Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ballet and Old Friends

Recently I have returned to dancing. It was my passion in my teens and early 20's. But then my life took a different path. I continued taking class over the years, and finally stopped all together, life and ankle injuries taking their toll. It was frustrating because, even though I am in my 50's, I still love ballet; it is still the only form of exercise that I truly enjoy. It is more than exercise to me. It is in its own realm.

About a month ago, I had a vivid dream about one of my old ballet buddies. You see, back in the early 80's in Chicago, I had two best ballet buddies. We danced together, had fun together, and were rather crazy together. We have kept in touch sporadically over the years. So I dreamt about Carmen, and just had to call her. We had seen each other the previous summer, where we compared ankle injuries and talked about going back to ballet. It just so happened that a short while before this phone call, she had return to a nearby ballet studio, and encouraged me to do the same. I felt apprehensive because I am really out of shape; quite tubby, in fact, for a ballerina! But I committed to returning, after getting Carmen to promise she would not watch me in class until I was better! It was so nice to be back in the studio with an old friend - older bodies still remembering the joy of dance, and a nice lunch after one class, where we talked for a long time.

Right around this time, my other ballet buddy, Ruta, found me on Facebook. We began talking and catching up a bit. Then, she came back to Chicago. We went out to dinner last night, and shared what we've been up to during the 20 years or so since we last saw each other. Ruta has also kept up with dance, to a very high level.

The three of us have all been through many changes and trials, some of the trials tremendously worse than others. But three things remained constant: I absolutely love these two friends, we have a blast together, and we all love dance.

Ruta has given me a challenge: to go this summer together to Birute Barodicaite's ballet class (she was one of our teachers back in the day). So, I have a lot of work to do to be in shape for this class! The thought of the three of us dancing and laughing together again is such an inspiring, happy thought.

The Making of an Ewok

It all started when Robert was watching Tyler one day, and Star Wars VI was on TV. Tyler had seen it previously, but the whole concept of an Ewok had not registered with him before that. Suddenly, Tyler needed to be an Ewok, and NOW!

I knew there had to be a pattern for this costume, but since Star Wars had its heyday many years ago, I knew whatever patterns there might be would be out of print. I was very lucky, however, that just when I wanted an Ewok pattern, a woman on e-Bay just happened to be selling one: McCall's 8731. She also happened to live in the same state, and shipped it immediately. Talk about instant gratification!

Next was a trip to the fabric store (or "The Ewok Fabric Store" as Tyler was calling it!). I was a little leery of using faux fur. I had never made anything with it before and found it a little intimidating. I originally settled on some nice, thick brown fleece, but lo and behold, there was not enough on either bolt for this costume layout. So I took a deep breath and bought this nice faux fur:

I also got some faux suede for the hood:

The pattern went together easily, and my faux fur fears (try saying that ten times fast!) were quickly put to rest. The mask was more challenging, so I made it last. I also did that so Tyler would at least be able to run around in the main part of the costume (the jumpsuit as the pattern calls it), and stop nagging me a bit. I love how creative this pattern is, forming a snout with tiny well-placed darts, and using felt and fabric glue to make the nose and eyes. Here is the mask and hood:

Finally, here are two views of Tyler playing in our "forest" in the backyard (in Star Wars terminology it is the Forest Moon of Endor). His weapon is a tree branch that Paul trimmed to resemble the weapons in the movie.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Young Master Acquires a Violin

A Suzuki violin teacher has offered to teach young children from Tyler's school. When the notice came in the Backpack Express, I was immediately intrigued. Tyler expressed interest, so we called the teacher and set up his first lesson for this Saturday. But first we had to get a violin. We took a little journey to a neighboring village to visit the violin shop. Just a little while later, we were set with a teensy-tiny violin, a CD of Suzuki beginning violin pieces to listen to, and one happy and excited boy: