Wednesday, May 30, 2007

closing down the stage(s) / Comhaltas Feis 2007

M and L doing their Job of Journeywork (Traditional Set) in unison.

Memorial Day weekend, the traditional summer kickoff.  The weather turned hot and muggy last Thursday as if on cue, as if saying both open those swimming pools, and start your feising.  I'd given Daisy an extra long walk in the comparatively cooler early a.m. air, printed off our ZandB Moonpie certificates, and we headed north to the Comhaltas C...... E........ Feis, beautiful Gaelic words commonly summarized as the CCE Feis.  I smiled to see various groups of motorcycles headed south, Rolling Thunder came into town as they do annually.  M sometimes slept in the back, sometimes asked me something to do with the Irish music cd she'd requested I play for her.  Beautiful drive albeit, yawn, early, start to the day. 

Behind the scenes of any feis is a lot of preparation, meetings, paperwork, computer work, and physical work.  Please check on this link to view ZandB's photos of the stage set up inside the arena at Mount St. Mary's. - The Stages are Ready and Waiting at CCE! (6091626) - Read article: Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Hip Hop, Tap, Irish, Dis...  You may have to scroll down a little bit for the photos.  He was also the official CCE Feis 2007 photographer.

Comhaltas Feis was M's very first one 4 years ago (I'll try to scan that photo, she looks so much younger!), and it's still our favorite.  A ceili/set dance friend is the Chairman, and a northern Virginia branch of CCE sponsors this one, with assistance from the different local Irish Dance schools.  I help out every year, even the one year M was with her dad hence she couldn't come.  There's knowledge, patience, and comaraderie that come with helping out.  This year, I was one of the stage managers, mostly as the judge's liaison (including getting her coffee at one point).   There is a folder for each competition, with a list of competitor numbers (but no names, and no dance school names).  Beside the competitor number are boxes, one for the score, and the other for potential comments.   This judge was real nice, professional, liked all competitorsfor a particular competition to be on stage even if in two rows, and seemed to write comments down for every dancer.  Runners come by each stage to pick these folders up, and take them to the awards room, where they are reviewed before scores are posted and any awards are given out. 

M would walk the dancers onto stage, and back off stage when the judge okayed it.   Two dancers come out at a time (for solo competitions), and then are to retreat to their same position in line that they came from.  Dancers from the same school are not to be next to each other.  M and a high school dancer would also count out the beats / time for the youngest and beginning level dancers.  One 15-year old was a beginner and very nervous.  She kept asking me basic questions about how a feis and stage run.  I had the high schooler help count when to start dancing for that class.  The girl was just beaming afterwards, second place out of two, but she'd done it!  I assured her that she wouldn't have gotten the 2nd place if she hadn't danced it.  

One young girl was so nervous, she told M that she was going to throw up.  M asked the girl if she saw her parents, and said she could leave if she wanted to.  Another first feis girl wiped away a tear, her pale face matching her blonde hair under her perfect white crown.  She'd stayed in the second row when her group moved up to the front row, and when I motioned her to move forward, also, she ended up sitting so she'd dance first.  The other stage manager told me this girl had a stomach ache from nerves.  Two others from the same school needed to be split, so after asking if nervous girl was okay, I took her hand, and had her switch spots with "same school" girl, telling nervous girl it'd let her not go first.  Then again, some prefer to, but I had to split the others, anyway, and this seemed best.  M said she had one dancer go out in the first two for that competition, start, stop, and come back to M very upset.  She thought it was one style of dance, but she recognized that the music was for another style.  She'd started dancing the wrong thing.  M told her it was alright, that she could restart and dance again.  I did remind M later that really it'd be up to the judge to decide that, but obviously as the judge did not stop this girl from dancing again, the judge was okay with howMhandled it.

Si danced her treble jig on "our" stage when I was there.  Si was so excited, she was practicing her hard shoe treble jig while waiting and watching the soft shoe slip jigs finish up (which distracted the judge, so Sh had Si sit on Sh, feet off the floor).  FiguresTeacher's oldest daughter was dancing her slip jig (very nicely).  FiguresTeacher's youngest daughter, CB came by, and I hugged her, and then she hugged me, and she sat on my lap for a bit.  I tried to sit when I could, not because I felt the need to sit, but to keep from blocking the view of those watching.  M had already left to get her dresses and supplies, and put on her wig, being sure to return in time to watch Si from higher up.  We'd seen Si dance her reel on the adjacent stage earlier, bowing hugely and adorably.  A group of girls from another dance school exclaimed, "Oh, there's the little girl in the red.  I just love her."  They stayed and watched, also.  (There were 3 in Si's treble jig, an age group higher and a dance level higher, and Si tied for 2nd.  Very admirable considering she's not yet 5 years old and this is her first year of Irish stepdancing which typically doesn't even include hardshoe.  I think she got first in her other three dances.)  To move up a level (other than moving up from beginner which is automatic after 1 year), there needs to be at least 5 dancers in a competition along, along with the placement.

M was in a combination of Novice and Prizewinner dances, plus Treble Reel, and Traditional Set, for a total of 7 solo competitions.  No figures (team) dances this time.  Mom didn't need to come before noon and she'd still catch everything M would dance.  M was excited to wear her solo dress this time.  Hmmm.  I was content with her wearing her ID school dress, maybe switching for her Prizewinner.  There wouldn't be dress change time, and, well, talking with L's mother and others, I relented. 

Mom took M to buy the gold bloomers that'd match.  My first look was when M danced and did a kick I think in her first dance, the light jig; wow they are gold.  She seemed to warm up as the day went on, soft shoe dances done first, hardshoe later on.  M is really holding her own now in Prizewinner reel, looking beautiful.  I remember her first time in Prizewinner.  This time, she got fourth place (also got afourth in the light jig).  M complained that she didn't do her butterflies correctly for her slip jig.  She usually places 2nd, but this time placed 3rd.  Her friend, L, got first!, yeah L.  (This means L can move up to Prizewinner in her slip jig, something M is also hopeful to do soon.  A few more feiseanna and more work, M will, too.)  One girl was dancing very well, and likely places 1st in her other softshoes, but seemed, as M said, too stiff for a slip jig.

This shot is from my mother's cell phone.  A bit dark and grainy, but, she's never tried a cell phone photo before, and then to get it as a computer photo, yeah, it worked!

I kept plying M with whatever mostly healthy food she'd eat lol, and "happening" to have a sports drink with me at all times, handing it to her occasionally or her reaching for it.  I even told Sh that M gets too pumped to just sit and eat, and to stay offering her food throughout a feis to keep her energy up or she won't remember to eat.  Heck, I had to go back to the car to get the bag of food, as M didn't bring that bag in.

C, Sh, and Si left after a few of M's dances.  As C said to me the next day, that many hours was enough for him as it was.  It IS a long day.  Maybe sometime he can drive separately from Sh and Si, though, so he can watch all of M's dances, too.  I'm glad they could watch some of them.  I told him later that he really should have seen her Treble Reel.  I'm getting ahead of myself....

M's hardshoe dances were hornpipe, treble jig, treble reel, and traditional set.  She did great.  In M's hornpipe, she got every single click, and one of her dance school friends got most of her clicks, and no one else who danced it did.  Okay, so there are only so many things I personally know to look for, lol.  Danceschoolfriend didn't feel so good about how she danced.  M felt fairly good, and should have, as she placed 2nd which is the highest she's placed for her Novice hornpipe.  M also placed 2nd (again) in her treble jig.  (She needs a first in both of these to move up to Prizewinner, but 2nd is still really great.)

At some point, I told M she had to at least let me know what shirt she wanted, as her last two dances are at thee very end of the feis. Nicecolors and designs this time, and as always, the nameson the back of all thecompetitors from her school.  Mom liked it, too, but they are "teen" cut, not "regular t-shirt" cut.  M told me she'd made a couple new friends, too, not that she remembers now even what school the girls were from.  This is still a very support each other type of feis, and type of ID school M is in.  That she feels good making friends with whomever, is good.   We actually sat for a bit with a family who used to dance for M's ID school, and in the performing troupe with M, but switched in the closing of the more local studio.  This girl also got fourth in her Prizewinner Reel, really happy about that, and her wee sister a bit scared about her first feis.  We'd peek at various stages, so often I wasn't even positive where M WAS, as she tried to watch this friend, or sit with that one, trying to catch all of her friends dancing, so many overlapped with hers.  I did see OHBoy dance twice, once he was practically facing me directly.  A feis is sensory overload for him so he doesn't come often.  I can entirely understand, especially when a crowd roared in clapping for champions on one stage, while he finished up one of his dances on another.

The last two dances looked like a potential stage conflict from when I first got the stage schedule.  Yep, traditional set was right before treble reel, but that stage was going slowly.  Treble reel stage was going more quickly (on the stage we'd helped at all morning).  Treble Reel is also done en masse, each solo then all together.  (insert link here)   I talked with the stage manager at traditional set stage, and they would have the others dance that competition, and hold it open until the three with conflicts could come over.  A bit of confusion for L, racing from another competition, but it all worked out.

M was standing next to a friend, who talked about which particular treble reel to do.  LCGirl had tried to coerce Friend to do a moonwalk or a lean over and blow kisses  in her treble reel, but nope.  LCGirl may have done one of those in HER treble reel, she has before at a feis, but we didn't get to see it.  M debated, Acapello (sp), or Chitty Bang?  M was the last one in the horseshoe lineup, last to dance her individual treble reel, and chose the harder Chitty Bang.  And nailed it.  Then danced the "unison" treblereel backwards while she rejoined the horseshoe line and everyone finished up together.  I figured M would do this dance for the fun of it.  WOW, she won first place treble reel out of 26 dancers.  She is quite excited about that one:)  The stage was done, last dance of the day, going out with a bang (oops, a Chitty Bang ha).

Three girls then raced over to the other stage for their traditional set, the second to last dance on this stage.  These are, as the name implies, very traditional dances, and have to be done in a particular manner.  Both L and M had signed up to dance Job of Journeywork, not surprisingly as TCRG Ma has been focusing on that one.  Actually, M didn't even KNOW a traditional set until this year.  (I still laugh to remember overhearing Ma saying to her students, "I have dances with hats, and dances with drums, I should have something traditional.")  lol   Both girls have likely danced Job of Journeywork in their performance troupe; I know M has.   For traditional sets, dancers still come out two at a time, but only if dancing the same dance.  The third girl waited to dance whatever Traditional Set she'd chosen.  Oh, my, M sand L looked fantastic together, as if completely in unison.  They are also well matched size-wise and build.  L said later, "Good thing we're doing a two-hand, then [at another local feis later this summer]."  I'd have hated to be the judge and have to find some small difference in the two of them.  In the photo above, this half-milisecond in time, M's feet might be in better position, but, did that last?  Eh.  I didn't notice any difference, and apparently neither did the judge.  Then again, the judge wrote in M's comments "heels closer," and didn't write any comments for L.  They tied for second place (within 1 point from each other).  It was awesome looking, their faces lit up.  The photo also shows L's beautiful new (used) solo dress, bought that day after a while trying, with a purple lavendar underdress and bloomers

After, finally, in the awards room with friends by 5:45 p.m.  M was getting tired, confused about her trophies and medals.  Nicely, an awards helper helped us sort it out.  Her daughter had danced in the morning, placing twice for her first feis and having a good, long, day, too.  (Those dresses get HOT, so girlsoften unzip them and relax when not dancing, hence why M's is hanging off of her, and we see her tanktop instead.)

 It was starting to rain when we headed outside around 6:05.  I pulled around my vehicle for Mom and M.  Driving away, I saw MegaMAID, who danced in the a.m. and helped with stages in the afternoon, her oldest beautiful dancer also dancing.  Closing down.  

We ate at Cozy Inn Restaurant, in Thurmont, while it poured outside into the goldfish pond and down the windows.  One lady finally asked M why M was wearing a tiara (with sweat pant capris).  M smiled.  I think she doesn't truly mind being asked.




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Monday, May 21, 2007

testing (photo of M and V, Diversity Assembly in March)

Now I'll see if I can add another -- it's dark and hard to see but from the same event.  Well, it worked but WAY too dark.  Sorry about that one.  M is the one who knows how to lighten these things!

V is friends with a Junior who is an officer in a club at another high school (in its first year of existence!).  This club created the idea, planned, and implemented, a Diversity Seminar.  They had panelists who were asked prepared questions, videos they made by asking questions of other students, and showing a skit.  There were also a few dance groups (two were of different styles of Hispanic-influenced dancing, one more of a Hispanic-hip hop that was really neat to watch).   I am very impressed with these future leaders in this club, and the Principal for his obvious involvement in his school, and support of the students positive ideas.  Afterwards, he spent time congratulating the students in the club, and went over what went well, and what could have been done differently (and ways to do that).  I was very impressed, and would be happy to have M attend such a high school with such spirit and commitment.   (It's not where M will go, or even could go, and not where V goes, albeit when I was in high school and lived within a mile of there, it was farmland, not townhouses and town centers and certainly not a high school or even an elementary school).

The sound system wasn't fully cooperating -- so for the first assembly, M and V nixed their planned dance, and put on their hard shoes for an accapello (I can't spell it), winging it, having fun.  I sat in the audience, "Oh, she's so cute!!!!" someone said about M, for all the others were high school students.  For the second assembly (other half of the school), the sound system appeared to be worked out.  One groups didn't, so V and M were going to go on.  But, the music wasn't working after all.  V's friend asked if the "Irish group" could just do it without music again.  Sure, they have both performed in dance troupes enough to know that flexibility is important, but it required a quick shoe-change back to hard shoe.  M and V got onstage, started a hardshoe routine they were creating, and the lovely, melodic soft shoe music started playing.  LOL, the dancers stayed dancing hardshoe, V did a quick slice of her hand across her neck, and the lovely, melodic soft shoe music stayed playing.  It was soon cut off:)  Later, one of M's friends said that her older brother saw them dancing, and that V and M were the best.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Moon Walking (it's back!)

Perhaps moon walking never truly disappeared, but, it's back!  One Mother Addicted to Irish Dancing (MAID), the "other M's" mom,  has reported seeing at least two moon walking steps in a row by at least two different competitors, at feiseanna during their competitions! 

One of the more, shall we say "Less Conforming" youth dancers in M's Irish step dance school has known moon walking and does a variety of expanded moves along with her Nationals-qualifying more traditional ones.  Her former very traditional Irish dance TCRG was not so content with this expansion of LessConformingGirls non-traditional additions, especially in feiseanna.  Hey, her mother's a college theatre arts professor, her father, hmm, not sure but he also writes and enjoys visual arts.  LCGirl is a delight, and no doubt a mite of a challenge to raise even with creative expression encouraged in her home.

LCGirl has shown the moon walking dance steps to several, including to M, and taught them to Orange-Haired Boy.  LONG orangish-red hair, btw.  It's a style that's both stylish and suits him.  OHBoy has been in M's performing troupe and will be again next year, also.  I've mentioned him previously (not sure with what nickname)..

Last Fridays gig was another international night for another one of the thousands of Maryland elementary schools.   Most children and some adults wore native costumes.  The entertainment program included two other excellent dance troupes, one Korean, the other "representing the spirit of Senegal and the Ivory Coast."  WOW and REALLY WOW!   It was to be a short timeslot for M's dance troupe / ID school.  Two beginning dancers at M's ID school attend this elementary school, performing proudly with Si.  One of the girls later looked so excited, shy but exihlirated to join the costume parade later, and announce "Ireland" as she unconsciously swung her borrowed Irish dance school dress.  The other girl's mother relayed how her daughter was so excited that Ma would let the girl perform for her school, in another borrowed dress, that she's now planning to stay in dance.

M's group was given extra time, and the audience cheered for more.  Treble reels are known by all advanced level Irish step dancers.  They stand in a horseshoe shape, "step out" one at a time and dance a hard shoe treble reel, then rejoin the horseshoe in their spot while the next dancer "steps out" and performs.  At the end, everyone dances their hard shoe treble reel together in unison.  Impressive; I love it.   Each dancer stepped out, including M in her turn, smiling big and dancing well.  OHBoy steps out, part of the way through his solo treble reel, and moon walks.  There's a combination of surprised laughing, and more so, cheering.  He continues dancing his treble reel, and slips moon walking in again.  OHBoy was wearing black "slacks" and the legs moved similar to how  MegaMAID remembers Michael Jackson moving.  No white glove:) 

I just knew TCRG Ma would not mind, not for a fun show like this.  Just wasn't sure if anyone had told her.  

Feiseanna season is starting up; there is added focus on fine tuning and perfecting steps in this advanced level competition class.   Ma wraps it up with practice on the treble reel, dancers forming their horseshoe, music starting.  The dancers are clapping, yelling out for each other "woo-hoo you go [name]," one at a time.  M was tired (and did NOT wear her new, better sounding hard shoes.).  I was pleased to see how well she danced in her other dances, such as the (soft shoe regular) reel.  She was not as strong comparatively this particular time in her treble reel.  But, she was practicing and having fun and seeing the steps others did, she's received 3rd place in treble reel once, and, primarily, she's having FUN.  Parents, including LCGirl's dad and OHBoy's dad, along with a few MAIDS and I had moved into the classroom itself, along the walls.  We were waiting expectantly to see what OHBoy would do and Ma's reaction.   LCGirl was right before OHBoy, but she didn't ruin it for him; she did not include moon walking in her treble reel.  OHBoy was particularly peppy last night, and he nailed that treble reel WITH the moon walking steps, twice, obviously choreographed and planned.   Ma LOVED it.  She was then encouraged to join in and dance, also, and then everyone in unison hard shoed a treble reel Ma told them to dance. 

It was like a party, everyone including parents smiling, clapping, supportive of one another (including the moon walking yeah OHBoy), during and after their dancing (but before their brownies for one girl just turned 12 years old yeah and they all sang).  THIS atmosphere is part of why M is in this particular dance school. 

p.s. -- V is having DancerJ join her at V's prom tonight!  I hope I see a photo from it!  I'm so happy for them, especially V, but I know he'll have a great time, also.   Not sure he'll get any more sleep than he did for his schools prom last weekend, coming in for a private lesson on about 4 hours sleep, still dancing, wow, great.  Just had to send a "shout out" to them tonight!  Wishing you both a FANTASTIC TIME!!!  

(M texted/IM'd with "her" J last night enroute home from dance, ah yes, child, if you didn't leave your notes around saying "I love J..... {last name]" I'd still know that you like him.  Then again, you were doing a lot of flirty give and take (mild punching stuff) with your otherJ when we ran into them at the store...  I'm glad it's limited to texting and immature flirting right now.  That is cute, left at that.  She's not going to any proms yet!)

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Lots of changes, transitions. 

Tuesday night was "Transition to High School" preview night at M's school.  She has another year to go, but next year is when we do all the final preparations for it.  I'm not really ready for it:)  lol  I will be.  Doesn't matter, though, as she will be, and that's her life.  The plan is for a public high school, which in my county / area, means huge comparatively.  Maybe the magnet program, maybe the local high school.  We've known that.  It's all the details, and the decision.  And the application procedures and trying out for teams.  Weighing the pros and cons, both have riding clubs, regular high school activities, one has the better drama department and decent honors programs, the other could fit her academic needs that much better, but would there be too much homework for her ADD mind, or would medicine help, or?  Most if not all from M's current school were stumped when presented with a combination lock rather uncermoniously, without any explanation of how to use one.  Here, it's just not an issue.  We'll deal, and, yes, M will cry and be sad, but will also be excited to move on and up.   Graduation for this years 8th graders is coming up, and M is part of that ceremony.  Transition.

Last night, was the Senior Banquet at church.  It's an annual event.  Last year I was able to be much more involved with the "spoofing" video filming and other events.  Eh, I'm still glad that we went.  Some of this particular class of 2007, I've known since they were new 6th graders, a bit nervous their first time in "youth group."  Retreats years ago even, one that M joined in (so I could join), yes, for the then middle school weekend retreat and her possibly 7 or 8 years old max (M was in one of the photos even).  Some, I've had great honor to have known most of them.   (In theory, I'll add the link to this past fall's senior high retreat posts HERE from this journal.)  Amy, Kimmy, Caitlin!!, Sarah, others, and the boys, too, including Ryan, Alex, CJ, Evan, Drew, Nick, etc.  Great leaders here, great youth all of them. 

I also spent time talking with, or more talking to and hugging, sophmore B, "left behind" soon by all of her closest friends.  She kept her tear-smeared face covered by her hair and hands, apologizing but I told her that's okay, her thanking me.  That there are many ways to stay in touch now, e-mails and IM's and such.  That she's pretty special to not be a senior but still make it (as a reference that was so apt) in the Senior Film.  That I know that she's feeling ready to bust out and join them, but it's just not her time.  That this is another page, or another chapter in the book.  This is not the end of the book.

I have benefit of experience (read age) behind me; she has not.  I've had some great conversations with this particular girl, and wish like with some others, that I had time for more, too.  Maybe this summer sometimes when M's not with me, I'll call and see if SophmoreB just wants to hang someplace, the mall or whatever.  Her dad is doing a great job with SophmoreB and her younger brother, from all I can tell, but her mom lives several states away.  Well, at least I intend to do this:)  I give as I'm able to, with my family coming first, my family requiring more this past year.  And, I, too, am excited but sad to see these great young adults moving onward, so I didn't speak but held back tears of my own during their sendoff.

And, then this AOL journals change.  I'm maybe going to like some of it when I figure out what they are, if they apply or can be for me.  I do NOT NOT NOT, however, like how my photos move all about now.  It zooms in on some parts of thephoto and ignore other parts that I may prefer to view.  It has sometimes had me feel slightly seasick (pharmolo has some nice from the ship shots, but I couldn't stay viewing them).  I don't care a ton what else is done, I don't think.  I didn't really mind that my SN was instead signed as Sundancer when I left comments in others journals.  But, messing with my photos?  Oy.  That change, I do not wish to just learn to accept.  New page in the book or not.  Please, Joe or other AOL powers that be, please let me just fix that.  I'll even live with it being a slideshow now if need be (preferably keeping MY order).  I like how there's now box border now.  Just no "Ken Burns" effect.

I'd like to have some say about the pages in MY book.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Happy 50th B-Day, JB:)/ Ides of May

Ides of May, much nicer out than Ides of March is:)  It was calling for 87F or so today, and maybe reached it.  Sitting under the partly-shady tree, with a breeze and Daisy, it was simply gorgeous:)  At the fire drill, having me feel a mite awkward at first as I had to wear one of those orange vests while helping direct and account, one person asked, jokingly, "Can we do this again?"   It was another skirt (without hose)-wearing remembering the guys who've made me feel pretty along the way love this perfect weather kind of day.

Not even sure how I remembered that THIS year, JB would be turning 50 years old.  I had it on my calendar, though.  I always remember Ides of May.  Like SO's b-day is on my grandmother's, and  SB's b-day is on M's.  Hmmm, two S's, maybe third one would be the charm.......  Anyway.

Some 20 years ago, I was the one in the office whose turn it was to host the birthday bash.  I got JB a lot of black "over the hill" napkins and supplies.  Everyone else was older, so chuckled and thought it amusing.  I could see me, now, being one of the ones amused and chuckling, and trying to read the small print jokes on those napkins.

I used to love him, a not really believing child raised by missionaries as the only blonde-haired, blue-eyed kid in their South American town.  We'd talk in Spanish sometimes.  He is very smart.  We worked some on a Caribbean project, among other things, and I dreamed of having us living on some island and teaching our babies Spanish.  LOL.  Brian dreamed of me then, sent me Valentine's in the Diamondback (University of Maryland newspaper), switched classes to be with me, but then, I wanted JB.   I was slow irt Brian, wished I'd caught him sooner, but.   JB and I stayed friends, mostly stayed secret from others at work, too, ha, even with the memories.   Seems eons ago.

I've dated older, and younger, but JB feels like he's my age.  So it's as if he's the first one my age to hit the big 5-0, boyfriend or not.  I did a search, e-mailed him at his "new" by 4 years job, having not talked for about 5 or so years.  I likely last saw him taking his two children to a Take Your Kid to Work Day, a Christian himself at this point.  M was still happy to go this year, now I help out with them, my favorite work day of the year.   Igot a return e-mail almost immediately.  Sigh, assuming an automatic response.  Nope, he sent his cell # and hoped I could call.  We caught up today.  Exchanging photos and banter, kid talk and how each of us is talk, did I marry, no turned the one guy down as it'd have had me miserable, why, eh, enough reasons, and he was glad I'd figured that out in advance (me, too).  He looks happy in the photos, says he's happy in his new state.  And not 50.  Somehow.  Or, well, about my age and I'm not 50 yet, I'm 45.5, so hey, that's not that old, right?  lol

I'm in such a better mental / emotional state chatting with him, then I was when meeting up with Brian this past fall.  I needed to see Brian, but still, that'll be his image of me for a while.  Then again, he always did love and accept me for me.  Just wish he'd also see me again now, stronger, too.  JB and I could even meet up again, some year, as long-term friends, who once knew each other so well.  Or, "old" friends, just not feeling old yet!  This time, I didn't even think to joke about him being over the hill.  It beats the alternative, and, I'll be there soon enouhg. 


I can answer these questions!

I got this from Win  Crime Scene Investigation who got these from Dawn.

What were you doing at midnight last night?   Sleeping.  Most likely dreaming.  I've gone from dreaming about being in cities new to me, to last nights new dream of apparently having had a nice encounter with a great guy I know IRL, but dag I never dream about the "encounters" themselves (nor had more than harmless flirting with this guy, IRL, either).

Do you go to churdh?  Usually.  More often than most non-church goers but not as often as I personally believe is best for us/me.  (Okay, okay, you caught me.  We missed Sunday, and I'll go Sunday but we won't the following Sunday, but we are going tomorrow night!)

What did you eat for breakfast this morning?  Along with an allergy pill and an advil, apples with peanut butter and Nutella.  And the rest of M's ice water with fresh lime, and my chai tea latte, how I like it again (I have the right soyshake again).  M had asked me last night for apples and peanut butter for breakfast.  She'd remembered that I told her that eating apples apparently helps wake up people "better than coffee."  I forget where I heard that.  I forgot I had some creamy Jif which she'd have prefered over the all-natural ground peanuts I had.  She didn't even notice when I asked her, twice, if she still wanted peanuts and apple butter for breakfast.   Just how my mind said it.  It seemed to me at the time to be the same thing as apples and peanut butter.  God help me if I become demented.

Who is your Mature (Older man/Woman) Crush:  E.  No doubt or hesitation about that one.  For years now even, dagnabbit.  I read today that a man should take note that a woman may be interested in him, if she looks from his eyes down to his mouth.  Hmmm, I DO always notice a guys teeth.  I've even lusted over the beer foam on E's upper lip once upon a hanging out at a bar after some dancing event time.   He'll say he's too old for someone like me, he'll talk with me sometimes like an older daughter, sometimes not:) but we're good friends.   (Okay, I'll stop drooling now, lol.)

Are you for World peace:  As Win says, who the &**$ would say "No."!  I love peace.  Paz.

Have you ever been involved with the police?  "The" police?  Been ticketed, yes, dated/flirted with one (not very involved, though), good friends with another.   Reported someone, tried to report someone else but they wouldn't get involved in a "domestic dispute" crap on that I kicked him out with the apartment managers assistance (roommate, too, not sleeping buddies).    Eh, don't we all interact with other members of our community?  Or, define "involved" and "the" police.....

Have you ordered anything by mail in the past week?  No.  Thinking of one item, but no.

What did you want "to be" when you were a child?  Sometimes, a writer.  A mother.  Someone who'd always have time to spend some time outside.  To have more time in every day. 

How would you go about purifying your own soul?  Um, gee, well.  Talk with God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, i.e., pray about it.   I really do need to give Him more of my time.  He's given me so much.

If you had to guess two people at work who were having an affair, who would you pair up?  Ha.  Well, I've been in that situation before (heck, the one guy celebrates his b-day today, I've been thinking of a lot of great memories, a long time ago, enjoyed a great (friends) chat).  Two other couples here had been but then married each other.   I know one who'd like to have an affair with Boss, but he's not, and she's respecting that.   I won't date Whiny Guy, nor has he asked but I believe that's due to his lack of confidence.

Take the third letter of your name and name at least 5 things you have at home that begin with that letter.  B.  Beagle, bagels, Bolivian woman's bowler hat (yes, I've been there), beads, bathtub and bathrooms, do those count?  Bowls.  Bras.  Balloon, a mylar one of M's that's finally dying enough that it's sometimes touching her floor in her bedroom and no longer enticing the cats with its string.  Books.  . 

Thought this questionnaire hadthe bummy bears or gummy worms question, also.  Guess not but I'm adding it:)  Someone's does. I don't usually get either, but today?  Dad's jellied spearmint leaves were on half price if I also got something, and the lime looking gummy worms and the cherry gummy worms just looked so much more satisfying somehow.


Friday, May 11, 2007

Weasel said so (can I blame him for my distraction? No?)

There were tons of things floating about my mind this a.m. as we left our home.   We'd stayed up late, M enthused and re-inspired with a new direction she'd wished to take her paper, due today and originally finalized earlier in the week.   The other mornings this week have gone smoothly, yet, it's Friday, the final day of a fine, full week.

Monday night I stayed up to skim-read her newest school book, A Raisin in the Sun, as her study sheet mentioned abortion.  What?  My 12 year old is being assigned a play to read about abortion and I'm not forewarned?  I am tired.  The play is fine enough but I'm glad I get to discuss it with her, too.  Secretly, I'm glad that she hates reading the poor grammar out loud.  I'm less fond of her correcting mine.  I digress.  I've been trying to keep laundry up, other house work, work-work, everything while we're living life this beautiful week.  The cats "escaped" through M's window, even Tinkerbell was about to.  We missed Indie at the time.  Mr. Independence joined Daisy and I later, outside, grease on his white fur.  Classes.  Did I mention I was tired?

My cell phone had said "snooze on."  I ponder its intent half asleep.  I'm sure it means that the snooze feature is on until you decide to turn off the alarm, sleepyhead.  Instead, I think of the photo hut guy on "That 70's Show," saying "rock on, man" in his theoretically drugged out fashion. 

Lamenting my current continued lack of WestSoy Vanilla SoyShake, I make us both chai tea lattes with skim milk instead.  Walk Daisy.  Breakfast for the masses, M packs her lunch (hmmm), water bottles, clean bubble socks and bloomers for tonight, kitty litter boxes cleaned, kitty treats and pets and belly scratches, super super quick shower I don't even blowdry my bangs until lunchtime but I do brush my teeth.  Cover the new toothbrushes as Billy discovered where I had them hidden, and he loves to chew on them.   Daisy want a Pupperoni (dog treat)?  M, do you have a white sweater I can wear, do you have socks for riding?  (She just called, yep, Barn Director is having her ride.  It's gotten hot out by now, too.)  Mom, can you grab my light rain jacket?

I'm vaguely hearing Weasel talking, the local legend disc jockey Weasel.  Something about Hollywood and a new style or trend.  Older women.  Long hair.  Huh?  Even his postal carrier has great long hair, he likes long hair (not a surprise somehow).  This is sounding good to me.  Wonder if they tend to dye it, or just keep it cut nicely.  Who did he say was setting this trend?  Tomorrow is the day postal carriers hold a food drive collection, can I do that, one item or two I think, even while feeding my father and us.

I try to joke, "So, M, think I should grow out my hair, be one of these stylish long-haired older ladies?"  I chalk up M's silence to my no-makeup yet, damp bangs and the back twisted up quickly into a clip, look at that moment in time.  My long hair can look nice.

"Mom, are you driving me to your work again, or are you going to take me to school first?"

Sigh.  She was only 1 minute late, after I turned around. 

Snooze on.


Springtime at The Barn

Tuesday, my first skirt day but with heels and hose, I didn't really mind helping M groom Corey.  So pleasant out and, nicely, no need to rush.  On the way to dropping M off at school, early for once, I laughed to see a white horse just rolling about on the field, legs up high, tail swishing.  He reminded me of one of our white cats, rubbing his back and just enjoying himself.  Corey was much whiter again after M gave him a bath, including his formerly manured-filthy tail.  I'll include a photo I took after I get it on a disc, after Corey was bathed and conditioned and fly-sprayed, and before his mane, tail, and fetlocks were trimmed.   I had horse treats and peppermints.  Corey flared his nostrils to smell them.  He then stuck his entire big head through the fence slats, ha, which I pushed back out.  It beats him cribbing (chewing on the wooden fence).  
We'd made a trip to a closing tack shop the night before, with them out of whatever grooming hair grooming gizmo "probably only 65 cents" item.  We ended up getting Show Clean (not Show Sheen)  for clearance price of $9.09.   Still needing the 65 cent item, lol; I gave her a budget, though, $20. max can I do this week.  
Last week, she helped Barn Director bathe the hooves of two horses in some bleach solution.  I asked her various questions about it, her teaching me.  I love that M has grown in her practical knowledge and skill set there. 
Most of this year, M was assigned to Chance, who is challenging.  Barn Director is impressed with how well M's progressed in her riding, Barn Director is sometimes a bit hard on M to try to force her to stay at that level and keep it more natural and ingrained.   Chancey is the one M needed the grooming tool for, I think.... ah well, she was asked to take care of Corey that afternoon. 
M is riding Sage some this week as his main rider is out of town, and, well, Barn Assistant who would work Sage up and quit.  I liked her, and will miss her, and hope to find out just where she and her now pony grown from a foal, Petey, have gone to.  (I'd like to know what precipitated that, also.  It occurred at an all-day horse and picnic event a few weekends ago that Mcouldn't attend as she was with C.)   M is there for another year, maybe longer, but that's when we'll reevaluate.  Right now, The Barn is her favorite place to be (even wrote a short paper earlier this year about that).  She goes there after school.  It's been good for her, mostly,particularly in the rough times when she was reacting to the stress of the (custody and child support) court battles.
Around back, the contractor had finished replacing the broken glass panes for M's class greenhouse.   He caught me in conversation, eager to show his work and relay more details.  I think he enjoyed this job, and takes pride in his work.  I like that.  I included M when she finished exchanging her paddock boots for sneakers, so she could relay info on to teacher Mr. L.   Except she's forgetting details so I'm to send an e-mail.  It's on my mental to-do list.
There is a mosaic being created around the bottom of the greenhouse.  M was SO disappointed not to get into the photography "creative expressions" group; she's always been interested in anything visual AND photography.  Instead, she's designing, breaking pieces, placing them in grout, and painting and sealing in the colors, for the mosaic.  M did seem pleased to show off to me just what parts she's done, including many swirls in purples, and I happy to see it.  (I hope the photo of that also turned out!)
Perfect temperature outside yesterday, not hot, not with a chill.  Blue skies, white clouds, slightly windy, duplicate of the day before, really, just a touch more humid.  In the morning, M said she could smell humidity and that she had her light jacket with her, as we both  felt the beginning of moisture building up in the air.  My bangs decided to act out just between home and work, not helping the grey/white parts look chic.  I even wore a skirt, again, very pale legs without hose, feeling almost liberated in the sun and breeze.   M said she rode Sage again for her lesson, a good boy.  Chance is usually who M rides "officially," but she's worked him well enough that others can ride him now, also. 
It was a nice rain late last night, a lightining in the distance not heavy drenching rain here, not some light misting, but real rain-rain.   It felt great walking Daisy in the rain after M had felt inspired to entirely rewrite a couple paragraphs in her "literary analysis" paper.  Yawn.  The cloud cover softened this mornings light, the rain dampening down the pollens.  Trees are pushing out their new leaves.   It's warming up.
M is eager to "go up to The Barn" again this afternoon, daily this week which she doesn't often get.   I had wonderedif she wanted to come right home today, relax, take a break.  She has short gig tonight at a schools international night.  A couple girls from the dance school attend there, Si will join again, we'll meet up with K and her mom enroute, fun time. 
But, this afternoon?  Tis May, after all, magnolias almost done dropping their blossoms, lilacs still scenting the air along with a "sweet bush."  Perfect weather.  Spring and fall are perfect days for hanging out at a horse barn.  Working hard there is a form of relaxation for M.  She's even remembering to take socks with her on days she insists on wearing flip flops to school and not her sneakers.  
She's happy. 

Thursday, May 10, 2007

May has no "r" (yes, your Godmother approves of the boy)

Sunday and Monday didn't feel very much like summer is approaching.   Much cooler, I wore my jacket and layers.  The jacket that still has the two birthday cards in them that I somehow didn't give to SJ and LE while sitting at the very same table.  LE turned 18 years old, amazingly enough, a week before SJ turned 43 years old, yep, you'll always be younger than me, SJ, so guess I can say it.  Besides, you got carded Saturday night, anyway.  I hope I get them mailed before LE graduates!    SJ put on her shirt the little e-flowered official "national cherry blossom festival pin" I'd gotten.  
I figure they didn't mind the temperature, being from Maine.  SJ is how I'm going to refer to my cousin like a sister/ Dougie's sister, now, and LE is her daughter, my goddaughter. 
HAPPY 18th BIRTHDAY, LEL!!!!!   Hard to believe it! 
SJ's son/ LE's brother didn't come on this trip, but LE's boyfriend, Joey did.  Hmmm.  I trust SJ to check him out and be certain he's okay and all, but I still felt as if I, also, had to be certain!   After all, this is LE's boyfriend.   When Joey had stepped away, SJ told me that she knows he looks a bit rough around the edges, but he's really a sweetheart inside, LE piping in about it, also.   Seems she's liked him since 8th grade and would sneak photos of him at hockey games, he as a senior.   I'm happy to report that he's really considerate and respectful of all of us, particularly LE.  And, still plays hockey, so he's cool AND nice.  Even if he didn't remember what city the Star Spangled Banner was written in ;)  Yeah, I had to throw out one history question just cuz everyone was right THERE in Baltimore.
SJ always cheered, in high school, in college, and then coached high school cheering.  I remember LE as a toddler or very young girl, cheering on the side while SJ coached.  Dougie's oldest girl also cheered, now a first year student at Portland School of Art oh yeah:)  Great fit for her, I'm so happy for her.  Dougie would be so proud, always great with art and design himself.  LE graduates high school ack, already, this year as does Dougie's youngest daughter.  LE goes on to school in Miami.  Hmmm, think she's ready for someplace WARM?
LE was in a huge cheering competition in Baltimore, possibly the same "national extreme cheerleading" type competition that Dougie's oldest competed in a few yearsback in downtown DC.  Very loud, and interesting.  Some squads costumes were not too short or too garish.   Some, like LE's squad, and the Gators (presumably from Florida?), and another squad with baby blue and black with white and silver, looked nice.  I knew to expect a ton of makeup.  Most have heavy glittery eyeshadow, some face designs even, that match the costumes.  LE said some of the hair is fake, also, even if it appears to be mostly flippy ponytails with big bright cheery ribbons, not the curly-wigs (nor tiaras) used for stepdancers.  Sometimes, a girl would do a quick outfit change publically, a bit like a girl will at a feis.  Nothing is actually being shown, everything pertinent is always covered, with bloomers or camisoles / tank tops / sports bras, but I imagine someone walking down the streets of Baltimore looking in the Mariner Arenas windows would do a double-take.  Ben and Jerry's was popular with those waiting, also.  LE's squad placed third in her group, which I thought sounded good but apparently was not so good, not what she expected.  And, only first and second place squads in each particular competition receive medals, not the case in Irish step dancing competitions (feiseanna or at an Oireachtas).   LE had also gotten smacked right above the eye, and her head throbbed for hours.  SJ, however, knew how to keep it in perspective.  Primarily, have fun, and also try to do your personal best.  This is their last big travel weekend for cheerleading competition, that it worked out to enjoy the city, and see me, a lot of money was spent so enjoy it.  They've both had a lot to deal with this past year or so.  Yes, just enjoy life.
B'more, or heck, one of my college roommates was from downtown "Balmer," or heck I'm still getting it wrong, had worked as a batgirl or peanut sales or something for the O's, (Orioles).   Done up downtown Baltimore is actually a great little fun city.  It's also fairly well marked, so when SJ said it's at the Mariner near the Convention Center, I just drove there w/out checking directions.  Even if she pronounced Mariner differently than I hear it said on the local radio stations.  Funny how I have lived in Maryland most of my life, even joined SJ and infant LE and others at "the" Baltimore Aquarium along with chaperoning countless school fieldtrips there, but it's not MY city.   I don't recall ever visiting Baltimore as a child.  There was no reason to, really; everything we'd want was local enough to DC, including my paternal grandparents living in Arlington. 
What a glorious weekend for the Inner Harbor and surrounding areas.  I told SJ that if they'd come on a different Sunday (and LE older), we could have gone to one of the "hole in the wall" pubs, as there's a good Irish one with dancing once a month on Sunday afternoons (J. Patrick's, near Fort McHenry).  Joey treated them to an Orioles game Saturday night, and I passed many orange-clad pedestrians Sunday afternoon.  SJ said it was 8-0 Orioles at 5th inning Saturday, so the women wanted to leave.  We ate at ESPN Zone, which is a first for me, too. 
It was just so good to see them, mostly, even the few hours with SJ, so much better in person, we just know, can put things in the proper light w/out need for explanation.   I can even see how Joey would "fit" for LE. 
The cheery, young, inexperienced eager Waitress listed the specials, and mentioned that the menu was new by about 2 weeks.  SJ asks what beers are on tap, several really.  I asked Waitress if the Samuel Adams Seasonal had switched to their Summer Ale.  "It's called Seasonal."  I'm polite when I tell her that there are different seasons, and Samuel Adams has different brews for the different seasons, so could she please check if it's the Summer Ale that is available now?   I asked her about the crab sandwiches.   Do they use frozen crabmeat or fresh, is it from blue crabs from the Chesapeake Bay?  She says yes, fresh Chesapeake Bay crabmeat.  Hmmm, like the SA beer is named Seasonal.  It feels too chilly to be summer yet, but what's the saying, only eat blue crabs/ it's ony blue crab season if it's a month without an "r" in it.   Barely May, but the menu is 2 weeks old so perhaps crab sandwiches just re-added, I'll risk it.  SJ debates, as the crab sandwich is pricier than other options (possibly as it IS real harvested Chesapeake Bay crab meat), but figures she really should have the crab.   A bit like having to eat lobster when visiting Maine in the summer.  I tell her that I'd asked about it as one famous Maryland seafood restaurant (Phillips Seafood) has been rumoured to have stopped using Chesapeake Bay crabmeat, and that some restaurants use frozen crabmeat to last throughout the year.  Joey started saying each month silently but out loud, as if to check which months have an "r" and which don't.  I'd forgotten to pick them up a bag of Old Bay potato chips.  LE's (late) father used to love the spice, Old Bay.  (FYI - it was real crab, tasty, too.  Could have used cocktail sauce of Old Bay instead of tartar sauce if I'd thought to ask lol.   SJ has never had soft-shelled crab, though.  Yummy, if I don't have to look at the eyes.)
Even if it did cost $23. in parking for less than 5 hours.  I really don't know other options, either, unless I lived in the close-in B'more suburbs and knew the local bus / rail routes or something.  That's really way too pricey, and left me without money to put IN the card for LE's birthday.   Especially with gas at either $3.09/gallon or $2.99/ballon (a block from each other).  (FYI -- today it's $3.11/gallon cheapest ack.)  Maybe in time for her graduation.
Monday, I'd organized a retirement luncheon for a coworker.  One woman debated ordering crab, but did, enjoying it much more than she had in (off-season) December from the same restaurant.  I started a trend at the table by ordering my usual half-iced tea, half-lemonade, aka, an Arnold Palmer.  This place now uses fresh-squeezed lemons and I could tell:)  Old Boss picked up my lunch tab.  He always did take care of me like that.  I enjoy working with Boss, while missing Old Boss, I suppose more socially speaking.
Now (written many hours earlier just couldn't copy/paste into an entry then), off to p/up my Missy M from The Barn, for her last rehearsal with this years performing troupe, and a bit of a party with them.  A gig tomorrow night and that may be it for this year. 
She got a 100 on her last algebra test YEAH I'm so proud, and may have some further revisions for her "literary analysis" of To Kill a Mockingbird.  We've talked of how she's getting real guidance on how to write better.   M is a good writer, yet is being challenged, which I think can only help M and improve her writing even further. 
Yawn.  Not that I believe a mother blue crab truly goes to her prodigy, nudging them to wake up, holding a calendar, "You have to get up and out of this mud now, see, it's May 1st tomorrow.  Restaurants want to put us on their menus."  (Okay, so I know watermen go by crabbing regulations.  They still have to wait until the crabs actually stop hibernating before they're truly harvestable.)
Happy May!  Yawn.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

"nice turnout" (a little dance video)

Found this quick video on an Irish stepdancing forum.   One commenter said "nice turnout lol."  Another suggested dresses.  :)  Hey, they stepdance better than *I* do!  YouTube - Arby's Chimps  (forgive the ad, enjoy the laugh)

After the initial cute video, there are links to some other Irish Stepdancers, or see these links of others I've gathered along the way:

Great traditional competition Irish stepdancing, first soft shoe (ghillies) then hard shoe. YouTube - 25th World Irish Dance Championship Girls 13-14 years 2.23 min long  Typically steps can't be filmed "live" in competitions, so not sure if this was official or what.  It does not include any full dance from any particular performer, which likely protects the particular schools steps from  being copied (learned) as readily. 

Same World Champsionship competition, older girls:  YouTube - 25th World Irish Dance Championship Ladies 17-19 years

Or, see this one with traditional figures dancing of the "ThreeTunes."  I've learned this particular "3 Tunes" dance once upon the time with my main ceili/set dance group but we don't execute this nearly as beautifully:)  Also, stepdancers jump and kick higher, and point their toes more, than the dancers in my ceili / set dance group do.  YouTube - Irish Dance 3 Tunes

Two individual dancers videos :YouTube - Elizabeth Claro - Irish Dancing Champion from a competition, and then YouTube - Colin's Reel from a party.

This nice video is from last years Western Region Oireachtas.  The champions of each age group come perform a short bit individually, a "step out.".  Note the fancy solo dresses "costumes" for the girls.  I saw some very "original" solo dresses at the SRO (Souther Regional Oireachtas) last year.  Girls can design their own dresses, within "reason," at this level of competition, or purchase them designed from someone else, or used.  (M's is used, and she's not at THIS level, but at Prizewinner level for some dances, just needs to compete more starting withmore feisana.)  Note that the wigs tend to be "larger" for the girls at this higher level, also.  And, yes, boys and girls must keep their arms straight down, and their backs STRAIGHT even while kicking that high.    YouTube - WRO Parade of Champions 2006

I like this dance, really like hearing the hard shoes best, just wish this video wasn't quite so dark -- YouTube - Cashel Dennehy Accapella  

This 30-second video is a "collage" of dances that captures some of the excitement that can be felt with Irish stepdancing and performing:  Portraits of Ireland  The drum that starts off this clip is called a bodhran. 

Or, catch this one:  The Rhythm of Ireland Dance Company then chose your "player."   Another nicely done, 35-second "college" of Irish stepdancing / performance.  The musical instrument shown in this one is a bagpipe.

And just to finish this entry off with another fine hard shoe dance:  YouTube - Burke School of Irish Dance - Wheeling Celtic  Oh, yeah.

No doubt there are several other great Irish stepdancing videos out there!  Dance for the joy of it, the spirit.  Such as these young ladies dancing an 8-hand in beach sand with waves and seabirds nearby:  YouTube - Irish Dance At The Beach


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Wednesday, May 2, 2007


The letters were to go out starting Monday, inviting M and the other dancers to join one of the dance troupes for next year.   Some have to reaudition, but M and the others in her particular troupe do not.  The two main troupes are being reconfigured.  This invitation will tell M which one of the newly-created troupes she'll be in, meaning which week of summer camp, meaning which friends she'll stay with, which ones from the previous 2 years, she may be back with.

Is it really another dance year almost done, already?  When the studio M had taken classes out of was closing, we decided M (and I with driving), would give this year a test to see if she'd switch Irish step dance schools, or stay.   M had loved being in the performing troupe from that studio for 2 years, starting her second year of Irish stepdancing.  The changes were coming fast.  Ma asked us to decide with short notice about M accepting a position with one of the performing troupes in her main studio.  Ma said that the way M dances is just what the figures adju.... crap, the judges are looking for, and she'd like M to join one of her figures teams for Oireachtas last December.   Who is staying, who is going?  I hated to jump ship quickly into a new ID school and have that be a wrong choice.  

M went to camp last year, mostly, been in classes and rehearsals and feisiana and Oireachtas, and gigs, and more gigs, and another "big show," and a full weekend last weekend of recital stuff, and yes, even the death of Amy and her funeral last September.   M and I both knew, months ago, yes, we're committed now, this is thee best ID school for M's purposes and interests; we just LOVE Ma, and her style, and everything, and the community spirit is much more supportive and not the competitive feel I've seen in other ID school communities.   There is another ID school we'd consider (out of several options), but, like most ID schools, it focuses only on the traditional, not incorporating "world" music and choreography and etc., which is part of our appeal.  M's bonded more, and so have I, actually, with other parents.   A side factor is that Si has joined this same ID school, wanting to be like M:)   C has had to be supportive of M's dancing, now, this year, and that has helped on few levels.  I do hope that things stay improving.  So, M and I had our decision made previous to M being invited to the figures teams again this year for December 2007 Oireachtas, and before saying that yes, M is interested in staying in one of the performing troupes for next year.

Yet, next year seemed so far off.  We weren't to hear of the new placements until after the recital, which seemed far away when first announced.   Even last week, we were still so caught up with dress rehearsals and class photos and such, and the dancers working so well together as a team.  M did sub in for the other troupe some, in dances she'd done in previous years, and in general rehearsals, as she was available to fill in.  Ma has noticed this, even moving M up to the next level (regular) class, as L's mother says, "FINALLY!"  Yes.  Finally, sheesz.  But, Ma had her reasons, M did get more attention for a while, and we bid our time.  Ma speaks well of M, even grades M well when she gives her biannual eveluations.

After a rehearsal for the new "next year's" figures teams earlier this week, L and M were hugging each other, "I hope we'reon the same troupe next year!!!"   Yeah, me, too.  And with K (who had gotten into her mother's vehicle already).  Now, it's not just which week of summer camp, which we need to know inregards to Ian's wedding, but who will spend all the rehearsal and gig and choreography and planning hours together, and who will see each other only in other ways.  L and M will do some other dance things together, and socially, and I'm fairly certain we'll stay meeting up with K and her family, also.  Just , now it's anxious / hopeful time.

M told me that I could NOT open the envelope if it came yesterday, which it didn't.  I wanted to visit Dad at lunch today, couldn't (but will tonight), so will just have M open up the mailbox today.  Soon, we'll know.   Ma's pretty good about these things, so I know it'll work out.  Still! :)

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Online and Female -- is that a problem?

I'm public, online, female, joining with thousands of others.  There are a few message boards I like to go onto occasionally.  I have online friends there, sometimes IRL friends, too.  Not chatrooms, though, as they all seem to be for quick sexual pickups.  And, I have this "blog."  It's public, viewable, open, and I'm a woman.   Is that an issue?  Does that put me at more risk?

I just got IM'd earlier.  His SN was similar to someone I know.  Approximately two  short and normal lines, then "what u wearing"  Seems I did NOT know him.  I asked him if I knew him, and that what I'm wearing wasn't for discussion / didn't matter.  "idk im horny"  As if that's MY problem?  What classy guy trolls that way, anyway?  He obviously hasn't read my stuff if he thinks I'm into that crude stuff with a stranger bit.  Annoyed at the disturbance, I wrote that he needs to find someone else, then, and to have a good evening.  What he wrote was laughably infantile and unprintable, and reported to aol.  Sadly, there are just enough jerks out there IM'g that type of crap too often, even if it's rare I have to report someone.  Typically, the guy will either stop IM'g, or apologize and move on. 

I've had at least two online stalkers that I know of.   One was more the desperately lonely type; he did not mean harm even if it started getting a mite spooky.  Another woman had (has?) evil intent.  I won't get into either, not publically on here.  Nor how I discovered a sick man using online methods to try to get to pre-pubescent girls primarily via their mothers. 

The overall online population probably roughly mimics general society as a whole, great people, harmless ones, some mild jerks, and those relishing the anonymity of it all so feels free to use it for perversion or violence and anger.  

I'm IM'g with an online male friend now, chatting about our kids, and even his girlfriend, whom I "know," too.  A lot of good, decent people online, many I'm happy to have "met" over the years.   A few I've even met IRL, from parenting boards to dance events, to a gathering for Thanksgiving after-dinner drinks one night with a few regulars.  There is good to be had in online communities, also.

Being visible online obviously provides people with more public exposure, and hence, subject them to more vulnerabilities and risks.   The immediacy and the anonymity of the internet contribute to the nastiness that can escalate and the types of threats.  What I've experienced has left me self-censoring in my journal, not expressing fully what I'd like to a lot of times, and of course, not mentioning things such as where my child or I may be in advance unless it's a huge event.  It keeps me from allowing my girlfriend to put a link in her blog, to mine, as we know someone who may know her blog, and he could misuse the information he finds in mine.  I'm a multi-faceted woman, like most are, yet I can't openly express all of that.  It has stopped others I know, or had them retreat to private blogs, and even switching SN's and creating new private blogs, to escape someone.   One female blogger seems to be walking on eggshells as she writes, sometimes deleting and /or rewriting her entries, afraid of further harrassment.   Sometimes bloggers get harrassed online without the sexual aspect, sometimes nasty comments or e-mails, sometimes judgements and assumptions made and expressed without knowing "the rest of the story," or sometimes, just being cruel.  

For me?  The threat against my personal security, and that of my daughter, has stifled me, stifled my public writing, but as yet, has not stopped me.  I like to believe that the good in the world, outweighs the bad. 

I'm surprised (Journals Editor) Joe hasn't mentioned this article yet, from yesterday's "The Washington Post," about how people, men and women but more so women, can feel stifled in their public blogs:   Sexual Threats Stifle Some Female Bloggers -

Please feel free to mention your thoughts and experiences on this, on the article, on blogging and personal security.   And, yes, I'm too well aware that men get harrassed and abused also (and that male victims of abuse are usually less likely to be believed even if they do get the courage to report it).

Update:  Joe's been preparing an entry on this article and topic since the article came out (and usually appreciates input).  And, for the record, I'm fine:)  Sometimes this crap can tick me off, as it should to any ofus.  Yes, I completely changed my SN's over a year ago, due to continued online bs and hackers, but not blog-related.  Right now?  Being cautious is prudent.  I'd like to say more sometimes.  But, really, I am fine.  Thanks, all!