Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Another Year Rolls Around

Another year has rolled around again. Won't you help me celebrate?

My youngest was home for the summer from school and I enjoyed every minute of it. She moved back into an apartment with a year-round lease. The plan is that she'll work out there next summer, or get an internship. That means she'll never really be "home" again.

Sure, she'll be home for weekends, Christmas break and what not. When she graduates, she may move home for a while until she finds work and gets going, but it will be a temporary situation and we know there will be an expiration date.

Turn another page.

One of the things she wanted to do over the summer was start working out again and get back into shape. She had drifted away from that last year at school.

With the amount of hours she was working, she had a hard time getting off of top dead center. However, it came to be that she had a week off and her plan was to get started then. Coincidentally, a co-worker of the Mrs gave her a guest pass to a Women's Fitness Bootcamp, which she passed along.

My youngest really impressed me by getting up every morning to work out HARD starting at 5:30 in the morning until nearly the time she was going to move. She got herself back into really good shape.

Good stuff.

My oldest has been working at her new job for about a year, so that's going well. She's pulling her own weight (ie off of Dad's payroll), living on her own and working on her masters' degree.

As she doesn't really have a lot of responsibilities now, she's taking advantage and doing some traveling; visiting friends who have moved around the country.

The Mrs took a new job this summer. She basically runs the office for a small accounting firm. They told her when she went for the interview that the busy time of year is during tax season and that she'll have time on her hands the rest of the year, so feel free to bring a book or to surf the internet.

She bought herself an iPad2 and has learned how to use it. Where she used to have a big desk blotter sized month at a glance calendar filled with microscopic notes, she now has everything on the iPad calendar and in her notes. She's having a blast with it.

Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that it’s been a dream of mine to someday have a modest place on a lake. I’m not into water related sports (although I’d like to take up fishing), but I find the water relaxing and enjoy the sounds and wild life. My idea is to reenact a typical Corona beer commercial.

We didn’t quite make it on the waters’ edge, but did pick up a nice modular home at a very good price one block off of Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes, near a small town in the Michigan’s Thumb area. It’s an easy two hour drive from home that puts it within the limits of a place we could reasonably get away to after work on a Friday. I can live without seeing the lake from my deck (for now). With a modular home we could always move it if we find some likely property somewhere else.

This is a lifestyle change and it’s not without some friction. Furnishing the place is progressing over time. We have to either rent a truck to take up major pieces or buy at the nearest large town and schedule a delivery when we’re there. I’ve had to keep up on the work I do around my home during the week to leave the weekends open.

There’s very little I have to do there. Basically the place needs to be vacuumed and dusted. The landscaping is mostly maintenance free.Of course, having said that the Mrs wants me to paint the interior.

I have to work a little more frantically on the one hand to relax more completely on the other. The same amount of work needs to be done; I just have to move the piles around differently. It’s the yin-yang of things.

Actually, I’ve been here before. When the kids were little, before they started their own activities, we used to have a motor home that we took camping nearly every weekend during the season. We sold the motor home when we built our house because we knew we wouldn’t use it as much. There was a lot to do with a new house and the kids were old enough to become active doing things (Girl Scouts, soccer, volleyball, dance, etc). Indeed the most recent period was when my youngest played travel volleyball and we traveled with her nearly every weekend during the season for several years.

Ultimately, it’s all good. The Mrs and I get away up there. The kids have gone up there with friends. We have friends come and stay with us for a weekend at a time. We spend a lot of time by the water. When the weather makes the lake less inviting, we explore the nearby small towns.

You have to be somewhere and you have to be doing something. This is a lot better than a sharp stick in the eye.

One of my daughters asked me what I wanted for my birthday. After my usual response that I'd like an Amazon gift certificate wrapped around a Snickers Ice Cream bar, I said that what I really wanted was that the four of us (plus the dog) would spend a weekend together at the cottage.

She arranged it. We'll all be there together in a couple of weeks. The weather this time of year may not encourage us to spend much time at the beach, but as a family maybe we'll get through a stack of DVDs that we've all been meaning to watch, or play a few board games. Whatever we do, it will be awesome.

I’d like to bring up a good book that I recently read: The Unknown Craftsman by Soetsu Yanagi. The book is about art, particularly everyday objects meant for daily use which were mass produced before the age of machinery. Mr. Yanagi presents some insights into art, Zen and Daoism in the most practical everyday sense as he describes objects whose great beauty derives from anonymous craftsmen simply doing their work without “trying” to make the objects beautiful or to avoid ugliness.

Last year I reported that I had lost about 20 lbs. Now it's 30. I actually lost a bit more but it was too much.

Shortly after my birthday post last year, I started another new job.

It was kind of funny. I was talking to someone I've known since high school who is the chief engineer and COO of his company. I mentioned that I was a bit frustrated that I had doubled the sales for the products that I was responsible for, but wasn't really making anymore money for it.

He said "why don't you work for me?"

Now I do.

I'm more or less a Field Application Engineer. I'm basically the intermediary between our customers and engineering. I support sales.

I enjoy what I'm doing, I like the company and the people I work with. It is my hope to be able to stay here until I someday retire.

Before enlightenment: chop wood and carry water.
After enlightenment: drink beer and eat pizza.

I may not be enlightened, but I like to drink beer and eat pizza.

My practice has been strong and my mind is clear. It's been a good year.


walt said...

"It's been a good year."

And you penned a great portrait of it. You are a rich man.

Yanagi's book is like fine wine; I've read it twice, and excerpted many passages. I know a lady who was a student of Bernard Leach, who adapted the book.

Michele said...

Happy Birthday!

Rick Matz said...

I have a good life.

Rick Matz said...

Thank you.

Bernard Kwan said...

Congratulations Rick, it is defintely been an honor to make your acquaintance through our mutual love of marital arts and may the next year be as wonderful as this one!

Rick Matz said...

Thank you, Bernard.

Bernard's blog, Be Not Defeated by the Rain, is one that everyone should visit. Please do. Enjoy.

M.E.H. said...

Happy belated B-day. I thought your b-day was today. I missed it. Opps. ... Enjoy your year and beyond.

Rick Matz said...

Thank you.