up the lithe neck,
the sounds of
Filling the room
that invites one
up the lithe neck,
the sounds of
Filling the room
that invites one
Just got in from an impromptu trip. Don’t you love it that, thanks to modern technology, you can get a call from someone. Hop a train to the airport in 12 minutes, and be at your destination in another state in a matter of hours? Cost me under $300 round-trip. Spent zero while I was there. Had LOTS of fun….and now I’m home.
Had to get up long before dawn to catch the next flight home, but I made it. Just walked in the door. Last night feels like a dream….a great big wonderful dream, and I’m all smiles this morning.
The sun is shining today, but it is warm, and not hot, which I love. I look forward to spending the day with John working on our house and yard. It is so rare for us both to have a day off together. We’re planning to take full advantage of it.
Big project of the day for me is to prepare the patio to paint it. John will be trimming the hedge. Tonight….another musical night out. Looking forward to it.
Thinking of my precious father today. He was a good and honorable soldier who served his country with pride, and is a generally good person today. Wishing I could be there with him.
Happy Veterans Day, everyone.
Now that I have been a dragonboater for a week, I return with a fresh perspective. The first thing I can report is that I feel definite changes in my body. This is a sport that focuses primarily on the body’s core for effectiveness. I can feel my stomach muscles firming up considerably, after only a week. My upper arms are firmer. My thighs. Yes, this sport has its physical benefits, but the practice also has mental and emotional benefits.
The second thing that I can report is that I have had a different caller/instructor every day, and each one of them has told me something completely different. Hinge at the waist. Don’t hinge from the waist. Hold the paddle at the base of the blade. Hold the paddle higher than that. Sweep the side of the boat with the paddle. Plunge forward. Keep the arm straight. Bend the arm. Conflicting information galore….but this is not a complaint. I’m enjoying learning the different options. It’s just difficult at times.
Three days a week now, I rise long before the sun does to prepare for practice. John loves to go with me and watch from the sidewalk cafe as I paddle across the river . However, he was in California over the last few days, so I’ve been taking the bus downtown on my own.
There is something about the Portland bus service that makes the experience a good one. The way the bus driver gets out to help the blind man across the street. How he or she greets riders as they enter the bus, or thanks us when we leave. Just one more thing I love about Portland.
The bus crosses the river and lets me out just on the other side. Then, I walk about a quarter mile throught flocks of resting Canadian geese, and arrive at the Little River Cafe. Sometimes I get there before it opens, and I simply sit outside and enjoy the majestic views. Other times, I’ll wander down the hill to the dock and walk to the end of it where I will do some yoga stretches while I wait.
It is stunningly beautiful at this place. There is a little island, called Ross Island, that we paddle by. Deer peeked out at us one morning. Two gigantic blue herons flew inches over our heads. Flowers everywhere. Beauty. Nature. It is all so astonishing, and especially against the urban backddrop. It feels like my own little secret right there in the city, but I am far from alone. There are more than 160 members on my team alone. This is a popular sport with many different teams with members of all levels.
Everyone converges at the end of the dock by 8:30. Getting into the boat has become less difficult for me than it was at first. I feel steadier now. Getting out of the boat is more difficult, as it is a long, narrow boat sitting DOWN in the water, rather than up high, so to exit, one must climb up as the boad sways. I’m sporting a big, blue bruise on one of my shins due to an early effort.
My level of energy gets me through the entire practice without exhaustion. However, I am definitely ready to head home when we reach the shores again. I always feel invigorated and happy from the dopamine and adrenalin surges that come with an intense morning workout. This lasts throughout my day. The world simply looks a little brighter.
Yesterday was sunny and warm. Of course, I forgot my hat. I am a pale-skinned woman who gets sunburned easily despite slathering myself with sunscreen and wearing protective clothing. Ah, well….a small price to pay for so much pleasure. I feel so happy, like everything is really falling into place now. Contentment. Joy. Peace. Love. Happiness.
Today, I started training for dragon boat paddling. It was magnificent. We met at the Little River Cafe downtown near the Willamette River. I introduced myself to a few people as a newby, and managed to piece together enough information to get started. Everyone was very nice and helpful.
Once seated in my practice boat, I kept my ears open for Carolina’s instructions. She was our caller. However, I kept my eyes on Peg, who was the woman seated in front of me. (That was what I was suppoed to do.) I followed Peg’s lead. She is experienced, and a good example to follow.
We rowed out along Ross Island. It was surreal to be out on the water making a team effort at that beautiful early-morning hour. We paddled by a crane rookery and say blue herons and their offspring, which was a thrill for this nature lover. We were surrounded by beautiful trees and nature, but in an urban environment…so we paddled under two freeways and could see the downtown skyscrapers.
The workout was good. To paddle, you have to extend one leg, tuck in the other leg, and turn from the waste, and you bury the paddle straight down into the water and pull with your core. Many instructions that are easy to confuse!
Soon, I will be ready to train for the dragon boat races, an iternational festival that is celebrated in Portland each year. Here is a little video of our launch spot and what the festival looks like. This was from five years ago:
My life has really changed over the last 6 months or so, and in some profound ways. I can’t remember ever being as happy as I am right now. Things are falling into place in my life, like ducks in a row. Actually, they’re not “falling into place…” I’m PUTTING them into place. Some I can talk about here. Others are top secret…for now….
This story begins with my decision to strive for greater work-life balance. I am not the only person who depends on my paychecks, so I’ve been working my fingers to the bone putting in insane hours, sometimes not taking a day off for weeks…..until recently.
I just saw my life slipping away from me, and I got really sad about it….but I’m not much of a whiner. I’m more of a do-er….so I set a plan into motion. I wasn’t making art at the rate I like to incorporate art into my life, so I joined an artists group.
The group is expensive, and it only meets two days a month, but there is something about the cost that really makes me commit to going. I concentrate on producing good work while I’m there, and it puts me into the right mindset. However, the best part of all, is that it has connected me with a great group of supportive women artists who stimulate my mind and make me laugh, and who give me great critiques and suggestions. I’m really loving this experience.
It was through one of these women that I got involved with the dragonboat art show. I attended last year, and was blown away by how outstanding it was. I really wanted to enter a piece this year, so I did….and it was accepted….and it’s hanging down by the Willamette in a beautiful little cafe called, “The Little River Cafe.” The show’s opening was last Sunday, and when I was there, a thought started to nag me….and it’s something I followed through on.
Starting this Monday, I will be an official dragon boat paddler! I officially joined a club that meets 3 mornings a week to paddle down the Williamette, race sometimes, to participate in water parades and to do all things related to the ancient Chinese sport of dragon boating! The group consists of a fun bunch of open minded/hearted folks who come from many different walks of life to join in and have fun. They do other things besides boating. The group hikes, goes out for meals together, attends lectures, kayaks and does a boatload of other fun things. So yay! My husband is relutant to join. Says it isn’t his thing, but that he will go to some of the events with me. I think he eventually WILL join, but we’ll see. (He is ten years older than I, and has a heart problem. )
I have been attending A LOT of musical events lately. Went to see Motown sensation, Bettye Lavette, Shook Twins, Rae Gordon Band….Rae Gordon Band….Rae Gordon Band….Went to a Kwamie Alexander lecture. I’ve been going here and there. Working in the yard. Working on the house. Still writing…writing…writing….and conducting research for two different companies. Still putting my own business together. Just feeling good. Smiling a lot. Enjoying the moment….AND looking forward to the future. 🙂 I’ll post dragon boat photos in a future post.