Monday, October 5, 2015
Saturday, September 26, 2015
Remind me these are dewy nights so I'll hook the rain fly on my tent and won't have condensation dripping on and -- surprise -- soaking my pillow before I even get in there, and waking me in the morning when the tent is in fact brightened by sunlight more so than anything around it.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
There are 10 days of vacation left. I will spend them being worshipful and grateful.
- Fall colors
- Fall mushrooms
- No bugs
- Clear starry skies with the Milky Way at the zenith
- Baking season begins
- Hunting season
- Time to tour wineries
- Time to prep the fireplace/fire bowl
- Walnuts and hickory nuts
- Caramel apples
- Low humidity
Monday, September 21, 2015
In mid-Missouri woods this week choirs of these mushrooms are growing close to the ground, their cymbal-like caps anywhere from half an inch wide to two inches each, clustered at the bases or stumps of oak trees or bubbling up from buried wood, and from a distance they resemble "hens of the woods," but they've got gills and separate stems and no rings on the stems, so they're ringless honey mushrooms. Whether they taste honeyed I'll never know because the Mycological Society says, "Never eat little brown mushrooms." There's also a "ringed" version, and a semi-look-alike fall mushroom with a bright orange cap that also grows in "bouquets" like these: the Deadly Galerina, also called the Jack O'Lantern. Edible mushrooms to hunt for now include puffballs and "hens of the woods." A famous mycologist told me he frequently receives emails with photos from people who write, "Can you identify this mushroom? I didn't know what it was, so I ate it." Poisonous mushrooms can dissolve your liver and kidneys. Don't risk it.
Sunday, September 20, 2015
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Each class begins with calisthenics: pushups, situps, stretches, twists. My 11:00 a.m. class consists of three four-year-olds, a three-year-old, and myself. The sympathetic black belt instructor who knows I'm 58 told me "Do what you can." Thought I was fairly fit from lifting weights and walking.
Because I'm the only adult in the class, the master instructor, Dien, patiently leads me in a set of slow-motion pushups and situps. Then we stand and I follow the master as we practice, in slow motion, intricate arm movements: the head block and I forget what else. Then slow-motion kicks. Unlike a flamingo I can't balance on one leg; the master either holds my hand so I don't fall over, or I grip for dear life a stationary punching dummy. I'm learning the front kick, roundhouse, and back kick, discovering they take foot and ankle strength, exactly the muscles that weight training ignores. Then, drenched in sweat, I punch the bag with my bare knuckles, lightly, concentrating on the target and my form. The knuckles split open anyway. The goal is 60 punches in 15 seconds. At the end of the lesson the master and I bow to each other. Then all other belts shake hands with any black belts present.
Why do this? Because it's only 6 highway miles to the gym. Because the natural year is declining and instead of getting depressed as usual I'm setting a healthy goal: a yellow belt. One must be able to block, kick (without someone holding your hand), punch, obey three commands and count to ten in Korean to pass the exam. After I stuck out my first three lessons, I received, not a new belt -- that'll take months -- but a new top with the school's emblem and the U.S. and Korean flags.