Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Yesterday I found out that a friend of mine died. Margie Robinson-Jeter was one of the reasons I loved to work at Style Weekly. She was always positive. Always nice. And so grounded.
I left Style in 1996 but since we lived only a block from each other, I'd see her quite often, even after I left Style. The last time I saw her was just a couple months ago. We ran into each other at Target, but we talked for almost 10 minutes, catching up. She was so sweet. Kept saying how beautiful my kids were. Talked to me about how things were at Style, 10 years after I left.
Margie was only 41 and her kids are not much older than Daisyhead Maisy. This has been a rough year.
I'm going to her visitation in a few minutes. I hope that I can tell her husband something that gives him comfort, but what can you really say to a man who lost the love of his life?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Can I Still Say it was a Good Race, Eventhough I got Passed by a Pregnant Lady?

Redfish's bedtime is 6:30 p.m. It is 8:30 and he is still awake. He has been nursing for the past 2 hours. I feel like I'm doing the Ironman Nurse-a-baby. He's a leech.
But, today was my race, and he hasn't seen much of me today. I guess he's playing catch up.
I woke up at 4:19, anxious to get ready for my race, but decided that was a little too early. Went back to sleep just long enough to be woken by my alarm at 5. Tried to eat breakfast, but felt nausiated when I did. Just plain too early to eat.
Got to the race early enough to grab a spot in the parking lot. Forgot to drink my coffee. Set up my transition area, pumped a bunch of tires for teamates. Went back to the car to drink my coffee. Set off the car alarm --(no nerves here!) Checked my stuff in the transition area again. Good thing I did because folks kept coming and moving other folks bikes around -- that is so uncool. Went back to the car to drop off my extra stuff and the pump. Then took the leap of faith. I left my glasses in the transition area. Put my prescription goggles on (yes i looked like a nerd) and walked over to the pool area for the pre-race meeting.
Before the race started, I snuck into the bathroom one last time. The chick next to me was screaming, "where are my clothes? what did I do with my clothes?" Apparently she was going to change in the bathroom and left her clothes in the transition area, which was now closed. I told her to calm down, that we were all here for fun, that they would let her back in the transition area...Those words had just fallen from my lips when my goggle/glasses broke. I had to take some of my own advice as I tried to surpress the adrenaline and just fix them. My hands were shaking so much. I was worried I'd miss my swim start. I thought I was going to throw up.
Then, the race started. Things were Okay. I tried to do the flip turn under the lane line thing, but it just seemed so inefficient. Anyway, my swim time was only 5 seconds over my prediction, so I can't complain. Running with my goggles as glasses proved to be ok. I think I ran a little slow, because of my barefeet and not being able to see each rock I was stepping on, but that doesn't explain the 4-minute transition time. As I was running up on my bike rack I watched from 10 feet away as the guy next to me (who arrived late and squeezed his bike in where there wasn't really room) knocked over my bike, my helmet and my glasses came crashing down. "Nooooooooo!" I could hear myself yell, not that it did much good. I'm so used to not being able to even find my glasses when they fall, that I asked him to help me find them. Changing shirts was a really bad idea. I guess alot of things contributed to that really slow transition time.
The bike was great. Can I still say that eventhough I got passed by a pregnant lady? I passed her. She passed me. I passed her. She passed me. Then, she was gone. She beat me on the run too. I know, triathlon is an individual sport, but when you get passed by a prenant lady or a 12-year-old tells you "you can do it" as he flys by you up a hill, you have to stop and wonder.
My goal for the run was to get 37 minutes and something. Mr. Preschool just got me an Ironman 30 split/lap watch for Mother's Day. I thought I was so cool, timing my own splits. But it really made me worry when I wasn't keeping pace and I couldn't figure out how I could be going so slow. That's when I realized that they didn't place the water station at the 1 mile mark like they were supposed to. I think they must have put it about 1/2 a mile out from the start of the run. I was so worried I was going to miss my goal, and then, there I was sprinting to the finish line. I stoped my watch as I crossed: 37.28.68. I made my goal!
Am I allowed to be depressed all day and actually feel bad about this race becuase when my official time came up my run was 38.04? And, I felt like I hadn't pushed myself hard enough. I wasn't exhausted. I guess I'll just have to live and learn. It's only the first of 4 races this season.
Here are my stats. I came in 21st out of 24 females in my age group.

Place for swim 9 Time 6:02
Place for T1 23 Time 4:07
Place for Bike 5 Time 39:14 Average MPH 19.0
Place for Swim/Bike and T1 9 Time 49:22
Place for T2 24 Time 1:46
Place for Run 24 Time 38:04 Average MPH 12:16
Total Race Time 1:29:10

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I can't get away from it.....

When I'm running I still think about it. When I'm biking. When I swim. When I sleep. When I dream. Any time my mind is quiet. And now when I read the newspaper or watch TV, i'm reminded yet again.
I'm like a week behind reading the newspaper, but yesterday, in one of those old newspapers I read about how "Law & Order" used the plot line of the Harvey's murder for a show earlier this month. How tasteless. How upsetting.
It's not like we need to be reminded. I think most of us who knew the Harvey's, even casually, don't go a day without thinking about them.
Back in January when it happened, I kept thinking that eventually I'd be able to get over it, maybe even put it out of my mind. Now I know I'll never get over it.
How much of Richmond has lost their innocence forever?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Triathlonmom Comes Full Circle

The thing I love about Richmond is how everything always comes back to you. Things come full circle and things fall into place. It is a small enough community that most of the good-spirited folks seem to know each other somehow. And you never know when some good that you've done might come back to you in some other way.

Back during my first season with Triathlonmoms, we always would raise money for a great philanthropic cause. Kim Kredich, our fearless leader, has always been involved in advocacy for kids with special needs, and so that year, we raise money for Katie and Friends Playground. It would be the first playground of its kind: for kids who needed help walking, who had autism, who were in wheelchairs, and for kids with no special needs at all. It would be a place where they could all play together, without limitations and barriers. And, it was expensive to build.
As part of our fundraising efforts, we could donate money and get a tile that would be installed on the playground, and we could decorate it anyway we chose. For our family tile, we had Daisyhead Maisy place her handprints. She was only 2 so we could fit both hands, and we wrote her name.
The only thing was, when I went to the playground after the grand opening, there were plenty of tiles, but not ours. For months, I kept checking the tile towers, and not a one from Triathlonmoms was there. It was disapointing. But, I was so happy with the cause and the playground, I soon forgot.
This year, our team is renting poolspace for our Sunday swim, not far from the Katie and Friends Playground. It fact, we run on a gravel path from the pool over to the trails by the park for our 3 mile run before we swim. Most Sunday nights it is packed with kids and parents winding up their weekend. Filled with huge families, barbequeing or holding birthday parties. Last night, as I was running down the gravel path through the trees I noticed something new. There were 3 new towers on the playground. They were filled with tiles! I cut through the forest off the path, straight to the towers. I searched the first one with no luck. On the second one, a name caught my eye. Right above a smeary blob of blue was "Scout." Then I remembered -- Kim's dog, Scout.
I was so excited I ran around the metal fence of the park to the entrance to get closer to the tiles. I must have looked so strange racing through the playground, dodging kids to get to the towers, that were still roped of with caution tape becuase they hadn't yet been grouted.
I started at the top....Tish, Nate, Hugh....moved to Tennesse later that year. God I miss them. ...Oliver, Finn, Anne....Kim and Matt, Matt's giant hand overlapping Kim's....Ben, Miles, Coleman...Rachel and Theo. the names kept coming. It was like a time capsule of that summer that changed my life. The summer I discovered triathlons. Discovered that I could do something hard if I put my mind to it. That summer I discovered a whole team of amazing, inspiring women, all moms, dedicated to helping each other discover just how strong they are.
Then, at the very bottom, I saw Daisyhead Maisy's hands. So small and carefully placed.
It had been a long time coming, but it was worth the wait.
Running back to the pool, didn't seem so hard. That first summer raced through my head. The summer that set me free and taught me balance. My mind was filled with memories, and didn't have much room left to think about tired legs. That summer I learned that sometimes the best thing you can do for your family (and 2-year-old who is screaming "mama, mama don't go") is walk out that door. And come back after you've done just one thing for yourself.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

A Wild and Windy Day

I had so been looking forward to this day. And I guess I can't complain.
I woke up in the middle of the night and remembered that the swim at the ACAC tomorrow was cancelled. Actually, I was already awake, nursing RedFish. It was 2:30 a.m. and he kept waking up. I think he is working on his bottom eye teeth. I was happy to realize that I could sleep in without feeling guilty. And VERY happy that I didn't have to get my butt out of bed, drive to Southside and then realize that I was awake at an ungodly hour, in my swimsuit for no reason.

We met at 8 for a tire changing clinic, and then rode 18 very windy miles. When I came home I was complaining to Mr. Preschool about how the 1 mile run after sucked and about how I thought it was supposed to get easier. He kindly reminded me that it was only a week or two ago that I was proclaiming that it finally had gotten easier. I guess no two days are the same.
Maybe it was the wind? I had never ridden in wind like that, I was being blown all over the place. Anyway, at least now I'm prepared if it is windy on race day.

Seven days till the race. I know I'll be ready, but I have to remember that this is the first race of the season and I'll have more time to train. My goal for the July 23 3Sports race is to be able to run the entire 3.2 miles with no stopping, in under 35 minutes. For this race, i'd jump for joy at 37...something.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

National Folk Festival Line-up Announced

The National Folk Festival has announced its first eight performers. The line up looks amazing.
I just wish I could figure out a way to see them all! The festival is Oct 13-15 on Brown's Island and Tredegar. For more info go to their web site.

Here is the line up:
Chuck BrownInventor of “go-go” music
Affectionately known as the “Godfather of Go-Go,” Chuck Brown pioneered a musical blend of Latin beats, African call-and-response chants, rhythm and blues, and jazz that has been identified with Washington, D.C. for more than 40 years. Go-go in this case is not the popular music of the 1960s that inspired a dance and fashion craze, but rather a dance music and social scene deeply rooted in our nation’s capital. Likening Chuck Brown to another musical pioneer, Bill Monroe, ethnomusicologist Kip Lornell says that Brown “remains among the few 20th-century American vernacular musicians who clearly developed and shaped a musical genre from its infancy to a more mature state.”
Brown was born in North Carolina, but his parents moved to the District of Columbia when he was seven. He grew up listening to jazz and blues and took up playing the guitar. In the early 1960s, he began performing with a Latin-inflected pop band called Los Latinos. Brown eventually broke away to pursue his own artistic path and formed a group called the Soul Searchers. In 1971, they recorded “We the People,” said by many to be the first recording with the distinctive go-go sound. Brown’s 1978 album Bustin’ Loose with the #1 hit single of the same name spread this regional music to a national audience.
Go-go, as played by Chuck Brown, is quintessentially a spontaneous, live performance experience. Over several hours on stage in a crowded dance club the beat never stops. The interaction between Brown and his audience is an integral part of the performance, with call and response repartee between each song. The song may go on for five minutes or may be just a verse or two, depending on Brown’s whim.
Today, this sound is heard in clubs and dance halls, as well as on the playgrounds and street corners, of the nation’s capital. The music has a large international following and Brown spends much time touring Europe and Asia. In 2000, go-go music was featured at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and Brown was presented with the District of Columbia’s Mayor’s Arts Award for his pioneering contributions to the music of the city. Last year Brown was honored with a National Heritage Fellowship award from the National Endowment for the Arts for his contribution to African American vernacular music.
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Kenny & Amanda Smith BandContemporary bluegrass
The Kenny & Amanda Smith Band combine tight harmony singing with brilliant instrumentation and compelling repertoire to forge one of the most exciting sounds in bluegrass today. The musical and romantic connection between its namesakes led to the band’s creation five years ago, followed by a rapid ascent to the first ranks of bluegrass music.
Kenny Smith, originally from Nine Mile, Indiana, is widely considered to be one of the finest flatpickers of his generation. A winner of numerous guitar contests, and two-time International Bluegrass Music Association Guitarist of the Year award winner, Kenny spent six years in the 1990s with the acclaimed Lonesome River Band after a two-year stint with Claire Lynch and the Front Porch String Band. In 1997 Kenny recorded a solo album, Studebaker, which showcased his songwriting talent and his wife’s soulful singing
Amanda was born in the small town of Davisville, West Virginia, and grew up singing in church choirs and talent contests at local fairs. She began playing guitar in high school and was attracted to bluegrass through female artists such as Alison Krauss, Claire Lynch and Rhonda Vincent. She met Kenny in 1995 at a Lonesome River Band concert and the two began playing music together shortly after that. At this point Amanda already had two solo CDs to her credit.
In 2001 Kenny and Amanda gathered some of their favorite musicians together and recorded their first CD, Slowly but Surely, which surged up the bluegrass charts on the strength of the hit song, “Amy Brown.” Two short years later the band won the IBMA’s prestigious Emerging artist of the Year award, and a second CD on the Rebel label, Always Never Enough, has cemented their reputation as one of the most exciting new bands in the genre.
In addition to Kenny and Amanda, the band features the fluid mandolin playing of Jason Robertson, from Giles County, Virginia. Robertson, who met Kenny at the world famous Galax Fiddlers’ Convention in southwestern Virginia, grew up surrounded by family members who played. The newest member of the group is 17-year-old banjo player Jason Davis from Ford, Virginia, an astonishing young talent.
Kenny and Amanda now make their home in Meadows of Dan, Virginia.
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Le Vent du NordQuebecois music, song and dance
Le Vent du Nord is recognized as one of the best traditional Quebecois music ensembles performing today. The group consists of step dancer and accordionist Benoit Borque, pianist and vocalist Nicolas Boulerice, fiddler Olivier Demers, and guitarist Simon Beaudry.
For more than three centuries the songs, tunes and dances brought to New France (Canada) by French immigrants in the 17th and 18th centuries have been passed down in the towns and villages of Quebec province at soirees and other family and community gatherings. When Canada became a British colony in 1763, these traditions were preserved in relative isolation in French-speaking communities throughout Quebec. While the songs and stories were passed down in the mother tongue, the tunes and dances were eventually somewhat influenced by the music of their Irish and Scots neighbors, evolving into a distinctive French Canadian body of music. Members of Le Vent du Nord recall the spirit and energy of this venerable tradition in every show by performing the old tunes and traditional chanson a respondre (call and response songs) that they learned from their families.
Benoit Borque, one of Canada’s finest step dancers, has been representing traditional Quebecois culture for over twenty years, through his step dancing, singing and story telling, and instrumental performances. Borque is a founding member of famed ensembles Eritage and Matapat, and is a former member of Ad Veille Que Pourra. Nicolas Boulerice grew up singing the family songs collected by his father. His passion for traditional music led him to travel and perform throughout Quebec and later to France and Ireland where he learned to play and make a European stringed instrument known as the hurdy gurdy (or in French, vielle à roue — “wheel fiddle”). Olivier Demers is an accomplished violin player trained in classical and traditional music who had toured with a number of groups including La Bottine Souriante, Montcorbier, and with Senegalese artist Musa Dieng Kala. Simon Beaudry was born in Saint-Côme, in the Lanaudière region of Québec that is recognized for the richness of its traditional songs and musical heritage. At 12 years old, Simon started to play the guitar and sing traditional Quebecois repertoire with his father and brothers.
In 2004, Le Vent du Nord won a JUNO award for Roots and Traditional Album of the Year/Group. They were also nominees for the 2004 FELIX Award for Traditional Album of the Year and the 2004 OPUS Award for Concert of the Year/Jazz and World Music.
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Mahotella QueensSouth African mbaqanga
Together for over 40 years, the Mahotella Queens are the most famous performers of the urban South African music known as mbaqanga. In the early ‘60s, the Queens - Hilda Tloubatla, Mildred Mangxola, and Nobesethu Mbadu - joined forces with the legendary Simon Nkabindé Mahlathini (the “Lion of Soweto”) and the Makgona Tsothle Band to create mbaqanga, a fusion of traditional South African tribal musics with marabi (a South African jazz form), blues, soul, and gospel.
"Mbaqanga" is the Zulu word for a kind of dumpling, implying the homemade quality of the music’s origin. It grew out of earlier styles that were the lifeblood of South Africa’s illegal township shebeens and dancehalls in the first half of the twentieth century. South African tribal musics, Zulu, Sotho, Shangaan and Xhosa, among others, were a vital part of the mix, along with pennywhistle kwela, sax jive, African choral music, and most notably, marabi. Marabi was a kind of African ragtime featuring piano, pennywhistle, banjo and drums with singers improvising staccato lines steeped in Zulu tradition.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens played beer halls and township dances in South Africa. Their original sound came to be dubbed the “indestructible beat of Soweto”, and their solid four-to-the-floor dance rhythm and soaring vocal harmonies came to embody the spirit of the oppressed peoples of the townships. They took a break in the mid-‘70s to raise families, but reunited with Malathini to tour in 1987 and took audiences in Europe and the U.S. by storm. Following the tragic death of Mahlathini and the dissolution of the Makagona Tsothle Band in 1999, the Mahotella Queens rallied and reinvented themselves, and are back in full swing with a national tour and a new CD titled Sebai Bai. In 2000, they received the second annual WOMEX (Worldwide Music Expo) Award, presented for outstanding contribution to world music. At the award ceremony, it was said that “the Mahotella Queens represent so much of what is the best in the music of South Africa: the finely honed art of passionate singing, the latticework of funky rhythms, and the breathtaking art of spectacular live performance.”
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The Quebe Sisters BandTexas fiddling
Three lovely, talented young fiddling sisters from Burleson, Texas are creating quite a stir. The Quebe sisters, Grace, Sophia, and Hulda, play and sing western swing, vintage country and traditional Texas fiddle tunes often in three-part harmony. Before any of them reached their teens, the sisters went to a fiddle contest near their hometown and fell in love with music. "I don't know why we do it," Grace says. "No one ever made us play together. And we all started at the same time so we're all at the same level." Now they are dedicated to playing the fiddle and learning about old-time music.
The Quebe sisters have all been Texas State Champion fiddlers, and each has won titles at the National Old-Time Fiddlers Contest in Weiser, Idaho Hulda won the title of National Junior-Junior Champion, and Grace and Sophia took first and second place, respectively, in the National Junior Championships.
Red Steagall was quoted in the Fort Worth Star Telegram as saying, "I think they're some of the most talented young people I've ever heard. Their tone is so true--they play so well together . . . People just stand around in awe when they play." The highlight of the girls' young careers to date was being invited by Nashville star Ricky Skaggs to perform as his guests at the 78th birthday celebration of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN. They also were showcased several times on WSM Radio in Nashville, as well as performing on the Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree.
Besides the Grand Ole Opry, the Quebe Sisters Band has performed at Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth before the Duchess of York, on T-Bone Burnett's Great High Mountain Tour with Alison Krauss, at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and opened for Ray Price and for Riders in the Sky. Recently the sisters recorded their first CD, titled Texas Fiddlers. The sisters are accompanied on guitar by their accomplished fiddle teachers, Joey and Sherry McKenzie, and by bass player Mark Abbott.
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Santiago Jiménez, Jr.Conjunto tejano
Santiago Jiménez, Jr. from San Antonio, Texas, is a singer, accordion virtuoso and bandleader of the first rank. He is one of the major figures in conjunto, a unique American regional music born in the valley of the Rio Grande along the Texas-Mexican border. A member of one of the “first families” of conjunto music, he is heir to a rich family tradition of button accordion playing. His grandfather Patricio Jiménez played the accordion, and his father, Santiago, Sr. became one of the seminal figures in the rise of the conjunto, virtually inventing the conjunto instrumental style, and was one of the first to make phonograph recordings, and appear on the radio in the 1930s. Santiago, Jr.'s older brother, tejano accordionist Leonardo "Flaco" Jiménez, has become well known through his performances with country and western stars and popular music crossover groups.
Santiago Jiménez, Jr. has long preferred to model himself more closely on his father's lively melodic style, a style that is identified with the roots of the tradition. Conjunto (literally “group” in Spanish) is a lively dance music that began to develop in the late 19th century when German, Czech, and Polish immigrants introduced the button accordion into Mexican working class communities in southern Texas. By the early 1930s, the modern conjunto style emerged as a boisterous and distinctive Tex-Mex fusion that revolved around the sounds of the accordion and the bajo sexto, a 12-stringed guitar-like instrument that added a bass rhythm. Bass and drums were added later.
Santiago made his first recording in 1958 at the age of seventeen, with his brother Flaco, entitled El Príncipe y el Rey del Acordeón (The Prince and the King of the Accordion). Since then, he has made over sixty recordings. Santiago Jiménez has toured widely throughout the United States and to Europe and the Americas -- including Russia, Great Britain, Spain, France, and Mexico.
In the contemporary world of tejano music, Santiago Jiménez, Jr. is seen as a standard bearer of deep conjunto tradition, a lively performer, and a man of great humor and wit. He has been honored with two Grammy nominations and was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2000 for his contributions to the tradition of conjunto music.
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The SkatalitesJamaican ska
The members of the Skatalites are living legends of Jamaican music, founding fathers of the modern Jamaican sound. Four decades ago the group virtually invented ska, the upbeat dance music that spawned rock steady and reggae, and inspired three waves of British and American ska revivalists. A triumphal 1983 reunion performance at the Reggae Sunsplash festival led the group to reform themselves on a permanent basis in 1986. For nearly twenty years, the modern incarnation of this legendary band has brought classic ska to audiences around the world. Billboard has called the group ". . . Jamaica’s supreme instrumental band,” and Rolling Stone’s description is: “The Skatalites – Jamaica’s answer to the Motown house band and Booker T. and the MG’s combined.”
The ska style began to emerge in the mid-1950s along with Jamaica’s fledgling recording industry. The Skatalites were a group of Jamaica’s top session musicians who had played together in various groupings for years, both on the resort circuit and in the studio. While not really setting out to do so, their fusion of mento (a Jamaican folk style with similarities to calypso), New Orleans R&B, jazz, jump blues and Afro-Cuban rhythms created ska, the first uniquely Jamaican popular music. Characterized by jazzy solos over a galloping rhythm section, ska featured lots of horns (saxophones, trumpets, trombones). Its rhythms are distinctive, easily recognized by the sharp accents on the offbeat (the second and fourth beats in 4/4 time). Ska was an immediate hit with the Jamaican public and later worldwide.
No other group from the formative years of Jamaican popular music has had as much influence as the Skatalites. Seminal recordings like “Guns of Navaronne,” “Addis Ababa,” “Silver Dollar,” “Phoenix, City,” “Corner Stone,” and “Blackberry Brandy” to name just a few, created a new genre that defined Jamaican music throughout the 1960s, and was the island’s premier musical export. It’s impossible to overestimate the Skatalites’ place in modern Jamaican musical history. Ska, rock steady, reggae, it all began with the Skatalites.
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Yuqin Wang & Zhengli XuChinese rod puppetry
For more than 2,500 years, master puppeteers in China have entertained and instructed audiences young and old with their strikingly lifelike rod puppets. The traditional puppet stories, which feature both animals and humans, often include social or moral lessons about kindness, hard work, bravery and patience, much like Aesop's fables. Other tales, for instance the popular "clever monkey" stories, have similarities to trickster tales told all around the world.
While its appeal is universal, the rod puppetry tradition is uniquely Chinese, a respected art form that can be dated back to 581 B.C. The puppets, which can weigh up to ten pounds and stand two or three feet tall, are capable of subtle and highly realistic movement. Each is mounted on a central rod, which allows the puppet to be held high above the puppeteer, with thinner rods allowing the master to manipulate the character's limbs. Puppet makers in China often spend time watching animals in their natural habitat or in the zoo to be certain that they understand the animal and its movements completely before building a puppet.
Yuqin Wang and her husband and fellow performer, Zhengli "Rocky" Xu, were both leading puppeteers with the famous Beijing Puppet Theater. They founded their own puppetry troupe when they came to Oregon from China in 1996. In their first year, the group was invited performers at the Atlanta Summer Olympics; now they share the beauty and excitement of Chinese rod puppetry with audiences throughout the country. In 2004, Yuqin Wang and Zhengli Xu were named National Heritage Fellows, this nation's highest honor for folk and traditional artists.
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Friday, May 12, 2006

Just a reminder: Take nothing for granted

I don't know what to say. Can you see my jaw on the floor?

One of my daughter's classmates, one of those people that she just really clicks with, is now blind. Last week, we spent 2 hours with him at the TJ tot lot. The next morning he went to Walt Disney World. Exactly one week later, when I was just starting to wonder why he wasn't back, I got an email from his mom explaining, "the last three days he has lost his ability to navigate through even the most familiar environments, to use a computer, or even find food on a plate within inches of his face. "
With no apparent explanation, over less than 1 week he developed thick cataracts and is completely blind in one eye and 95 percent blind in the other. He is 6 years old.

How can that happen?
He is supposed to regain his sight almost to his previous condition after surgery. ... But can they fix something so easily with never even understanding why it happened? And how will he manage for the next month while they try to schedule the operation? How do you explain any of it to a child?
What can the point of any of it be, except to make us look at our lives and appreciate what we have. I painfully watched my own father loose his sight, but that was over years not days. I guess it figures that blindness destroyed a grown man's life, but a 6-year-old child adapts and doesn't seem too much affected by it all.

Taking A Day Off...

Although I was whining about not having anyone to ride tomorrow i think i had already decided in my mind to take the day off. It will be my first one in a long time. The kids really miss me.
I can't remember the last time I slept in late (although that still isn't likely to happen b/c of the kids) still, there is a chance. I'm going to goof off. Go to the park with the kids. Hit some yard sales. Get my bone marrow test done. and then go to the Strawberry Street festival....
a pure day of indulgence...which is great since i'll be getting up at 6 am on Mother's Day for the ride/clinic at the Y and then straight off to work for the day.

Ever since the Richmond Triatlon Club held that wetsuit clinic in the James, I've been craving the open water. I was so mad I had to miss that clinic. Note to self: find out when the next open water swim is.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Sweaty Girls Night Out

Last night was a Sweaty Girls Night Out. Strengh training, run, then go out and eat and have some fun, hoping no one else at the restaurant cares how sweaty and gross you are. We didn't anticipate that it would be freezing cold an pouring down rain.

I didn't realize how much I really needed to work on my core until last night's team strength training clinic. Ever try to put your hands on the floor, your feet on one of those excerise balls and just be a plank. Then, to make matters worse the actual exercise starts, if you can balance that long. Raise your butt 3 feet in the air, then to the plank again. Repeat 10 times! Ouch.
Good thing Mr. Preschool bought me an exercise ball at a yard sale this weekend. Now I can practice at home whenever I want.

After a strength training that just basically showed me how far I have to go, I didn't much feel like running it cold rain. I was on my way home to help Mr. Preschool put the kids to bed when my teamate M asked if I was running. "No, going home to help with the kids." (I didn't mention to her that Mr. Preschool had already insisted he didn't need any help). But anyway, that is when it hit me that she wasn't asking becuase she was curious, she was asking becuase she wanted to run with me. That was all I needed, just a baby excuse to run in the rain, and I had it. Someone needed me. M is one of the only other folks I can run with. Everyone else just runs past me. You know what, with my ipod on it felt pretty good to run in the rain, and I wasn't cold for long. We ran from Willow Lawn over to Monument and then down to 195 and back. I checked the distance in my car this morning, it was just a hair short of 3 miles. I felt kinda bad but M couldn't keep up with me. I hope it's OK that I kept on running. She'll be able to catch me soon enough.

I couldn't go to SuperStars with the team. Had already made plans with my mom's group. They were so sweet, didn't even complain about me being wet and sweaty at the wrong restaurant. That's what true friends are for.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Triathlon Shuffle

Today was a good day. Great weather, 70's but breezy. An old workout buddy and I got to swim together at the ACAC this morning. That was great because our swim coach is in St. Croix doing at Half Iron Man and I didn't want to go 2 weeks with no swim.
Then, off to the bike at West Creek. I got there late because of the swim, so I played catch up the whole time. Made me go fast though. 12 miles went by quickly. Fast means hard. Plenty of my team (the fast ones) had left by the time I started my 2 mile run. That was Ok though. The rest of us that were left at the end went for a well-earned coffee at Starbucks. I had a iced grande americano with just a touch of caramel sauce in it.

It was the best start to a run I've had in a while. The smile on my face was so big! Yesterday I got my free ipod. This was my first time using it. I'm so happy it is a shuffle, it is so lightweight and there is nothing like listening to your favorite musicians to motivate you.

GRTA was giving the ipod shuffles away to folks who promised to ride their bike to work at least 2 days a week for 2 months. I figure it's just the motivation I need to save some gas money. I figure I'll ride downtown one day (20 miles round trip) and ride out to West Creek (16 miles round trip) for practice on the other.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


They've created a race just for me! Naylor's Beach AquaBike is an olympic distance race with a 1.5k Swim, 40k Bike and get this... you don't have to run! Now that I think about it.....I think I'll miss the run.

We All Have a Strength

In triathlon, one of the things that you learn early on is that everyone has a weekness and everyone has a strength. Training this season started out particularly hard for me. Oct. 16th I did the ACAC Richmond Triathlon. Oct. 17 - Feb. 2 I did nothing. So, early in February, at 6 am, we'd get out of our warm beds and go out into the cold dark and sometimes rainy night and run. Only trouble is, I hate to run. For me it's sorta like one of the things i've hated most in life. And doing it in the rain, and the dark when I could be in bed only makes it worse. Just when I think It can't get any worse, it does. Times miles. You finish first, great. You finish last (me) you have 30 other women standing there waiting for you to finish, watching your every move, all eyes on you.
So, the begining of the season was tough. We didn't bike. We didn't swim. All we did was run. And to make matters worse, for the most part we didn't know each other yet. I so felt like I was in middle school gym again. I won't mention names, but there was more than one woman who wouldn't give me the time of day, based on my perfomance or lack there of.
Plus, I am a supposed to be team leader (on the bike). How can I be a leader, when my weaknesses are so obvious? And my strengths don't show at all?
I'm not one who usually comes home crying, but cry I did. After 3 weeks of being last and having my time called out for everyone to hear, I was ready to quit. My 1 mile time was 13.07. I knew I had 2 choices: Quit or Get Better.

I hate quiting. So, I worked at getting better. Instead of jogging and walking, I sprinted and then walked as fast as I could. A noticed that when I ran with folks, I got distracted and could run longer. I remember the day I ran up the hill on the Byrd Park Vita course and didn't even realize it until I got to the top. Wow, I never thought that would happen. And with hard work I got better, and after a while I was no longer last any more. I was close to last, but not last.

But, then funny thing happened. Because of a scheduling conflict I had to go to the "beginer's" swim instead of the advanced swim I normally go to. All of a sudden, things were different. I was now the expert and the women who had killed me on the run, now looked to me for advice in the swim. It was so strange. Folks who wouldn't give me the time of day before, all of a sudden cared what I thought. Amazing.

All of a sudden I was having alot more fun and things seemed alot more like a team.
Flash forward! Last week we did another timed mile. My time: 10.25. I had improved the most of anyone, more than 90 seconds. I still have a long way to go, I'd love to be able to do the 5K at the end of my triathlon in something like 30 minutes, but we'll just have to see. But best of all, folks have started cheering for me more. Teamates have run back to get me and challenged me to race in to the finish.

I guess it's true for triathon, it is true for life too. We all have a strength, we all have a weekness. We just have to help each other through.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

When Everything Stops....

and You Get a New Perspective on What is Really Important in Life

Iron Wil (Through th3 Wall) is always talking about how at mile 21 you are not worried about those things in your life that seemed so huge at mile 2. When you are running, or biking, or swimming, you get to a point where you work it all out. Gain some perspective. Let go of the things you can't help. That is a great feeling, and a really good way to gain some perspective on your life, if you can find the time to get away for a 21 mile run, 30 mile bike or really long swim. But for the rest of us, who struggle to find the time to work out for that long in one sitting, we are reminded in another way.
Maybe it is something we read. Or a thoughtful lyric on the radio. Maybe we're reminded of our immortality because we carelessly almost crash the car. Or, sometimes, it is an email.....

A good friend of mine, Randi Weiss, recently sent out this email asking for help on behalf of her sister and nieces. Randi is on the TriGirls team with me and is an amazing woman. Her sister, Lauri, lives in Baltimore and was recently diagnosed with Leukemia. Talk about gaining some perspective....
Lauri's youngest daughter is my son RedFish's age, this more than anything struck me. Every toddler needs their mama. I keep thinking this can't happen. She just had a baby.

My mother was diagnosed with a similar Leukemia about 10 years ago and is now considered cured. This is a cause close to my heart. Here is a link to Lauri's story and webpage. If you are willing, consider being tested to see if you could be a bone marrow donor.
These kids need there mama.

Living In A Throwaway Society

Mark Holmberg, the best writer the Times Dispatch has, wrote today about America and our wasteful society. Really good column. It made me think. And as usual, he was so right. I wish that by pointing out the wastefulness in America, people would see themselves and change.
My husband and I are closeted dumpster divers and among other things we have found MONEY in the trash. Go figure. I can't tell you the number of times I've pulled something from the trash only to sell it for $20 or $30 or $50 at a yard sale. Actually, that is one of the many ways that we are able to live the American dream. We certainly don't earn enough from our jobs to afford the house we live in. We've gotten pretty creative in our 15 or so years of being out on our own.America is such a wasteful society. We throw away EVERYTHING!

Ani Difranco writes about it in one of my favorite songs, "Your Next Bold Move."
"what a waste of thumbs that are opposable
to make machines that are disposable
and sell them to seagulls flying in circles
around one big right wing
yes, the left wing was broken long ago
by the slingshot of cointelpro
and now it's so hard to have faith in anything
especially your next bold move
or the next thing you're gonna need to proveto yourself
you want to track each trickleback to its source
and then scream up the faucet'til your face is hoarse
cuz you're surrounded by a world's worthof things you just can't excuse...."
Holmberg went on to talk about how newspapers are having trouble appealing to 21st century tech-savy readers. I say the blog is going to replace newspapers in the next 20 years. The trick will be finding ones that are well writen.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

YES, we share a bike.....

Ok, it's true. My husband and I share our road bike. I know, is that the most uncool thing you can think of? But, it is so practical. After all only one of us can ride at a time, the other one is watching the kids. Plus, we could get a much better bike then buying 2 crappy ones. Plus, we are the same size, same build (mostly).
Anyway, Bicycling Magazine had a contest for why they should give you a bike.....We felt like we had a pretty good reason. So, we had 20 words or less to make our pitch. How'd we do?

His Poem:
Asks Zoomer Boomer: "Sissy bars?"
Me: "My wife's -- we share a bike"....
shoes …
In my dreams, we ride together.

We shared caged pedals,
Then I'm pregnant --
I can't ride.
That's all it took.
He snuck new pedals on... Look!

Trying to fit it all in.....

When I sit down, to try to write, I frantically type. Knowing the minutes I have until RedFish wakes up are limited. Should I pay the bills, do the dishes, eat lunch, check my email, workout or write? I can't do it all. There is never enough time. Should I proofread or spend 5 minutes thinking of something really witty to say on my blog, or should I just hit "publish" typos and all.
One thing I've been thinking about lately is how much blogs have changed people's lives. Everyday social interactions now have an additional level of irony for folks who see each other in person, but also read each others blogs.
Recently, I saw a friend who I'd not seen in years. But, I read his blog and he occasionally, at least, he reads mine. Do we acknowledge the passing of events discribed in each others blogs? Do we bother repeating the mundane details of our lives that we already described for the masses?
Once I realized what had happened, it was not only awkward, but hilarious. And how ironic that I had taken the virtual tour of his house before the real tour of his house. Heard the wonderful stories about his life and its possesions only to encounter them later for real. I'd not met his beautiful wife, but I'd browsed their online wedding album. It was described in such great detail, I felt like I'd been there.
Actually, I am thankful for getting to hear the stories first, on my own casual time, on my computer. While it is not nearly as nice as the real stories being told by the real person in real time, it is at least possible for me to hear them at all.
It was practically impossible to talk in real time thanks to RedFish who is a busy, busy boy, especially at someone else's house, who skins his knee to break up the conversation....and for our drama queen, Daisyhead Maisy, who coughs like Betty Davis to get attention.
We vowed next time we'd get together when the kids were in bed. But until then, we are the best form of birth control out there. Mr. Preschool says at the very least we did them a favor. ...The newlyweds will wait at least another 6 months before they even think of having kids again.