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Where shall I begin? This time of year many people's thoughts turn to Florida. Especially if you are living in the Northeast, although this year winter has been relatively mild. Sarasota, Saotome Sensei's original dojo, had training camp twice a year, once in the winter and once in the summer. Ed and Marion Baker were very hospitable to people going back north and I was fortunate to be one of them. I would have liked to have been able to take more of Baker Sensei's classes, but I had to get back home to my job and my little YMCA dojo. Beautiful Aikido but Ed was not without a huge sense of humor. I had a tiny magazine of maybe five to seven pages that sometimes included a cartoon so he sent one with a pencil self portrait with his typical smile and pointing to his foot which was stepping on uke's foot while he did, I think, nikyo. The caption was "THIS is the technique" Uke's eyes were as big as saucers comparatively and his hair was sticking out straight in all directions.
One time as I visited their Christmas tree was still up and one of the children was asleep under it. At training camp people are often short on sleep so I just couldn't stay awake any longer though the other people were no doubt talking about interesting things so I crawled under the tree in the space opposite little James or Kelly, who had a teddy bear. Marion noticed me there and put another teddy bear down, in my arms. They were one of the kindest families on this earth.