Fixing a leak or three

by sarah hair Email

Well, kids are in the Bahamas on a boating trip with some friends. Their little excursion has allowed John and me two dates in as many nights. Mexican food tonight and a pub crawl last night as we walked home from our friends' house. Ahhh, good times.

Great dates aside, we also got a little (very little) done on the boat. We have been waiting forever for the rain to stop long enough to get a coat of paint on the boat. We had to settle today for installing a spice rack (drawer), fixing a standing locker's hardware, and installing the newly-delivered, correctly-fitting, highly-anticipated, moisture-blocking gasketing material onto the hatches. They no longer leak! Yeah!

Hopefully we will be getting more on track in the coming days. Kids will be in Bahamas for a few more days celebrating the end of the school year with their friends. We will have a few more chances to get some paint on among other things.

Martial Arts and Crafts Website

by sarah hair Email

I finally got the web site sorted out for Martial Arts and Crafts Jewelry - our jewelry company. It has been "in the works" for about 6 months now, but with a day and night push for the past three weeks of being locked indoors and unable to move about due to spacial restrictions of a 10 by 10 room with everything our family owns, I have had plenty of time to get it finished.

It has some images, about 50% of the products had been listed on Etsy and had images suitable for use. Other than that, and even including those images, I need new images, but can not set up lights or stage anything until we can empty out this room and get some space.

Martial Arts Jewelry NecklaceSushi Jewelry Necklace
Wave EarringsKoi Fish Earrings

So, with some luck I can take new photos soon once the rain stops and we can finish painting our boat deck. At that point we can move out stuff onto the boat, empty out this bedroom, and get those photos done.

I included our origami folded paper jewelry, but I only had photographs of some of the origami peace crane earrings, one origami peace crane necklace, and a few origami peace crane hair sticks. I like how those photos look, so I may do the remaining images in the same style and even keep using those images to save some time.

Everlasting Peace Crane EarringsEverlasting Origami Hairstick
Peace Crane Origami NecklaceEverlasting Peace Crane Origami Necklace

I did not really have any of the Japanese paper jewelry images ready to post just now, since we never sold those except at the Morikami Spring Festival and the Aikido Seminar, so I never had a need to photograph those before. I wish I had the photos already, since I really like these designs. The jewelry turned out really beautifully, especially the Japanese paper bracelets. This is an image of one of the first ones I made and sold on Etsy.

Japanese Paper Bracelet

In the end, what I am really excited about is the martial arts jewelry. It is so rewarding to make and so fun to wear the martial arts jewelry. It is not something one might see every day, and it does not appeal to everyone, but the people who study martial arts and want to wear jewelry that reflects their passion seem to really appreciate the martial arts jewelry.

Aikido Jewelry NecklaceMartial Arts Necklace
Flip for Aikido NecklaceBrown Belt Necklaces

If I can't paint, may as well do something

by sarah hair Email

I spent the better part of my day setting up a new photography gallery on Smugmug to replace my expiring shutterfly gallery. The shutterfly gallery has been alright, even though we have never actually finished the paperwork to get paid for the sales we have made there. Not to worry, it is about enough to pay for about 50% of the gallery hosting fee making the total cost of the experiment pretty reasonable.

The main reasons for switching to smug mug are aesthetic. I just do not like the look of the shutterfly galleries. I also like that smugmug lets me customize so much (though not enough) of the gallery look. They also have a licensing sales feature which I am really excited about. I think we will be able to do more with the smugmug galleries than we did with shutterfly.

So far, the set-up has been alright. I am pretty good with html, css, and figuring out templates, and I would put the experience up to about a 10 hour learning curve. I think I can find the requisite places to edit my prices, look, style, colors, theme, images, etc. now in just a few clicks.

The price is also $50.00 cheaper per year, so there is something I gain right away over renewing with shutterfly.

The new test gallery is at . If we decide to keep it after the free trial, it will be part of the regular site, integrated in the gallery links that are there already.

Rained Out... Again

by sarah hair Email

John and I have been trying to get the deck of the boat painted for the past several weeks since our going away party. This single task has proven insurmountable during these past few weeks. It is prohibiting us from moving onto the boat, which in turn has prohibited us from organizing our stuff, finding my razor, selling more jewelry, cooking anything that does not come from a toaster or coffee maker found in our hotel room, or getting a decent night's sleep.

Once the 5 days of sanding the old paint had been completed, the SOuth FLorida Summer rain began to fall.

We managed to get one half coat of awl grip primer on the starboard side of the deck before giving up on the primer altogether. It was so difficult to paint between raindrops for those several days that we figured we would have a better chance having the paint stick to the gelcoat than sticking to the rain damaged and improperly dried primer which we had to mostly sand off. Goodbye another 2 days.

We found some Petit Easypoxy paint in an off-white, which was not our first choice of color, but was better than having the deck too hot to walk on, which we learned quickly would be a problem with the sandstone color we wanted originally.

We have managed to get about 3 coats of paint on some of the deck, while other areas have none, 1 coat, 2 coats, or some mix of those. This has been really difficult to figure out where to paint and how to plan it so we can get off the boat to let it dry. The reason for the weird system is that when we get a little paint on the walking areas, we had to add the rubber grit. We got a little area done, then had to stop for the rain to pass. After the area had dried, some two days later, a break in the rain demanded we re-paint the same area to seal in the grit so we could walk on it to get to the next area once it has dried. The whole thing is very complicated, and has given us both many headaches, but the paint looks very good despite the constant rain, our walking on it before it was dry completely, several spills, and other disasters.

We are hoping to get one good coat of paint without rain for the final coat, but it might not be able to happen on one day.

For today, we gave up on painting and decided to repair a portlight which had been leaking. We managed to get it removed, cleaned, sealed, and re-attached before the rain began again, which was a big win for the day.

Hopefully we will have some better weather coming up so we can complete this project. After this, I never want to paint again. Who am I kidding? I already never want to paint again.

Bon Voyage Party

by sarah hair Email

We are preparing for our Bon Voyage party!

We moved the boat up the river, and what a ride! The boys - Tokyo and Sendai, our beautiful rats - rode on my lap. They were pretty worried about this excursion, since they typically like to stay home and smell their own selves, us, and not much else unless it is made of chocolate. They stayed in my pocket most of the time, but did venture out into the cockpit for a little excitement every now and again before heading lickety-split back into the pocket.

The girls wrote a song together - a very amazing and beautiful song about teaching new things to a baby. John was at the helm, and I just kicked back and relaxed.

We are staying at Cooley's Landing tonight, having our going away party festivities tomorrow, and leaving on Sunday.

John is rigging up the dinghy we built for sailing! I am so excited to get to try it out after so many years (yes, years) of building and anticipation, it is finally here and real!

We will go for a walk to Publix later to get something for dinner and some ingredients for some cookies and such to make for the party.

moving and other overnight activities

by sarah hair Email

We have been going crazy on the boat. We are almost ready to move back on board, but have just some minor details to work out first.

We rented a room in the house at the dock. It is now the staging area for all of our gear and the perfect air-conditioned hangout for Madalia to watch cable TV while we are putting the final 418 coats of varnish and paint on the entire inside of the boat. It is very tricky, what with being inside of the boat while varnishing exactly where I am standing, but we have worked out a system. Of course, it is to be expected, since we have had so much practice now.

Last night we made the final ninja donation run to the goodwill center to drop off our remaining lubberly goods. Following our all day moving sale which did net us a surprising amount of money, (about $1000.00!!!) we were incredibly exhausted as we unloaded the boxes to the donation ramp at around 10:00 pm.

The night before The Sale, we had already landed all of our items on the lawn, so John slept on a twin size trundle bed in the front yard and bravely guarded the items from would-be vandals. The girls and I slept on the boat alone, well, not slept exactly. Without John, I more half-awake laid there terrified that we were being boarded, the bikes were being stolen, it was going to rain through the open hatches, etc. all night in a sleep deprived state of panic.

This morning we are off to meet the landlord and determine how much of our nearly $3000.00 deposit he intends to keep. I suspect he simply may not have the money available, as it is a lot of money, but we did leave the house a lot cleaner than we found it.

Happy Birthday at the Morikami Japanese Spring Festival

by sarah hair Email

Well, today is Malia's birthday (8 years old!!!) and with the long-standing family tradition of missing our birthdays and doing some really difficult, long, tedious, or otherwise unfun obligation, we spent the day in the rain at the Morikami festival.

To be fair, the festival is a Spring Festival, and Malia had the brilliant idea entering the world on the first day of Spring, so in a sense, she had it coming.

We got up at about 7:00 this morning and drove to the festival grounds to set up our shop tent. It was pouring down the entire trip and we ended up not being able to unpack until the last bloody second before people poured in from the gate, since we were waiting for a break in the rain. The rain was so heavy and the wind was so harsh that we had to literally throw our bodies over our goods in an effort to stop them from flying across the grounds into mud puddles.

We had some success, with several pieces remaining on the table with my body over them while Madison and Malia ran across the grass picking up necklaces and earrings.

We suffered no actual water damage (it is even part of our spiel that they are waterproof) to any products, but did lose quite a few business cards, which were unfortunately being used as price tags.

Astoundingly, we did sell some things to some very happy customers, including four people who chased us down when we tried to pack up.

We made it out of the park grounds by 5:00 and got to the Indian restaurant as they opened for a special birthday dinner for Malia. We stopped at Publix on the way home for some cake and non-dairy ice cream and planned a little after-dinner yummies.

The girls made little paper hats and we had a mini-celebration complete with the rats. The boys (Tokyo and Sendai) loved the cake and ice cream! They ran around on our laps under the table from person to person, taking crumbs from our hands like whores on crack.

In the end, Malia had a happy birthday, complete with cake, candles, singing, ice cream and all.

4th kyu aikido test is finally finished!!!

by sarah hair Email

I passed! No comments at all really, so that is good.

John and Den in front with me and Leo in the back

I went in to the dojo an hour early and watched the class before the testing. A LOT of people showed up for class and stayed for the testing. Most of the ladies from our dojo were there (thanks ladies!!) and Janet even sent an email reminder to the girls to remind them to come and support me! What an awesome group of women we have!!

I took photos of the class, especially since I hardly ever get to watch Penny teach or train and Peter Sensei was training with a group of other high-ranking black belts during class, so there was a lot to absorb! It was seriously amazing. They did a very serious and intense class. I was the only test participant who did not join in the class, but my back is still injured and they wanted me to do well on the testing so it was excused, sort-of.

I have a beautiful picture of Peter Sensei with Emanuel Sensei from another dojo. It was a very promising day for photo ops.

My friend Carlos took photos of my test, and though I gave him my camera, I forgot to tell him where the spare memory card was! He took one photo of me and one of John with me in the background during the test before the card was filled up... luckily, he is so amazing and prepared that he also had his OWN camera and just busted it out and shot the rest of the test.

Several people ran up for ukemi, with me being the last person to be paired up. John was paired with Den and I was paired with Leo, who would test after me for his 3rd kyu.

The test was very smooth except for Nikkyo, which I completely screwed up. I was up there, Sensei called out the technique, I stood in migi hanmi, I did one omote. Uke got up, I stood in hidari hanmi, I did another smooth nikkyo omote. I stood in migi hanmi again, uke stood up, I entered for ura, pushed up the elbow, for ikkyo, totally forgot what I was doing and just ikkyo'd uke to the floor. I completely forgot the nikkyo! It was something of a "urote" too with me stepping in and doing the tenkan for ura in the beginning and then when he was down just walking through as if it were omote. Uke stood up, I giggled a little and whispered, "urote" and Sensei called out the next technique!

I studied and studied and studied nikkyo more than the others. I really wanted to show it off, then completely botched it and lost my chance!!

Everyone was so polite afterward and no one acknowledged seeing me screw it up. No one mentioned noticing me forget what I was doing during irimi nage either, but I think it was more subtle. I mostly just forgot and uke put my hand in the right place and went for the fall before I remembered. It probably looked OK to everyone else. My uke and I had fun with it though and even laughed several times during the testing.

Me doing ikkyo during my 4th kyu test.

this too shall pass, and hopefully I will as well

by sarah hair Email

My 4th kyu test is tomorrow morning, so my blog should be FAR more interesting after that is over. The same techniques, the same goal, the same people, the same schedule, the same everything will be over and I can move on to just regular class after that. Whew!

Today was a little different at least. Janet taught in the morning class. We opened with a sankyo that was a little different than we usually do. I can not even remember the attack any more, but the sankyo itself was only applied until getting behind the person then bringing them down for a back fall. Yay! No pin on that made it somehow "refreshing" for a change.

Other than that, we did a test run-through, several times with partners. John and I partnered with another man in class, and unfortunately, I do not think he had a very good experience since the two of us were super-nit picky about how we were doing everything. It made the pace r e a l l y s l o w and was a little tedious, I am sure.

My ukemi is still sucking a lot since my back stops me from being able to bend very well and I need to just fall right away. THings like irimi nage ura or nikkyo where I have to go down and up are out of the question at this point.

So, after class, Sensei had us do a test run with him for some one-on-one attention to details. We did the technique he called out and he "approved" it and let us sit down or he recommended changes and had us do it over again until he was satisfied, more or less. This went really well for me with only a couple things needing changes and almost every technique getting an approval for sitting down and waiting for John to do his turn.

Things I need to work on are...
sankyo !!!GRABBING THE GODDAMN FINGERS!!! on the omote Why is this so hard?
ushiro katatori Kotegaeshi - getting myself low enough to get through the uke's arms without fussing.
katatori nikkyo and sankyo - extending my back arm and not just my front arm on the opening.

There are other things too, I am sure I do everything at least 27 ways wrong, but these are the things sensei mentioned during our run. He did happen to mention that he would be very upset if we did not correct these particular things for the test. He promised death, dismemberment, and extreme pain to us and every one in our families if these things were not remedied before the test tomorrow morning.

I think I will do fine, but that stupid finger grabbing on sankyo is still just totally owning me. I do remember to do it, but I seem to wait until after it is too late to add that hand on. It does not help that the ura version really can't have the hand added, since the hand is on the elbow instead. Ug.

At any rate, one way or another it will be over with tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Wow, I hurt

by sarah hair Email

So, I went to class this morning. I did every technique on my test several times during several run-through drills with some other students. There was also another student there who was preparing for his 3rd kyu test, so I did not work with him at all and another group helped him run through his techniques.

I absolutely hurt so badly the whole time. Sometimes my back just gets in a knot that it does not want to get out of and I can feel it grinding every minute of the day. Today was that day.

At one point today I was training with another student when I just got so confused I could not remember what I was doing at all. I could not even have answered basics like where I was. I was in so much pain that I felt like I was leaving my body. THis is really odd for me.

For the most part, when I do aikido, I have trained myself to not think about the pain to such an extreme degree that I don't notice pain until class is over and I can not bow off the mat. I reach this deep meditative state where I am so totally engrossed in the movements that the pain vanishes until I am literally bowing off the mat, which I have a difficult time doing.

After class, I did not feel much worse than any other day, but somehow I lapsed out of my concentration during class and felt every little thing for most of the hour. I wonder if it is just that the test techniques are practiced so much that I am not concentrating enough on them.

aikido classes overload

by sarah hair Email

Well, in case I ever thought it was impossible, I have evidence today that there can be an aikido overload.

I took the children's class at 5:00pm. We did irimi nage techniques with the older kids. There were only about 6 kids in the class, so it went pretty quickly.

At 6:00 I took a class taught by Peter Sensei and we focused on 5th kyu techniques. Another student was studying for his 5th kyu test, and I am happy to report that I was able to do everything, poorly, but without forgetting what I was doing. I had the pleasure of working with one of our black belts who happens to be very smooth and precise and easy to follow.

At 7:00 said black belt taught another class, which I also took, and we went through 4th kyu techniques. We did not do everything, since there were a couple of beginners (one it was his first week) and we took it easy.

We did do nikkyo, and for the first time ever, the little light bulb went on inside my head about how to do the ura. It was so clear and so obvious, I feel like a complete idiot for not noticing before, but I suppose this is why we study for tests. It turns out, once uke is bent over from the application of ikkyo, even on the ura version, nage has all the time needed to just change the grip to apply nikkyo. THEN bring it to the shoulder, do the sliding thing with the other hand, bow, etc. then on to the pin. Before tonight, I had seen 27 ways to do it, and none of them were ever clicking like tonight. I think sometimes I just have too many choices and I just need to have one and do it and get it over with.

Anyway, my brain is on overload, so it was nice to have the 5th kyu practice for an hour and just go on autopilot for the workout. I did give my back a bag of frozen edamame while John and I curled up for the latest episode of Lost.

4th kyu techniques

by sarah hair Email

Peter Sensei taught today's morning class. We opened with several irimi nage techniques out of tsuki. Irimi nage from tsuki seems to be something I have a pretty good handle on. At least I usually remember to get out of the way and I can usually figure out a way to break uke's balance and eventually throw. The angle is getting better so that is god as well.

We went also into shihonage from a yokomen attack, which proved difficult today. The omote is not too confusing, but I find that I dislike the ura, which requires me to go straight into an oncoming attack (well, at an angle anyway). I do prefer to do things where I can back away (tenshin) rather than block. Also, if uke does not like the ura either, it is even more difficult and makes even more of a mental stumbling block. I did switch ukes at one point and found it easier with a person who invited the block. go figure.

sankyo from an ushiro katatori attack was very relaxing. I found an uke who also had a bad back, so we took it easy. This is one of those techniques that is not too bad on my back with the ukemi or the movement and it is easily done slowly. I must REMEMBER TO GRAB THE FINGERS!! I can't figure out why I am so adverse to grabbing fingers during this particular technique. Sensei must have mentioned it about a thousand times today alone, and it is not like I don't know this. Still, I find it next to impossible to finish this technique without looking down and realizing that I am holding with two hands, both on the heel and the wrist and nothing on the fingers.

I had a chat with sensei after class and he indicated that he thinks I am OK to go ahead with the testing on March 14. Not too much time to prepare, and I need to work on the suariwaza techniques without being in suariwaza. He said we will begin tomorrow, so bright and early I will trek up to class and prepare to learn three new techniques before next Saturday.

Malia's Violin Recital

by sarah hair Email

Malia's Violin Recital
Malia plays her violin in a recital at school

This was a couple weeks ago, but I am just now getting to editing the images. Life has been busy and hectic with me focusing a lot of energy on making mad amounts of jewelry for the show this month. 3 weeks to go, but I took a break this morning to organize some files that were on my desktop.

She did such a great job! They had a whole routine with bowing and positions and music and more.

jo kata in aikido

by sarah hair Email

Today's morning class was taught by Andy of yesterday's birthday fame. He likes to do this particular jo kata.

It is a fun one. I am getting used to it and am not so afraid of the weapon when I do these katas that I can just practice and remember. We have done this kata several times in class with Andy.

I think I will do better with weapons if I do these katas with the same person for a long time until I know what to expect and I can relax a bit.

Peter Bernath Sensei with Mina

by sarah hair Email

This is Peter Bernath Sensei (my Sensei) from Florida Aikikai. I had to sit out of class today from a sore spine. Yesterday John and I rode our bikes to get Indian food at a restaurant up on Oakland Park, so, several miles, and my back was making this grinding bone on bone feel and sound the whole way there and back. I did not even want to stand up to get a plate of food and after I ate I did not get up for seconds at the buffet. Wow, that is pain.

They did some very impressive and interesting techniques today, so I was happy that I brought my camera. THis one was hmmmm... maybe a nikkyo? He did a bunch of things today.

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