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Archive for September, 2012

When I got home from church today, Craig mentioned that he hadn’t seen “KeyKey” (our biggest cat) all day.

I quickly realized that I hadn’t seen him, either, and started looking around for him. I checked under the beds and in the closets; I called his name, clicked my tongue*, and even got out the can opener. Nothing. He was nowhere in our apartment.

“I don’t understand why he would leave us,” I told Craig (KeyKey was rescued from the side of the road as a kitten, and doesn’t enjoy being outside for more than thirty seconds at a time).

“I don’t understand how he could leave.”

“You mean, besides the open windows and patio door?”

“So…. he jumped down from the balcony?”

I pointed out that it was a likely scenario (we’ve assumed that’s how Torgo escaped). And even though today’s chilly/wet weather made it seem even more unlikely he would have made a break for it; I decided to go outside and look around for him.

Down in our parking area, I called his name once, then heard a desperate-sounding meow.

***

I found our Big Kitty under our staircase, cowering in an old Rubbermaid tub He hollered and hollered as I walked toward him, and when I lifted him out of the tub (still wearing my church clothes of course), I noticed that his hind legs and tail were covered in mud. He meowed at top volume the entire way up the stairs.

***

The muddy cat squirmed out of my arms as soon as we got inside. Craig asked incredulously where I found him… while he tossed the kitty into the bathroom where I was washing mud off my arms. As he walked away he said, “Don’t let him out of there if he’s dirty.”

I started to call after him that washing a large agitated cat is really more of a TWO-PERSON job, but then I thought better of it (football was on). It wasn’t the first time I washed a big, muddy cat by myself; and it probably won’t be the last!

Except for some more meowing, KeyKey Kat stayed pretty calm while I washed & dried him. Then I let him run and hide under the bed while I cleaned the sink, tub, and bathroom floor/shampooed the muddy pawprints out of the carpet/vacuumed. Day of rest, my chest!**

Still, I’m so glad he didn’t go far– and that I found him right away. Don’t do that to us again, kitty kat. We love you too much.

*That’s how we “call” our cats when we give them treats. If you’re in our apartment and you click your tongue three times, you’re going to be surrounded by cats in about two seconds.

** It rhymed, okay?

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The Swing of Things

It was a good week!

In addition to all the space shuttle excitement, competition rehearsals began in earnest this week. I see my older dancers on Wednesday evenings after my last class. They’re doing a classical quartet, and for most of the choreography the dancers are opposite each other (e.g. the dancers on stage right start a ballote with their right foot, and vice versa). I normally demonstrate the choreography on one “side,” and the dancers on the opposite side try to mirror me. Sometimes I do have to break down the choreography on the opposite side (if the footwork is tricky), but they usually figure it out on their own. This is good practice for them– it’s important for dancers to be able to be able to quickly figure out choreography on the “second side.”

The same is the case for the Christmas dance that my Ballet Threes are doing (which also started rehearsing this week). It’s a much larger group, however, and not all the students are quite as advanced as my quartet, so I have to break down the steps on both sides a little bit more. That said, the kids really to reverse the choreography themselves– working together to do so– before they ask for my help, which is great! It’s nice to have such hard-working students.

I meet with my little soloist on Saturdays, before my morning classes start. She is young but serious, a fast learner. In her thirty-minute rehearsal yesterday, she learned half of her 2.5-minute solo! Next week we’ll clean and polish what she’s learned so far; then she’ll learn the rest of the choreography. In the meantime, I’m going to look for a little hooded cape for her to rehearse in.

In addition to rehearsals, all my classes went very well– the little ones behaved and listened (and are so precious and sweet); the older ones focused and learned new steps. Outside of work, I kept to my fitness regimen (finally ending my trend of skipping a day during the week) and managed to stay far ahead of the housework and laundry situations. I also made  a lot of food (including yummy spinach flatbread pizzas for our Saturday dinner)!

***

I capped off a productive week with half a day at church– my favorite place to be on Sundays. Four months ago I started going to the Unitarian Universalist church in our town (after I became disgusted with the Christian Megachurch we’d been attending– but that’s another post), and became a member soon after. Today the sermon was called “Judgement, Repentance, and Atonement” in honor of Rosh Hashanah, and it addressed these concepts from a Unitarian Universalist point of view. I really love the “living tradition” that draws from so many sources.

I’m also an assistant for the Religious Education classes, which started last week. I’m assisting every other week in the middle school class, which is mostly boys. We had  a good class today– some of these kids have really insightful things to say.

***

Now I’m off to do some reading and figure out Sunday dinner. Happy Day of Rest, friends!

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Low-Flying Air and Space Craft

Today the retired space shuttle Endeavor is flying over Houston, making a stop at the Johnson Space Center on its way to California. The JSC is abut two miles from our home.

I had just stood up after finishing yoga practice when I saw it! I was kind of far away, but the shape of a shuttle riding on top of a plane was unmistakable (we saw it a few months ago when the Enterprise made the trip to NYC). I shouted for Craig to come out to the porch (“What? I can’t hear you! “Just come out here NOW!”), and people down at the pool were shouting and pointing. Then the plane (and the shuttle, and a smaller plane flying below them) turned west and headed right toward our apartment complex.

Craig told me to hurry and get his camera. My thought was I don’t want to miss seeing this because I was looking for the camera!, but I ran and found it anyway. I got back to the patio in JUST the nick of time…it went right over out patio, and we cheered and waved (I opted to not bother with the camera, wanting to see the shuttle/plane with my own eyes instead of through a camera lens). It was so cool!

We went back inside, and a few minutes later I heard the sound of the plane again (it was flying low, so it sounded like a giant vacuum cleaner), this time so close the windows rattled. I ran back outside just in time to see it shoot overhead, this time from the north. This time I managed to get some photos of it as it flew away.

A few minutes later it doubled back one more time. I was in the bedroom getting ready for a shower, but when I heard the EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEIIRRRRRRRRRR noise I looked out our window and the Endeavor so close that I could see the words “United States” and the little American flag on it.

Sure, we didn’t get a shuttle of our own for our city. And that’s a bummer. But today I got to see a real shuttle– on the back of a jet– up close, from my porch.

This is an awesome day.

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Work Update

It hasn’t escaped my attention that I still haven’t posted about that job I started last month. I’ve been meaning to write a post for the last three weeks but the days keep getting away from me (the road to hell is paved with blog-posting intentions). We are now six weeks in.

Classes at the studio start in early August, but many students don’t start back right away– a lot of families wait until school starts up again. I had three classes lined up for my very first day, but only my last class had students in it! A handful of my classes started out with only one or two students, but they’ve grown since then…and the lucky kids that were the only one  in their dance class got to get a private lesson or two before the other students joined. This was actually very beneficial, since in most cases it was that child’s first ballet lesson, and I was able to give them my full attention to help them get started on the right foot (no pun intended) (okay, pun intended).

The majority of my students are between five and nine years old– I teach mostly Primary and Level One classes. On Tuesdays I teach Level Three ballet as well as their Turns/Leaps class. This really fun for me, because I can push them a little harder and be a little more creative in choreographing their enchainements (at my previous job, I spent five years teaching mostly intermediate and advanced dancers).

Speaking of choreography, I’ll be making two ballet pieces for the competition group this year: a quartet for intermediate/advanced dancers (they’ll be dancing to Vivaldi), and a solo for a little eight-year-old girl (she is going to be Little Red Riding Hood, and it is going to be cute!). I’m also choreographing a big group dance for my Level Threes to perform in December. I start setting all of them this week!

All in all, it’s going well so far. Six weeks in, my classes are growing and my dancers are making progress. It makes me so happy to see the kids enjoying their classes, learning new things every week, and improving a little bit each day.

“For all who teach:
May gentleness and skill be in your hands.
May patience and courage fill your hearts.
May curiosity and wisdom light your minds.
May love walk with you and flow through you,
as you go about the work of guiding the learners in your care.”

 ~ Kate Braestrop, “Beginner’s Grace”

***

(I promise I’m going to start updating my blog more than twice a month.)

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Tuesday.

When I was studying dance in high school, classes usually didn’t start until the mid(sometimes late)- September. The first week or two of school was always hellish without ballet classes to look forward to.

My sophomore year of high school, I was looking forward to September 11th– the first day of ballet. I’d been counting down the days! I remember that I just wanted the school day to go quickly so I could get to the “important stuff.”

And then.

It started with a rumor in second-period math class, something about a plane hitting one of the twin towers. I knew how my classmates were about rumors (and how rarely any of them were true), so I pretty much ignored them and so I could go back to ignoring my geometry. The next period– ironically U.S. History II, where we were studying war— it was all confirmed. Our teacher told us what was going on, then turned on the TV and we spent the next 45 minutes watching everything unfold.

About an hour after that my Mother came and got me from school. She took me to church and we prayed, then we went with my aunt to pick up her two boys from elementary school. My Aunt couldn’t believe that the kids didn’t know what was happening– the country was under a terrorist attack, and they didn’t tell the students? I gently pointed out that since it was an elementary school, they probably just didn’t want to scare the little ones; but I don’t think she heard me.

We went back to her house– two aunts, three cousins, Mom and me– and watched the news. Mom sat on the couch and read the Book of Revelations. My littlest cousin had the advantage of being two years old and having no clue what was going on, so he played and laughed and at least made us smile a little bit.

(Funny aside: I remember that day that the news stations were so overloaded that the tickers had some amusing typos in them. For instance, the mayor was going to address New York City “residence,” and firefighters were struggling to put out “fries.”)

Eventually we split up, and I did go to ballet class after all. On my way there I thought about the irony, of how I’d been looking forward to this day for weeks and it ended up being the worst day of our country’s life. Inside, my classmates were talking solemly about what was happening, instead of chattering and giggling like teenage girls normally do. All our ballet teacher said was “Well, ladies, dance is a healing art. Now, plies.”

***

One year later, two of my friends and I did a dance at my church to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11. Eleven years later, I will be heading to the dance studio once again on Tuesday, September 11th (to teach, this time). My students will be chattering and giggling before class, and I will be happy to hear it (until my class starts, then it’s time to get quiet and get serious!). They were all too little to remember that sad, sad September Tuesday.

 

Today I am thinking of everyone who was in New York City on that terrible day. The ones who were lost, the ones who responded and helped, the FDNY and NYPD, and the people who survived but are forever scarred (physically or emotionally). Sending you peace, love, and prayers.

God bless America.

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