Tuesday, January 13, 2009

End of season

Due to my upcoming hip surgeries, Tim and I will sit out the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

Don’t count us out though. We plan to be back in 2011.

Meanwhile you can keep up with my recovery from two periacetabular osteotomy (PAO) surgeries on hipsk8.blogspot.com.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Iced In

I skated this morning solo, and it was pretty lousy after a few weeks off the ice and with dull blades to boot. Yeah yeah, excuses, excuses. Plus all of the off-ice training I'm doing (elliptical, weights, yoga) to help my hips has done a number on my body - it's in transition right now and frequently cries out in protest.

I think I'm developing some of the dormant muscles that have atrophied in recent years because of my hip issues, because I'm able to focus directly on my weak spots thanks to our new basement workout room. This is good in the long run, but right now it's pretty painful. I am also working on the upper body, the better to wrestle those crutches next summer.

Perry bought an elliptical trainer and "Inspire" weight machine for himself, but I've been using them quite a bit lately too. Plus I've been doing the Power Yoga with Rodney Yee DVD (I highly recommend it). I've been getting buff in anticipation of the debuffing that will occur when I have surgery in 6 months or so. The more buff I am before, the easier it will be to tolerate the debuffing and recover, or so the theory goes. And based on blogs I've read, the hip chicks who start off in better shape seem to recover faster once on the other side of the knife.

But back to skating ... today I was mostly sore from the extra off-ice workouts and out of practice from not being on the ice, so it was pretty much a lost cause on the ice. Tim is back from vacation Friday so I hope to get another session in before that on my own. Then we need to get busy on the final leg of this competition season. I am looking forward to it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Iced Out

OK, I'm running out of "Tim-approved" TnT pics, so here's a T pic!

I haven't written much here lately. Tim and I practiced on Tuesday (and a very nice practice it was, as we fixed a whole bunch of places in our free dance that had been bothering us). Meanwhile the weather has been getting worse and worse. Today Perry and I were iced in and spent the day going stir crazy in the house. Tomorrow, with everything iced over, we'll probably do the same. Who knows how this week will go weather-wise? Crappy weather is expected through the holidays. Since we live at 600 feet elevation, at the top of a hill, we always get the worst of the weather.

Somehow we're down to 4 months until adult nationals, work is light, and I can't get to the rink to practice. This would have been a great week to run through things and continue our momentum, but it looks like we won't be skating much, if at all. I am getting a bit antsy about this. Not much more to say!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Run through

It was tough to get up this morning after a nice 4-day holiday spent doing a lot of nothing. No hip exercises, no stretching, and no skating. But up I got and went to practice where, miraculously, we did an entire free dance run through with lifts. All 5 elements were completed, we had no falls, we were skating fast (although in the small rink we can't really push it out), and we hit most of the musical highlights.

That's not to say it was perfect. We still have unison issues and moves that don't work right all the time, we aren't always skating to the music, and we are in the "hey this is new for us" stage and so not relating to each other very well yet. This is exactly where we should be at this point in the season.

I look back to the 2006/7 season when we had an earlier start but did our own choreography; our goal was to skate in the mid-December holiday shows, which we did. Even though we aren't skating the shows this year since I'll be in Lake Placid, I think if we had to, we could do a reasonable performance in two weeks. It would be rough, but it was rough two years ago when we did it. I think we're on track for the season with 4 and a half months to go.

Now we better kick ourselves in the butt and get working on our compulsory dances!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Back on the ice ...

We had a nice practice today after a full 10 days off the ice due to my cold/virus/flu and trip to Scottsdale to judge. I'm still coughing but able to skate. We did a good free dance run through sans lifts and sans music (skating at a public session so couldn't play the music). We worked on the lifts outside the program and they worked nicely, although we're going to need a stopwatch to make sure we aren't heading for an overtime lift deduction.

I know if I say what I'm about to say I may jinx it, but my hips feel really good. Maybe it's because I've been off the ice for a while. Maybe it's that I've been lifting weights. I know better than to think I'm magically cured, but it's nice to feel like I can get through this season.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Yes, I did skate ...

...yesterday. Since I was going to the hip specialist today, I figured what the hell, I am going to give it my all and then I can bitch and whine to him and he'll be able to observe how bad it is at its worst.

Tim is out of town so I went at lunchtime and put on my favorite music and just skated. And do you know what? It didn't hurt, not until I was done anyway. I skated really well. I just floated over the ice and felt the music and skated my little heart out. It was probably the best skate of my life, or at least the most memorable, just totally at one with the ice and the music in my own little world. I kind of figured the doctor might not have the best news for me, and this was sort of my answer to that -- right now, at this very moment, I can still get out there and move around some.

I'm sure the lunchtime crowd at Lloyd Center, who couldn't hear the music on my headphones, wondered why I was so emotional out there but really, it wasn't about them, it was about me and really about all of us who continue to do the things we love despite being told we shouldn't; those who persevere against all the odds; those who just won't take no for an answer. It's for all of you who know just what I mean by that.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Skate America

Tim is in Guatemala and my hips are recovering from Skate America, where I volunteered as an “ice monitor.” It sounded simple enough in concept … stand by the door and open it to let the skaters onto the ice, then close the door. As volunteer jobs go that is pretty darn simple. But 4 hours of standing in the cold each day did me in. It is only now, 3 days later, that I can walk without assistance, and I am glad that Tim doesn’t return until Monday because skating is going to be a non-event until then.

I was assigned to all the dance events, probably because they figured I actually know when to open the door after 3 patterns of the Viennese Waltz! The very first event of the competition was in fact compulsory dance, and my headphone was not working. Unbeknownst to me, the TV producer who controls all the cameras, the doors, and the timing of the event so that it is consistent with the TV commercials kept asking the Ice Monitor, me, for status, and since no sound was coming through, I stood there, apparently oblivious. The TV guy was going crazy, and finally asked, “who IS that moron down there?!” Of course, everyone on the headsets heard that including the announcers, USFSA bigwigs, all the camera guys, and most of the volunteers in the arena. Pretty comical considering I kept the event going just fine without his input, but after all, I am a referee and I've attended enough skating competitions that, moron or not, I do know when to open and shut the door all by myself.

The press corps was provided catered meals, while we volunteers had ... apples. And water. Occasionally power bars but those went fast. Trying to find a vegetarian meal in the arena was near impossible of course, so the apples were very welcome. One morning I snuck into the press area for a cup of coffee -- I figured I might be shot or escorted from the building, but as luck would have it there was nobody there. My credential allowed me in that part of the arena but my attire absolutely identified me as a "non-press person."

Speaking of attire ... more fun times! By the time I checked in at the volunteer desk the only sizes left for the mandatory volunteer outfit (black turtleneck and black vest) were “XXL.” For those who don’t know me, I’m about 5’4” and 120 lbs. I’m not tiny, but I’m also nowhere near an XXL! The turtleneck came down to my knees, and I could fit 3 of me and a small VW bus in there. The vest, which I wore over my fanny pack, the turtleneck, and a black jacket to keep me warm, was sized similarly. I wore the fanny pack in front, so the result of all this was that I looked like a very pregnant version of the Michelin Man.

It was bad enough that friends I passed in the mixed zone didn’t even recognize me, walking right on by when I waved and said hello. Paul Harvath covered this up later by saying, “did you do something with your hair? I didn’t recognize you!” Right Paul, what you REALLY wanted to say was, “when did you get so hugely fat and when is your due date?”

And on top of all this, we were advised to go see “hair and makeup” before going out there because of course, try as we might to avoid the TV cameras, we couldn’t always get out of the way. On top of my very stylish coiffure, I had to wear headphones, so that was pretty much a lost cause. However, my makeup looked damn good. So there I was looking lovely, but well padded, for all the world to see.

Of course it is not about me, but about the skaters, and my job as ice monitor is to be unobtrusive, but I was just too … well … bulky to totally fade into the background. So look for me on IceNetwork … stoically holding the door and ducking under camera cables while trying to look like part of the scenery!

P.S. - I hope my readers weren't expecting me to actually comment on the SKATING at Skate America. And please don't even mention the "Johnny vs. Evan" rabid maniac fans. You can read what they have to say on Ice Network's blogs. I can't help myself, I really do enjoy it when they talk about the "moron judges" and follow that up with comments indicating their utter lack of knowledge about skating. However, come to think of it ... moron judge ... moron ice monitor ... Hmmm, I guess I really am a total moron!

P.P.S. - In order to be PC, I must include the following disclaimer: Not all skating fans are rabid maniacs, and most know a lot about skating, it's just that some of them do not, and those seem to be the ones who blog the most, and bash judges the most, and truly have no idea what they are talking about. I find it all quite entertaining.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Run through

Today we did a free dance program run through with music.

Now that sounds pretty marvelous until I expand on the thought. We did 2 minutes of a 3 minute program (we do kind of know the rest of it, but not well enough to do it, with music, yet). We walked our first lift because my hip was acting up and I just could not support my weight with just my legs this morning. And I am sure we didn't really "perform" since we were more concerned with remembering what we were supposed to be doing, and where on the ice, and when in the music.

But we did get through it and that's what a run through is all about at this point in the season. Getting through it, not stopping even when we are totally running into each other or not exactly sure what goes where. I have to give us our props, we plowed on through and we did not stop. We hit some of the highlights. The moves we've struggled with were still a problem, but we did them, or tried.

Tim and I have very different opinions about how to learn and do a program. I need to know what edges we are supposed to be on, for example, although this information is something Tim doesn't require. Steps are good to know too ... is this supposed to be a counter or a choctaw? Doesn't matter to Tim, but it does to me.

So while choreographing we've had to really pin these down, so that I too can participate, because otherwise we just make stuff up and while that's fine, it doesn't work so well when you involve judges in the equation.

Six months until adult nationals ... and we have a run through in our back pocket. Now the real work begins.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

2 years, 16 tests

We breathed a big sigh of relief this morning.

I also screamed a bit and gave Tim a high five and jumped up and down going "woo hoo." This was after he passed his starlight waltz test, his first pregold. Test number 16. That's 16 tests in 2 years (we've skated for two and a half years but 6 months of those we weren't skating after his achilles surgery so they don't count). And now, we have finally qualified for the gold dance event, a journey which began in 2006.

The test itself --- all I can say is, Tim was amazing. When I stumbled on a mohawk he just kept going, and 3 steps later I caught up to him and he didn't miss a beat. The judges didn't even mention what could have been a deal breaker. It was more than just a "nice save." Disaster was averted because he just kept going ... and didn't even blink. I appreciate my skating partner so much at moments like these. He is truly awesome. Congratulations Tim!

No, this is not what I wore for the test!

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Fuzzy pictures of the amazing choreography Tim made up ... captured from video

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday is drill day

Today Julia and Jordan joined us on the ice and we all worked together on the drills we learned at the high dance camp. We tried to synchronize the four of us as we skated the length of the ice doing twizzles, power pulls, and the rocker/counter sequence. I think we should compete as a team of “four” if we do this often enough and get synchronized well enough. There used to be an actual "Fours" event ...

They taught us a power pull drill we hadn’t learned which was a killer. We then worked a little on silver samba together, trading partners and advice.

This is what we all love about adult competition. We will be going head to head with them at adult nationals this year in gold dance, and yet we are all having fun skating together and helping each other improve. The more all of us improve, the better the level will be in the gold dance event.

Afterwards Tim and I worked on the opening to our free dance, which is a rhumba. Our coach has given us some ballroom dance steps to do on the ice, which is much harder than it sounds. The steps are challenging on the floor and near impossible on the ice. We did that for what seemed like hours and it started to improve. Now we need to put the music on and see what happens.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Portland is Dance Town

We went to Mountain View today for our final lesson with Jon and Pam. We have had 3 hours of private lessons in addition to the High Dance Camp seminars and we feel like we have made significant improvement.

This morning from 6 to 8 AM there were 4 (FOUR!!!) dance teams on the ice, 3 of them adult teams. There were Julia and Jordan, Laura and Kiel, us, and Maddie and Nathan (Intermediate competitors). Wow, this is what it must be like to be in a dance training center. What an energizing morning! Mostly the 3 adult teams were working on similar things; all of us were working on silver samba, for example, so it was just a samba-fest out there when the music came on.

We are sore and tired. I stayed up late last night remaking a skating dress so I can wear it for Tim's starlight test, then got up at 4:30 AM for the lesson, so I am sleep deprived as well. I lost 5 lbs. over the weekend and I ate like a pig. That's how hard we worked. We thought about taking a rest day tomorrow but decided to skate, just make it an easy day on our training plan. We are psyched, we are making progress, and we are motivated once again.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Walking Wounded

Today Tim and I had our private lesson with Jonathon O'Dougherty and Pam O'Connor, AKA "The O's" -- (2002 British Nationals Champions and guest coaches for the Adult High Dance Camp). We are truly the walking wounded, munching Advil as if it is candy and wearing ice bags as if they were high fashion, but we were there at the hotel promptly at 5:45 this morning to transport Jonathon and Pam to the rink.

So there's me, with sore hips from skating this week, limping through the parking lot. And here comes Tim, post auto accident, with back and neck hurting and his "good" achilles tendon acting up. Jonathon and Pam had no idea we were injured because we put on our happy faces and pushed through our hour long lesson and loved every minute. Our Samba is now so much better! We need to work on some things but if we do, well, our Samba will be even more better. And there's nothing better than more better.

We go back to the rink tonight to work on the Tango Romantica at the High Dance Camp clinic. We know one of the steps quite well, since we stole it for our OD in 2007, but the rest of the dance will be a challenge.

Can we make it through this weekend? My Costco-sized bottle of Ibuprofen is only half full. Or maybe it's half empty. Time will tell.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Feeding the Rumor Mill

As an attempt to start a rumor about myself and create some "buzz," I am hereby reporting that this morning I skated two sessions with someone other than my partner; a handsome gentleman not seen very often around these parts. Who is he? What does this mean? Has Tim dumped me? So many questions.

We worked on (gasp) the gold competition dances for this season, Viennese and Samba. Send that through the grapevine all ye rumormongers!

As if that weren't shocking enough, we worked on the Quickstep, Argentine tango, and Westminster Waltz ... and even a pattern or two of the Blues and Kilian. Who WAS that masked man?

Now a serious thought on the anniversary of September 11th. I think most of us remember where we were and what we were doing on September 11th. I know I do. Today is a day of remembrance and mourning for most of us. It's also a good time to pause to tell our loved ones how much we care about them, and to reflect on ways to make the world a better place. My number one wish in this post-9/11 world is to reduce our dependency on foreign energy sources, something at which I personally have not been very successful. I drive a car to the rink, the rink uses a vast amount of energy to maintain an artificial frozen surface, and I frequently fly to destinations for skating events. It's a dilemma. Something to ponder.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

If it's not one thing, it's another

We did not skate as planned yesterday as Tim was involved in a motor vehicle accident. Not his fault, and he walked away with no major injuries, but he is suffering from whiplash and hurting today. We are going to wait a couple of days to skate. I am extremely glad that he is OK.

Between injuries, family issues, and accidents, it has been a challenging week or two. I have not skated and thus I am able to walk. It's an interesting tradeoff. I feel like going to the rink but then I get anxious about what will happen on the pain scale if I do. In some ways I'm in denial because if I don't skate, I feel almost normal. But really, what good is feeling normal if I can't skate? It's a paradox. You know, the place where you keep two boats.

I hear all of you groaning. You've just been subjected to one of the two jokes that I have made up in my lifetime. The other one is, "It's a paradigm -- you know, 20 cents!" There you go, a pair o' jokes.

Obviously comedy is not my thing. Signing off now, for obvious reasons.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Back to work

Tim and I have taken a week off to attend to family matters. A week off the ice has done wonders for my ability to walk. I was walking with a cane the first day, and as of today I am walking pretty normally and almost pain free with no assistance. So clearly the doctor was right - skating is bad for my hips.

However, this doesn't mean I am not going to skate. We plan to skate this afternoon, and every afternoon this week, preparing for a lesson with some outstanding coaches in Seattle on Monday. So I'm getting ready for the onslaught of pain, and hoping it doesn't happen. I'm ready to do a lot of stretching. I've been using a fit ball instead of a chair when I work at home. That helps. Work is another matter. It has been 4 weeks since I put in a request for a sit/stand work station. They obviously don't care if I'm in a lot of pain since they are taking their time. I have rigged up my own sit/stand using a cardboard box and a clipboard, but my chair is really awful and they need to get me a new one. I'm not allowed to sit on a fitball at work (!) as it's deemed "unsafe." Sometimes they pop and people fall down, I was told. So what? Like I'm not used to falling down??

I digress, and I promised to limit this type of talk to my hip related blog. But it is relevant right now. I am excited to skate again after time off and also apprehensive because my pain level is so low and I hope it stays that way. Tim and I will be working mostly on his starlight to test. I think I can handle that but we'll find out today.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A timely post from Mombo

Mombo strikes again with a lovely post which talks about why we (all of us) ice dance, why we compete in ice dance (especially as adults), and why we work so hard at it:

It's "just doing something that you truly love the best that you can do it."


Sunday, August 17, 2008


I think we may have found our signature move.

This is despite Tim's insistence that "hydroblades have no place in ice dancing." I agree, except for the Bourne and Kraatz version, because they were just so good that it worked.

By the way, I also don't see how spins have any place in ice dancing, but we're working on those too. In typical "what the hell" spirit, we're doing all kinds of things we may not agree with in order to get points. I mean if we're going to compete, we would be wasting our time if we didn't try to rack up a few.

This is also why I'm taking yoga, the better to contort myself in lifts, to get more points. I give in - it's all about points now and we want a ton of 'em.

(Those who know me realize I have some strong views on this subject. I won't go into a discussion of IJS tonight, although I promise to do so in a future post.)

But back to that signature move. Today I tried a hydroblade for the first time in a long time. I used to do a back inside version but that now hurts my hip, so I tried a back outside version and had much more success. So much so that I was shocked I'd never tried one before. It was fun and easier than I thought it would be. Tim could almost do one too. So even though it's not really dancing, we had fun doing some hydroblades today and we may include one as a highlight this season.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What is up with falling down?

This is the second time in as many practices that I've had a fall where I went straight down directly onto my hind parts. These were quick falls, as in "one moment I'm up, then boom, I'm sitting down." Both were from pretty much a standstill and had no "slide" to take away some of the impact.

Eskimos have many, many words for "snow." Likewise, skaters should have a full lexicon of terms for different types of falls in order to do justice to their differences. In skaterspeak, I would describe this type of fall as a sheer-drop-straight-down-no-slide-single-impact-booming-buttfall. That name doesn't really capture the moment though. It's something I'll have to think about. Stay tuned for future blogging brilliance on this topic.

Now my back hurts but that could also be from the lift we are teaching ourselves. It's a cantilever that we're trying to do without any support other than my legs, which are wrapped around Tim's leg while he's doing a spread eagle. Right now we are holding on with one arm each (for about 2 seconds, then I need his other arm or I start sliding down toward the ice).

Clearly I will need to hit the gym, and ask a personal trainer how to get more "leg squeeze strength." I hope I can say that with a straight face, especially when I have to demonstrate what it looks like. Right, I'll probably say, "I need to be able to support 100% of my own body weight with my legs by wrapping them around someone else's leg. Then I have to hang there parallel to the ice ... uh, ground ... while someone watching counts to 3, like this: 'one-one-thousand-two-one-thousand-three-one-thousand.'" (Then I have to use my abs to pull myself back upright so that I can go into a "skate-to-the-head" position, but I'll tell that to the yoga teacher so two people can make fun of me.)

Yeah, I really have nothing to lose, they already think skaters are freaks at the gym anyway ("yeah Joe, so this woman comes into the gym, wants to increase her "leg squeeze strength" ... needs to be able to contort herself, but only for 3 seconds ... and has some ginormous bruises on her butt. Should I call the cops?")

And to think that I had a problem with the rocker foxtrot!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Ultimate Test

The Rocker F#@$!trot: AKA the most difficult ice dance ever created.

I’d rather do the Midnight Blues, Finnstep, or Golden Waltz than the Rocker Foxtrot and any of those would no doubt be easier and less anxiety- producing for me. That’s because the Rocker Foxtrot contains the one step in ice dancing that I just have not been able to master: the FO Mohawk in foxtrot position.

I know, I know. An outside to outside Mohawk should be a piece of cake for someone who has passed gold dances. But the catch is “in foxtrot position.”

I can do the dance just fine solo, but attach me to a partner and I am “Stuck.” As in, “blocked,” or “physically prevented from turning.” Frustratingly so, since I do the turn just fine by myself. I start to turn, as does my partner, and then I can turn no farther and either fall or have to bail out.

(I did pass the test, many years ago, with a partner who was patient and skated very much like me, and for some reason the turn worked with him. But it has never worked with anyone else before or since.)

I’m not afraid of falling on the turn, as I’ve pointed out to the many coaches who’ve tried to help me fix it. It’s not a fear thing, although I do feel paralyzed as my body hangs there in mid-turn and goes no farther, while my partner drags me along, or I fall, and that can be a bit anxiety-producing. It’s more a frustration thing – why does my body all of a sudden stop in mid-turn? What can I do differently?, I would ask coach after coach. There has to be something going on with my body that can be fixed, some small technical detail that is the key to this turn.

“It’s all in your head,” I was told. “You just need to go for it!” “You need to bend your knees more.” “Just turn out your hips more” (give me a break, I have no turnout but can still do the turn myself, so that can’t be it). “Don’t look down.” “Track in front of your partner.” “Don’t break at the waist.” None of these worked.

After all of this advice, I finally “went for it” one day enough to fall harder than normal, sliding headfirst into the wall and getting a mild concussion. That’s when I said enough was enough and stopped doing the dance for many years. I joked that I was born without the Mohawk Gene, and always found a way to be in the ladies room when the Rocker Foxtrot was played at dance weekends.

Enough really WAS enough because I had no reason to do the damn thing until Tim came along, and had to test it in order for us to qualify for the Gold dance event. Which meant I had to either swallow my pride and ask him to test it with another partner, or swallow my fear of failure, bite the bullet, and conquer the RF once and for all.

While in Lake Placid recently, I studied the rocker foxtrots on practice. I saw that everyone could do this turn, even if they weren’t the greatest skater. I watched body positions, tracking, and edges into and out of the turn, and I tried to mimic what the best rocker foxtrotters were doing in my mind. I had an epiphany and thought I had figured it out, so when I got home I asked Tim to try the dance with me. We were both skeptical, but it turned out that my own observation and mimicry were able to do what years of advice from coaches had not: it wasn’t pretty, but I was finally able to do the turn without getting blocked.

I thought this must be a fluke, so we tried it again with more speed. No block. We did several patterns. No block. The mohawk seemed, dare I say it, easy.

That was Monday. This is Sunday. This morning, Tim passed his Rocker Foxtrot test by all three judges, as did the other 3 people testing it (a veritable Rocker Foxtrot Festival! ... And all 8 of us dressed in black, which was unnecessarily pessimistic as it turned out). Congratulations to Bill Cloran, Bill Fisher (Bill also passed his Foxtrot and European, completing the pre-silvers), and Annee Magee (Annee also passed her Tango and American for a silver sweep). Tim has now completed his Silver dances.

Of all those testing today, Tim's prop was definitely the most nervous. This was more a test for me than for him, as he is comfortable with the dance and skates it well and could have tested it a long time ago. I feel happier about this result than my own gold dance test. I can do the rocker foxtrot, that's right, yes I can! Today, dare I say it, the mohawk seemed easy.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

That's Entertainment ...


I just read my last blog post and wow, it was just not entertaining as promised. An entire synopsis of our free dance elements, including imaginary GOEs and levels??? Wow, what was I thinking? Who would be interested in reading that other than a bunch of ...


wait ---


Friday, August 8, 2008

Now back to our regularly scheduled blogging

I will be starting a new blog for my hip related issues so that this blog can be used for its original purpose --- that’s right -- entertainment! TnTsk8 will focus on Tim and Terri’s preparation for Adult Nationals this season. (Don’t you love it when people refer to themselves in 3rd person? Terri does!) I will only mention my hip when it is directly relevant to our training. My strong hope is that it won’t be very relevant. We plan to compete this year unless I am in so much pain I have to stop. Cross your fingers.

Now, moving on to the entertainment as promised. Today we had a good practice which for me was almost pain free. We did our circular footwork and made some changes to it. We had one fall on a twizzle where Tim apparently kicked my feet out from under me and I went straight down on my butt (but missed my tail bone). It didn’t hurt much but I’m sure I’ll be sore tomorrow. We are trying to increase our speed in the footwork and so things like this are bound to happen. We like the changes overall. I am pretty sure we won’t get more than a Level 1, but if we skate to the music we should get decent GOEs.

We modified our curve lift to make it a serpentine lift, which is a 12-second lift as opposed to a 6-second lift. We need one more position change to make it Level 3, or else I need to be able to get my foot to my head. (Maxiflex, anyone?) I haven’t been stretching lately but I used to be able to do this, so it’s not an impossible goal. Stay tuned for more entertainment in this direction, perhaps even pictures of me stuck in unlikely positions.

Our balance/straight line lift is the same as always and very reliable. It’s Level 3 since we both have a difficult position (me upside down and cantilevered and Tim in a squat). Our twizzles are pretty consistent and if we both do them they are Level 4. We now need a spin. Our spin from last year is unique but won’t get a high level since we are both upright without a difficult position. I think dance spins should be abolished, actually, but since we need one, we may just stay with our old reliable this season because it’s pretty consistent.

The rest of the practice was spent on the Rocker Foxtrot. The Rocker Foxtrot is not meant to be entertaining, so I’ll sign off until next week.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Thank yous

Thanks to all who have written me privately. The response has been truly overwhelming. It upholds my belief that ice dancers (and adult skaters in general) are some of the friendliest, kindest and most caring people in the world.

I am over my shock, anger, depression and denial (I think there are 4 more steps but now is the time for action so I’m postponing those). Tim and I have been skating, albeit a bit cautiously. I’m walking slowly and sitting gingerly but I’m not out of commission yet.

There are some encouraging surgical options out there (possibly not covered by my insurance company as they are considered “experimental,” but I really need new hips more than I need a remodeled kitchen) and so I am not giving up. Many of you out there are skating on artificial hips and I have been so encouraged by your stories.

I need some time to process all of the information I’ve received. I’ll keep everyone posted. Terri

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Possibly Cathartic, Probably Immature,

...and Definitely Angry.

This is an addendum to my post from earlier today regarding my recent hip problems. If you haven't yet, please read that post first.

I realized today that my hip deformity has caused physical and emotional problems for a long time, even though I had no idea that I had this defect until today. This evening while feeling sorry for myself I recalled some of these problems; it is not much comfort now to know the reason behind them but I feel I should list them here for posterity.

I remember in Kindergarten when we were being read to, all of us kids were told we must sit "Indian Style" for 30 minutes (Not such a PC term now, but I'm sure you all know the position I mean.) At age 5 I could only sit that way for a few seconds before my legs started to shake and hurt. My femurs naturally rotate inward, not outward, and so I could then (and still now) more easily sit with my upper legs together with my lower legs turned out in "W" position.

I remember being told that we MUST sit for the half hour reading period INDIAN STYLE, and I was corrected by teachers, publicly, over and over again for being unwilling to sit that way. (Somebody explain the mindset of these Kindergarten Nazi Bitches to me ... I am at a loss.) Sometimes it hurt so much that I would cry. I remember the teachers scolding me for being "a baby" and "disruptive." Nobody thought it was a medical problem; who ever heard of a 5 year old who couldn't sit "Indian Style"? They never told my parents or sent me to a doctor, just strongly suggested to me that I was a bad child. Needless to say, children being the savages that they are, I was picked on mercilessly for being such a loser. Perhaps that's the starting point of some of my more interesting personality quirks.

Kindergarten teachers of mine, if you were here right now you'd be appalled at the highly disruptive and disobedient gesture I'm making in your direction with my middle finger. That's right, this is my blog, and I can do that if I want to. Nyah nyah nyah.

So I didn't see a doctor for the x-rays that would have made it obvious that I needed corrective surgery which, at that young age, would have prevented so many problems I've had since. Problems such as being unable to ride horses, something I love to do, because I can't walk for weeks afterwards due to my stiff and sore hips. Problems such as being yelled at as a teenager by skating coaches because I couldn't do an Ina Bauer (obviously not trying hard enough, probably lazy and bratty to boot). Problems such as difficulty in my late 30's riding a bicycle for more than a mile because my hips hurt (I chalked it up to being out of shape at the time and never rode a bike again). Problems walking over the last 3 years that I attributed to arthritis and old age which have caused me to groan like an old man as I get up and walk stiff-legged after getting up out of my chair at work, which co-workers have found amusing; I did too until it got so bad I realized that it wasn't normal.

{Addendum -- 8/8/08 -- my research reveals that periacetabular osteotomy, the surgical procedure used on children and young adults, was pioneered in 1984, so unfortunately it would not have helped me as a Kindergartner in the late '60's. However, I still wish I'd known about this problem earlier.}

Now it appears I may be too old for that type of surgery, leaving me again with the double hip replacement scenario as my only option, along with a lifetime of memories of things I could never do, or can no longer do, or stopped doing a long time ago.

Yes, I'm feeling sorry for myself, but this is my blog and I can say whatever I want to. Nyah nyah nyah.

Hip, Hip …

You thought I was going to say “hooray,” didn't you! Fooled you.

I wasn’t going to post about this, but I’m hoping someone reading may have advice for me. My diagnosis today is acetabular dysplasia, a congenital hip deformity. (German Shepherds often have hip dysplasia, so let the dog comparisons begin.) In this abnormality, the socket of the hip does not surround the ball of the joint as it does in a normal hip; those with this condition inevitably have pain, which progressively worsens; they develop arthritis, and eventually need full hip replacement. The edge of the bone may more easily fracture since it is not stable.

Of all the sports to participate in, according to the doctor, skating is just about the worst. Running or other high-impact sports would be the only things that could be worse. The doctor, I must say, was pretty unsympathetic; even though I described how I participate in the sport of ice dancing and what that entails, he clearly thought that my skating was just any old activity because, let’s face it, I’m 45 years old and most people can’t picture us old farts skating any way other than round and round the rink for exercise. I described lifts, and ballroom dancing on ice, etc. but his answer was that I’d need to find a different activity, such as swimming, or no activity at all, which would be easier on my joints. He didn’t seem to understand that skating isn’t just going around in circles; skating is my one and only creative outlet. I've never found any other type of exercise I enjoy as much.

He gave me the name of a specialist and said good-bye.

I did some Internet research and it was then that I realized that for a skater, this was one of the worst possible diagnoses. There are many other career-ending diagnoses of course (knees, head trauma, backs) but this is right up there with the more commonly-seen injuries. The fact that I was born with this and skated for so many years without symptoms, all the while a ticking time bomb, makes this even more difficult to swallow. I will admit that I’ve shed some tears today in the bathroom at work and in my car.

The Internet says that once someone has pain from this condition, the arthritis sets in quickly, so surgery is indicated right away. As the condition worsens, the outcome of surgery is less and less likely to be positive. While there are many people who skate at a high level after hip replacement, I shudder to think of the many ways such a major surgery can go wrong, and that surgery won’t necessarily mean that I’ll be able to skate again at my current level – or walk for that matter. There are no guarantees.

I have always been healthy and never had surgery, so I’m also fearful of the process. Even giving blood is a trauma for me since I have rubbery veins, so the thought of being hospitalized for 5 days or more is truly frightening. I’d almost rather just let the arthritis take its toll, until I think of the true consequences of that. Doing nothing and continuing to skate until I can’t stand the pain any longer is an option, but then I may not be walking when I’m 50. Having surgery which isn’t successful seems like a worse option.

The internet shows that 17% of people having the surgery are able to function at the same level as before when it comes to “athletic activities”; another 37% are able to function well enough to “ambulate.” Those numbers seem particularly disturbing to me. Hip surgery is great when it allows an elderly person to continue functioning so they don’t have to be wheelchair bound. Hip surgery that means I won’t be able to skate any more does me no good at all, and seems like quite a trauma to put myself through.

An aside - this explains why I could never do a spread eagle or an Ina Bauer, despite being able to do Biellmans. Typically people with this type of dysplasia have very little hip turnout, and no amount of stretching can change that - it's just physically impossible for the hips to move that way. To think of all the time I wasted doing plies, pilates, and various other stretches to improve my turnout which never seemed to improve ... and to think of all the coaches who told me I was "just not trying hard enough" to do that Ina Bauer. Well, it's vindication all right, but somehow THAT doesn't feel very good right now.

I’m in a little bit of shock right now since this was not the diagnosis I was expecting (I was hoping more for "you pulled your groin, now rest and ice it for a month then you will be good as new"), but I need time to process this and figure out what I am going to do. Readers, I already know I have your empathy. If any of you have constructive advice, I could sure use some now.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sleep Deprivation

We’re back from Lake Placid, site of the world’s largest ice dance competition (“All Ice Dance, All The Time!”)

First, I have to brag and publish the link to ice-dance.com, where Perry’s photos are published. He had some great shots in various events, including the Finnstep seminar, many of the Open events, and various others. Look for the “Perry Levine” watermark on the photos.

I was busy judging which I can’t discuss here, other than to say that as promised in a previous post, I am cranky, tired, and in dire need of a vacation. Our plane got in late last night, and after four 12-hour days of judging, critiqueing and assisting referees (timing lifts, a necessary evil), and a couple of sleepless nights, I am exhausted.

So, what to blog about since I can’t really discuss the skating? (Other than to say, in general terms, that everyone should make the pilgrimage to Lake Placid at least once; nowhere else will you see that many ice dancers all in one place, including all levels and disciplines; the level of skating is very high even for this early in the season and it is inspiring to see that ice dancing is not by any means dead).

I have not skated in 3 weeks because of my hip injury. I see the doctor tomorrow (I can’t believe it takes 3 weeks to get in to see a doctor these days, and meanwhile I can’t do anything because I don’t know the extent of the seriousness of the injury). I hope I’ll be cleared to skate after that.

Today’s admittedly non-skating topic will be the state of manners in this country. Yes, that’s right, I said manners, as in “courtesy.” I won’t go into a long discussion of table manners, although I could (I am tired of looking across a crowded restaurant to see Neanderthals of every age and gender chewing loudly with their mouths open … do they know how disgusting they look? … and it’s not just kids, it’s also their parents, which is why the kids don’t know any better … but that’s not what I want to talk about today even though I just did).

I’m talking about the more destructive problems that come about in our society because people aren’t courteous and they are no longer brought up to take accountability for their actions. I’m sure I sound very old fashioned saying this, and I have no problem being perceived as an old fart.

The last 10 times I have traveled, mostly for judging- and skating-related events, I’d say that at least 5 times – that’s half, by the way, and it may be more – I have had to call the front desk to complain about NOISE. I’ve stayed in four-star hotels and “economy” motor inns, and all have the same problem.

Now, when I put my good money down for a hotel room, I expect only a few basics, really. I expect cleanliness, and I usually get it at a tolerable level. I expect hot water to come out of the shower when I turn it on. Finally, I expect enough quiet so that I can get a good night’s sleep. So on weekdays I expect that there will be no screaming, running in the halls, jumping on the bed over my head, throwing up in the hallways, or prank fire drills between 10 PM and 6 AM. On weekends I can go to 11 PM, but would extend the quiet zone to 7 AM because sometimes I like to sleep in when I can.

Many hotels have a posted “quiet policy,” but few enforce it. In some venues, it seems they’d have to hire a full-time staff of burly bouncers to keep the peace. During just the past year I’ve had to endure multiple episodes of children squealing and running up and down the halls for hours (while their parents do … what ??? … I’m not sure …), people who have loud conversations punctuated by hysterical laughter for hours, drunken screaming parties (no further explanation needed), alarms clocks in the empty room next door which go off at odd hours and don’t get turned off by the “night clerk” for 45 minutes, people in the room above me tap dancing in lead boots while dragging heavy cadavers and rearranging the hotel furniture (that’s what it sounded like, I actually have no idea what they were wearing or doing and I don't really want to know). All of this during my “quiet zone” hours. And of course this usually occurs when I have to be up at 6 AM to do 12 hours of judging the next day.

(Don’t get me started on hotels built in the “Embassy Suites” configuration, with an open “atrium” – AKA “echo chamber” – which channels all noise from the lobby - and bar - directly up to the guest rooms. One time while judging Regionals in Seattle I slept in my car when Embassy Suites in Lynnwood couldn’t find a way to quiet down the people pacing and yelling above my head at 2 AM, to the LOC’s chagrin. I now ask for a top floor at the end of the hall when I can get it, but there are never any guarantees and even those rooms can have problems.)

This past week in Lake Placid Perry and I stayed at the highly recommended Art Devlin’s Olympic Motor Inn. The reviews raved about Art Devlin’s, which has been run by the family for 40 years. The reviews touted the place as friendly (true, it was), close to the rink (also true), reasonably priced (for Lake Placid, yes), and quiet.

The first two nights were indeed fairly quiet, although we had to unplug the phone and alarm clock because they buzzed loudly any time they picked up a cell phone signal – which is disconcerting at 2 AM and woke us up enough times those first two nights for me to be cranky and tired by Friday. The next day was going to be a full one for judging and I needed my rest, so we retired early.

The party next door started around 1:30 AM, after we’d had about 3 hours of fairly restful sleep. It started with loud footsteps in the hallway, doors banging (how many times did they have to bang the doors? Just go in the friggin’ room and shut the door for crying out loud). Then they went out on the balcony and yelled across the parking lot to their friends for 10 minutes, and then the loud music, hysterical laughter and screaming conversations began.

After about 30 minutes we called the front desk, but there was no answer. We found later that Art Devlin’s doesn’t employ a night clerk, “to keep costs down.” So Perry got up, got dressed, and walked over to the office to knock on the door, since the proprietors live on site. (If they can’t afford a desk clerk, wouldn’t it be a smart idea to have the phones forward to their personal apartment after hours, in case there is a problem??? I don’t know, seems like a smart idea to me.)

The proprietor quieted the party down, but unless you were born yesterday you KNOW that parties don’t die a quick death. It was in full swing again about 15 minutes after he left, and we weren’t about to get up and walk over to the front desk again. We put the pillows over our heads and tried our best to sleep. Sometimes there would be a lull and we’d doze off, only to awaken with a start when someone screamed with laughter or the door banged.

When we complained the next day, the proprietor apologized but did not even offer to refund our money for that night’s stay, which would be the proper thing to do. He said he had tried to call us to give us his cell phone number in case the party got out of hand again, but “our room phone was off the hook.” I explained that this was so that we could sleep without being awakened every time someone used their cell phone in the town of Lake Placid. Hmmm, he said, nobody has ever reported that problem to me before. Hmmm, I said, very strange that you have so many deaf people staying here.

Interesting also that he said this was the first time in “two years” he’d had to break up a party. (Really? How interesting. It must only happen when I go to a hotel, and I guess this is true everywhere I stay, which leads me to believe that I should just stay home from now on for the good of society.)

I told Art that we would never stay there again, and that my only recourse was to bad mouth the motor inn to everyone I know since he had not done anything to make it right. But honestly, the same thing was likely to have happened in any hotel in town, even the most expensive grand resort. Based on my experience with travel lately, people leave their courtesy at the door when they travel, and if I want a relaxing vacation my best bet is to stay home and sleep in my own bed.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The calm before the Placid

There's always a captive audience in a mall rink. Above, a rowdy group of fashion models supervises our practice.

The countdown to Lake Placid has begun. It is a frenzy of list-making, packing, wrapping things up at work so I can go on "vacation," and making sure the teenagers staying at home have enough food and money to get through the week on their own.

I am judging, not skating, so I won't be blogging any updates. As a judge I am not allowed, for obvious reasons, to comment publicly on any event which I have judged.

However, I can comment on packing for the event: glasses, power bars, stop watch, warm clothes. (There's more, but I don't think anyone except TSA wants to know what's in my luggage.)

I can also say that my dear husband Perry has volunteered to help ice-dance.com with photography. Perry learned a long time ago that if he wants to spend time with his wife, he may have to go inside a skating rink now and then. He did a whole bunch of announcing at the Fairbanks competition and did a great job. He can't announce at Lake Placid - not enough experience - but he can take some photos as a volunteer.

Last night we discussed everything he needs to know, such as the fact that yes, this is a very prestigious competition, it's ice dancing only, the skaters come from all over the US and Canada, and some get evaluated for grand prix assignments. Thus it's a bit less laid back than, say, the local non-qual.

Also we discussed that, when assigned to photograph the Open Fiesta Tango event, he will be hearing the same atrocious piece of music at least 200 times. We talked about taking potty breaks whenever possible because you won't have a chance later if you're volunteering. We discussed the best way to get a good photo (my amateur opinion is, "the opening pose is best and then you can doze through the rest of the dance").

We discussed the fact that the people on the east coast think of "Terri Levine" as the president of the Skating Club of New York, and I'm known as "The Other Terri Levine" when I go there. So he may have to answer questions about me, such as what level I judge (Perry had no idea until I told him) and what's really in my luggage. Hopefully the conversation won't be about me, but of course people are always curious, and even though I was there last year my hair is a different color now, rendering me unrecognizeable. (For proof of that, watch the "Learn to Ice Dance" DVD, made when I was at Lake Placid last year, featuring my very red, frizzy, mess of hair.)

That reminds me, I had better pack the anti-humidity hair spray.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Vacation Daze

The judging assignments are out, and I am going to Pacific Coast Sectionals in Scottsdale, AZ in November. This is clearly a good excuse for Perry to get in some golfing while I freeze inside the rink. I am also assigned to judge dance at Junior Nationals in Lake Placid in December, meaning I will freeze both inside and outside the rink. (I am not going to Regionals in Jackson Hole this year - enough is enough already.)

It's always a kick to tell the people at work where I'm going on vacation. Yes, esteemed work colleagues, it's November, a dark and dreary time here in Oregon, and I will be spending an entire week out of the office in sunny, warm Scottsdale, Arizona! Aren't you jealous?! But don't expect me to come back with a tan or any golf stories because I'll be spending all of my time in a dark and dreary ice rink. I'll be packing my down coat and Ugg boots and mittens and a hat to take to sunny, warm Scottsdale. I'll be working hard at least 8 hours each day. (Ha! I'm a dual judge, who am I kidding? Make that TWELVE hours each day.) I'll spend my time off work concentrating on GOEs and PCs and other concepts that are even more taxing than what I do at work most days. I'll come back to work cranky, tired, and in dire need of a vacation.

In December I'll be leaving the office for a week again to go to beautiful snowy Lake Placid, where I won't have time to ski or go down the bobsled run because I'll be spending all of my time in a dark and dreary ice rink watching 500 patterns of the European Waltz. I'll come back to work cranky, tired, and in dire need of a vacation.

Of course my co-workers think I'm totally nuts when I explain that I'm not getting paid to do any of this.

Hmmm, what else can I do with my vacation time? How about judging the Lake Placid Dance Championships (Lake Placid in summer looks the same as Lake Placid in winter when you never leave the rink), trial judging at Nationals (January in Cleveland, a treat!), Adult Sectional in Las Vegas (OK, that one could be fun) and Adult Nationals in Grand Rapids, MI in April (sorry all you midwesterners, Grand Rapids just doesn't sound like a vacation to me).

But there is hope on the horizon. Perry and I are planning a trip to South America at the end of the competition season. Buenos Aires and Macchu Picchu, with no clipboard, no Uggs, no skates, no rinks. I plan to come back rested with lots of stories and photos to share and maybe even a tan. (OK, it's a year away but can you blame me for planning it now?)

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Today I limped to the rink with my pulled groin muscle for a choreography lesson. "Choreography" is a term which means "standing around talking about elements and where they go on the ice and in the music while said music blares repeatedly in the background, annoying other skaters." So, even an injured skater can stand around and take part in the fun.

Of course I'm incapable of not skating if I'm on the ice, so we did more than stand around, we "walked through." This is a pretty hilarious term too; it calls to mind tiptoeing around lightly in time to the music while pretending to do the elements. But that's not what we did either.

By the end of two hours we were actually skating the first minute or so of the program. We don't have our actual starting pose (which will no doubt be a highly stylized ballroom dance-like maneuver) or opening steps, but we do have all of our elements mapped out and some connecting steps. Our first element is our level 4 twizzles (callers, you can go ahead and write that number - 4 - down now in case you aren't paying attention in April). We then have some pretty neat footwork to get back together and into our first lift. Coming out of the lift we have a twizzle for me and some nifty steps for Tim. Then we aren't sure what comes next to get us to the middle of the ice, where we do our circular footwork (which is coming along nicely if I do say so myself, and going to the music well).

Our coach asked if we had any "tricks" - meaning signature moves that we "always" perform - to be included. (Always, haha, right, we've performed publicly all of 5 times together, so I think all we are "known for" is showing up.) But we did mention the drape from last year, which we hated. Then we tried to do it and could not remember at all how it went. Some signature move! I just watched the video from last year and I still can't figure out what we did. I guess we're going to need something new.

That's where we stopped today, desperately seeking a signature trick. We're making great progress and we'll continue with another choreography session on Sunday. We are aiming for full run-through ability by the end of September. We are very happy with our revised music choice, which is upbeat and fun, bringing out a new and previously unknown side of our personalities. All of this smiling, sigh, I'll need to get my teeth whitened before we compete this season.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

So So ...

For my birthday this year, Tim gave me a sewing machine. This may sound like an odd gift from a skating partner, but he had two of them and I have always wanted one. You know, to whip up a new set of curtains for the living room one weekend, for example, or to slipcover the sofa on a lazy Saturday afternoon. All of those decorating projects I would do in my copious spare time if I were not busy working, skating, judging, renovating, volunteering, traveling, etc., etc.

The best reason to have a sewing machine, of course, is to sew skating wear. We’re talking practice clothes (do you know how much Seku charges for those great foldover waist pants I have?) and competition costumes of course. I have tons of ideas for those and I know what looks good on me; how difficult could it be?

So based on the advice of our wonderful costumer Jim Kerber (who knows he is not going to lose our business because there is no way in hell that I can come up with the kind of gorgeous costumes he does), I started with a pair of simple practice pants.

It took me three weeks to find the time and courage to go to the fabric store and take the plunge. The pattern I chose was in stock and they had some fabric which had the required 4-way stretch. I bought elastic, thread, needles, and other “notions” (such an apropos name), and I was on my merry way.

As I sat in my “sewing room” aka my “office” with the fabric spread out in a huge expanse on the floor, all of my 7th grade home economics phobias came flooding back. My pin phobia (“careful, you are going to snag that fabric!”) was first. Pins are also sharp and they hurt when you stick them into your finger, which I am genetically predisposed to do because I carry the "klutz" gene.

My scissor phobia was less trivial. I am left handed and have many residual emotional scars from having to use the squishy green-handled “lefty” scissors in kindergarten. Of course there were never enough “lefty” scissors to go around, and I was a wimpy kid who didn’t fight for the scissors, so I was usually left to mangle the construction paper using right-handled scissors in my left hand. Just try this some time if you think I'm joking. My mother happily framed the resulting “art,” but I’m sure she must have wondered about my fine motor skills at the time. As I grew older and more dexterous I bit the bullet and learned to cut with my right hand, but I was never very good at it.

So here I was, faced with a sea of slippery, stretchy lycra and a brand new sharp pair of left-handed scissors which I had bought for the occasion. After cutting out the pattern itself (using another pair of scissors which weren’t earmarked for fabric), and pinning it to the material (only a bit of blood ensued), I was ready to cut. I felt like a medical student operating on her first cadaver as I hesitated before making the first incision.

Needless to say, the cutting didn’t go well. I soon learned that my left hand had forgotten how to cut and felt awkward, so I had to use my right hand, which meant using not-so-sharp scissors and, well, my non-dominant hand. Cutting two layers of fabric is challenging since they move and slide around each other. At the end I had all of the pieces but lots of ragged edges. Oh well, I thought, those will be inside the garment anyway.

Which is true. But the pieces still have to match up, and if they are not cut accurately, they don’t. But now, the good news … Lycra fabric stretches! It hides a multitude of sins because you can simply stretch the pieces to fit them together. Aha, I thought, perfect. I pinned the front to the back and started to sew. The seam was pretty straight, the machine was humming, I was starting to relax. Then, disaster struck. The fabric started getting sucked down, down, down into the nether regions of the machine … where the bobbin lives. I pulled on it, and it pulled back. I opened up the bobbin case to find a mess of fabric and what looked like a thread bomb which had gone off inside. Thread and fabric everywhere.

This required me to get out the sewing machine manual, and some patience (which I lack) while I took apart the bobbin case, removed the thread remnants, cut out the fabric which was stuck, and put it all back together again. Jim reassured me, saying that this “sometimes happens.”

The part of the pants which had been sucked in happened to be the crotch, and now they had a big rip in them. By this point I was tired, sweaty, and ready to have some new pants, dammit, so I cut the offending crotch part out and figured it would all come out in the wash. These pants might have a slightly funny looking crotch but who is going to be noticing that?

After sewing the front to the back and the other front to the other back, I tried to fit the two front and back leg pieces to each other at the waist. The notches were not lining up and no amount of stretching was going to save the day, because the notches were totally backwards and upside down. How could this have happened? The pieces had fit together so well when I was sewing them. After about 20 minutes of pondering this and staring at the pattern instructions, I realized that I had sewed the front to the other front and the back to the other back vs. vice versa. Oops. Out came the handy dandy seam ripper (the key tool that every sewer must have). I ripped out everything I had spent all morning doing and called it a day.

The next day I carefully pinned the front to the BACK and the OTHER FRONT to the OTHER BACK. The rest of my pants-sewing adventure was pretty nondescript. Several hours later I had a pair of pants which … amazingly … fit me PERFECTLY. I could not believe it. They were flattering and they fit. The misshapen crotch was undetectable. The seams were straight, at least on the outside. I had even taken some creative liberty by putting the waistband from “view A” on the legs from “view B” and added a slit on the side hem all by myself, and the world had not come to an end.

I'm happy with the pants, although they are a bit too loose to actually skate in, although I can envision myself wearing them with heels to a cocktail party. (A dark cocktail party where everyone is nearsighted would be best.) I chose fabric that is actually TOO stretchy and not form fitting enough for skating. Despite this, I'm very happy with how they turned out and I feel I've learned quite a bit about sewing.

I am now looking for fabric so I can sew the skating dress pattern I bought. It’s more difficult than pants, with about a hundred more pieces to cut out (I am buying a rotary cutter for that) and several pages of instructions that are on par with those for space shuttle landing gear. It’s a hot little Latin number complete with a ruffle and a flirty skirt. If all goes well I may have a dress to wear for my Samba and Cha Cha Congelado tests.

Um, that is, if I ever test them. Who has time with all of this sewing?