six

The suspense is killing me.

She led me through a "choose your own adventure" birthday, with nature hikes, spa style pampering, a [legitimate] psychic reading, some new apparel, a future acupuncture treatment, some seeds, some sage, some clues, some chocolate cake, and I can still taste the wasabi on my breath from dinner. The day culminated in a note: "Don't make any plans this Fri-Sun. Pack your bags."

I'll get out of town!

This birthday is lasting all week.

So, for all of you who left messages on my voicemail, I'm sorry my phone was off on my birthday, but I was too busy to talk anyhow. Besides, I always talk to people on their unbirthday by a day or two, so it's only fitting.

I promise I'll call you all tomorrow.

In the meantime, please enjoy:

A free EP.

An album worth buying.

I've been in a Sight Below-inspired dreamworld for a few days now.

Friday, February 6


In between posts, I think it's important to share this link. Rebecca's sister has just found out that she has Hodgkins Lymphoma. They've started a blog. There will be a link in my "Branches" section for future reference.

Friday, January 23

burn after reading

Go rent this. Watch it twice. Holy smokes.

Tuesday, January 20

word cloud

So, for the first time, I've actually been interested in how a politician was going to present himself to the public. Also, for the first time, I was impressed. The guy has a lot of work to do, that's for sure.

Lately, there's been a phenomenon of creating word clouds as a way to quickly learn about the contents of a text.

Check out this comparison, by way of word clouds...

It's only fair to take a look at myself through the same lens. Here's my word cloud from this blog:

Monday, January 19


We are visiting Rebecca's aunt Toni and uncle Jerry, in northern Illinois. We like coming here, as it's only a couple hours from our apartment, but feels like a whole different world from Chicago.

Jerry took me up to his archery club, which happened to be giving free beginner's classes on Sunday (perfect timing). It was great to actually be able to shoot that bow, without being in our little hallway, looking out for cats, etc.

Some of my first few shots in a real range:

Jerry giving me a brief demonstration. He warned me not to copy his form, since he wasn't really sure about the "proper" way to do it:

I'm starting to get the hang of it, applying some ju jutsu movement qualities:

And a shot of the beginners. I think there was a pretty good turnout:
(why am I the only one bending my knees?)

As the day went on, I started to get better:

That's a decent cluster for my first day...

Once I was feeling competent/confident, we went outside for The Arctic Blast, which is a pretty good hike through the woods, where various animals wait in styrofoam stillness.

We encountered a variety of beasts out there, boars, deer, elk, moose, etc.

I captured on film a mountain goat, a black bear, and a ram that must've jumped over the first arrow I sent at it. Truth be told, we spent a lot of time tracking down my stray arrows in the snow, so it was a skill building exercise in many ways.

What a day.