Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Spring Brake

No, that’s not a typo. I called it “Spring Brake” because I don’t seem to have enough sense to step on the brakes when I should!

Here is how I spent the last week or so.

Friday – brutal day at work, arrived home exhausted and dispirited. Since it was the first day of our big annual dance weekend (that’s the Pig Town Fling), we dragged and I do mean dragged ourselves out to dance. My husband danced the whole time. I danced something like every other dance, worked the registration table, and helped out in the kitchen. I probably danced for about two hours.

Saturday – I went to the creative contra workshop. Danced at that for an hour or two. We did something called a “Sicilian Circle”. For that dance, you were still in groups of two couples, but all of us also formed a huge circle instead of the lines that we usually dance in. The dance did a lot of weaving around the circle and it was a blast.

I tried to check out another workshop, but it was up five flights of steps. By the time I was on the fourth flight, I just could not go any further, so I went home for a rest and my husband did the clogging workshop.

We headed back out for the dance floor at 8. The band for Saturday and Sunday was a local one, Brittany Bay. Some of my friends play in it. They were terrific. One of the keys to a good contra dance band is that they know to start out relatively quiet and slow until the dancers have done the combination about three times, then they kick up the speed and volume and add percussion. You can hear dancers whooping up and down the line when they kick up the pace.

We danced til midnight or so, then went to the after party and ate and danced until 2 a.m. One of the dancers (she is also a fabulous caller) holds this event at her three story house in the gaslight district of Clifton. The house has such gorgeous wood floors, original stained glass lights and built in shelves. The third floor is not furnished, so she uses it as a dance floor. What a marvelous thing to have your own dance floor so you can have a couple hundred friends over! The floor was not that large, I’d say only about twenty people danced at any one time, but her house was full to the rafters since so many people came. I had no idea how tired I was until I looked at my watch and realized it was the wee hours. Then I just pooped out and we went home. I had to take a Tylenol PM to sleep, since it hurt even to lay down.

Sunday – Danced from noon until three, then attended the after dinner because they needed to crown my husband and I “King and Queen Pig” meaning that we are the coordinators for next year’s event. It’s a big job, but it does come with a tiara. Seriously, I have a tiara with cloth pink ears sewn on it!

This annual three day dance weekend is attended by around 450 dancers. I’m pretty happy that I can do this to contribute to our dance community. I NEVER would have guessed that I would feel up to the challenge so soon!

The dinner was held at Pompilio’s. It’s an Italian restaurant that has been here since the 30’s and it was in the film “Rainman”. There were enough of us that we took up a whole room there, and I really enjoyed having dinner with my friends that I usually only see at a dance. I loved looking out along the tables and seeing so many people that I enjoy, and having time to converse with everyone since there is sometimes very little time to catch up with each other while we are dancing. It was also nice that they invited my kids to attend, so my kids had some time to mix with my friends too.

One of the dancers wore a pedometer for the weekend and clocked more than 20 miles on it.

Monday – ran errands. Went to regular Monday night dance. It was pretty funny. We were all shuffling around like zombies.

Tuesday – drove out to Asheville, NC for spring break. I used the GPS navigation system in my car for the first time and it worked great. We stayed a few days and didn’t pull a map out once. It found every attraction, hotel, and restaurant that we wanted to get to. We used AAA books to pick our restaurants and we were impressed with pretty much every place that we ate.

Wednesday – Hiked Chimney Rock park for 5 hours. Here is where I was just plain stupid. I had been there before and only done the lower trails which are quite easy. Well, this time, we hiked the skyline trail. Lots and lots of vertical, lots and lots of steps. There is an easier way down from it, the cliff trail, but that was closed for the winter. So I spent an hour or so doing all that climbing, then I had to go back the same way for another hour or so. I was quite shaky by the time we finished. We did the lower trail too. By that night, I was in so much pain from sore muscles that I could not sleep. The weather was perfect by the way, we were hiking in shorts and t-shirts! That was a real pleasure since it is still too cold to do that at home.

Thursday – Toured the Biltmore house and gardens. More steps, about 4 hours of walking. I only limped a little. I really love that place. Touring the house is fun, but my true love will always be the gardens and the garden shop. I bought a nice sun hat while we were there this time. My husband bought me an “Extreme Badger” set of Badger Balms. I have been rubbing the Sore Muscle Rub into my legs for days now. I can’t be sure if it helped or not, but at least I felt like I was trying to do something about it.

The tulips were not in full bloom, but they were up enough that we could see their colors. It was raining so we spend most of our garden time indoors in the Conservatory. You gotta love seeing a green house that is bigger than my entire house! I could spend hours in there.

Then we went to the contra dance held that the local college. The average age of the dancers was probably 19. It was like dancing with Mexican jumping beans, these guys were so full of energy. The band was flat out fabulous. I dance about every other dance.

We also went to the Grove Arcade. A fabulous building that was built to be a shopping arcade. The architecture was beautiful. Now they have shops, offices and housing there. I day dreamed about living there. They had some great shops. There was a yarn shop, so I got some mohair yarn to make a wrap for myself. That will be the first project that I’ve done that I get to keep. I haven’t started on it yet, but the yarn is in a bag by my bed, just reminding me to get to it. There was also a shop called Bath Junkie. My husband got a very nice scrub there, and I got a thing or two as well. They gave my youngest son a small yellow rubber ducky on a surfboard while we were there and he want totally enchanted since he collects rubber duckies. When I was going through all my treatments last summer, he lined up a good thirty ducks on a bookshelf in my bedroom so they could keep me company. We also bought a big bag of books at the local bookstore, Malaprops. What a great place! They had an extensive selection of books of local interest, so I got a biography of Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt. I also got a signed hard cover edition of Neil Gaiman’s “StarDust”. I collect signed books. I usually stand in line and meet the author, but this time I was willing to buy it already signed.

Friday – Farmer’s market and the drive home. At the Farmer’s market, we kept seeing leafy bunches of something called “Ramps”. I finally asked what they were. The lady said they are wild garlic and they are the first signs of spring for local cooks. So we bought a bunch and I roasted them with fingerling potatoes and pearl onions. I still have a few left. Gotta find something to do with those. They had a milder taste then I expected. A milder form of green onion is the best way I can describe it. They are very fragrant, so I expected them to taste much stronger than they do.

I drove about half of the way home and the hardest part was that my leg muscles were so sore to the touch that I could not stand it when the back of my calves would rub against the seat. It’s a good kind of pain though, it reminds me of all the fun I had getting to this point, and it reminds me that I am finally once again physically active and doing everything that I want to do.

We all hated to leave. The kids had a great time. My husband really enjoyed the atmosphere there, and I just did not want to go indoors. The weather was great and spring is in full swing there. I saw so many redbuds, pears, forsythia, and cherry trees in bloom. Of course there were scores of daffodils too. The restaurants were spectacular (our favorite was the Early Girl café), every place we went served organic and vegetarian, if not vegan items. Even the two Japanese restaurants that we went to had a ton of vegetarian choices. There is art everywhere. Plenty of public sculptures, galleries, pictures for sale on the walls of restaurants. Tons of music and dancing events. It has a thriving college town atmosphere that often reminded me a little of Italy and Laguna Beach.

Saturday – ran errands, did chores.

Sunday – spent over TEN HOURS in the garden. My friend from work came down and worked with me. We edged beds, mulched, preened, fertilized, trimmed… did almost all of the chores to get the garden ready for summer. I have a technicolor bump on my knee from when the wheelbarrow brazenly attacked me. (That may or may not have anything to do with the fact that I set the fully loaded wheelbarrow sideways. On an incline. Huh.) I could see how the plants thrived where my brother installed the drip irrigation system. We had a horrible, prolonged drought last summer, but thanks to my brother, most of my plants thrived. The knock out roses should be spectacular this year. I still have about twenty hours of work left, so my friend will come out for another day before the end of the month so we can finish up. I have trays of seedlings downstairs under a grow light in the basement, and I can hear birdsong when I wake up in the morning so all is right with the world!!

My husband was not feeling well, so he was not out in the garden much, but he did prepare an amazing feast for us. We had lasagna, sauted mushrooms, cauliflower, asparagus, a spectacular salad, chianti, garlic bread, so much great food that it took two plates just to get a single serving of everything. That's a wonderful thing to sit down to after you have been working so hard outside all day. My husband did not feel good enough to eat with us, that was the only downside.

Monday – went to work. Had about 200 e-mails to plow through. It was like moving through molasses since I was so tired. I had logged in and done e-mail a couple of times during vacation just to try to keep that number down. Oof.

Tuesday – Hardly sore at all any more. It amazes me how quickly our bodies can recover. I’m still fairly exhausted, but I’m so happy that I can hardly tell I’m still tired.

I also finished up a huge presentation that I was preparing for our annual User’s Group. It was due by end of the day, and I turned it in around 4 – just under the wire. It felt very good to finally be done with it. Well, as done as I can be for now. I’m sure the committee will recommend some changes, and I still need to add my own talking point notes and do a dry run or two, but I’ve got the majority of the hard work done on it at least.

Since it was a beautiful day and we all knew that rain is in the forecast for the rest of the week, I also had lunch outside with a friend, and we took a walk around the park afterward. That chance to be outside and enjoy a good meal and time with my friend pretty much made my day.

My new extra wide monitor (22”) was delivered and IT says they are currently loading software on my new laptop. I don’t have any time right now to work on that, so the monitor is just sitting on a corner of my desk for now, but I can’t wait to get to it. The new equipment will save me literally days of time when I start my next writing project which is looming on the horizon since we have a new software release coming out soon.

So, if you have stumbled upon my blog because you are going through cancer treatments, take heart! You will feel good again, maybe even faster than you think you possibly could. You will take joy in the things that delight you, you will have the energy and the will to fling yourself fully back into your life and you may find yourself having deeper relationship with yourself, the world and all the people who stood by you through the hard times.