Monday, June 30, 2008

1 week 2 go -.-

M texted me that this a.m., "1 week 2 go -.- "  I'm not sure yet what she's doing at her dad's house this week, but it made me sad to see this.  I do wish her to be happy there, to have a good relationship with her dad, and yes, I've told her that I wish her to enjoy her time while there.  At least they no longer take her cell phone, so that she can text.

And, once her dad's g/f and I and the radiology center can coordinate a time for a followup test for M, I'll see M then, too.  (It's "female" related, so a) I'm not discussing it on a public forum but she's okay, and b) she wanted me to be the one to take her, along with C never expressing an interest in taking her for ANY medical appointment ever.)  That was her first text, i.e., that I'd woken her up (ha, um, sorry), then a wait a minute type moment, and then a text that if it's about her appointment, call the house phone, which I'd intended, anyway.

I also saw her on Saturday at an outdoors feis.  A fun feis, co-run along with a good Celtic Festival, just hot, muggy, and thunderstorms (which did cool things off when they came through).  E was good to take me there to see M, awhich she seemed to need, yanno, just mom's support, that mom came to watch and be there, like any kid with a parent, and yes, we enjoyed some of the festival as well.  I even relaxed some ha, briefly (I have SO much that needs taking care of right now in my life).  Note -- Gaelic Storm, and Enter the Haggis are both AWESOME!

I have and do keep myself busy, I truly do want her to have a good time there, but gosh I also do miss M.......  Daisy will go nuts, too.

And, on this Sunday coming up, she'll be home.  Oh, she wanted fireworks, again, for her birthday; Independence Day is her favorite holiday.  We'll still do something fun.


Monday, June 23, 2008

3 new prelim dancers

Three new preliminary champion Irish stepdancers, one in a new (for her) solo dress that fits her style and looks great on her!!! and two in borrowed (new for them) solo dresses that look great on them.

On the way to the feis Saturday morning, M was putting on her makeup.  She'd had a few um, "moments" getting her hair fixed.  Her nervousness gets translated into frustration with her hair that she wants PERFECT, then, she's over it.  Saturday, she was nervous and cranky, this first time competing as a preliminary champion dancer was apparently exciting and quite nervewracking.  Hey, I let HER do her own hair now, but sometimes a girl still needs her mom, and I was there for her, not that I could get it perfectly, either of course.  Hence, by the time we were driving, her wig and tiara were on, and she was putting on her makeup in a much better mood.  "Are you becoming a princess?"  Pause.  "Yes." 

Her iPOD has several Irish stepdance songs on it and she soon had that plugged into her ears, hand-dancing and other reviewing of her steps.  I was happy I got a good breakfast into her -- she likes when I make biscuits and put pretend (soy) sausage in them, and fortified juice.  We brought healthy snacks, too, as she can get too nervous to eat so we need smaller portioned, easy to eat foods I can put in front of her, "EAT!"

M and her two good friends pictured here had an Oireachtas camp this past week, for 3 hours a day.  They didn't dance straight through for 3 hours per day; that'd be insane.  They also had pilates (tailored to the Irish step dancer), and focused both on their solo dances and set for the Oireachtas in December (all new), and their figures dances.  These dancers were ready.  Figures Dancer commented on how really good M has become, and details why.  M said a while back that she's gotten more serious about her competitive dancing, and is focusing more during classes.  It helped that this is one of the best feiseanna, and is a local one meaning we didn't have a long drive, nor a hotel required, and that she'd know a lot of dancers there.

It was a fun feis, a whole new ballgame at prelim vice "the grades" (meaning levels from first feis, if offered, and beginner, up through open prizewinner).  Some of the dancers M has always looked up to is at this level.  A lot of questions, a lot of watching.  Heck, it was a lot of waiting, too.  We got there early just to be certain, early enough we could have looked at the new hardshoes she needs but M never dared take the time.  I was happy to see SO's daughter dance, for example -- a great hornpipe which ended up 2nd in prizewinner yeah!, and I missed her others but I looked up the results for her dance, then asked her what her competitor # was -- yeah, she one first and got her treble jig out of novice!  A real goal for her, so we were happy.

The champions dance each dance for longer at this level, than when in prizewinner level, and I kept thinking they were done (or should be), then they'd stay dancing either their last half step, or another whole step, for either 2.5 steps total, or 3.  I kept ending in my head at 2 ha. 

They don't dance separate dances, sometimes four, sometimes five or six.  Their main competition is both one hardshoe and one softshoe, which they chose in advance when registering for the feis.  M and L competed in hornpipe (hardshoe), and reel (softshoe), as that's what the U14 girls will dance at the Southern Region Oireachtas this December.  Their friend here is U13, and danced treble jig and slip jig.  Sometimes, age groups are combined, so the P U13 was combined with the P U14 at this feis, for 30 registered dancers.  There were six dancers from M's ID school in this one competition, which is not typical when the competitions are separated by ages. 

The champion dancer competitions have larger stages, sometimes in auditoriums.  For this feis, their competition was held in the regular stage room, with a larger stage, and their treble reel was in the auditorium.  M was excited about dancing on an auditorium stage for the first time.  L corrected her, that it was their first time COMPETING on an auditorium stage.  Ha, quite true.  They are both seasoned dancers when it comes to a dancing on a variety of stages, including a few different auditoriums.   It was good that they danced two at a time, and not three at a time.  With the larger stages, sometimes dancers will compete 3 at a time, and it was scheduled to be for them but was changed with the competition just before theirs, with the next younger age groups, kept dancing almost into each other.

M felt her thighs cramp after the hardshoe (hornpipe) round, which looked really good just, well, she's up against stiff competition now.  About the cramping, huh?  Friends helped her out while I asked TCRG Ma for advice, who recommend two stretches.  "Stay moving."  "Massage your thighs."  "Eat a banana."  "Drink water."  "She's not getting enough oxygen."  Ugh, my fear, as she has asthma, and sometimes dancing THIS hard and aerobically, exabberates it.  M declined her inhaler, however, saying it decreased her stamina.  Hmmm, we're going to talk w/ her pediatrician about that.  Closer to when the soft-shoe round (reel for her) was beginning, she said her arches were hurting.  I know those daggone flip flips don't help, but the arches are just starting to hurt NOW?  FiguresTeacher said M danced a very clean and good reel, very cautiously.  When M's at her best, wow, and this was very very good but not her very best.  It's okay.  This is her first time at this level.  I'd love her to do well, but primarily, I wish her to do well compared with herself, to feel good about it, and, of course, to have fun and enjoy it.

Results.   There are awards on podiums for the top three placers, and typically 50% of a competition get placed instead of, say, the top 3-6 max.  We watched some others, between checking on when her treble reel would go.  Finally her competition was announced.  Out of the 30 registered, 24 danced (I hear there are more no-shows for prelims but it still surprised me, is it b/c it's summer? this is a good feis), meaning 12 dancers were placed.  Two of M's friends (from her school) got 11th and 12th place.  Then they called competitor # x and name and Irish Dance school name for 10th place, then 9th place, in descending order.  It's a big deal to place, and her friends did great by placing.  As a first-time prelim dancer, we completely expected M to not place (that'd be normal).  "And in 6th place, competitor # 249, M[full name] of the [ID school name]."  WOW.  M was SO SO happy, asked where to stand, etc., and the main TC of the hosting school gave M her trophy, "And in 5th place......"  Yes, M danced well, but this was not expected.  She beamed over at me, standing there while the others got their trophies and bowl, clapping, bowing. 

They get their individual score sheet immediately afterwards.  It's a rule, and a good one, that three judges must judge the champion competitions at a feis.  Each judge writes down her or his score for each dancer for the hardshoe round, and then again for the softshoe round.  Nicely, each of these three also wrote comments.  The one put M down as 13th for her hardshoe, and 5th for her softshoe, while the other two had M between 2nd and 4th place, wow, 2nd.  The overall scores are averaged and is how M ended up in 6th place.  

M then called TCRG Ma who had had to leave after watching their dancing, and later calling FiguresTeacher.  We watched the rest of the results, LCGirl placed, too, yeah!, and L and others won between 1st and 3rd in Treble Reel and got to stand on the podium for those. 

M is, deservedly, thrilled.  She said she can't wait now for the Oireachtas.  It will be in Orlando this year.  I laughed, can we at least wait until it's not HOT down there?  I reminded her to stay practicing this week, and we talked about how much and how often.

L felt she'd be a lot more comfortable now dancing prelim.  She did look really good.  They deserved to have moved up, getting challenged again.  Supporting each other while working on their personal bests, working really hard.

Of course, I let M join with friends after at a local restaurant, and even get dessert.  LCGirl and M still had their wigs and tiaras on, albeit the 80's dressed folk lent "difference" to the place as well.  That night, it was social time.  A musician ended up playing The Unicorn song even ha.  Sunday, M had a lot of fun dancing for the fun of dancing, at a small parade and performance in front of a historical city, us enjoying the camaderie and the outing.  And, having fun, is, ultimately, what it's all about, whether competing, performing for an audience, for oneself.  Heck, it's a continuation of a heritage, and a good sport.  And, yes, I am also proud.  I told her she can get her trophy engraved.




Monday, June 2, 2008

Boating with Daisy, Chapter 2

Chapter 2:  Drop anchor.

E had been thinking all week long of potentially "going boating" yesterday.  Saturday, he would go down and tinker about things that didn't run perfectly on his several day with kayaks outing with his visiting sister, et al.  I even called him Saturday afternoon, but his cell phone was in his car, and he was stuck on the houseboat, for a few hours straight, while it stormed hard.  Sunday, yesterday, would have light winds in directions that'd work for us, and perhaps an occasional scattered shower.

It'd be a day trip.  "You're bringing Daisy along, right?"  She's gotten a lot more comfortable about going to E's house, and with us together.  We opted to have dinner on the boat this time, stopping at a farmer's market for fresh tomatos and ears of corn, and then a fish market for steamed blue crabs, with an Old Bay-like spice, of course.  (I am so not up for dumping live creatures into pots of boiling water.  Even if I suggested eating them, being in season and all, and I know that's how they're, well, boiled and steamed.)

Daisy seemed excited to go with me and even to see the boat and the marina there, "Boat, Daisy, want to go to the BOAT?"  Daisy does learn words, so I try to repeat them.  She learned "bacon" quite quickly at E's house one morning and yes, E fed her.

Anyway, at the boat, E lifted Daisy onto the deck, and she was a lot less anxious, hanging out primarily with me but not necessarily.  She looked out the windows and figured out, wait, this time, we're moving.  A tentative okay, then a more assured this is okay, sniff sniff, the estaurine air still smells good.  Sometimes she'd settle onto the couch, even almost sleeping, sometimes she'd come out on deck with me, sniffing through the door at the water and air.  It was really beautiful marshy waterlines, occasionally drizzling a bit, occasionally sunny.  I had my legs up, contemplating a pink summer (I decided that pink is my toenail color this summer), as if I don't have a trillion critical things to worry about, and watching the osprey through E's excellent binoculars.  The osprey prefer to nest on the pilings.  One had a large piling area, but scant nesting materials of twigs and such.  We figured it may have blown away some in Saturdays heavy storm, while the other pilings had nests slightly more protected from the wind.

A speedboat went by, and we rocked slightly in its wake.  Daisy was always on alert, and came up to peek out the doors on the front deck, watching the very mild waves, and went back warily to the safety of the couch inside. 

After a while, E got things ready for anchoring, having me steer now that we were long out of a channel and it was easy going.  Then, he dropped anchor.  I watched the chain go overboard with it.

"Oh, damn."  Pause.  "That's the stupidest thing I've ever done."  He seemed incredulous.  "That's a four-hundred dollar anchor."  Which wasn't the point and even he knew that.

"Did you not tie it to something?"

At the time, E's mind was racing through alternatives to us finding the now-lost anchor (such as landing on the sandy shore not too far away, etc.).  Later, he teased me that I must have distracted him, explaining how it's so very basic to tie the anchor to something (the line, the boat? something, anyway), that he'd never forgotten to do so, previously. 

This time, he stripped down to his underwear before diving in.  I used the depth gauge to help us figure out where he dropped the anchor compared with where the houseboat may have drifted.  E could stand easily in the shallow water yet not see a thing, especially without his eyeglasses.  The tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay are almost always murky with low visibility, and we'd just stirred them up further as had the storms Saturday.  He found it!  E found the anchor!  Relief as he held it up for me, then E climbed up the ladder in the back (after I turned off the idling engine of course).

Daisy seemed entirely unaffected by the lost and found anchor, and was simply pleased we were pleased and were starting dinner.  Then the storm came, a scattered thunderstorm having us bring in all chairs but not the table up top that sounded like an upstairs neighbor.  Somehow, Daisy didn't comment, not even vocally yet at home, she'd bark and bark at such noises.

Calm.  Shiny waters, pink in the cleared air. We moved the rest of our dinner upstairs.  Delicious.  There is nothing quite like fresh blue crab.  Birds returning, frogs or something speaking loudly in the marsh.  Daisy enjoyed that. 

One set of birds seemed to be in a bit of a tither.  "Look, E, that one'sturning its head away from the other."  "Must be the female," he says with a smirk.  The markings could indicate that it is a female.  "She" then slid further down the railing, away from her mate.  He didn't visually take notice.  Then she flew off, and he followed, in parallel. 

Daisy did once ask to be let out the door, as if to go for a walk.  I'd timed things, and knew she could last longer. Worst case, such as if the anchor stayed lost and we really had drifted, we'd put out a towel upstairs for her to use.  Daisy didn't quite get the concept that a traveling boat moves across water; there was no land outside that door like there would be if we were in a car.  I picked her up, and let her see over the edge at all the water.  She stopped asking to "go out," and was fine when we got back into dock along with a beautiful pink evening sky.

I still joked with E that perhaps he should just bring an extra change of clothing with him every time he goes boating with us.  He knows I'd brought a bathing suit, just in case, and joked that maybe I should have gone in instead of him.  Laughing, "I don't feel badly any longer for having lost your car keys (and boat key)."  Pause.  "You're never going to let me live this down, are you?"  Ha.  "No."  :)

We both agreed that Daisy is doing a lot better, and how she was bodes well for any upcoming multi-day boating trips we may take.  While we were all tired, Daisy was the one snoring the loudest this morning, on a bed that doesn't move about with the water.

Boating with Daisy, Chapter 1

Chapter 1:  This is a boat.  This is water.

About a month ago, Daisy bounded for the car at the casual mention of ride, not really knowing what she was getting into.  She was adept at getting on and off of E's docked houseboat, and would follow me up to the roof deck, back into the kitchen, and the front deck area,and all about the grounds.  Daisy almost dozed off with her head on E's lap.  Good, we thought she'd gotten comfortable.

This was an overnight check out how the boat is to get it ready for the season trip, so we hadn't brought food with us other than dog food and treats.  E and I were going to leave for dinner.  I gave Daisy a treat and said good-bye.  E stepped up the small ladder onto the deck, and held out his hand for me to follow him.  He then pulled up the stepladder so that Daisy wouldn't follow.


I should have known my dog.  As a puppy, no baby gate could hold her; she jumped right over.

Only thing is, to jump out of the boat and land on the dock, Daisy would have had to jump up, and jump long.

Splash.   She misjudged.  Daisy has never swam before.  She hates baths (so we tend to spot-bathe her when that'll work).  She freaked when she once went almost neck-deep into a pond to chase the oh so terribly exciting geese.  E knew this about her.

E dives in after Daisy, who has innately started doggy-paddling.  E had on his clothes, shoes, wallet with, well, everything including the free entry passes to the following week's festival, eyeglasses.  Daisy heads towards a lower beam near shore where I await her, and E lifts her up to me.

Dinner waited until after E could run to the only accessible store, a K-mart, and buy something else to wear.  (While waiting, a "neighbor" boating guy talked with me for a bit about swimming lessons and such.  This was my debut at this marina with E, with them having known his former long-term girlfriend, "Dora.")  When E and I left for dinner, Daisy seemed alright, yet was panicking when we returned, scratching on the inside of the glass door. She wouldn't leave me alone the rest of the night (which wasn't exactly in E's evening plans). 

The next morning, she was excited about the birds and the smells on the long walk along developed marshy-land, and the smells of the water itself.  She was very careful about entering and exiting the boat via the door, however.   At one point, sitting on the deck eating breakfast, a woman I'd never seen and E said he hadn't talked with that trip, walked by with her things to go home, "No more swimming lessons?"  Daisy was the talk of the dock.  I'm REALLY glad it was about my dog, and not about me.  :)



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Good Feis Day, part 2 (in M's own words)

"Well on to a new topic:  IM A CHAMPION!"

I'm quoting M on this one.  I had a version of this half written in my head.  Then I noticed that M had written this.  It works, except I don't think I exactly squealed... and I am altering the names to those I've created, to be less identifable.

"It all started out yesterday at the [name] Feis.  L and I both needed one last first to move up to preliminary championship.  We are both pumped and ready to dance.  We dance our 2 hand and then our reel.  Next is the slip jig and thats the one L needs a first in.  We dance it and she looked EXCELLENT!  Everything was so fluid and she looked really good.  After that we danced the treble jigs (the dance I need a 1st in) and TCRG Ma was able to watch me dance.  After we come off the stage Ma says that that was excellent and that she would give me a first !! :) 

Well, after we danced Treble Jig we went up to check scores for the reel but mostly for the Slip Jig.  L had won!  She was now a Preliminary Champion!  We were all screaming and hollering and telling every [dance school] dancer or parent possible.  I was so proud of her cause she really deserved it and she looked exceptionally good. 

Treble Jig results aren't up yet so we continue to tell people and holler while we are waiting for our Hornpipe.  The stage that our Hornpipe is at is going slow so we decide to check the Treble Jig scores.  I see what I think was my competition # (realize i didn't have my glasses on) and I see what I think is my # as winning 1st! I get all happy but then realize it's competitor # 176 not mme, 175.  Then I get my hopes down.  Then I hear my mom scream and squeal.  I HAD WON THE TREBLE JIG!  I WAS A PRELIM!  I race out of the room and scream at L, "I got it!! :)"

Now everyone is all excited cause not only had L got to prelim, but I had, also.  :)  Then of course we ran around telling everyone that we had just talked to that I was now in Prelim!  L and I were so happy and we were so happy for each other because now one of us wouldn't be left in Prizewinner by ourselves:(  But instead we were on Cloud 9 b/c we BOTH were in Prelim!! :)  I can't even explain how happy I was and still am.

Anyways, for all the other dances it was L, #312, and me that were all neck n' neck for the top positions so since L and I were already in Prelim (and our legs and feet were hurting [M had big blisters]) we decided to sit out of the Hornpipe so that #312 could get her last 1st in Hornpipe so that she could move to Prelim.  She and her mother were so thankful for letting us give her daughter a chance and it seemed to have boosted #312's confidence by a lot.  L and I felt really good about helping her out a little and it ended up that #312 won the Hornpipe!!:)  Everything felt really good and now all 3 of the top competitors were out of the way to let another dancer have their turn to win that last needed 1st :)


with lots of stars and smiley faces and a ya!

AOL journal glitch

Testing, testing. I can't seem to access my AOL journal, other than to view it. There are no options for "edit an entry," or "add an entry," or even "add authors," not that my journal's concept would work well as a shared journal. UGH. So, testing via aim if this works or not.........
Oh, yeah, NOW I can get an "edit" link, via the AIM! YEAH!
I will remember that, for next time I'm logged in, as me, Ceilisundancer, and aol is flaking out (it'd be different if it had an area on the journal for me to log in there but, it doesn't right now. Weird.)
UGH, no, it's a link to this journal entry, with options to get back to the main "public journal." But, still no way to actually edit, add, delete, whatever. ARGH. I have two entries I wish to write up, too. Naturally:) Ah, well, life could be worse-- have a great day, all.

Update:  While not able to even access a place to "sign in" to my AOL journal, while logged in to my aol (not aim) account / SN, I COULD do that when I open up this AOL journal simply as a regular web link (via Explorer, I'm pretty sure).  Bizarre, but, at least it'll work for me now.