Down on the farm in Independence, OR
Class yesterday at Marcus Soares’ academy again. Through a serendipitous chain of events, the person who was supposed to teach ended up not showing up. This was good for two reasons: 1) I got to meet Stephan Kesting, a Soares brown belt who serves as an expert on nhbgear.com, answering questions about grappling (he came by with a spare key); 2) I outranked the ranking belt, so he asked me to show some techniques.
I was happy to; as I have been saying, I feel like teaching is the next step in my BJJ evolution, and it was good to have the opportunity. Of course, I wish I had had a little advance notice so I could make things flow together more, but I just went with it and people seemed to enjoy what I showed them. See my training blog for details.
I got some pics with the guys who were there for what they called Fun Technique Sunday (basically a grab bag of the stuff I have cherrypicked from various world class BJJers).
L-R, a kid visiting from Japan, Mike, Jess, Sean, Matt, Larry, me, Ivan.
I had a great time with Marcus' guys! Thanks again for such a fun time.
One thing that’s kind of strange is that my face hurts. Mostly the bridge of my nose, like I’ve been punched or something. I can only conclude that the “facing out” I’ve been doing is catching up with me. Here’s what I mean: In BJJ, balance is so important. You don’t want to be thrown or swept; you want to maintain your uprightness. When someone tries to sweep you, you try your best to do what’s called “basing out,” where you maintain your balance by planting a hand or a foot so you stay upright. Well, when your opponent has tied up both your hand and your foot on the side s/he is trying to sweep you to, you have two options: either get swept or stick out your face; hence, “facing out.”
I find myself doing a lot of facing out lately, and while it does work, I guess it has its consequences. I have a headache and the bridge of my nose is tender. Unless I’m doing some particularly strenuous sleeping, I think I need to take it easy. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow.
It was a long day from a driving perspective. I got a late start from class because I stayed to chat with the students, and then the line at the border was over an hour. The border guard did think my bumper stickers were cool (one from the Submit Pit, one from Colorado BJJ, one from nhbgear.com, and one that says No Depression, after a music magazine I like) and ask whether I do BJJ, but I already knew my bumper stickers were cool, so that didn’t quite mitigate the effects of the long wait. It helped a little, though.
I chatted with my friend Natasha, who is getting back into BJJ after a hiatus of her own (I took a year off about a year ago) and loving it, I’m glad to say. Besides the people I love, I don’t seem to be missing much in Chicago other than 100 degree heat plus 100% humidity. People complain about Chicago winters, but I swear to you that the summers are worse because you’re blindsided. You wait all winter for the gorgeous summer, and then the summer slaps you in the face when you aren’t looking. It’s like living in an oven.
Other than the line at the border and some traffic in Seattle that added still more time, (unexpected b/c it was Sun eve; there was construction that reduced the number of lanes from 3 to 1) the drive was uneventful. I sang along to the radio, talked on the phone and texted some, and ate a bunch of junk, including Canada’s answer to M&Ms, called Smarties. I gotta figure out a better way to make the time pass on the longer drives; fogging down a bag of LifeSavers and 4 servings of beef jerky, among other things, isn’t a good idea on a regular basis.
I was tired and achy most of the way through, but fortunately I found LoveLine on the radio. Used to love listening to it but got out of the habit when I sold my car. This episode was replete with interesting issues: a dude who likes to wear diapers, how long to wait before having sex with someone you like, cutting fetishes, etc. I like the show b/c Dr. Drew actually seems to know what he’s talking about, and he isn’t trying too hard to be down with the kids. I guess that’s what the co-host (Stryker?) and guests are for. But anyway, it’s fun to listen to.
I arrived at Mark and Tanna’s around 12:30am and as I was parking, a little white ball came barreling toward the car. I found out later that this is Poochie and that Poochie is friendly, but in the middle of the night on a dark country road, I jumped a little. But then he disappeared as quickly as he came, so I thought maybe I was seeing things.
I didn’t have ANY trouble falling asleep like I sometimes do after a long drive; after the first semi-conscious thought I had that I might still be behind the wheel, I just said, out loud, “You are not driving. You are in bed sleeping.” And then I didn’t have any more trouble.
Woke up this morning to a gorgeous, sunny day with relatively low humidity (as a gauge, my gis dried in about 3 hours this morning compared with the 15-20 it usually takes in Chicago). I took a walk down the gravel road toward town to see some of the surroundings; things always look so much different in the daylight if you have driven in at night. I had made friends with Poochie, so he came with me on the walk. I wonder if Poochie recycles TO THE EXTREME! (Obligatory Simpsons reference.)
According to Mark, in the summertime Poochie eats about 3 mice a day. Gross.
Here's a view from the house.
Here's the house, which was built circa 1910:
One thing I didn’t notice when I drove in in the dark last night is that Mark and Tanna have moo cows!
I tried to get them to come closer so I could pet them, but they just stared at me, swishing flies and being a little wary.
Mark and Tanna also have horsies!
The mask over the horse's eyes is see-through; it's just extra protection against flies. Tanna’s dad was in one of the two barns they have (Mark and Tanna have barns!) shoeing horses and doing other fun farm stuff. So while I hung out inside dinking around on the computer, I heard lots of neighing and mooing going on outside. Pretty sweet. Later that evening, the kids showed me the barn, the hay bales, and one of the tractors. Here are Justin and Emma showing me how it's done.
We also fed Honey the mule, who got out of the paddock into the main barn even though she knows better. Fortunately, Tanna’s dad came home just at that moment and took care of business.
Tanna’s dad is a cool dude. Among other things, Mark said that last year, at the age of 72, he was the champion roper in all of Oregon and Washington. Not for his age group, for everyone. He went roping later in the day, and now I want to see him do it. Mark has told me the story of how he (Tanna’s dad) lost a finger and a half years ago in a combine accident:
The older combines didn’t have protective shields over the working parts, so one time when Tanna’s dad was working, he slipped and his hand went into the fan part. The fan part sliced off most of the ring finger and the tip of the middle finger on his right hand. Needless to say, he was rushed to the hospital and put on major painkillers. The doctor asked him where his fingers were, ostensibly hoping to reattach them. He, in a haze, said, “Clifford got them.”
The doctor went out into the waiting room and asked the people there with him, “Which one of you is Clifford?”
One of the guys said, “What do you mean?”
The doctor said, “He said Clifford has his fingers.”
The guy said, “Clifford is the dog.”
As Natasha said when I told her that story, “That is GROSS. I love it.”
I know Mark and Tanna from graduate school. Mark was two years behind me in the program we were in at Michigan State, and Tanna was the admin assistant for the department chair—combat duty, as anyone who knows the department chair can tell you. I still remember the first time I “asked them out.” You know, you run into someone in the hall, take a class with them, etc, and decide you really like them and would like to get to know them better. And I really liked both of them.
But someone has to make the first move. So I took the plunge, inviting them to come with me to the dairy store. MSU is a land grand university, which means people can major in things like bovine studies and turf grass management. It also means that there is a dairy store on campus that sells weird things like cheese curds (they squeak!) and yummy things like ice cream.
I called Mark and Tanna one day and told them I was having an ice cream crisis and would they like to get together to help with it? They met me a little while later and thus a friendship was born, first focused around huge bowls of dairy store ice cream and then branching out into more important topics. Mark and I and our other friend Michael used to hang out at Pinball Pete’s, playing old school video games like Centipede, Dig Dug, and Galaga along with all the prepubescent junior high boys. I think Tanna liked me because I was always willing to do all the stupid crap Mark wanted to do (like play old school video games) and she knew he was in good hands.
Mark and Tanna have a nickname for me that has stuck all these years. The origin of the nickname was a conversation we were having about Little House on the Prairie (remember I said our conversation topics branched out into more important ones over time). Namely, I was feeling bad for Mary, because Pa had a nickname, Half-Pint, for Laura, but none for her. They asked me what I thought Pa should call Mary, and I said “Stumbly.” (Remember Mary went blind.)
They don’t really call me anything else now. Even my Christmas cards are addressed to The Stumbler.
We had a great dinner on the patio overlooking the farmland and the mountains in the distance. Tomorrow Mark has a bunch of work to do (he’s a faculty member at Western Oregon University), Tanna will go to her job as a real estate agent, the kids will go hang out with a family member or two, and I will go to Straight Blast Gym in Portland for a noon-2pm gi class. Then we’ll meet up later in the day and ride in the gator (sp?) a life-sized Hot Wheels car. And maybe I’ll get to ride the tractor AND/OR a horsie!