A step into the present

 

Since I have returned Home. I have stayed fairly busy, but also resting. It has been can of nice. Not good for our finances but…the Great Spirit provides. I had gotten to do some music since returning. I did an evening at the Overheat club with the Blues Band. It was not as tiring as I thought, I still do not understand what is going on there. Other groups also played, different from before. No matter. No money comes from my pocket other than transportation. The rest to me is practice/ training. The evening was ok. We did not play the whole time,
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I also got to play with some others, less the “Doc” and his style so that was nice.
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I also got to play keyboards a little. I was going to play just on my song I was asked to sing. Turns out they did another song first before my song, with me at the piano so I rolled with it. The key to doing something that you can do, but just a little, is to stay in the background as much as possible. People hear a taste of piano tunes, but nothing they can really “attach” to. Sort of like doing push hand in TaiJi. There but not there. So yeah that how I covered myself, not knowing the song. 
Then I got to play a song. It started very very rough. It took them a while to find the groove. The drummer just stopped. Later listening to the recording he started some light tapping or some thing, in the background. There but, not there. Not good for a drummer, and this was a Slow Blues. Anyway,.. Rolled with it. The guitarist and the bassist also could not get a lock. So I just played for myself.
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After a while they caught on. I was surprised later listening to the recording, once everything into sync it was fairly good. It could have been great if we had all played together on this song before hand, as these guys needed some guidance. Still it was fun, most of the night.
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The next just happened to come up. The Snafkin owner asked if I would do a couple of song in an upcoming park show. Ok I said. This was to be mostly with the same members as the prior concert. Cool I thought! There will be some adds and menses as far as people but still. Good, the keyboard player as before and my favorite sax player. I think I heard some thing bout a guitar, and I will ask the Shami player again. It is a interesting sound combo. The conga player can not make it, I am not sure about a drummer. None of which are a big deal for a free park community concert. So just fun and practice.
 
Anyway I digress I was asked shortly after the first contact to stop by the coffee house to speak with a couple of what. Thought where the players. So i stop by the cafe on Friday. The only ones there were the owners and the conga player. They all were just practicing some songs. Hmmmm, I thought ok slow night. We talked some, another couple was supposed to come in. A short while later they did. I played some songs with this guy, me on bass, and the conga player. The guy, guitar had written some songs and was doing them, his girl friend also played guitar. She did a couple of songs later. 
We all along with the cafe master at time just did various songs. Some times we just did percussion rhythms, sometimes we did the same but with me on Shamisen, some times with the added flavor of the master on Saxophone. All just fooling around it was fun.
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I was asked by the “guy”, the writer/singer to play with him and his group at another festival type show. Me on bass backing him. Ok I said. Cool I thought, another band, a different sound.
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A couple of the guy, I will call him the Kid since he and especially his girlfriend looked so young. Cute couple. Anyway , yeah the kid’s songs a couple of them I liked. One had a reggae type feel another more a funky rock. It was fun, he liked it , he asked me to play the show.
 
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It was a fun evening, i got a ride home with h conga player. He had sent me a note before about seeing me, but did not reply. It turns out he lives near the boat yard where I work so is nearby. This is good info as I want to use him later in some musical project. He is I found out “Budo brother” he studies Iaido. Kyudo people are rare. So yeah, it was a good night, more fun than I planned on. I did not even bring my instruments, but still got to do some fill ins. I had originally thought to just hang out.

The Force was with me.


next up, The Shaolin Session…UPSA tour

 

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Alameda – WaterWorld…full circle


Back to Alameda

Today

Was the day to return to Alameda, the home coming. I had a lot of ground to cover as usual.
My first stop was to Downtown Alameda, some banking and a trip to Trader Joes. From there over to the Natural market for some misc supplies to take back to Japan. I came across some nice omiyage to take back. Eco bags are big now in Japan. I got a couple from TJ’s and a couple from the local Natural foods store.
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Next stop over to the Oakland Yacht club. There I was to meet a couple of old students for lunch on their boat. It took me awhile to find the correct gate even though I was familiar with the club.
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It turns out my student gave me the wrong gate tag. After a bit it got worked out and I met up with the crew on the boat. We had sushi and pie with a little bit of sparkling wine.
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There was another local guest friend of theirs there. I knew him from before sort of.
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We all chatted, ate and such, then my time was up,
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I was off to the next stop.
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My next stop was just a little ways away. I had it all planned out. I went by my old place of work. The Blue Pelican Consignment shop. No one knew I was coming, big shocks! It was good to see the owners. I was offered a job.
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If I was considering coming back to the States, that would have been a sign. However, no, I love Japan. I hung out a bit looked around, blah blah, then had to leave. I promised to try to stop again, before leaving.
 
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Yup another stop, this one just around the corner. The marina where I was Asst, Harbormaster. I was expected there. I had an errand to run for Yoh Sense, in addition to my just going by. Again good to see the folks I did. A warm welcome from the new staff member. The vibe there is so much better now with the big shake up of firings and quits. So much for the better now! I sort of miss having a life there, but only a very little sort of.
 
Next off to see Capt Mary. She was a big influence on me getting my sailing chops together for the Japan sail. I also worked there at the sailing school, Afterguard, which she and her husband owned. She was the sensei fro LZ and her sailing skills. I took the chance she would be there and just went by. The streets where wacky with repairs but i found my way. I stopped in. Capt Mary was on the phone. She did not seemed too surprised to see me. I found out she had a lot going on right then with some work issues. I also found out her husband ad recently passed away. It was not the best of times for her or for a visit right then with someone on the phone and calls coming. We hugged and I slipped out.
 
Next stop. I head over to Chinatown, want to see my Kung Fu uncle and his wife. I make my way over there through the messed up repairs being done to the streets. I find the place dark and a note saying they were out. Sigh. That was a bummer. I will see them in two days at the memorial kung fu banquet. However a pre-visit would have been good to talk. There will not be much time at the banquet. I also needed to see if a Chinese herbalist could be suggested, since I needed some Kung Fu Medicine herbs and we were there in Chinatown. So oh well roll with it and off to my next stop.
 
There was a woman a worked with when I was a graphic designer. Before my whole world in that field fell apart. That was a major blow. But I survived…Allah be praised! We were pals at the office and a little on off time. I told her I would stop by. It was a short visit. She has three kids, one is a teen, the other two are 2/3 about. They cried, yelled, ran, jumped…
I am fairly old now, I need some rest and had a long drive ahead back to Sonoma for the night. It was a short visit and a peaceful drive back to Sonoma.
I had covered a lot in the one day. Tomorrow I had not as much planned to run and see and my stay was going to be in a motel for the night, close to my last stop visit. Yatta!
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After some thought, I figure to just give up the mimi version of Friday, doubtful if it will be of interest on it’s own post.
I met-up with a close old-time friend for lunch. We chatted about this and that, Sound Healing, Music, Zen and had great Thai Food at an old hangout
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Next I am off to do some shopping at the near-bye eStore ! That was fun, sort of with no money to just spend. Oh well less attachments. Next off to see another friend. That whole section did not work out I never got to hook up with them.Therefore I headed over to my student’s house for a visit and dinner. She insisted that I take no pictures of her meals. It was great by the way, she was just being anti-Social media. Oh well. this is the patio, one of several, where we ate.

 

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It was a nice visit, We go back many years. She trained with me some 14 yrs or more. However I was off again, one more stop then I crash for the night. I go for a hotel since I have been with “others” for a week a bit of alone time is good for my balance. This location is good close to my last stop, close to my morning stop. The Tai Chi Mantis Seminar. It will be good to see the family.

 

Going back to Calli – Sonoma/Napa

Wine Country

My first day in Sonoma did not go as planned. That was to go to DMV renew my drivers lic. Then go to the seed bank for, yeah thats right seeds. Then go to my sissy’s place for the night. I did not make it to my Sissy’s the other stuff did not happen, I found the seed bank but no time to go, I did not find the DMV untIl my “sister” took me that evening on our way out to dinner.

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We went to an Italian place. The salad was excellent the pizza was way too salty. I wrote it off to the combos use where all salty. Still I thought it was extreme as did my Sis. So the rest of that evening we stayed up and chatted and did old hippie stuff.
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The next day I was up and at it early. I went to DMV, I went fairly early, still there was already a long line. I joined and took a deep breath. Once I was in and got my papers done, then I sat as I had no appointment. I had a lunch date planned in Napa for noon. Some 20 miles in another county, Napa, I was in Sonoma at the time. So I wait and wait. I am thinking I will leave at 11:45 having waited since. 9:30. Just as I was considering walking. I was called, yatta! 
 
I went up, paid my fee and was told that was it other than the eyes test. I was expecting to have to take the written test , Yatta. I was asked if I wore glasses, I said no, even though I had gotten some in Japan. I figured I may pass without them, I will try first before using them. I first I could not focus, and started off wrong, she switched me to another section doing one eye at at time. I went through the, pretty fast, missing one. She let me slide!! yatta! I wrapped it up with a new photo taken. Then I hit the road for Napa.
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With much much effort and waiting I finally hooked up with my friend. She is a friend from on line who is a friend of Friends and she did Kyudo. We have connected n line some three years ago almost. We met for lunch at a little Greek deli.
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The food was excellent! Greek was on my list of foods to eat while in the States List…so it was perfect. We left there and went to a marketplace where she works. There we had cheese and wine. One of the things she trained in is cheese and pairing, with stuff. We had a small sample plate of cheese and a few condiments as well as some samples of snack items she is making. All of it was yummy! We eat and talked until I had to hit the road again.
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My next stop which was near where we were, and also in Napa was a former students house. He was one of my first students when i started in Northern Ca. He has come and gone , come and gone with his class attendance, but we remained in touch. A short visit with him before once again one the road.
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This time back to Sonoma, in the mountains. It was a long and winding road finding my way to the Sonoma Mountain Zen Center. I was to meet a Kyudo Sempai, the one who gave me my first Yumi. He is also a Bass player and a Buddhist. In fact is part of the Sonoma Zen Center.
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I choose to meet there because it is some what on my way back to my Sister’s and we, Sempai and I have history at the Zen Center having taken week long seminar in Zen and Kyudo there.
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It was a good meeting connecting with him. We arrived at the same time. I had made a wrong move and missed my turn, as I was turning around, I saw a car that looked like his. I could not look inside, but I had that sense it was him. He said the same when he saw the car following him. We also while walking the grounds came upon a resident who knew us both. We chatted with her for a time before leaving. I was expected back at my Sisters for dinner. I was late but not to bad, and it was expected since I am packing a lot in.
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The next day was my run into Alameda our last residence area…
 

Virginia


Virgina

Virgina, was the main section, #2 of the trip. Here we go to see my mother in the nursing home. I am not going to say much on that because it is personal stuff and no concern to most. So, Just a bit. I asked my Mum if she knew who we were ( she has Alzheimer/Dementia ) , when my brother and I went. She surprised me and said yes. Big shocks as she usually does not know anyone. Also the next day we had a small conversation, she was not all there but there was a couple of times she was shockingly aware of what I was saying and about who/whom.

 
After seeing my Mum on the first day we went to see my Uncle, my Father’s brother, the last of my father’s generation. Uncle Fred is 88 , a year younger than my Mum, but he is still sharp alert and getting around on his own. It was a short visit with him as we had to travel more that evening.
 
We headed further south into Virginia, my cousin, a school supervisor had sent me a Skype message. I had replied back but got no answer. My brother and I had to drive by my cousin’s house on the way to my mother’s property. I saw some people in the yard and it turns out to be my Cuz and his wife. We were all shocked at the timing which worked out well. He was off and in town that week, they were going the next day On a vacation to Florida. He was just home to do some yard work and such. They usually stay in South Carolina were they work. So anther connection came together for my fast lane tour to America. Chatting with my cuz was fun, he, his wife and I all went to high school together for a time.
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One of the things I found out was there was an earthquake there which shocked everyone. Yeah, it is a changing world on many levels.
After a while we moved on. We went by our family land and I also stop at my mother’s parents gravesite. Something I do every time I am there. We had problems locating one of the properties as it had been grown over by pine trees and such. 
 
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However after a time I figured it out. From there we went to another piece of land. This is the one with a house on it I helped. Built when I was a child, and almost died in the process , almost having the tractor I was driving almost flip over on me. As it turns out there was someone living in the house, we had mot been aware of this.
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My Uncle, my mother’s remaining brother, had not been in touch with us concerning the place. It was the daughter of his girl friend living there. Not a problem, actually good since someone was there taking care of the property.
This also was lucky as we wanted to get in touch with my Uncle, my mother’s brother but had been unable to. She took care of that and got us hooked up. We drove over to his girl friend’s house and met him.
 
There was another cousin on the list of people I wanted to see however, time was running out. Therefore I skipped the last visit. We returned to my father’s brother’s place and encounter a cousin I had not seen in many many years. Then we went again to the nursing home to visit our mother. This was sad and joyful…I said my goodbye.
 
The next day I spent just hanging out at my brother’s. Sleeping, teaching my brother how to meditate, organizing for the next section of the trip, introducing my brother to ZatoIchi and also getting the real story on my sister’s behavior concerning my mother estates.

The trip was joyful and sad…

Next up going back to Calli

 

Phila…the Fuu clan Jam


Phila…the Fuu clan Jam

 
This part of the trip I am expecting to be rather pleasant. Here I visit my brother and my kids. My first concern is getting a car rental. I have the car reserved but, I am/was concerned about the having no credit card only a debt card part. My fear was for naught. I had all the items they required and it went smoothly for the check out on the rental. The business about having a third party issuance caught me off guard, but I figured I would trust the force and just-roll with what I had, and drive extra careful. So, I got my car, I was upgraded to a lil bigger car, bummer it was red, made me more unsettled…I rolled with it. 
 
When I landed at the airport, thing were closing up and I was hungry. I came across a shop, a stand that sold soft pretzels. When I was a kid those were it. A soft pretzel and a water ice. Maybe 25cents would cover both…back then! A hot soft pretzel with spicy mustard and a cold water ice, aka snow cone. So Yeah, I purchased one. It was not great, I have not had a great one since childhood, they were made different back then, I believe. However it was still good, not great but good. It brought back good taste memories.
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I found my brother’s house without issue following the GPS on the iPad. It went very smooth. I had to bang and text, my brother to get his attention to open the bloody door. Finally he opened the door, which took another few minutes with all the locks he had on the doors.
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We did some catch – up had a couple of drinks and watched a bit of TV before I headed to bed.
The next day I just chilled . I slept… a lot, read a little, wrote a bit. Mostly slept. I needed it, the flights were draining as was the ceremony . Brother and I spoke some, about the plan for the next day which was to make the drive to Va to see our mother.
 
One of the things I did that day was to buy a way too big lunch. I forgot how big meals are in the states. I ordered a veggie pizza, not a big one, 13 in job, plus a tuna sandwich on rye (real rye, not the weak wheat stuff in Japan) with a dill pickle, and a small strawberry shake. I got this from a place recommended by my brother’s step daughter. It was good! Way too much to eat at one sitting. I ate half the sandwich , two maybe three slices of pizza and drink the shake I was full for the day…
 
 
That evening I headed out to see my son and his family. I was looking forward to that. I had not seen my two oldest grandsons, since they were children. I made my way over there and first was met by my daughter-inlaw. We did a bit of greeting in Spanish as she is from Costa Rica. Always fun talking with her. I did not use a lot a Spanish since I don’t use it much in Japan, so it is rusty and dusty. The two youngest grandkids, where sleep, she woke them and about that time my son shows up with the other two kids.
 
It was a good reunion, they had questions about Japan, and stuff. We ate some “greek” style pizza, it was not really Greek, but it reminded me of Greekish. First I thought oh noo, more pizza, however, It was very light yet had good flavor. After we had eaten it I thought of pictures oh well.
 
 
After a while of talking I suggested we jam some. My granddaughter plays flute, my one grandson plays drums, another guitar, a little however he did not have one there, so he played conga, I played piano. My granddaughter tells me she can not play by ear, cannot improvise. She can only read. Hmmm. Ok I give her some basics on Jamming some blues. It was not really good, but it was fun for all and a treat for me. That was more important than how it sounded. It was the moment that was important.
 
 
Other than the Jam, we chatted some about this, that, and Japan, Chan/Zen . It was a short but pleasant visit.
 
I showed my granddaughter some basics on Shakuhachi, it took her a while but she was able to get a sound out of it. It was also nice to hear one of the grands is interested in playing violin. I told him his father has my grandfather’s violin, my first instrument. I would be delighted if he learned to play it. Not learning to play it well, is my one maybe the biggest regret.
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It would have been nice to spend more time, but, more important to be thankful for what it was. As it turns out my daughter in law is now interested in Buddhism after speaking with me. I never figured that would happen. And on that topic, I also ended up teaching my brother some meditation basics to help with his stress and the BS being shoveled by our sister. That is another story…
 
I got back to my brother’s just as he was heading to bed. He was up a little late just waiting for me. So ended a major delight day of the trip. Next up south to Virginia…not looking forward to this part…well part of it anyway, as I did not know what I would find…