Some of the Best People I Know are Cats.

Or horses.  Or dogs.  The last of which concerns us today.

Animal lovers are a different kind of people.  We share a bond just because we happen to live with a dog.  Or cat.  Or, in my house, 3 lovely rescued felines and 2 lap-dog pit bulls.  People who have never had a dog, or a cat, simply don’t understand how we put up with the mess and the hair and the toys all over the house.  And cleaning up the poop.  That really gets non-animal people going.  And there is simply nothing we can do to explain it.  You’ve got to live it to understand.

My mom and sister’s dog is a beautiful golden retriever named Maggie.  They’ve had her since she was a fluffy three-month-old pup who liked to climb into the dishwasher. She turned 10 this July.  She’s silly and stinky and playful and loves every other creature she’s ever come into contact with.

CAPITALM - image (2)   (Maggie, chilling with her goose friend)

 

She also has cancer.

We found out about 8 weeks ago when she had a mass removed.  Soft tissue sarcoma.  Very common, especially in goldens.  Moderately aggressive.  Very likely to grow back when removed, which it has been now twice.  So up Maggie went, an hour and a half north to a doggie oncologist to find out her best chance of beating the cancer is 4 weeks of daily radiation therapy.  Without hesitation, Mama slapped down a credit card, and Sister called work to say she was taking a leave of absence to stay with Maggie until the sessions are over.

And the looks of disbelief commenced immediately.  You can almost hear the subtext of the non-animal people:

You’re spending HOW MUCH?  Isn’t 10 years old pretty good for a dog anyway?  But it’s just a dog!

Just. A. Dog.  Words I have never said, and can never fathom.  You never hear anyone say “But it’s just your middle child/boyfriend/great-grandma/second wife, etc. etc.”

CAPITALM - image (3)   (She loves snow . . . weirdo!)

 

Ten years, Maggie has been a part of our lives, loving us.  And she’s going to get the chance to stay for quite a few more.  Because there is no such thing as just a dog.

CAPITALM - image (7)   (Naptime! I dare you to try not to love this face!)

Support System Built Right In

I know we all get some strange looks when the words “ballet class” come out of our 30-something mouths . . . but it’s nice when someone just goes right along with it.  For me, that someone is my husband.

When I told him I was taking ballet classes, he didn’t ask how much, or ask why, or give me strange looks.  He just said, “Ok. Have fun.”

After my first class, I came home excited and dancing around the house and speaking in French terms he didn’t understand.  And he didn’t ask me to move so he could see the TV, or tell me to get my sweaty smelly ass in the shower.  He said, “Ok.  When do I get to come see you dance?”

Love. =)

I hope everyone is this lucky – to have someone to come home to that just supports and loves and lets you be who you are.

Good Days, Bad Days

I can definitely tell I missed class last week,  Even plies and tendus at the barre were a struggle . . . I couldn’t remember simple combinations, and every time I glanced in the mirror all I saw was floppy arms.  =(

We all have good days and bad days, especially when learning something new.  Class this week was just a bad day.

So.  Moving on,  I have decided to focus on the good in the bad day (oh, and it was BAD).

  • Good thing #1:  Wore my new leotard!  And in celebration of said new leotard, which has a pretty printed back that clashes with my ballet skirt, I decided to take my first class ever sans skirt/shorts/butt cover.  It was liberating! (And also a little gross . . . noticed some very cottage-cheesy thigh areas in forward port de bras stretches.  Ick.)  Honestly, I worried about how I looked for about 5 minutes, then I just got over it.  Bravery, bitches. =)
  • Good thing #2: We did a new frappe combination and – brace yourself – I didn’t hate it.  I just disliked it immensely.  But, progress, right??
  • Good thing #3:  Ended class on a good note.  I really liked the last combination across the floor.  Balance right, balance left, quick quick little run (this was the very technical term Madame used, so I can use it too!), grande jete, grande jete, and a final step I can’t remember the name of . . . fun!  Of course I did not look particularly graceful or refined in the combo, but I did it.  Both directions! (yay, Left Leg!)
  • Good thing #4:  Second time through the above combo, the music crazily decided to crank it up double time.  I was prepared to go, thinking to myself, “Oh, she’ll totally start this over and not expect us to do this combo double time.  Any second now.  Now, please. NOW.”

She did not.  So we just did the combo double time.  And it wasn’t horrible!

Afterward, Madame said it is important to remain calm in life, especially when the music goes all double-timey on you.  Cause later in life, when you are a doctor, and the anesthesiologist says “Okay, now surgery double time!” you don’t freak out and kill your patient.

Well, reading that back, I realize this isn’t EAXCTLY what she said.  But I think the lesson is valid regardless.

  • Good thing #5:  I can make up the class I missed last week!  The studio has a make-up policy that says you can’t do a make-up at a higher level than you are taking.  Since the adult beginner class is the lowest level, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do another class (or worse, that I’d have to do my make-up in a class of 7-year-olds who have better flexibility and extension than me!)  But Madame said come to the Monday or Wednesday adult class.  (Side note: This may actually turn into a Bad Thing – the Monday/Wednesday adult class is Intermediate/Advanced.  Hmmm.)

So, out with bad.  Focus on the positive.  A good lesson, I think.  And don’t miss a week of ballet, because you’ll look like even more of a fool than usual!

Screenshot (8)

(Obviously not my feet.  The Internet’s feet.)

A Day Without Ballet is Like a Day Without Sunshine . . .

No sunshine on Thursday.  Because I skipped ballet class (*gasp!*).

It was one of those unavoidable things where life got in the way.  It’s getting cold, and the heater needed turning on (For most people, I realize this is simple.  But we have a geothermal wood burner heating our house, so it’s a bit trickier!).  My sister and mom were out of town, and their horses needed tending.  Work has been busy busy.   By the time I even remembered it was ballet night, it was time to leave for ballet.  Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

The night of, I didn’t really miss it.  I was tired and not too enthused about squeezing into a leotard.

But every night since, I’ve been kicking myself for not making it happen.  I can’t believe I still have 4 more days until I can go to class again.  I’ve found myself doing random plies around the house, as if to make up for lost class time.

So I’ve learned an important ballet lesson: In the words of the incomparable Tim Gunn, “Make it work!”  Life can try to get in the way all it wants, but this girl is going to ballet.  No excuses!

Read! About Ponies!

This isn’t about ballet.  But art is art.

I love books.  As a kid, I thought my books were friends.  As an adult, I can’t honestly say I’ve ever outgrown the notion.  But it wasn’t until I grew up that I learned to love talking about the books I cherished.  Let’s be honest – I was selfish kid, and I wanted my friends to myself. =)

The last book I read is The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani.  While reading it, I remember questioning whether or not I actually liked it (never a good sign, if you ask me).  But then I noticed that I kept thinking about the book when I WASN’T reading it.  Replaying scenes, wondering what the characters would do next, interpreting what the author was doing when she added a certain passage.  So, overall, I’d say it gets the KitTeaCat seal of approval: Good.  Book.

I demolished this book in a few days.  It’s an easy, quick read.  The story is set in a North Carolina girls’ boarding school during the 1930’s.  The jacket blurb describes it as a “coming of age” story – which I hate.  Someone says “coming of age” and my brain immediately goes to Cather in the Rye.  I am the only person on the planet that is not in love with Cather in the Rye, so this is not a great association.  But the narrator is a 15 year old girl growing up and figuring out the world, so I guess it is an apt, if oversimplified and overused description.

I won’t go into plot details and ruin it for anyone.  But here are some things I liked:

  • The characters had substance.  Some of the girls at the girls camp are described superficially and flatly – but that’s how a 15 year old girls describes other girls she doesn’t know, so it works within the story.  Thea (the main character and narrator) and her family are flawed, and it makes them real.
  • The treatment of the time period.  Great Depression stories (and any period pieces, actually) can be predictable – because I, in 2013, know what happens next.  But a young girl doesn’t know anything about economics.  The period is at the same time not important, and always coloring the action.
  • The title.  I didn’t even read the plot summary or blurb before I chose the book.  The title sold me.  I proudly admit I judge books by their covers.  If you want this girl’s attention, get a snappy title.

. . . But even though I like the book, there were some things I did NOT like.  I love books, but I’m also pretty judgmental.  Don’t want your book judged?  Don’t publish it!

  • The title.  I know I just said it’s why I picked up the book, and it is.  But after finishing it, I have a huge problem with the title.  I once had a theatre professor who told me that the best way to figure out the theme or point of a play was to ask yourself three questions:  What happens at the beginning?  What happens at the end?  What’s the title?  As a result, I put great stock in titles (Read: I am a Cover Judger).  And if you name your book for the setting, it has to be more than a setting.  The place actually has to become a character itself (See Alice Hoffman’s Blackbird House . . . brilliant book, brilliant writer!).  And the riding camp of title fame is just a riding camp.  The novel could have been set somewhere else and it would be the same novel.
  • Anachronism.  Or rather, the author’s pains to point out that she is avoiding anachronisms, especially at the beginning of the book.  I would much rather you made a researching error, or accidentally put a television in 1932 than for you to explain yourself.  There’s one part where the narrator goes riding without a helmet, and then explains it is because no one wore helmets then.  It took me out of the action.
  • The horses.  I think I am just being picky here.  The author explicitly states that Thea loves horses several times in the book, but I would have preferred her to show me rather than tell me.  There are a thousand little ways to show that love of horses, but I didn’t really believe it.  It’s like when someone says “Trust me.”  I automatically assume you’re a lying snake.  Because honest people are never touchy about being trusted.
  • The ending.  I feel like the author was trying to tie up all the loose ends, like a movie that runs “updates” on all the characters so you can see that everyone go that they deserved.  Through the whole novel, Thea is learning that things aren’t neat and tidy in life . . . then the story is wrapped up, all neat and tidy.  It’s not a bad ending.  It’s just too clean.

So please, read for yourself.  There will be more book discussions to come . . . for I am a nerd.  =)

Kitty Nap Time

Image

 

You already know I love tea.  What is a cup of tea without a lovely book to lose yourself in while you drink it?  Mr. Lewis and I agree on this.

And I don’t know how it works in your house, but around here, books equal kitty nap time.  When Dagny sees Mama with a book in one hand and a large tea mug in the other, she comes running and settles in.  Long story short – I’ve been devouring a new book, and Dagny appreciates the quality time.  I see a book review in our blogging future!