Dear Mum,

May 9, 2010

Happy Mother’s Day to you, so far away down in Honduras.  I was going to send you flowers, but it is pointless to send you northern flowers when you are living in a beautiful tropical paradise.  A card generally gets to you well after a holiday, after it goes to Miami and then gets on the boat to the island.  If it gets there at all.  Do you remember all the times I came to visit you and then had to wear your clothes for the first three days since my luggage never showed up? 

This afternoon I went to see Stars on Ice, and it was a wonderful show as always.  If you were here I’m sure we would have gone together and clapped and cheered until our hands were sore, and our throats raw.  Did I mention my hands are sore?  Virtue and Moir skated their “hockey player and diva” routine, and then did their Olympic routine which is moving in person.  What a treat to see it live, since so few saw it at the Olympics, we all were glued to our tv’s crossing our fingers, toes, eyes, so close to the edge of our seats.  Joannie Rochette skated a moving routine that she dedicates to her mother, and also skated to a nice slow version of “Summertime”.  Cynthia Phaneuf has to be one of the most beautiful women skating these days, with a huge smile, and a gorgeous back.  She wears a lot of backless costumes.  Jaime Sale and David Peltier, brought the house down with a routine to a Michael Jackson song packed to the brim with over the top moves, and smack on, intense choreography.  David is always mesmerizing to watch as he maneuvers Jaime around the ice.  They got an immediate standing ovation from everyone, people practically leapt to their feet!  Kurt, as always, was so much fun to watch.  His first routine was done to a medley of old time movie songs, among them”Dancing in the Rain”.  His second routine was on hockey skates, on which he jumped spun, and used the rounded front and back edges to their utmost advantage. 

I ran into my skating coach and got to meet her new baby boy.  I suggested she get Kurt to bless the baby, as I am expecting the new baby boy to win the worlds in 16 years or less.  My coach got out her phone and TEXTED KURT.  I repeat, TEXTED KURT, as him she has his phone number, and well, they are friends.  It took a lot not to grab her phone and text “Pls. run away with me now”.  Maybe next year.

As I waited for the show to start I remembered going to the Gardens in Toronto to see Kurt years ago, when he was still skating in the shadow of Brian Orser, the new guy on the scene.  After he started making a name for himself, the show took on a crazy rock concert feel, we never really could hear the music, the crowd was so deafening in that place.  Do you remember getting Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini’s autograph?  Or seeing Torvill and Dean?  Or when we saw Brian Orser just after the 1988 Olympics, in that smaller arena, I can’t remember where.  You always bought me a program, which I’m too cheap to do myself these days, however I did splurge on second row seats.  Close enough to see the expressions, see the ice flinging from the blades, and detail on the costumes.  Such sparkly, sparkly costumes.  No dirty overalls or Blue Avatar costumes here! 

Now that I”ve got the new laptop up and running, I promise to figure out how to download photos tomorrow, I’ve got some really good ones waiting to show you.  Week 1 of Funemplyment has wizzed by, I feel like I slept most of it away, but like you said, I probably needed it.  I”m hoping next week it doesn’t snow (like this week!!) and I get out and do my “work in the garden” goal.  The basement painting is coming along nicely, bathroom should be all done soon, and in useable condition!  The goals I’ve really failed on so far are to bike 5 times a week, and to even out my bike tan, I’m blaming all the snow for my failure there.  I’ve excelled at “cat patting” and “making a lap for a cat to nap on” but two furry rotters would disagree, and insist on more commitment on my part.  I’ll keep trying.

All the best today,

Love Anne

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The Western Regional Adult competition was a ton of fun, even if we were at the rink from 7:30 am until midnight from set-up, practice sessions, competing, the after party and tear down.  First things first, here is the best photo of my dress, as requested by Mum:

I tried to put on enough make-up to stand out on the ice, I failed miserably, but I still felt like I had soo much make-up on.  I didn’t skate nearly as well as I wanted to, missed almost two spins, didn’t do the first one very well, and didn’t land an axle.  I was upset about that, as I had finally been landing them clean!  Needless to say, many, many things to work on for next year!  I plan on keeping the same program music, but move up a level.  When I stood out there waiting for the music to start, I was actually tearing up a little bit, and feeling very nostalgic, which is lovely, but probably didn’t help my concentration! 

In the open creative category the idea is they choose music that you have never heard before, you hear it twice, then do a program to it.  The music was Michael Buble singing the Spiderman Theme!  I went out and did my best Spiderman, running from the cops, swinging through the buildings, it was a lot of fun.  Mr. J thought it was hilarious, and I think my coach was surprised I came in last there.  However a lovely co-skater reminded me I came in third, not last! 

The day as always was very rewarding.  Do you remember Joan from last year, our plus 70 year old skater?  She knocked it out of the rink this year as Dolly, and got a silver.  She brought the house down, everyone was cheering for her.  She had feathers in her hair, jewels dripping off of every finger, and a red velvet dress on.  On the podium she and her fellow medalists posed with their dresses hiked up to expose a bit of knee!  Another woman, a first time competitor, told me how worried she was that she would be the oldest person in her category, and how embarrassed she would be.  Later on, when I gave her the silver medal she had won, she was all smiles, worries about being too old swept away.  Mr. J. got into the action (shanghaied was the word I used) and gave away many medals, since he was tall enough to reach.  I was the only one who got a kiss however!  I was very happy with the medal podium, I got all crafty on it and decorated it to make it pretty for the photos.

And here is the video, think of all I’m learning to apply for next year when you watch it!!

My Skating Dress

January 12, 2010

I finished this little number up last night, and it is ready to go.  I’m already obsessing about parts of it falling off, and keep reminding myself to pack a needle and thread just in case!  My Mum made the basic black dress, and I found some sparkly material at Fabricland in their Hallowe’en sale bin.  I was hoping for floating sleeves, and it worked well for that.  I cut a bit circle, cut it into two semi-circles, then gathered up the straight edge for a ruffled look.  This is the end that I “tacked” onto the dress.  I didn’t want it to be sewn down too tightly, as the dress itself stretches when I put it on, and that could break the thread.  I don’t know how to fix the end of the sleeves properly, as the material is delicate, and could unravel, but sewing a seam could be seen.  I got some clear sparkly nail polish and used that on the edge of the cloth to anchor everything in.  I made a flower which has sequins in the middle and sewed it on the hip, and made a flower to put around my pony tail.  I think the dress could handle some more sequins around the bottom of the skirt, or something else on the bodice.  I couldn’t think of a really good plan, so I decided this was good for now.  Next year I could add some more “zing”.  I think I’m more worried about my sewing falling apart mid-routine than falling on spins or jumps now.  Is that good?

Flying Camels and Axle Loops

December 23, 2009

This morning Mr. J was kind enough to tag along to the rink to take some figure skating videos.  Not only are these videos good for my Mum who gets to see some of the progress I’ve been making, but they are useful for me to see what I look like.  What I think I look like is very different from what I actually look like!  It’s so useful to be able to see myself from a distance, and make improvements based on that. 

Here I am doing an axle-loop combination.  The axle looks like it is almost clean, but I take off into the loop so quick its hard to tell (but that’s how it should be).  My hands are in tight close to my chest, but my elbows are way out; and the tighter everything is in to the body the faster you spin.  My legs are a mess, but it’s getting better.  To me I look hunched over, but that is better for the jump then arching my back and not rotating on my center of gravity.  I’m also not going “up” as high as I thought, so I need to concentrate on using my left leg to spring more, and my right leg to aim higher, and jump higher.  But all in all, good progress over last year!

We also did some videos of me performing a flying camel, which I’m learning how to do better/properly this year.  I’m still very hesitate on the “take-off” part of the spin, as I’m trying to correct bad old habits.  I’m not really doing much more than stepping over onto my right leg.  I’m trying to keep my body square to the ice, instead of going sideways, right shoulder to the ice, left shoulder up like I used to do it as a kid.  I am spinning much faster now on the right leg, which is excellent, and I did the proper 3-4 rotations, which is also good.  You can see my leg rocking up and down however, which means I’m off-balance.  Still many things to work on!

I’ve found out that there are 7 people in my category in the competition.  I was really hoping for only 3 so that we would all get medals!  I’m getting nervous…

Getting Into the Ice

December 15, 2009

Coaches say this all the time, Kurt Browning says it when he is commentating on a skater some are “into the ice” and some are not.  Those that are not do not fare well I’m afraid.  I heard this a lot as a kid (from my coach) and never quite got it.  You know, when I was nine I didn’t “get” a lot of things. 

But now, at 36, I’m beginning to understand this phrase, or at least what it means to me.  Each practice session, after a bit of skating around to loosen up, warm up, wake up as the case may be, I wander over to the end of the rink, out of the way, to do some figure eights.  Do you remember when skaters used to do figure eights in competition?  Round and round, three perfect tracings, exact specifications.  I look down at the ice, put out my hands, palms down facing the ice, take some deep breathes, bend at the knees, crease at the ankles, and sink down.  I bring my awareness in and down, and feel my blades cutting into the ice.  This is similar to yoga, bringing everything down to your feet and concentrating on your connection to the ground, feeling how your feet contact it.  Picture the circle you want to make in your head, and push off.  Push away all your problems, worries, niggling thoughts about leaving a light on, and concentrate on the circle, and what your shoulders, arms, head, and hips need to do in order to create a perfect line on the ice.  Its a shame skaters don’t do figure eights anymore, I always loved doing them.  As a kid it helped with my powers of concentration, and was always a form of meditation.  As an adult (ish) they have the same power, and always help me get into the ice so that I skate better and “be more over my blades”.  But that is another interesting phrase for another time.

A New Program

November 24, 2009

After much back and forth, hemming and hawing, searching the city for classical music cd’s, and listening to much music, I finally settled on my skating program music:

Amazingly this morning we got almost the whole program laid out, once the main elements were decided.  Three spins, a huge spiral sequence up the entire length of the ice (inside edge, outside edge going forwards on right foot) turn a few steps, back left foot.  My coach says the music moves in waves, like water.  It is slow, and fast at the same time so that your moves can use each.  There will be a lot of swoopy edges, and turns, and changes in height up and down like waves.  I’ve always loved the music from the movie The Piano, which is important because over the next few months I’m going to hear it over and over again!  Maybe one of these days we can get Mr. J out to the rink to take a video, once I master all the moves for you Mum!

Alright, music check, program almost check.  Next up is the dress!  When my Mum was here in the fall she made me a simple black skating dress with a tank top.  I’m thinking the dress needs to flow like water, and be a bit wispy.  Blue and silver sequins should do nicely around the bodice and on the skirt, and some short sleeves made out of a floaty material.  Then something sparkly to put in my hair!  Maybe a bit wispy and floaty as well.  Boy oh boy, this is going to be a lot of fun!

A link for those who haven’t already seen this, and to spread some of that Canadian culture around.  This video has not only my favorite Rick Mercer, but my absolutely super favorite Kurt Browning who is his charming self!  Listen closely to Rick’s Newfoundland accent, can’t beat it for being easy on your ear!!  I think he asked Tuffy for a date after this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-h5JYvgOVo

Enjoy!  I think it has become my new make a cloudy day sunny video!

FO: Undulating Rib Socks

October 20, 2009

I guess all the time in airports has paid off recently as I finished my undulating rib socks.  As I wandered around Denver airport (four times, two trips) I kept a sharp eye out for the Yarn Harlot, hoping to see her knitting away in a corner, enjoying some coffee, but no such luck.  As Canadians fly a lot on Air Canada/Unit, and Denver is a big hub we tend to end up there quite often, but it is a good airport so I don’t mind.  The terminals are long enough that you can get some good exercise by walking around, good bookstores, some pretty healthy food, a selection of coffee places. 

Interlocking Cable Socks

I even found some time to go to the mall and buy some shiny new shoes!  I think the dark red goes well with brown, grey, and perhaps black slacks in addition to dresses and skirts.  The pattern is Undulating Rib Socks by Ann Budd from the Favorite Sock book, and is a nice easy pattern.  The BFL from Wooly Wonka gives a nice crisp edge to the raised rib, yet retains a softness.  The colour is Desert Rocks, and is achieved using a blend of red, pink, browns, and perhaps some other colours to give a true depiction of the beautiful rocks in Southern Utah.  This is a true knitters yarn, other knitters that have seen me working on the sock have picked it up and held it up close to look at the colours.  They are amazed at how it all blends, and that there is absolutely no pooling, the dye job is downright perfect! 

 

Close up of Interlocking Cable Sock

As this is my first full week back in town after 5 weeks of traveling, I feel like I’m getting to do all my favorite things for the first time.  Knitting with friends again at last, getting caught up, and this morning back to skating!  The skating feels like it is starting off slow, which isn’t so atypical after not skating all summer.  Plus getting to the rink at 6:30 am, and a cold one at that makes for stiff knees, cold ears, and lots of warm up time needed.  Towards the end I was getting colder and needed a break so I took some photos of my spinning position, I was curious to see what I really looked like.  The answer: my sit spin is more like a slightly leaning over spin which must be worked on, but the camel spin is looking okay except for some weird arm position.  And in other exciting news only to me, my back spin is much better this year, actual circles are being turned on the ice!  Woohoo! 

Anne doing camel spin

So that is us on Tuesday mornings, two skaters, one coach who is now 5 months pregnant, and almost unable to put her skates on.  I have a mental note to make up a February baby jacket in the boy colour so that I’ll have a back up for the girl colour!  She’s due to have her baby during the Olympics which is exciting!

My new favorite thing…

August 14, 2009

is my newly assembled, finally out of the garage and in use composter:

August 10 005

I love it so much, and am so happy that it s finally assembled.  Have I mentioned I love assembling things like this from instructions?  If you ever want someone to assemble all your Ikea furniture, give me a call, its tons of fun.  It took me a long time to get it set up as I always thought I wanted it in the back corner of the yard, and that I needed the fence done first so the neighbours wouldn’t hate me.  I then realized that putting a lovely stepping stone against the fence for the cats wasn’t a good idea, plus the odds of me using in the winter go up immensely if it is just at the end of the deck.  Therefore I put it right beside where the garden will go (hopefully next spring!).  Right now we are hard at work getting the next important piece of composting tools ready:  the 4 L ice cream bucket to collect the compost before we take it outside in -40 oC to put it into the bin.  Although its a tough job, we’re working hard to finish all that ice cream off!

I have realized that figure skating season is almost upon me, its going to start sometime in September.  This year I have decided I’m going to compete in the freeskate competition, which means I need to land an axle and double soucow consistently!  It also means I need a sparkle dress, good thing my Mum has agreed to make me one.  I’m thinking it will be black, tank top, with maybe flowy cap sleeves and silver sequins.  I’m also thinking I’d like to skate to some tango music, any suggestions?  The tango from “Shall We Dance” is pretty high on the list at the moment. 

Have a good weekend everyone!

I got Spirit, oh yes I do, I got Spirit, how about you?

annes-spirit-award

At the Ice Skating Gala last Saturday I was given the Spirit Award!  The program says its for “the skater who gets involved by volunteering, skating in the Gala, and showing team spirit”.  I was pretty darn shocked, that is for sure!  In honour of the Oscars last night, I now present my acceptance speech:

“I would like to thank my parents for driving me to the rink three or four times a week when I was growing up, and buying me skates and lessons.  I would also like to thank Mr. J for giving me an emergency ride to the arena when my car wouldn’t start on Saturday, you saved the day!”

Unfortunately there weren’t many audience members for the Gala, which was a bit disappointing at first.  Then I realized that there weren’t many people there, and it was really just like we were skating for fun and each other, not an audience.  I participated (badly) in the opening number, and the Skills Demonstration, doing some simple jumps and spins.  The big part of the day was when it was time to demonstrate the axle, which I was pretty sure I couldn’t do without a lot of practice first, and would most likely mess it up, so I had decided not to do it.  However when Pamela pointed at me and said “axle” I threw caution to the wind, and went out and threw it.  It was one of the best of the year!  It was clean, landed well, and even almost on my toe, not the flat of my foot.  What a great way to celebrate what is almost the end of the skating year. 

Also, I leave you with an excerpt from the program, another example of me thinking I”m hilarious, and most other people not really getting it, but me sitting there giggling away. 

Years of Skating:32

Skating Highlights: Learning axle at age 10, learning axle at age 35

What Motivates me to Skate Today: The joy of skating, and the tiny skirts I get to wear!