La vida in Mexico , prt 2

22 04 2013

We are kickn’t today after a busy day of here-n-there running yesterday. LZ wanted to finish up her reports for the Japan Mag. So today, I get to rest mostly, no driving Miss Daisy. So for now, it is some blogging, Latin Jazz on the internet, some reading, then a little boat stuff, maybe slip some musical instrument connection in there somewhere, later this PM.
Mexico kind of grows on you. A few days ago we went to a Local Art show in a small local museum. Not really my kind of Art, but interesting, forgot camera. It was interesting to feel the vibes of Artsy people again. Reminds me of how much I miss doing ceramics and the sharing of other student’s Chi in class/studio. Also going to misc open studios around the Bay. Visual Arts energy is different from, musical Art Energy. Both are good, but for shore ( a lil sailing/water related visual verbal pun) different. Kind of like “Leo” fire Chi is different from “Aries” fire Chi, but they mix easily and often, being the same nature.
Anyway I digress. There are some interesting and gifted artist here in Mexico.
 Some of the food places here in Mexico have been outstanding. There is a misconception that Mexico is dirty as would be the locals. Mexico is a poor country, but the people are warm-hearted and themselves clean. In a restaurant everything is kept clean. When you finish eating they clean up the table right away. LZ is impressed with the food care, preparation and presentation. 
We stopped by a simple but local favorite restaurant the other day. It was recommended by a local as one of the top restaurants in the Ensenada area. 
The prices were great, the atmosphere was pleasant, great music on the sound system, clean. It was an out-of-the-way spot one would not except a place of this type to be there. Ensenada is full of out-of-the-way, hidden treasures of which it is one itself.
We also went on a wine tasting working adventure. LZ working on her Japan Magazine articles needed to cover some wineries.  I was unaware there we so many wineries in the area.  Some are very small, and some are of a fair size, which rival those of Northern Cal. We visited several where we had to make appointments to see and were the only people on the short tour. One such place we stopped at late after making a the appointment, due to some miscommunication. The Manager let us in anyway, gave us a private tasting and we chatted. I was driving so did not have much, but he kept pouring for LZ. She refused, lightly but had a few more sips.
Near this winery is a Pizza shop. It is up up up, a little dirt road(s). Lots of turns and bumps to get there. Way way off the beaten path, I would have not ever thought of a pizza place there. However the locals know of it, it is rated also the top Pizza place. 
We drove up I was shocked, not only that it was crowded, but at the location, and the number of people who kept coming after we arrived, group after group.
 Great view, great pizza. I am glad we got a medium, which was big. We had plenty there (1/2) eaten on the spot and I will have the leftovers soon!! 🙂
Over all, Ensenada is a comfortable place, if not for heading for Japan I could stay here. Make a few adjustments and setup a comfortable life. LZ and I have spoken if life changes to a different path once we are done with our family giri in Japan, Ensenada could be a place to consider returning to live. Yet, every place (mostly) is nice when you are visiting, and we will be older then…anyway something to keep on the back of the mind, considering Japan is having issues, with earthquakes, radiation, air pollution from China, bomb threats from Korea…jheez!
Having an exit plan /route is still wise.
As much as I am starting to like Ensenada more, there is still not much that I look forward to here for me. Although my morning practice is comforting on a spiritual level, it is still a duty. One I enjoy for myself, but still it takes discipline to get out there everyday, and not something I look forward to the same as something like going to see a movie. There is the up coming World Tai Chi day event. I am looking forward to that. This will be my first as part of a large group. In years past it has been just me out somewhere sharing the world chi. this time there is a big event here in Ensenada, I have been in touch with the Shifu who is hosting the event. The location is within walking distance. So I will be there. Kind of my last event for this area…kind of


13 02 2012

A few months ago I found out my neighbor is a guitar player. We had spoke of jamming some together. The first attempt did not go well we could not get a hookup. Last Sat we finally made a hookup and had a short session in my office. He is planning on going into the studio this spring to make a demo and wants me to play bass and second guitar. Love it when I get to put on my music hat.

The guy brought along a few tapes of his songs. They were ok, simple rock stuff nothing that was complex. After I listened to the one he wants to record , I played along with the tape and him to get a feel for some patterns and licks to add. The whole practice session went ok. Nothing to make a great blog post about but it was nice to make music again. Next session we’ll be a bit more structured and relaxed.

He wanted to hear some of my recordings, I am looking for a cd with a couple of my songs. As things like that are mostly packed up, it is a search mission to undertake. 😦

Blessing on this National Day of Mourning for Native peoples

25 11 2011

Since the moving to the boat most of my time has been spent adjusting and settling in to life at WaterWorld.


There has not been much time for anything else. I have attended one session with Shifu on our Friday practice and one Kyudo session with Sensei.


However nothing regular for practice. There was a potluck Thankgiving dinner at Sifu’s school this past Sat. There were lots of good veggie foods. I am noticing more veggie dishes are turning up at these events. Nice for me. Yummmm.

I did make a discovery the other day. While setting up a place for the Yumi to live on the boat, I found that I could string and un-string a Yumi in the gallery there is plenty of room for that. Well maybe not plenty but enough.

In the process of making  home for weapons of art, I learned the sailor’s way of String Art and made several hanging ties for misc pieces.

I believe  I am the only cruising yacht that is set up to hold a Yumi, Ya’s, Kali sticks,

Chinese sword, sakuhachi, shamisen,


bass guitar, keyboard, flute plus the regular traveling stuff. I am ready for making music or battle. 🙂

LA – Kyudo, Kung Fu and Music – Part I

24 10 2010

After putting it off for several times I got my act together and hit the road for LA. The weather was a shock after roasting here in the Nor Cal for the last week it was weird being in chilly and rain. However it did not lessen the quality of the visit.


It had been almost a year since I went down to LaLaland to visit and see my late brother and clear out his apt with his passing a week later. This trip was about getting his Bass out of pawn. The interest was adding up and I did not want it to be lost or keep paying. I was lucky to get a tab on it when I thought it was already history. Since it turned up I felt he would be pleased if I saved it. I saw some pictures of his joy when he purchased it and some of when it was just hanging on display before he purchased it.

This Bass will be one of the three I take to Japan, the other is his 4 string and my Acoustic Bass. I am hopeful to restart my musical life there. Here it, among other creative things has seemed to reach a dead end. Just surviving is the challenge.

Retrieving the Bass was the first thing taken care of on my arrival to LA. Once that was done I was able to focus on visiting, Kyudo and some fun.

While in town I stayed at a hotel for a change instead of with friends. I found this hotel in the Japanese section of town where I used to live. It was not fancy but clean and cheap. In a way it was like being in Japan or at least in Hawaii.

The desk staff spoke Japanese. They were were surprised when I spoke to them in Japanese. One woman had such a look of shock, I had to tease her. Nanda doshite bikuri. The signs everywhere were in Japanese. There were a couple of big Japanese markets around so I picked up some Shochu on sale and some Sake to take back home.

Breakfast was included at the hotel. The weekend menu is not as full as the weekday. My breakfast for the two days was rice, seaweed, and pickled veggies. Some green tea and a croissant. It was light and free.
Free being the key word.

My first stop after business was to see one of my Kung Fu brethren who runs a large traditional school in town, Lomita Shaolin Temple Kung Fu School. I had a fairly short visit with him . We got to Chat only for a bit as he had a private student waiting and a class afterward to teach.  We spoke of a meal together later but I was on a mission and couldn’t commit to anything. It was a walk down memory lane in visiting his school. All the old pictures around, wall lined with trophies and dance lions, the school still has that 70’s feel, unlike the highly polished and sterile schools that line the area currently run by “masters” who gave been training for the average of 10 years…

My big disappointment was, next before going to the Kyudo dojo. I went by my favorite Chinese Veggie place for lunch, it was closed down and no more, bummer. Adapting and moving on, I had lunch at the hotel with something good I picked up at Trader Joe’s.

Kyudo time:
I head over to Long Beach to visit and practice with Team G3 and their class.

The park were the class is held is very nice. There is a seniors something archery contest going on at the time. The lady at the gate was not sure if other classes were being held so she let me in the parking area for free…Cool or what!

I watched and visited a while and got off one Makiwara shoot before Sakurai Sensei president of the Southern Cal Renmei showed up. We had only spoke very Briefly in Japan and other than on Facebook had not spoken live to each other.

We got to chat for a while on this and that, Kyudo and non-Kyudo items. Soon Joined by Marcus Sensei we had a nice visit. I forgot to take a group picture though before he left.

After that I put in some Makiwara time to work on my form. M3 watched me shoot and made a suggestion on how to stop my left hand from dropping.

Part of the solution was to have me shoot from a kneeling Ashibume. This way I could feel the difference from my stance being more stable, I’m guessing. The other part was on turning when releasing. Hard to explain. It is however like what Ling Sisuk told me about doing a forward stance or toe stance, call a cat stance in Karate. Kyudo is about Mind , body , spirit. This tip was very much about mind and spirit affecting the body.
Basically curving the mind, the thought upward on release. It was a small thing but made big difference. The next shot was clean no hand drop, the ya hit the Makiwara deep and level. Another little something to add to the line up to recall when shooting.
Another tip was to use power on my left hand to help with the spin on Hanare.

Kung Fu:

My next visit across town is with another couple of Kung Fu brethren.

One of them worked with the late David Carridine on the 2nd Kung Fu series. For several years he has been working on these things called Phi Chi sticks. They are a training aid, designed to help one work with spiral motion and energy. He has gone from working with them with bamboo to PVC to now Acrylic. They have the nicest look and feel.

He has given me samples over the years. Today was no different. His latest one still built on this curve he has calculated is just is portion of it. This is my favorite so far. I like the way it fits in my hand. It can be used to hurt or heal. Easy to carry and conceal. He said when he saw this finished it had my name on it. It seemed perfect how I move.

One of the cooler aspects of this is it can hurt or heal. It works as well for combat as it does for massage/acupressure. One can not get lost in just the negative vibe of combat with Kung Fu. Like Shaolin Temple even though it has a side of violence, Shaolin Temple is really about Love.

Amazing Grace…

1 02 2010

An old gospel hymn, I had been working on a version of this, this week, to do at my the memorial service for my brother. Today it was held.

It was not that great a start. My sister was due in on Friday, however due to a major storm in D.C. all flights were canceled. My 2nd brother calls me a couple of hours before LZ and I are heading to Sac. and says can you pick up sister on your way? Huh! Sac airport is not on my way!, ( I’m 1.5 hrs away, they are 20 mins. Something is wrong with this logic) Sigh ok! But she has to wait until we get there.

About 30 min later I recall, hey I do not know what airline. I call my brother back, no answer. Great! LZ and I head out to parts unknown basically. The service is at 2:00pm. We get to the airport at 1:45 after going to the wrong terminal first of course. Finally I get in touch with my brother. Oh, they do not have the same setup as Philly everything is at one check out. Ok…crimany I think.

After having to make two trips around the airport because she is not there the first trip, we finally find her. She has just arrived the plane was late. Sigh. Ok, so Now we find out the service has been changed to 3:30, so it’s all good.

We head over to the church and get things setup. There turned out to be a lot more people than than we expected. My Mum’s church family turned out to support her. It was a thoughtful show of support. Also in attendance were my favorite Aunt from my Mum’s side, as well as my brother’s wife neither of who I was expecting, beside my favorite cuz.

The service was nice, some old pictures from the old days, some shared sentiments, some tears and laughter. A very good Pastoral message from the minister and a well received song from me. I was not as nervous as I thought I would be, the old musician kicked in and it went very smooth. The church organist, volunteered to play along with me, so that was a nice added touch. LZ was shocked to hear me sing, it was her first time. I had forgotten she seen me play before, but I never sang. She was pleasantly surprised she said, as were the other family members who I had forgotten I had never preformed in front of before.

So everything worked out well.  It was a fitting memorial service for my brother who was all about being the musician and artist. If his spirit was still around I’m sure he was pleased and can now RIP.

Return to Roots

29 01 2010

My last trip to LA was to clean out my Brother’s apt. He was still alive, it was weird. His main concern when I told him I was going to do it was to get his instruments. I did along with other misc stuff. A short time later a matter of two weeks if that he passed away. I have his Bass, I tinkered with it a bit. Not that long ago I purchased a new Bass for myself, which I wrote about just before doing some studio work on a audio book sound track. So I was not really that interested in his Bass. Anyway, It is a 6 string, this one of my brothers is a 4. I am finding though it is very nice. I plan on taking it to Japan as part of my musical gear.

A couple of weeks, well almost a couple of months really I went to church with Mum and came up with the idea of doing a song with Lil brother’s Bass for his memorial service. I figure my sister will spring something on me to do like a speech which I dislike. This way I’ll beat her to it and be in control. I’ll do a little tune on his Bass.

It is this Sunday, I have been practicing this week. My chops are really bad, I was ready to change the plan and back out of this more than a couple times. I found out this Bass is really nice after listening to it through an Amp rather than just feeling the action un-plugged. But that is not the point. I applied some Zen philosophy to my playing and uncomplicated what I was trying to do. Tune into the music not how I was playing and keep it simple and just play. I’m feeling better and the song is coming along to the point I feel like I can pull it off. Part of the thing is I’m doing a solo, it has been years since I’ve done that and even then with a guitar and a harmonica, not just a Bass and Harmonica. I found was trying to play to much to fill in the missing pieces.  Focusing on what I have, not what I’m missing made the difference.

I’m still a bit nervous because I know I will made some mistakes, and there is no band to cover it up. Also it will be the first time playing in front of my family and Mum’s church folks. It will make her happy, it will make me nervous. I think I owe it to my brother to ganbatte. It will be good practice also for centering and being calm under the pressure I will face in Japan. In a way it will be like doing Kyudo, focus on doing the simple form correct ( notes), not rushing, complete each part, being mindful, the arrow will find the target.  Just another form a training. Sometimes it is not that you make a mistake, like dropping an arrow,  it is how you handle yourself or the situation after you make the mistake. Yosh!