rivka: (boundin')
This year at SUUSI, instead of taking a bunch of different short workshops and nature trips as I've always done before, I focused all my programming time on one workshop which met every day. For two hours every morning, regardless of what else was going on - and a lot else was going on - I immersed myself in bookbinding.

It was a wonderful experience.

We made three books in five days. The first day, we built very simple sewn pamphlets using materials our instructor had pre-cut for us. It was an easy project, but still exciting to make a real book. The second book took most of us two full days and was considerably more complex, and the third book was even more technically involved. I never would have imagined, on Monday, what I would have learned to make by Friday.

Our instructor teaches university-level business classes. Bookbinding, paper marbling, and papermaking are just her hobbies. Every morning she set up a complete workshop in a dorm study room, fully outfitted with tools, reference books, and examples of handmade books. Every afternoon she dismantled it, even removing the tables, so that a meditation class could meet in the same room in the afternoon. She was dedicated. She was also incredibly good at breaking down complex tasks into small, easily understandable steps; without that skill, I don't think her undeniable artistic talent would have taken us very far.

Here are pictures of my three books. I'll put most of the pictures and all the detailed description under cuts, because otherwise this post would be enormous.

Simple sewn pamphlet.

more about the first book )

Game board book.

more about the second book )

Coptic bound book.

more about the third book )

I am clearly very much a beginner, and yet I am so proud and satisfied of these books I made. Our instructor did such a great job of choosing projects and leading us through them. I liked that we learned precise techniques, but also had a lot of flexibility and creative opportunities with the design. I doubt I'll do more bookbinding - I don't have time for my current hobbies, let alone a new one - but it was an immensely satisfying way of spending ten hours at SUUSI.
rivka: (christmas penguins)
My mothering skillz: Let me show U them.


The picture I took of the antechamber/courtyard didn't turn out as well. This is a hollowed-out but roofless section of snowdrift. Alex is reclining on a little snow bench.


She has taken to shouting out from time to time, "It's the SNOWPOCALYPSE!" I'm glad we've raised her well.
rivka: (her majesty)
Alex woke up at 6am thinking she was going to throw up, but mercifully (a) it was a false alarm, and (b) she went back to sleep for another two hours. No fever this morning, and she's been able to manage about a pint of fluids and a few Ritz crackers. She still looks pretty peaked, though, and I'm not convinced that the fever is going to stay gone.

Poor kid. I hope she's better in time for Halloween parties and trick-or-treating.

Colin is congested and coughing but I don't think he has the flu. Man, are his new teeth (he has one and a half now) freakishly razor-sharp.

Nia-our-nanny is running a fever today too. I am home with the kids. Apparently, yesterday half of Alex's class was out sick. HALF. When I run down my Facebook feed it seems like everyone I know is either sick with the flu, or has kids with the flu, or just got over the flu, or is coming down with the flu. I guess that's what they mean by "pandemic," huh?

In other news, even though I was exhausted last night I broke out my birthday present, Dance Dance Revolution for the Wii. I haven't really played DDR before, so I spent most of my time on the lesson tracks, but even so it was totally fun. And a good workout! I think Michael's going to enjoy playing it too. Alex wanted to play but was totally unable to master the concept.
rivka: (talk about me)
Here's the "If I could..." edition. You guys ask good questions.

[livejournal.com profile] kazoogrrl: If you worked at Colonial Williamsburg, you would be what kind of historical reenactor, and why?

If we are fantasizing that I would have any skills I might need to obtain such a position, I'd like to be in the dressmakers'/milliners' shop, preferably focusing on fine embroidery. When we were there in November, there was a woman sitting in a sunny window embroidering the most stunning piece of white-on-white lace. I really enjoy fine needlework, but I don't have much time (okay, any time) to work on it. It would be pleasant to have a lot of time to develop those skills and share them with others, in a mellow and conversational setting.

If we're thinking about positions I might legitimately be qualified for, I'd probably wind up doing historical dance performance. Which is funny, because I'm about the least athletic or graceful person ever, under ordinary circumstances. But I've done quite a bit of English Country Dancing, and I love it, and I'm good at it.

[livejournal.com profile] pameladean: What are three things you'd do to your house if you could?

0. Buy it. I would love to own this house instead of renting it. But I know that's not what you meant, so I'm making it #0.

1. Put decking on the porch outside our bedroom, so that it can be walked on without damaging the roof surface. I understand why our landlord never did that - that short short railing would create a massive liability risk, and you couldn't put a real, safe-height railing in because the historical preservation people would throw a fit.

2. Insulate the kitchen and the pantry. They're just kind of hanging off the back of the house, with nothing underneath them and nothing around them, and they get so cold in the winter that for a while the olive oil congealed.

3. Rip out the 70's-era paneling and dropped ceiling in the third floor guest room. Then, eventually, we could convert it to our bedroom and turn our gorgeous current bedroom, with its floor-to-ceiling built-in bookshelves, into a study for the whole family. Right now our desks are crammed into the dining room instead.

[livejournal.com profile] moobabe: If you could do anything (job/hobby/etc) that you can't or don't do right now, what would it be?

Homeschool. This is in the works for a year and a half from now, when Alex is scheduled to start kindergarten. Michael and I hope to both work part-time and both share in the homeschooling. I'd kind of like to get started sooner, although I recognize that the older Colin is when we start the easier things will be. (Oops, here I am bringing in kids/parenting again, and violating the purpose of the meme.)

[livejournal.com profile] duanekc: If you had unlimited time and budget, would you travel? Where, and why? With or without family? Are there places you would like to see just by yourself, or is traveling without family unthinkable?

Oh, gosh. I haven't traveled that much, and I have a long list of places I'd like to go. I would love to go on safari in Africa. I'd like to see Egypt and Petra. I would like to do a rain forest/beach/snorkeling trip in central America. I would like to go on a cruise. I would like to cross the US and Canada by transcontinental rail. I would like to visit Vietnam. I would like to take the kids to Disneyworld.

I don't like to leave my kids for longer than a few days - at least, I can't imagine doing that until they're much older. So although I see definite advantages to familyless travel that'd be pretty far in my future. I think it will start being feasible for us to do significant travel when Colin is about the age that Alex is now. I have this family adventure travel site bookmarked, and it is a frequent stop for fantasizing.

[livejournal.com profile] castiron: What craft skill (where craft could be anything from sewing to blacksmithing to origami to small engine repair) would you most like to learn?


[livejournal.com profile] johnpalmer: Is there any one thing that you wish you had blogged about, but even if you were blogging, it's been *way* too long, so you can't blog about it now... but oh, it was *important*, and you really wanted to say something about it!

What was it? What did you want to say?

I wish I had finished my series on physician-assisted suicide, because it's a topic that I think many, many smart and ethical and well-meaning people are misguided about. I may be getting back to doing some writing on that in the near future.
rivka: (I love the world)
I am very excited.

[livejournal.com profile] acceberskoorb, [livejournal.com profile] unodelman, and [livejournal.com profile] lynsaurus brainwashed us into really, really wanting a Wii. (And, as [livejournal.com profile] fairoriana pointed out once in a post I can't find, pregnant women naturally deserve them.)

They're kind of hard to find. We'd poked around a bit, and mostly found stores selling a big bundle of extra stuff with the Wii, for a lot more money than the bare console price. But after our last trip to [livejournal.com profile] acceberskoorb et al.'s house, I called our local Best Buy and asked when they'd next get a shipment. Sunday morning, they told us. They would open at 10. So we made plans to make a daring Wii raid before church.

And then! Michael got the bright idea today that we should call around to local game stores and see who sold used games for the Wii. And one of the stores said, "Actually, we have one system left in stock." So we dashed up there, and now we have a Wii and we don't have to miss the pancake breakfast before church tomorrow.

All three of us are very excited.

rivka: (panda pile)
This is probably a shocking confession coming from an American - especially one who lived in the midwest for five years - but until today I had never been to a state or county fair. I didn't grow up in a fair-going family, and I don't tend to like thrill rides, so I never really saw the point.

But, you know. We looked at the Maryland State Fair website, and it was impossible to deny that Alex would love it. Plus, it was on the light rail, so we wouldn't even have to drive. So we went for it. It turned out to be a great experience for all three of us.

Rides are expensive. We went on three rides, and it cost a total of $30. Alex rode the flying elephants with Michael (and loved it) and the carousel with me (mixed reaction - the carousel at the zoo is better). Then all three of us rode the 100-foot-high ferris wheel. I had never been on such an enormous ferris wheel before. It was amazing. Not only could you see the whole fair, you could also see a large portion of the surrounding countryside. Alex was technically five inches too short to ride, but fortunately the guy running the ferris wheel didn't give a damn.

The coolest stuff was happening in the Cow Palace, though. They had a Birthing Center set up in one corner. We were looking at chicks hatching in an incubator when a University of Maryland animal science student let me know that a cow was giving birth right then. So we made our way over to a large pen with bleacher seating surrounding it, and damned if there wasn't an animal tech narrating, "Okay, I can see the calf's nose..." We found seats, and ten or fifteen minutes later there was a wet, bedraggled calf lying on the straw. It was amazing. You could come up to within five feet of the mother and baby, and you could see everything. (I heard many hesitant conversations around me in which parents tried to explain the concept of "the afterbirth" to their kids. Because it was hanging out of the back end of the cow, that's why.) We watched the mother licking and licking the calf as it struggled to stand. Nearby were pens with an extremely pregnant cow and a day-old calf and its mother. I had never seen an animal giving birth before. What a neat experience!

Not far from the birthing center was a milking demonstration. For a dollar, Alex got to spend a couple of minutes hand-milking a Guernsey cow. A group of very kind, very elderly farmers ran the booth. They had one stool set up on each side, so two people at a time got to squirt some milk into a pail. We'd talked about "milk comes from cows" before, and the fact that all mammals make milk for their babies to drink, and then in the birthing center I showed her the cow's udder and explained that it was full of milk for the baby calf to drink. But still, until she pulled on the udder and actual milk that looks like what we actually drink came out, I think Alex had no real understanding of milk production. She was amazed.

On the way out, they gave her a frosty 8oz bottle of milk to drink. I thought that was a nice touch.

We spent a bunch of time by the horse ring, too. What I liked about the fair was the close-up immediacy of the animal areas. Animals at the fair are there to be shown, and the animal areas are set up for the convenience of the people showing animals. There was very little in the way of fences and barriers to keep the public at a distance. So when we wandered into the horse section, horses were ridden by just a couple feet away from us. We leaned up against the fence of the practice corral, watching the riders, for a while, and eventually sat down near the show ring and watched some teenaged girls jumping. It was a good time.

There were pig races. It was every bit as corny as it sounds, and yet kind of fun.

Also? There was a food booth run by the Maryland Watermen's Association, and so I had a soft-shell crab sandwich for lunch. Add your own lettuce-tomato-mayonnaise, and the tomatoes had obviously been grown on someone's farm rather than coming from the supermarket. They were INCREDIBLE. I put some on my sandwich and another pile next to my sandwich, and the lady running the booth just beamed at me and didn't say a word.

I just got a peek into the Home Arts building, because I was the only one in the family who was interested. If I'd had more time, I would have loved to look at all the needlework. I was surprised to see a cross-stitch that I recognized - it was the project I did before my current one. I had no idea that you could enter something you made from a kit, in a fair contest. I would've expected that they would require original designs, or something.

So: the fair was a great time. Consider me a convert.
rivka: (chalice)
I know, I know, I only got to Tuesday in my recaps before they petered out... which is pathetic. In my defense: (a) the rest of SUUSI got really, really busy there, for a while; (b) the shooting at TVUUC has been dominating my thoughts this week and has taken me out of the shinyhappy headspace; and (c) let me just say that a head cold and the last vestiges of first-trimester symptoms combine very poorly.

But here I am. When we last saw SUUSI, I had fallen into bed achy and exhausted after a lousy hike on Tuesday afternoon, unsure about whether I'd be able to handle my Wednesday morning hike. read more & a couple of pictures )

Uh oh...

Jul. 11th, 2008 10:24 pm
rivka: (baby otter)
...Now I want a Wii.
rivka: (ice cream)
I went English Country Dancing[1] last night, for probably the second or third time since Alex was born.

I was surprised to see how much I remembered. All of it, really. Not necessarily the steps of the individual dances, of course, although many of them felt deeply familiar. But I found that I effortlessly remembered how to form the figures, and was free to focus on satsifying extras like making sure that my movements were precisely the right size to carry me through the alloted beats of music.

I love to lose myself in the patterns of ECD. I was particularly aware of that last night, coming back after a long absence. Nearly all of the dancers present last night were highly skilled, which meant dressed sets, symmetrical movements, and attention to rhythm and flow. Every figure fell beautifully into place, bodies weaving in and out with confident precision. My attention might, at a given moment, be locked on my partner - perhaps turning in a circle with her, our only connection steady eye contact - but at the same time I was aware that our actions were being mirrored all up and down the set.

The first dance after I arrived, Sun Assembly,[2] has a moment when you take right hands across with the couple below you so that your joined arms form an X, wheel around in a circle, and then join left hands across with the couple above you in the set and circle in the opposite direction. This is all one long fluid motion. You circle around. Just as you reach the crest of the circle, the music cues you to reach your left hand out, and someone is there. You grasp their hand, keep stepping forward, and another hand reaches out at precisely the moment when your partner reaches the crest of the circle. Everyone is in whirling motion. Everyone is part of the pattern, and the pattern unfolds with mathematical beauty. You are at once an individual, one of a pair, and part of a whole. The pattern repeats, musically and physically, as you move up and down the set with your partner. It almost feels like ritual to me, like spiritual practice.

There's a sense of rightness about it, to me - falling into position, reaching out my hand, having the other's hand in place to take it - a sense of intense, almost painful satisfaction. There. There. There. I'm reminded that humans are pattern-seeking animals. This is partly what my brain is wired for.

(Hey, [livejournal.com profile] madrobin: more than three years later, Laura and Neil still dance only with each other. Do you think, in all this time, that anyone has ever explained dance etiquette to them?)

[1] ECD is the kind of dancing you see in movie adaptations of Jane Austen. Most dances were written in the 17th or 18th century (althouugh ECD is also a living art; people are still writing dances today) and are performed by long sets of couples. Here's a lovely demonstration set by skilled dancers in period costume. Here is a fine example of a casual event where dances are taught and called.

[2] Whoa, I just made a crazy discovery: this webpage which attempts to map out the dance using tables. No, seriously. To get the full effect, hit the "sync" button and watch the steps progress to music, but you can also advance through the dance manually, step by step, and see precisely where the dancers ought to be standing during bar 7, beat 13 of the A section. This will not help you to understand the dance unless you are an ECD expert, but geekiness is a deeply beautiful thing in and of itself.
rivka: (her majesty)
Voted on my way to work this morning. On a Diebold machine.

Now I am fretting. If Democrats can't pull this election off, they can't win anything. And I actually worry that it might be the case.

I am mortified that the Maryland Senate race is so close.

Fret fret fret.

I just haven't felt much like updating, lately. I've half-written a bunch of posts in my head, but nothing makes it on to the screen. Instead I've been taking up much more worthwhile, productive online pursuits, like being the last person in the Western Hemisphere to discover Sudoku.

But posting takes my mind off fretting momentarily, so here's a mega-update of several disjointed areas. Bear with me.

Work )
Music )
Alex's weight/diet/doctor's visit )
Conversations with my daughter, Part IV )
rivka: (Alex & Mama)
This morning I turned on the TV to a cooking show while I was eating my breakfast.

Alex clapped for Rachael Ray. Okay, so she's been strangely interested in Rachael Ray for a while - but sheesh, so much for my unbelievable specialness. I still love her to pieces, but now she can just wait for Rachael to buy her a Corvette.

A brief digression about Alex and TV:

Yes, we know that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV at all before age two because of concerns about its effects on development. I am utterly unconvinced by the putative TV-ADHD connection, and beyond that, the primary concern about TV in babyhood is that it crowds out activities with a higher developmental payoff, such as playing, interacting with other people, and being active. That's definitely a valid concern, but it seems most relevant for families where the TV is always on and kids are planted in front of it for long periods of time. That doesn't describe our household.

That said, we try to limit Alex's TV exposure in sensible ways. We watch most of our TV when she's sleeping. If the TV's on when she's awake, we try to arrange ourselves and her toys so that she's not facing the screen. (Other things being equal, she prefers to face us.) We don't turn on any children's television; I also avoid anything violent or graphic and anything with a lot of quick cuts. That pretty much leaves televised baseball and poker, cooking shows, decorating shows, West Wing reruns, and the occasional documentary. And we usually watch things on TiVO, which means that we can skip the commercials. Mostly she ignores the TV... but she does seem to like watching 30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray.
rivka: (Default)
Library book sale this weekend. Sadly, I completely misestimated the amount I was spending. When it rang up as $4.99, I realized that I had culled way too much from my pile - I could have bought a lot more. But by then it was too late.

It's hard for me to tell if I'm going to like a mainstream novel or not. I went over tables and tables of them without picking much of anything up. With SF and fantasy and mystery, I can often even pick up good clues about whether something is worth looking at from the title and book jacket. With mainstream novels, even the blurbs don't necessarily help me. I keep checking things out from the library and not liking them very much.

We've started watching House so that we can fit in with the rest of my friends list. I like the show - bitter sarcasm can carry me a long way - but I can't help wondering:

Am I really supposed to believe that the reason this guy is constantly on the brink of being fired is because he's nonconformist and insubordinate, rather than, for example, because he almost kills every single patient via a succession of incorrect diagnoses?

I went to Whole Foods to stock up on baby food and organic frozen vegetables, and was captivated by a display of tiny live Christmas trees. I've been debating whether the pleasure of having a tree this year would be overwhelmed by the hassle of keeping Alex away from it. (At least by next year she should understand what "no" means, even if she doesn't pay much attention.) I bought a little 18" pine for our dining room table. Now poor [livejournal.com profile] curiousangel has to dig through the massive piles of junk in our storage area to find the buried Christmas ornaments.

After Michael gave Alex her bath, I came down to help get her ready for bed. She looked up and saw me coming down the stairs. Her face broke into a grin... and she clapped. Clapped with excitement because Mama was coming.

I am not ashamed to admit that I cried. And asked her if she wanted me to buy her a Corvette.
rivka: (Default)
I went English Country Dancing last night for the first time in, oh, more than a year. It was wonderful.

When I stopped going, the group had been dwindling in attendance - and there was a particular shortage of women, which meant that I felt a lot of pressure not to sit out any dances. (Yes, same-sex pairs can dance together, but women in our group are much more inclined to do so than men.) Last night there were about two dozen people, a nice-sized group for dancing and a damned good crowd for a holiday weekend. Some of my old friends were there, others not - and of course there were plenty of people who were new since I left. I was mostly caught up with renewing acquaintances, but I did spend some time reassuring a woman who, after a full six weeks of dancing, felt like she wasn't any good at it.

Boy, am I out of shape. (Annoyingly, two different dancers responded to that statement last night by commenting that I didn't look like I was still carrying much pregnancy weight. No, I'm not, but it's not like losing weight automatically supplies you with muscles.) I was up for about two dances before I had to sit out a dance and rest. But I had a great time when I did dance. I've forgotten less than I expected. Weirdly, although I had no trouble with complicated dance figures, I made a few completely boneheaded mistakes - such as forgetting whether I was supposed to be dancing with the couple above or the couple below. I'm sure that if I make it back there for another couple of dances, it'll be just as if I never left.

I wonder if I can corset myself into my ball gown.

Alex did beautifully. I wore her in the sling, sort of sitting up against my chest with her head well-supported. She watched the first dance very closely, and then put her head on my chest and fell asleep. She didn't get in the way at all. I kept a hand on her for some of the jerkier dance motions, like setting left and right, but mostly I felt secure about her position and safety. And everyone was glad to see her. I had asked a dance friend who also goes to our church whether there would be dancing on Memorial Day, and (unbeknownst to me) he printed out a little thing welcoming her to her first dance, and had everyone sign it. It was very sweet.

As I strapped her into her carseat afterward, she gave me a huge grin. "Yeah," I said, grinning back, "you and Mama just had a special time together, didn't you?" She didn't know what my words meant, of course, but I think we understood each other.
rivka: (her majesty)
[livejournal.com profile] curiousangel and I just watched the final three episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I feel curiously unmoved. spoilers, obviously )
rivka: (Default)
What would you get a twelve-year-old girl who wants to be a writer?

I think we gave her a blank book last year. (Not because we knew that she was an aspiring author at that point, just because we got lucky. Or maybe that's why she now wants to be an author.)

There are a lot of books about writing aimed at kids and teenagers, but I have no idea of their quality.

There's also this writing journal, which, while not for kids, was recommended on Amazon by a young woman who describes herself as a "13-year-old writer."

Any recommendations?
rivka: (her majesty)
What I ought to do today:
1. Work on our overdue book chapter.
2. Post to Respectful of Otters.
3. Do my cardio workout at the gym.
4. Finish learning a weights routine from the personal trainer.
5. Go to covenant group.
6. Cook dinner.
7. Post an alt.polycon 12 notice to the newsgroup.
8. Send out an e-mail to line up one more usher for each of the next two Sundays.

What I want to do today:
1. Work on my new needlework project now that, after years and years, I've finally finished my old one.

I'm serious. That's all I want to do. I'm feeling distinctly sulky.


May. 1st, 2004 12:29 am
rivka: (Default)
My vacation has officially begun!

I don't have to be back at work until May 10. My boss doesn't know I'm not leaving town, and my work voicemail and e-mail both have an outgoing message explaining that I won't be returning messages until the 10th. I've cleared my desk in the clinic and in my research office. I'm on vacation.

This is exciting.

I have some plans, but I don't know how vigorous I'll be about them. I thought about planning out my week to make sure that I actually did some special things, instead of just goofing off online - and then I figured, what the hell. There's no harm in "wasting" the week, if I really wind up being so tired that I don't want to do anything at all.

But here's what I want to do:

- I want to see Goodbye, Lenin with [livejournal.com profile] minnaleigh. (Fortunately, we've already got that scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.)

- If I stop wheezing and coughing sometime soon, I want to go hiking. My allergies have calmed down in the past couple of days, and hopefully the cough will leave with them.

- I want to put in some serious time towards finishing my current cross-stitch project, so that I can start the new one.

- I have a couple of home projects in mind. I want to put together a candle arrangement for the nonworking fireplace in the living room (shame I didn't do it before it got too warm for candles, but at least this way I can ensure that it will be done by fall). And I want to make a little chalice I can use for meditation.

- I want to go back to the Baltimore Museum of Art to see the mosaics.

- I want to take a book to City Cafe and sit there all morning, reading and drinking tea.

- I want to dust off the short story I started writing, a while back, and see if I remember how it's supposed to go.

- I want to sleep in every single day.

- I want to start putting the red bedroom to rights for our Spanish exchange student.

- I want to post a lot to Respectful of Otters.

- I want to have lunch with [livejournal.com profile] wcg, just like we used to do when we worked in the same city.

Hmm. Maybe I should've taken off more than a week.
rivka: (Default)
A couple of people asked how my first venture in dance calling went.

I think I did well. We had a small group of dancers, probably because (a) it was the first night of Passover, and (b) schools were out on spring break. So for Ashford Anniversary (the first dance I called) there were only two sets of three couples each, and for Well Hall there were eight couples. The small number of dancers made it much, much easier to keep track of whether people were going astray.

I called the first two dances after we broke for refreshments, so I had plenty of time to get nervous. I went up on stage and told the musicians, "I've never called before, so I have absolutely no idea how to talk to musicians." They cackled, but then kindly told me that all I really needed to do was give them advance warning of the last two repetitions. Two of the three of them - the fiddle player and the pianist - were among our very best musicians, so I was able to leave things like the tempo to them. I think with less experienced players, the caller does need to do more than just warn them when to stop, so this was great for my first time.

We had a mix of skill levels among the dancers: one absolute and ungifted beginner, two people who have been coming for a while but have been kind of slow to progress, and then a bunch of old hands. I mostly kept my eyes on the three people I was worried about, and spoke directly to them during the teaching.

The first thing I learned is that, although you ought to have notes, you can't look at them and call at the same time. It was a good thing I had the dances memorized, because I never had the chance to look down at my paper. It was also good that I'd planned out how I wanted to describe various dance moves, because I was nervous enough to be standing on stage that I doubt I would've had much skill at improvising explanations.

Both dances went smoothly. I had to call all the way through Ashford Anniversary, because we just do two repetitions of the dance and because the absolute beginner froze every single time we came to the chorus figure. (On the second time through the dance, when we got to the chorus I just called her part - "first woman, skip around" - because everyone else had it.) When they danced Well Hall, after the first few repetitions I was able to just relax and watch them dance, throwing in occasional words of advice ("take your time, don't rush this"). It's a lovely dance, one of my favorites as a dancer, but of course I'd never seen it from the stage before. I loved being able to see the whole set at once, moving forward and back in the graceful, sweeping patterns of the dance. Watching them, I felt a surge of warm tender emotions, and almost lost my place. (I was supposed to be keeping track of when a good time to stop would be.)

As I was coming down off the stage afterward, the president said, "That was the calling debut of Rivka Wald," and everyone applauded. I was so grateful he hadn't said it in advance! Many people had kind things to say, but I was glad to melt back into ordinary dancerhood. At the end of the evening, I was surprisingly exhausted. Who knows how people manage to call for an entire dance.
rivka: (Default)
This evening, for the first time, I'm going to call some dances for my English Country Dance group.

I've been interested in calling for a while. It initially arose out of frustration with callers who irritate me, which perhaps isn't the best of motivations. But I also think it's something that I'll do well, once I've had some practice. So I've been talking to different callers, collecting advice, and thinking about how I would explain various dance moves and dances.

Tonight's a "community callers" night, meaning that lots of different people will call a few dances each. I've been promised skilled musicians who require little direction. (I haven't the faintest idea of how to direct ECD musicians, so this is a very good thing.) I've chosen two simple dances I know well. The only potential hitch is that it's the first Monday of the month, and the first Monday is when we have a new dancers' workshop before the regular dance. So there will probably be some complete beginners.

As we always do, I'll teach the steps of each dance first, phrase by phrase. Then, as they dance it through with the music, I'll call out upcoming steps just before or just as they happen. If anyone gets confused or loses track of what they're supposed to be doing, it will be my job to call out enough useful instructions to fix it. That's the part that worries me most.

The dances I've chosen are:
Ashford Anniversary )

Well Hall )

I'll probably make something of a mess of it - I'm sure everyone does, when they're up there for the first time trying to call and pay attention to the musicians and watch the dancers and pick up on mistakes as they're happening. But it's not as if it would be any easier if I waited longer. I know these dances by heart. They're easy. There will be a lot of experienced dancers there to help out the beginners. So here we go - wish me luck!
rivka: (her majesty)
Disclaimer: This post is probably going to piss some people off. I'm not doing it just for the fun of hosting a Sacred Cow BBQ. I welcome negative comments as well as the other kind, but if you can't stand to hear alt.callahans criticized at all, then probably you don't want to click through. Contrariwise, if you're not even slightly interested in alt.callahans or the place it used to have in my life, then probably you don't want to click through either.
Read more... )


rivka: (Default)

April 2017



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