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9 September 2000

It's raining now. And I feel lonesome...

Last night there was a small reception at the JCBL to celebrate the opening of the new Brazil exhibit: rare historic books, copies of some of the first books published in Brazil; books about Brazil and its discovery and exploration by people from all over the world. The Brazilian Ambassador was there and the Portugese Consulate, and a bunch of academics and scholars. And me.

I only talked with a few people. I met a very nice lady from Lisbon who is teaching at Brown this semester. Her specialty is something to do with colonialism and its impact on the treatment of indiginous people-- in India. Something like that. It put me in mind of Kipling, and I said so. She seemed to know what I meant, though I'm not sure I did. After that she asked me what I do, and when I said "computers," she told me how her laptop got broken in transit and what she's going through now to get it fixed and recover the data. After that, we ended up talking about T'ai Chi (she's looking for a class). She'll be doing some research at the JCBL, so I expect I'll run into her again.

It was rather fun. It's been a long time since I attended a reception for anything. It made me wish I had a date to go to dinner with afterwards... we could have watched a perfectly spectacular sunset on the way to the restaurant.

Today was a beautiful day. Warmer, a bit more humid-- that's why last night's sunset was so spectacular, lots of clouds moving in. Anyway, while I was practicing this morning, I noted that I'm not always shifting my balance properly to my left foot, so I decided that I'd practice just doing that. As I practiced stepping and shifting, I was reminded of the heron walking so slowly through the reeds. I practiced walking like the heron...

Walking ever so slowly, each step poised... so naturally balanced...

I began remembering Kwai Chang Cane and Master Po (you know, David Carradine and his show, Kung Fu)... and I could hear Master Po saying, "Be the heron..."

I practiced being the heron...

After a few passes up and down the porch, I turned to find a grasshopper watching me. It made me laugh and I decided to take it as a benediction: "You have done well, grasshopper."

The day has been downhill from there. I tried calling my friend Joyce, but I only got ther answering machine. (She called last night, but it was too late to return her call when I got in.) So I finished fixing the screen door and I did some wash, and then there was more I ought to do, but then the clouds were moving in making the day dull, and the lonliness was creeping up on me...

I went to visit the heron.

I remembered to take a plastic bag with me. On the way, I intended to walk along the power lines and get some botanical samples: plants and flowers I've been meaning to identify-- you know: that "purple stuff," and that vine with the Dr. Seuss flowers, and what the heck is that stuff with the berries really called? I figured I should at least try to accomplish something useful.

As I turned up Mowry Street, I saw a guy who seemed to be trying to parallel park his car the hard way: with the engine off. He had the driver's side door open and was pushing and pulling and turning the wheel. I mentioned that it seemed to be the difficult way to park, and he told me it was actually a starter problem. He was trying to line the car up to do a bump start. I offered to push. He said that would be great, if I didn't mind. "Heck, no," I said, "I've had to do this a few times myself." Luckily, there's a bit of a downhill and we got it started on the third try-- "Third gear: works like a charm!" Off he went, and I continued on my way, feeling a bit more useful.

The heron was at home. I watched him. And I was right about the way he moves. Just like t'ai chi...

When he finally walked so far into the reeds I couldn't see him any more, the sky was getting dark and threatening, so I headed back. On the way my t'ai chi instructor passed me in his truck-- heading home to shut the windows, no doubt. He lives somewhere up there, past the heron's pond. I wonder if he knows about the heron. I never remember to ask.

I stopped at the library and id'd the plants-- the stuff with the Dr. Seuss flowers is "virgin's bower" vine-- then I went home. It was just starting to rain.

The screen door is fixed, and the laundry is done, and the plants are identified, and the journal is updated. And I'm still lonesome.



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