Saturday, August 14, 2010

92 - Trilogy

It was extraordinary! We had just returned from putting most of camp back into our group's storage unit. Each of us then turned our attentions to our personal tents as we began to take them down and started packing the vehicles.

With claw hammer in hand, I started pulling up the stakes that held down my tent. Suddenly I noticed something small and green struggling in the grass. It was the mantis once again, this time making a final visit upon me.

I put my hand down to the little creature and it climbed right into my palm. It sat there tilting its head left, then right as it folding its forelegs back into praying position. It was another bittersweet moment as I said farewell to my frequent visitor. This time I couldn't put him on my tent, as it would be coming down shortly. I decided to place him on the trunk of a nearby tree so he would be out of harm's way, what with all the people and cars moving about.

At that moment, everyone stopped what they were doing in order to take pictures and say goodbye to our unofficial camp mascot. Then it was back to work, clearing up and packing the last of our equipment. Eventually it was time for us to leave the campground, to leave our annual "home away from home", and head back to the modern world that awaited us.

As I drove off the grass and onto the road, I looked at the tree as I past it. The mantis was still sitting where I left him. When everyone had lined their cars up behind mine, we headed towards the exit of the campground one final time. Pennsic was over for another year.

Friday, August 13, 2010

91 - Vacation

Today is the last full day of my vacation, for tomorrow I pack and return home. Despite the rocky start I had at the beginning, it's turned out to be a rather enjoyable time.

I do have to admit that my KFB exercises really weren't up to standards, but I did the best that I could with the environment that surrounded me, which includes all the things that I forgot and left home. And I think I did okay on my diet, although the scale at home will provide the ultimate answer to that.

It's time to enjoy Pennsic one last time.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

90 - Sangha

Today was suppose to be the last day our little Sangha would be able to meet, as our impromptu Zen Buddhist mentor was going back home early tomorrow morning. Unfortunately the thunderstorm and torrential downpour last night raised a little havoc in my camp and I needed to stay and help everyone dry out from leaking tents. I don't know if the others gathered in Runestone Park or not as everything around Pennsic was wet. However, I will say that I'm going to miss our morning group.

Today is also technically the last day of KFB. Yes, it is the Day 90 benchmark. I'll still be blogging here for a bit as there are still two more days of vacation for me and I think I would prefer to be home to wrap this all up.

This is also a bittersweet moment, because this chapter will soon be ending for this online Sangha. I'm going to miss all those blog entries from my Tiger Team; that little bit of personal connection with everyone. It's been great hanging with you guys!

Well, I should be getting to get back to camp. There are still wet things that need to be dried. Thankfully the rain has not done anything with the temperature at all. It's still just as hot and humid. That will at least help with the drying part.

Later dudes!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

89 - Routine

Every morning this week has been a blessing. The first I do when I wake up is lay on my cot for a bit before actually getting getting up. Allowing my body to rise with the sun and waiting for it to gear up for the day is so much energizing than trying to force it to get moving in the dark after it's been startled awake by the alarm of a clock. I eventually exit my tent somewhere around 7:00am.

There are a number of people in my group who like to dress up in medieval armor and do battle, which always occurs around 10 in the morning. I like make sure they are all well-caffinated and fed before they leave, so I start making breakfast and coffee for them. The food and drink usually hot and ready by the time the rest of my camp-mates crawl out of their tents, usually about 8:00am.

About the time they are sitting down and eating, I grab my rug and start walking to Runestone Park to meet up with the others of the impromptu Sangha the sprung up as a result of the meditation class on Sunday. It is sort of led by the Zen Buddhist practioner we met at the class. Actually, it's more like he guides the rest of us.

We start the session with some stretches before getting into sitting position. Once we are all settled and ready, he rings a bell and we all meditate for about 15 to 20 minutes, at which point he rings the bell again to signal the end. Then he initiates a discussion period. Sometimes it's just about what we're feeling. Sometimes it's about what we did the day prior or what we're going to do that current day. Sometimes it's a little more indepth about Zen Buddhism, or different meditation styles, or what they do at his temple.

I am thoroughly enjoying these gatherings! Between the meditation that Patrick has had us doing with our KFB routines and the moments here at Pennsic, I have been feeling totally relaxed and chill and so very present in the moment. Nothing has stressed me out during this War.

After the morning's meditation, I then head back with a quick stop at the produce stand to buy some more fruits and veggies. Then it's another slow walk back to camp where I'll make breakfast for myself, totally energized and ready for the day.

Every moment has truly been a beautiful thing!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

88 - Moments

I know it may sound weird, but part of me is thankful for the heat and humidity. Weather like this really curbs any desire to eat, especially things that are sweet and heavy on the stomach, like ice cream or chocolate. Grapes and apples have been my munchies of choice. Mmmmm!

Of course, it curbs any desire to exercise too. I'm trying the fudge the KFB routines as best as possible, but some things are just hard to do when I don't have the necessary items at hand—especially the lack of ping-pong balls—so, I've been doing a lot of "shadow" work.

I have been standing out in the sun with little more than shorts on, doing my KFB exercises and sweating up a storm, and feeling totally alive and absolutely fantastic. Meanwhile, my campmates have been sitting under the carport, out of the sun, sweating up a storm, and complaining all the while.

You know, I think I'd rather be me. I'm enjoying the moment, not rueing it.

Monday, August 9, 2010

87 - Sequel

Although it was another hot and humid day, there was a nice breeze that was blowing through. In an attempt to take full advantage of the wind, I decided to raise the end wall of the carport so it could blow through te common area. As I raised the wall, a small green object started to fall of it. I quickly stuck out my hand and caught it as it fell. I looked down at my palm and had to smile. The praying mantis was back!

I'm pretty sure it was the same mantis. The corner of my tent and the corner of the carport were right next to each other, so it really wasn't a great distance for the little insect to travel. On the other hand, it was really amazing that he was still around. I had never seen a praying mantis in the wild before this vacation. Now I was visited by the same one twice!

As before, I let him climb onto my tent so he would be someplace safe. And as before, I spent much time during the day just sitting and watching it. It was a beautiful day.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

86 - Class

Today was Opening Ceremonies for the 39th Pennsic War. Simply put, all the Kings from the different SCA Kingdoms (of which there are 19) come together to support either the King of the East Kingdom or the King of the Mid-Realm as they declare War on each other. The War Horn is then sounded and the Pennsic War officially begins. There is usually a big parade and lots of pagentry as people from all over the world (over 10,000 people in fact) gather to this little spot in Pennsylvania. It's quite impressive.

Today I missed the Opening Ceremonies so I could attend a class on Zen Buddhism. Unfortunately, it really had not much to do with Zen or Buddhism as much as it had to do with meditation. Basically, the instructor of the class was tired of meditating on her own, so she created a "class" so people would come and have it become a big group meditation.

At the end of the 20 minute meditation, the instructor went around the room and had people talk about what they experienced and their own meditation practices. Amazingly enough, one of the people in the class was a Zen Buddhist. He wasn't a Buddhist monk, but close enough for me. After the class, a small group of us went up to him and started asking questions. Instead of answering everything then and there, he arranged for us to meet in Runestone Park the next morning at 8:30am. I can't wait!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

85 - Arrival

I don't have much time today to write. The rest of the people in my camp will be arriving throughout the day today, so I will be needed back there. I know where each tent is going, and it'll require all hands to help unload cars and set everything up with this merciless heat and humidity. Then it will be time for me to start dinner to feed the hungry and tired masses. I know it sounds weird, but I'm having a total blast!

Later dudes!

Friday, August 6, 2010

81 - Slow

Mornings have so far been the best time to do any sort of exercise. It is during this time that the temperature is relatively comfortable. Unfortunately, it ceases to be so the moment the sun peaks over the hill. Usually by 9am the temperature is pushing 90 degrees with what feels like 100% humidity, and that kills any desire to exercise whatsoever. When sweat comes pouring off your body from only getting out of bed, pretty much your only option is to sit in the shade and drink lots of water. Luckily I'm an early riser!

The nice thing about being on vacation is that I have no thing that I need to do and no where that I need to be. All that's left is to experience the now. I love this calmness that I've been recently groovin'. It has really helped me deal with my friend. So far he has had violent, angry explosions almost on a daily basis. The peace inside of me has been able to counteract each outburst he's made. I certainly hope he calms down before everyone else arrives. (The next person is due today.)

There is a local produce stand nearby, so my mornings have consisted of me getting up, taking my time walking to the stand, picking up some vegetables, taking my time walking back, and making breakfast. This has become my morning walking meditation—just concentrating on my breathing, feeling my feet touch the ground and the stones, experiencing the wind and sun, and just basically chillin'. I'm loving the slow life.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

83 - Exercise

Yesterday was the first time I attempted to do my KFB exercises since arriving at Pennsic. I had recovered from my bout of vertigo and had a bit of energy to burn, so it was time to try and get back into the swing of things.

I grabbed my trusty j-rope and walked out to the car park area—the same location as last year where I attempted to jump rope during my first week of PCP. I remember that point in my life so well—desperately attempting to do just 250 jumps with a cotton rope that I swore was trying to kill me, while trying to combat a sore heel and a knee that was giving out. What fun times.

So I began to jump. And fail.

This puzzled me. I usually have no problem doing 10-minutes on the j-rope. This was curious.

Another attempt. Another fail.

Weird. Granted, it wasn't the ideal conditions I have at home (aka: a nice wooden floor), but it's odd I'm having problems outdoors.

A third attempt. Triple fail.

That's when it started clicking in and I'm pretty sure why I had so many problems last year. The grass was too long and the friction causing the rope to slow down. The ground was uneven which a couple times caused me knees to twinge in pain. I was putting far too much effort to swing the rope around and trying to jump high enough to clear it and have it clear the grass.

After about five minutes of constant tripping, I decided to call it quits on the j-rope. Instead, I went for a run. Running on the road that meander throughout the campground, up and down "Car Park Hill"—it felt fantastic! After about twenty minutes of that, I returned to camp to finish the rest of the KFB routine.

Or so I thought. The strength exercises went great. The flexibility routine was phenomenal. The targeted punching and kicking section had a bit to be desired. That was the moment when I realized that I did not have both ping-pong balls with me. I could have sworn I packed two, but I could only find one. So one it was, and I finished the set.

One of the interesting things is that a slope is a great way to challenge one's balance. Have you ever tried doing a flying crane on a slant? It ain't easy! Neither is jump-kicking on a hill. It really helps improve your stance.

So it looks like there will be more KFB improvisation in my future.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

82 - Mantis

The rain last night soaked the canvas floor of the common area, so my friend and I had to move it out into the sun so it could dry. As he was pulling the floor out from under the carport, I spotted something small and green tumbling around the canvas. I immediately told him to stop what he was doing.

I went over to inspect the little green object and discovered it to be a praying mantis that was currently struggling to right itself from it's upside-down position. I put my hand out, gently scooped up the insect, and helped it get upright. Then it just sat there in my palm. I just stood there, fascinated. It would tilt it's head one way, then the other. It would wiggle its forelegs and then retract them into "praying position". But it made no move to leave my hand.

I eventually had to return to the task of pulling out the canvas floor, so I carefully deposited the creature onto the side of my tent. I held my hand against the fabric and the mantis walked onto it. For the rest of the day, the mantis hung out on my tent, rarely moving.

Periodically I would stop whatever I was doing and just sit there and watch the mantis. I had no thing that I needed to do and no where that I had to be—just sitting and watching. It was a beautiful thing to behold.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

81 - Chill

My equilibrium is getting better, but I'm still moving slowly and cautiously.

Today, my friend and I moved the carport down the hill to the more level ground near my tent. The slope of the hill and the angles of the carport bothered my eyes, which in turn were bothering my head and my balance. I do not need to trigger the vertigo again!

I did discover that my friend has a violently explosive temper. I've known him for years and this is the first time I've seen him go off like that!

In order to move the carport, we had to take off the legs, carry the roof down the hill, and set it back up again. Well, two of the legs refused to come loose and my friend blew a gasket! He grabbed one of the legs to the carport and shook the whole thing violently while swearing up a storm. "Dude," I said. "Put down the carport and walk away."

That is one thing I can say about KFB: all the meditation and mindfulness has given me quite the chill attitude. I had nowhere I needed to be, I had nothing to do that was urgent—pretty much just going with the flow. After getting him to calm down, we managed to finally move the carport down the hill, even with those two legs still in their slots. Camp is slowly taking shape.

Monday, August 2, 2010

80 - Vertigo

I'm feeling a little better, but I'm far from being up to snuff. A brief rundown:

My friend and I worked late into the night on Saturday, with much of it being done in the glow of a single lamp. Unfortunately, I didn't take into consideration all of the conditions that were in existence. It was hot and humid. I was inside a tent that had plastic walls, trying to arrange the kitchen items. I was having to move the single lamp around constantly. And I was working on a slope. Add all of those ingredients together, and voila! It triggered my vertigo.

A spent the entire day yesterday pretty much tossing up any contents in my stomach and trying to sleep on my cot. There was a brief moment where my friend and I were able to move my tent down to a flatter bit of land, and that was about the only functionality I was able to do whatsoever before returning to my prior state of dozing and throw-up. Well, that and ingesting lots of Gatorade. I needed to somehow replenish my supply of electrolytes that I was expelling as well as have something in my stomach to expel.

This is day one of my recovery, which means I'm pretty weak, tired, and can't move around too much without setting off my vertigo for another round. There will be no setting up camp today, nor will there be any KFB. This sucks.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

79 - Anniversary

One year ago today, I was camping at Pennsic.

One year ago today, I began the PCP program.

One year ago today, I started this crazy trip to wellness with Patrick.

Happy Anniversary!

In other news: I'm sick. Bleah! More on that later.