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For years, my oldest son has wished for an accordion. I always figured it could be one of those things he would find on his own, later in life, so I wasn’t spending much time looking for one to give him. He’s a music major in college, plays the euphonium and other low brass instruments, as well as piano, ukelele, and almost anything else that makes a sound.

While I was visiting a hospice patient the other day, I talked with her son-in-law who had an accordion to sell, asking price of $100. It’s hard to reconstruct how the conversation evolved to reveal that, but it came out of the blue and before I knew it I had a fine 1958 accordion in a case in the trunk of my car for Jack’s birthday at Thanksgiving.

The first month of school this year has been a bit tough on Jack this time around, and he decided to come home this weekend for some recharging and home cooking. So I decided to give him his gift early as a sort of spirit booster and because I didn’t know if I could hold in my excitement for two more months. It turns out that he’s actually recovered from his blue mood in the last week, is feeling good and happy and healthy. So it was really icing on the cake to watch his face when he took the case and opened it – I think it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever given in terms of pure joy. Here he is trying it on.

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During my qigong class, there is a period of doing a special walking technique. The entire class is quiet as all the students practice this walk around the large studio where the class is held. In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed that I have a substantial amount of clicking in my joints while walking – knee, ankle, foot. I’ve always had some of this, but it seems to have gotten worse lately. It’s dismayingly audible in the quiet environment. I decided to search online to see if there is a name for this condition and maybe something to remedy it.

On one site I found a huge list of inquiries sent in by readers; they are organized under common headers. Taken as a whole, the list is somewhat disturbing as it displays a range of concerns from a sore toe to pretty disgusting descriptions of bodies gone bad. Some not too offensive examples:

A ganglion is making movement difficult
Alternatives to relax on my wedding day?
Can a chiropractor stop my son wetting the bed?
How can i grow taller?
I had pins and needles while playing tuba.
I would love to be able to dance again.
I’ve a lump on my leg the size of a sprout.
Small bones growing from the neck
Back pain is ruining my life.
Stabbing pains in the side of the calves
My calves twitch.
My knees feel hot after cycling.
Are my ribs cracked?
I think i may have broken my nose playing rugby
Travelling with a broken collarbone

And then I saw it. Not the question I thought I was looking for; it turned out to be, instead, an entire CATEGORY on “Clicking, Cracking and Creaking Joints.” The response says that clicking joints are not a cause for concern, that they are caused by relatively lax joint capsules that allow more than a usual amount of movement. Always looking for the good news, I brightened up at the fact that physical activity tends to make this condition more obvious. Guess my workouts are working!

A side note: all my children have extremely lax joints, and Grace, the athlete, has suffered the most from dislocated shoulders requiring surgery, to time in a wheelchair for knee issues. I thought this was from their dad’s genes more than mine (sorry, R!) since he’s always had a lot of flexibility, but maybe mine are a contributing factor too.

I’m fascinated with a tool over at Blogger.com that shows images being uploaded in real time. It’s hard to pull myself away from the flow of images as they pour in from all over the world. Welcome to the global community! My friend at The Daily Jimmy brought this site to my attention – Thanks, Jim.

Last night I fell asleep on the couch at 9 pm after a tough kung fu class. Woke up at 2 am with the computer still balanced on my stomach and the cat on my head. Got up and wondered if I should just start some work (why not?) but after a glass of water decided to try to sleep some more. My bed was so comfy that I went right back to sleep until 7:30 this morning. Wow. Ten hours of sleep for me is usually something to be worried about; it just doesn’t happen unless I’m sick. Luckily, I feel great today, and I’m guessing that this is part of my transition to an empty house – correcting a 20 year sleep deficit.

As I was stumbling up the stairs, still sleepy, I heard the trash truck coming around the corner and realized it’s Thursday, my pickup day. I ran outside to drag the can to the curb, and it was completely empty! I went back into the house and got the few items in the kitchen trashcan, a few tissues at the bottom of the bathroom trash, and that’s all there was after being gone for a long weekend; one person just doesn’t generate much waste. I’m hoping my utilities bills show the same result…

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As beautiful as Cape Cod is, and Rome, things aren’t too bad right here in my own seaside town. Here’s a photo from the bikepath about a mile from my house. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that…

I spent a great long weekend on Cape Cod to meet friends and celebrate a birthday, and now I feel like a noodle. I brought back sand samples from a couple of beaches, neatly labeled in ziplock baggies, to remind me of this trip: no time schedules, great inn, lots of fabulous food, beautiful weather, lighthouses, runs, hot tubs, and ocean swims. Conversation and laughter. Does it get much better than this?

Back to the real world…


the lighthouse at truro, celebrating 150 years

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As usual, it’s more than just one kind of day today. Not only is it my Memphis friend Gary’s birthday, it is also Talk Like A Pirate Day.

On the official website, there’s a list of pickup lines with a pirate-ish flavor. Here’s a good one:

4. How’d you like to scrape the barnacles off of me rudder?

Hey, wait a minute. I had someone say that to me, and I did, in fact, scrape barnacles off a boat… Was he a real pirate trying to shiver me timbers? Aaarrrrr, blimey, the next time I see the scurvy dog it be time for a keelhaul!

I just found the Universal Leonardo site, and it’s really a pretty great way to explore everything da Vinci. Enjoy!

A few things are in front of me today. First, my heart feels sore, actually sore, not from the king fu but because it was 2 months ago today that my 17-year-old neighbor died. Without anticipating it, I’ve had a swell of emotion this morning about that loss, about time, about children, about my neighbors.

Second, I had a great conversation with my friend Chris, who has lost so much weight in the last year. His school year has started and he says to his eighth grade classes, after giving them the story of this year’s physical transformation, that he doesn’t want to hear any one of them say “I can’t do it…” when he gives an assignment or lays out expectations. I’ve been thinking about that all weekend, and it’s a great whinebuster.

Third, I attended a Vedanta (Hindu) lecture last night titled Love of Truth, and there was a lot of really good stuff in there that I’m mulling over today. There’s one part of my life that is not matching up to my standard of “truth always” and it’s bugging me. It’s been bugging me for awhile, but the talk last night helped me articulate it to myself: I don’t always do what I say I’m going to do. And that’s an aspect of truth – how good is your word? It’s not that I intentionally mislead, more that I miscalculate my capacity. So I’m working on that this week, pulling back on my overly optimistic commitments to do everything immediately. Sort of a commitment to stop making commitments, to admit that sometimes I just can’t do it. I CAN DO IT (thanks, Chris!). Boy, that’s confusing…

Today I had my first kung fu class, and it was really a kick in the ass. I’m going to love this hour and a half, three times a week: it was everything I hoped for in terms of a really stiff workout and lots of sweat, lots of core work and stretching. Some of the movement was very yoga-like, and felt familiar. There were plenty of new moves for me too; punching (the instructor asked me if I had ever hit anyone before, and I said “just my kids”- some people in the class laughed and some didn’t…) was really fun, and took more concentration than I would have thought. I’m pretty weak on kicking, so I know I’ll see good improvement on that over the next 3 months.

The class is for all levels, so the 25 students range from advanced to “first day” like me. It was good to be in a class with the higher level students, just that many more examples to model how to move. I also really enjoyed the mix of students, from a middle-school aged boy to older adults, good mix of men and women (nice because my yoga classes have always been predominently female energy), small and big people, people in perfect shape and people who, like me, are “works in progress.” But the best thing was the laughter! This is a friendly, happy group, lots of good-natured helping and teasing and camaraderie. There is definitely a tone of respect that is firmly in place, but the warmth of the instructors and students was unmistakable.

After the warmups, the class was broken into groups by ability with each group under a different instructor, so you get to work at your own level as well as in the larger group. Today we worked on five basic positions and the movements that flow one into the other. A lot of this work is about balance, and I did pretty well. One of my favorite details was the hand position that looks like a bird’s head, elbow slightly bent behind you, wrist crooked, and fingers touching, pointing to the ground. Very cool.

So I came home exhilerated and exhausted, took two ibuprofen as instructed by the instructor of the beginning group, and thought I would read for a bit in the hammock in the middle of my back yard. I settled in with a pillow and blankie (it was on the cool and breezy side this afternoon) and took a moment to just stare up at the clouds whisking by – the edges of them looked like swirling smoke. Needless to say, I never even opened the book, just my eyes, two hours later! Sweet luxury.

When I visited the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican one week ago today, there were crowds of people flowing through the predetermined route in and out of the space. As the floor filled in with hundreds of people milling around with heads turned up to the ceiling, voices joined together and the volume in the room went from ambient to a dull roar. Two uniformed guards were posted on top of a dias roped off at one end of the Chapel, watching the crowd for misbehavior from that elevated position. As the decibel level rose, a very unexpected thing happened. The guards let out a loud and assertive SSSHHHHH over the heads of the crowd. Instantly, like a well trained kindergarten, voices from around the world dropped to a hushed whisper. Instantly! This happened abou four times while I was in the room. Fascinating!

The frescoes were gorgeous, by the way.

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