Sunday, December 26, 2004

Another Year Older

Wow - what a busy week it's been! Having a birthday right on top of Christmas certainly makes for an exceptionally active holiday season, so naturally I haven't had much time to write. I am fortunate enough to have a husband who not only makes certain to ensure that my birthday doesn't get lost in the Christmas fervor, but also pretty much celebrates it for the entire month of December! As the weather forecast was looking sketchy for the actual day of December 23, we went for my traditional bike ride the day prior, this time at Crabtree since my knee was aching more than usual. While I was thrilled to be out spending such a gorgeous and unseasonably warm afternoon riding my bike, I was disappointed in how painful and difficult even the simplest stretch of trail was due to my knee. I have my MRI films, but obviously can't make heads or tails of them, and have a follow-up appointment with the orthopedist scheduled for January 5. We spent my actual birthday, December 23, catching up on some things I had been wanting to do, since the weather had taken a turn for the worse and was rainy and dreary. I knew cold weather was approaching and had wanted to get Spyder a horse blanket style coat. After searching everywhere for one in his size to no avail, I couldn't believe my fortune to locate one at Triangle Horse Sports in Raleigh. But not only that, it was the exact brand, model, color, and size I had wanted as my first choice - a green Weatherbeeta Arion in a 24 inch length - and was very reasonably priced! It fits Spyder like a glove, is totally weatherproof, and looks fantastic on him (he has a photo section of it in my galleries linked to the left). We finished out the evening with a delicious meal at the Bamboo Club and then a blackberry and coconut concrete from Goodberrys. For Christmas Eve, we bought some new scented candles and holders, and spent some quality time with Spyder and Zoe here at home, electing to wait and visit my grandparents on Christmas Day. I did call and talk with my mom, but as she had just moved to the coast and was tied up with that, we decided to actually visit each other at a later time. My grandftaher has recently had a stroke, and it was odd to see him so meek and subdued which is very unlike his usual brash jovial self. He did appear to be very happy to see me, however, and I believe he recognized me although I don't know for sure if he knew my name. My aunt (who is a bellydance instructor and is the person who introduced me to the art) and uncle were also there, along with my sister, her husband and their two sons. It was wonderful to see my nephews, Corey and Paul, again - they always make me laugh with their "Malcolm in the Middle" type shenanigans - but I still can't believe they are 6 and 12. It seems like only yesterday that they were little tiny babies, and now Paul is nearly a teenager! Rather than let it get me down, though, I've chosen to look at my aging as moving into the BEST half of my life...

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

We went out to Beaverdam this morning, only to find - not surprisingly - that the trail was closed for riding due to wet conditions. So we took advantage of the soft damp dirt to do some work the park had wanted, and rerouted a section that had been eroding and was in need of repair. After four hours of hard manual labor, we decided to return home, grab some lunch, shower, change and then head out to the - GASP - mall. I had received a limited-time gift certificate for my birthday from one of the stores there and we figured we may as well go spend it before the Christmas shopping rush intensified any more. While traveling down US-1 and crossing through one of the intersections, we couldn't help but notice nine motorcyclists stopped at the side street waiting for the light to change - the first eight were lined up in pairs and each wore a set of reindeer antlers on their helmets. And who was the ninth biker, centered behind the last pair? Why, jolly old St. Nick, of course - adorned in red suit and hat, white beard and all! Talk about Holiday Spirit - I'm still smiling. :)

Thursday, December 9, 2004

Woman’s Best Friend

There's something about dogs. Maybe it's because I have no children, but my pup holds such a special place in my heart. I can be having the worst day ever in the history of the universe, and yet when I look into Spyder's big accepting, unconditionally loving eyes, all seems somehow right with the world. He appears to know when I'm feeling down, and will do his now famous rollover and cover his eyes for his "peek-a-boo" silliness, to which I have no choice but to laugh out loud and forget all about the mundane worries of the everyday. Each morning after his breakfast, he shares his gratitude for my having prepared his meal by standing as close to my face as possible and giving me that big old dog-food-breath belch that says "thanks mom - that was delicious!", and then insists that I scratch his little pink tummy, at least for a moment. He's my closest little buddy, my doggie-soulmate, and certainly has earned his place as this "woman's best friend".

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Wonder Woman

If I call myself Wonder Woman, it's because I Wonder what in the name of all that is sane I'm doing out here on this bike trail in the deep woods totally alone (mainly because I can't keep up with the rest of the group as a result of my hesitancy on the slippery terrain), with only the two points of light I'm wearing on my handlebar and my helmet to guide me. The trail is still damp from yesterday's rain, and the roots and rocks have become treacherously slick, giving me the feeling that my bike is more skating on the trail than anything else, and I query what possessed me to come out here and put myself through this. It's dark and spooky at times, the newly rerouted sections of trail are about as solid feeling as riding on a rain-soaked mattress, and what is that rustling in the trees??? I can periodically see tiny red or green eyes peering at me from behind the bushes, hear the scampering of night creatures across the leaves, and almost fear I'm going to see the Blair Witch jump out from behind a rock as I round a corner. The forest wavers between deafening silence and unfamiliar nocturnal animal (at least I hope it's only animal!) noises. This trail that I'm so familiar with during the day now seems completely foreign to me. I have no point of reference as my visibility is limited to the area right around me, so some of the small ditches and logs seem inexorably huge while others which are normally gargantuan seem like miniatures. It's scary, exhilirating, frustrating, exhausting and rejuvenating. It's night riding, and even though I complain and whine about it being too difficult, too scary, too much of a hassle with the lights, batteries and wires, too this and too that, I keep coming back to it, drawn to it like some kind of addiction I can't escape. There's something fresh and exciting about riding even the same familiar old trails when I take to them at night. Despite the fact that I do occasionally - as I did tonight - finish the ride disappointed in the knowledge that I rode less well than I knew I was capable of, I realize that this evening's difficulties stemmed primarily from the trail being so slick rather than the night itself. And I continue to be under the spell of night riding, knowing that before a week has passed, I'll be back out here again, taunting the darkness and communing with the other side of nature.

Sunday, December 5, 2004

Little River and The New Gear

I had to admit defeat somewhat after a night ride last week whereby I realized that until I got my knee problem resolved I was not going to be able to push the 32x18 gear. So today Steve switched my bike to a 32x19, which dropped it down roughly one gear easier. I gave the new ratio a try at the Little River Trails Grand Opening this afternoon. Although the trails had a lot of up and down (mostly up it seemed), and there were a couple of climbs I was still unable to make, I was happy to find that the reduced gear ratio seemed to work a lot better. After about two hours or so of riding, my knee was still quite sore and painful, but not nearly to the degree it was after less than one hour at the higher gear. As an aside, it was also most wonderful to see so many people at the grand opening in support of the mountain bike trails. I saw lots of folks I hadn't seen in a long while, and had an extremely pleasant afternoon chatting with old friends and making new ones. I'm also pleased to report that I'm still gaining confidence and an increased level of comfort in handling on the rigid bike, and feel like our "bonding" process is coming along nicely. I don't even think about the fact that I have no suspension (or gears) anymore at all, and it just seems completely natural and normal for me.

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Dance Video

Today I had the privilege of being invited to participate in the second of the Look Good Feel Good instructional dance video series being produced by my teacher, Qadria of Belly Revelations. How fun to spend the entire afternoon surrounded by my beautiful dance sisters (and brothers - Dave's drumming was incredible, and Jeff even brought us pizza for dinner)! There was so much positive energy that it was almost palpable. Today's taping session included beledi and ayoub rhythms, along with some simple choreography combinations for each. I never realized just how difficult it is to perform dance movements in a mirrored fashion, i.e. using my right to demonstrate what would be the viewer's left. I have plenty of left/right confusion already, and now I truly have a much greater appreciation for the skill of an instructor to be able to do that in front of a class each week! We all also noted just how similar to the rhythms of life a drummer's music can be. Whenever Dave would stop drumming momentarily, we found that we would stop whatever we were doing as well - talking, walking, whatever - like the ebb and flow of our own lifeforces were temporarily suspended! All in all, it was a lovely way to spend the afternoon, and I can hardly wait to see the finished video product.

Friday, December 3, 2004

My Very Own Domain!

As an early birthday gift to me from my husband, is now up and running!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Oh My Aching Knee

Well, for a good bit over a year now I've used the old "ignore it and maybe it will go away" approach to nagging knee pain. Unfortunately however, it is not going away and so today I had to break down and make an orthopedic appointment. I kept thinking maybe it was just a pulled muscle or something like that. I tried gentle yoga, stretching, rest, heat, ice, everything, but nothing has worked. I don't believe it's related to singlespeed biking or dancing because the pain predates the institution of both those activities. Besides, I'm running what a friend calls a very "user friendly" gear ratio on my bike, and I always try to warm-up/stretch and cool down sufficiently before and after strenuous activities, making sure my muscles are nice and warm before doing any real exertion. The pain is a stabbing, deep ache that runs from the inner aspect of my right knee cap, across the front of the joint line, and over to the outer edge. It feels like a hot iron rod is being pushed through the knee itself. Attempting any kind of external rotation, such as sitting cross legged on the floor in the yoga "lotus" position and trying to push the right knee toward the floor causes excruciating, intolerable pain. I also have persistent, frequent and rather painful give-way weakness, especially when performing movements such as the downward pedal stroke on my bike, and notice a distinctive pop or click when flexing or extending my knee once it reaches about the 20 degree point in those movements, accompanied by pain. At times, I even have to use my hand to further flex or extend the joint, and am frequently unable to perform this maneuver with the leg raised or otherwise unsupported from behind the knee. As nothing I have tried has worked so far, I decided to take the advice of my primary doctor and make the orthopedic appointment. Hopefully Dr. Fajgenbaum will be able to identify the cause of the problem and provide a solution that won't sideline me for too long. Keep your fingers crossed!
Posted by Tammy at 8:32 PM

Monday, November 22, 2004

First Dance Performance 11/13/2004

First Dance Performance November 13, 2004
I know this is rather late, as my first performance was actually a little over a week ago, but incredibly I'm still recovering from the excitement of it all! I was so nervous all day and night Friday and then by Saturday afternoon I was pretty much a nervous wreck. By the time Robin arrived at my house for us to practice, I could barely remember my name, much less the choreography! And then we changed it in several places, with only a few hours left to go before performing. On arriving at the dance studio Saturday evening, she and I went over the routine again a couple of more times, and I felt like we were fairly ready. Of course, when you're on stage and everyone is watching you and you know this is your one shot at it, well, let's just say I was glad Qadria was behind the audience with our "cheat sheet" to sort of keep us on track with what moves were coming up next. The only thing is, I didn't write on the sheet how MANY of each move and to which direction, so when I got my right confused with my left, there just wasn't much even she could do to help! Luckily, I didn't drop my veil, it didn't catch on my hair or my costume, and I didn't fall down, so I suppose I would have to say the performance was a success overall. I still cringe a little watching the video and seeing my left-right confusion and nervous stiffness, but I think if I can use that to learn and grow as a dancer, it's worth it. Also, as Kate told me, I can count this performance as the first one under my belt, so to speak, and ideally it will get easier and less anxiety ridden each successive time. And even now, with merely one performance to my credit and as much as I enjoy dancing to Qadria's beautiful choreographies, I'm already looking forward to writing and performing one of my very own.
P.S. As a side note, I guess this would be a good time to explain my dance name. Izdihaar is the Arabic term for "blossoming and flourishing" - I feel it is a beautiful reminder of my aspirations in my own development as a dancer.

Rigid Singlespeed

Well, I've gotten a couple of more rides on the new rigid singlespeed, and I have to say that the more I ride this bike, the more I want to ride this bike! It just seems to fit the way I ride. I never actually learned how to USE suspension anyway, so adapting to rigid was really not such a big deal for me. And the funny thing is, whereas my back used to ache when I rode full suspension with gears, on the rigid singlespeed, I've had no pain whatsoever. I wonder if it's due to the fact that this bike forces me to stand and move around a LOT more than I used to, thus using different muscles while allowing others to rest? Regardless, I can't believe how much fun I'm having - I feared my love of bicycling was gone forever, what with the race burnout, the muscle aches and pains, and just generally being stuck in a rut. This rigid one-geared bike has revived my love for this sport, and made me feel like a kid - I can't wait to get back out on the trail again and again and again....! :)
Posted by Tammy at 7:38 PM


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