Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Skating Mom needs her Connectivity

So, i got home from skating on Saturday night and my little netbook was deep in the Blue Screen of Death. No amount of Reboot Resecutation would save it.

Dad, sick of my moping for a mere 12 hours, took me to the store, where I got the tablet I've been eyeing for some time. It's way cool, but it's an Android system so I've got somewhat of a learning curve ahead of me. As a lifelong Windows user, this is real new.

Looking at music editing and video editing apps now, so if any of my fellow skating moms (or folks) have insight, please share!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Start of Hockey Season

It's upon us, and it's bad. Sunday's public ice was hit early with three scruffy looking Hockey Dads roughing up their kids in new hockey skates. I don't know why Figure Skating Moms get such a bad rap when Hockey Dads are just as bad, if not worse. A figure skating mom wouldn't cheer a bloody nose as a rite of passage, much less inflict one by intentionally checking their skater. Figure Skating moms are continually chided against "acting as coach," yet Hockey Dads are pretty common at these antics. They also think it's perfectly fine to send a fully suited up pre-teen with a hockey stick onto a public session, tearing through the center ice with abandon, cheering him on as he threatens to trip every figure skater in sight.

Carving up the ice? Oh, yes. Please do that. And yes, please literally toss your child across the ice. This is the best idea ever. Nothing delights me more than a seven year old boy in his exoskeleton being sent face first under someone else's waltz, by his father no less. Skating in shorts? Absolutely. Spitting on the ice? A+ behavior. Learning to skate in Goalie Skates? Best.

Due to late arrival of the Guards, Stitch got the honor of setting out the cones. Stitch did a little dancing, but he tired quickly. The New Kitten has been keeping him awake at night, which is kinda funny for Dad and me. I was doing my crossovers and going backwards to try and get used to the feeling of rapid backwards movement. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was, even when I stopped looking at my feet to watch Stitch dance. I gave Stitch some money for vending, and when he didn't come back in a reasonable amount of time I went to go check. He couldn't figure out why the coffee machine wouldn't give him a dollar's worth of sugar. I had to explain that the sugar came in a beverage, not as a stand alone item.

I went back out while Stitch ate the puzzling combination of Doritos and mocha. I had figured out how to do the fast scooter pushes like the kids do, trying to get over my fear of my toepicks. I was doing fine until I hit a hole carved by one of the hockey dads, tripped, couldn't recover, and rolled forward into an easy fall on my hip.

Rink Pal saw the whole thing and few to the rescue, but none was needed. After all that drama over fear of falling, I did it and I was fine. Better than fine, because I tried a crossover or two and my mind didn't freak out. I even went right back to digging in my toepicks. Done. I even got up by myself. I may have this skating thing licked yet. I always feel like I'm throwing my leg out sideways instead of back on forward stroking,

Wednesday is Lessons again, this time hopefully with Gordon. I'm curious to see what happened there over the summer.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Back to our Friday Nights

Apparently Friday Night Studio sessions have been near abandoned. We arrived to find only Rink Pal, Other Kid, and a newcomer in Hockey skates. We all chatted awhile, got on skates, and I promised Stitch, "An hour of practice, please, and we can go home to the New Kitten."

New Kitten is very new, so Stitch was loathe to leave him. I understood. "Just do some tries at those things Coach showed you Wednesday, do you remember?"
"Uh, spin, I forget that new jump."

So he gets on the ice and Other Kid is immediately on Stitch about the Salchow. "Let me see it! I want to see your Salchow! You probably can't do it right!"
Stitch tries, and of course since it's so new, he barely gets it off the ice.
"That's fine, that's a try," I said. "Four more tries."
"I CAN DO IT!" Other Kid tries one, and frankly it's not much better than Stitch's. I ignore him for the moment.

"Okay, now that spin thing," I'm realizing this is going way past my ability.
"That spin where you hold your leg in front?"
"That's a scratch spin."
"Okay, scratch spin, then. Five tries."

Stitch does five tries, each better than the last. Other Kid has given up on harassing Stitch for the moment and is harassing guards.

I pace Stitch through Waltz Jump, Spiral, Stupid Duck and Flip, then tell him he's done so he can play. He runs off with Other Kid, "arresting" the Rink Guards for various offenses. But whenever a fun song came on the radio, Stitch would bolt to center and give us a show.

I was relieved. He needed time to play, and June had offered none of that, hence the burnout. The skating is getting hard, he tells me that frequently, but I keep my mantra of "Stay with it, practice, and you'll get it. I promise." The impromptu ice show was a good sign right now, I hadn't lost him to incessant lessons.

Rink Pal skated over. "What level is he in now?"
"Coach says Freestyle 3."
"If he tests out of it, did you know he can do a show solo? Maybe for Spring."
"I'll talk to Stitch." Although I saw no reason that The Hamboat himself wouldn't want to do a solo.

At one point I came off the ice to grab a Diet Coke. (I'd been off them all summer, I blame the rink for being my Dealer.) Other Kid was trying to stick a cone to the plexiglass. "What are you doing?"
I just walked away, Other Kid's mom never stepped in to watch.

I came back and did crossovers, only one side of me not remembering how this goes. But I nailed that "gonna fall" voice quiet and threw one foot over the other. One side of me can hold the position, but not the weight shift, and my bad side just wants to get it over with. I'm getting there. I went backwards a lap without looking at my feet, and managed to go backwards on one foot for a few inches.
"Hey, Stitch, watch this!" I tried to get him enthused about my crossovers.
"What," he skated over, "prisoner" in tow.
I tried a crossover and botched it.
"Woooow," Stitch say, heavy on the sarcasm.
"Never mind."

Later on, we were doing hops at center. Me just barely getting off the ice and Stitch throwing himself up and hopping on his toepicks.

We stayed an hour, as promised, but Stitch had fun. We came home and let the kitten run all over. Elder Cat is not happy, but for the moment is keeping his distance and wants Kitten to leave his tail alone.

Today I'm at the Old Theatre for a few hours, which means I'll miss the Adult Clinic. Well, there's ice tonight.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The More Things Change...

Last night, first night back at lessons. I skipped work a bit early, crashed through the apartment to grab the Zuca and flew to the nearby park where Stitch was playing with a friend and a neighbor. My addled neighbor was confused when I said, "I don't have time, I'll get the lunch bag later. I just need Stitch."
"But there's other stuff..."

Stitch rolled his eyes and got in the car. He was in his skinny jeans. I hate those skinny jeans. Who makes skinny jeans for small boys? Evil people, that's who.
"Stitch, you can't wear those for skating."
"Because you can't move in them. It doesn't work." But it was also my fault because I hadn't packed a pair of skating pants in the Zuca. Well, it's our first day back, I figured we were allowed some leeway.

Stitch was ambivalent about lessons. Crabby, actually. In a perfect world, I would have given him a Public Ice session to play before having a lesson right off. The four day a week skating camp from June had nearly burned him out, and I had learned my lesson. There's only so much he can take. So, I assured him the lesson was just a half hour out of an hourlong practice ice and sent him on his way.

Coach arrived and greeted us, welcomed us back, and I took my place in the stands. I directed Stitch when he appeared aimless, and I could tell he was all out of sorts. His blades had some serious rust issues since the folks who had taken him skating didn't know to take the soakers off once home from the rink, and he just looked unsteady in general. Six weeks off the ice will do that. I know I'm not looking forward to my first session back. He was scared to do his bunny hops, actually, but he didn't fall.

There was practically no one at this ice. The monitor booth was empty. I had left the coupon on the CD player with the cryptic notebook (not before poking around through it first) and just went back down to direct Stitch. Coach came over and handed me a CD. "Can you play this? No one is up there," she seemed irritated.

The "eject" button was the most difficult part of that damn CD player. But I got it and played what seemed to be a Long Program for one of Coach's high level girls. Not bad. But the Ice Monger (inside joke) must have heard the music over the PA and suddenly appeared in the booth doorway. (Again, remember, the booth is SACRED TERRITORY.)
"What is going on?" she asked.
"Coach needed some music played."
"She needs to learn to wait."
"Uh huh."
"I mean, she can't just do that. She needs to learn to wait for me."
I know a meaningless territorial eyerolling argument when I hear one, so I just stood up. "Well, the CD is in there. So help yourself."
The Ice Monger settled her butt in the chair. "I'm not mad at you, of course," she kept on.
"Of course not, there's no reason to be."
"But she can't just do that, and she always does this. I'm mad at her."

Personally, I would love to see Coach eat this woman for breakfast, so if she decided to ever take it to Coach I would need to be sure my camera was charged. Ice time is valuable, Regionals is in October, and Coach doesn't have time to wait for this person to wind up her conversation about Montessori Preschools in the Lobby. Coach needs her kid's music played. Full stop. I walked away.

Coach finished up with the first girl and turned to Stitch. Now, bear in mind, the last time I saw a lesson was just before the July Open, which was dedicated to the competition. I didn't know what they were working on during those four weeks in June, but I had some notion that Coach might try to push Stitch through the FS2 paces just to keep him in step with the other kids in her stable.

I was right.

I saw a beginner Salchow and a sloppy run of a full rotation Flip. I only know these jumps because I know the order they're learned in, but he was doing them. Despite his unsteadiness in the first half hour, he was doing pretty well now. Not high jumps, barely getting off the ice actually, but he was trying. When he got frustrated, which was often, he jammed his hands in his pockets. That was bothering me more than anything. The pockets would have to go. And the skinny jeans were really screwing up his spiral, as I expected.

It seemed that all the skills he learned in early Summer would be quickly salvaged with a little ice time and some coaxing.

Coach came off the ice. She told me to register him for Freestyle 3, and that he could do everything in Freestyle 2. I'll have to verify that, and my push for actual testing begins anew. There are no competitions that I know of on the immediate horizon, so it may serve us well to not bother with programs and work on the jumps. Height, to be specific. Jumps, basics, getting his confidence on the ice back. And fight for a FS2 test, with the claim that he can't go through another round of three tests at once.

Coach tried to schedule another lesson, and I'll have to see. I'm putting in extra hours at the Old Theatre, and when I mentioned that, she gave me a sidelong look like I was crazy. Am I? Possibly. Working 8am to 10pm does, on the surface, sound nuts. (But when you walk into a theatre and smell that smell and love that space, it's not really work. It's stuff you enjoy doing that you happen to get paid for.) Coach will have to adapt even further to a Theatre Family. As of now, Wednesday Evenings and Saturday Mornings are sacred to skating for Fall, but I can promise nothing more. (Stitch may wind up doing homework in a 100 year old theatre lobby this year, and he's excited by this because I told him of the fact that it's haunted.)

She wanted him at a lesson at 8:15 with a few of her girls this morning, and at a clinic this afternoon if possible, but again, I remember Stitch being burned out nearly completely by daily lessons. I let that go. One Group Lesson and One Private Lesson per week, with a few hours practice in between, is all Stitch can do right now. It's okay.

Out in the lobby, Other Kid was right in my face. I didn't miss this one whit. "What level is Stitch going to be in?"
"Uh, Freestyle 3."
Stitch was rolling his eyes, anxious to get away. I pulled his skates off of him, threw him his shoes and told him to check the book racks for anything he liked.
Other Kid was undeterred. "What do you learn in freestyle 3?"
"I don't know." I knew.
Other Kid turned to his Coach. "Coach? What do you learn in Freestyle three? A sit spin?"
At that point my brain borked and I made a hasty exit. I bid goodbye to the office folk, again saying we'd missed them, and Stitch rode his Zuca out.

"I'm going to kill you," I shook my head.
Stitch just laughed.

But once home, I sewed the pockets of his skating jacket shut. He was so mad, he went to his room and shut the door.
"Stitch, I can tear this out at any time," I told him. "You can get your pockets back. But you can't have your hands in them on the ice."
He still didn't understand, but a few winning hands at poker cheered him up. (Pair of tens and pair of kings.)

Friday night is my first night back on the ice, and so while I see if my crossovers survived my sunburn I will coax Stitch to jump a bit higher, do three turns and get back into a routine. We can take those stairs together. It's three high flights to the upper balcony, so heaven knows there are plenty of stairs in the world for us.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

And we're back

Stitch is in bed, unhappy at a quasi-normal bedtime, but cleaner than he's been in weeks. The last few nights at the cottage, he shunned his bed for a pallet and a sleeping bag on the screen porch, sleeping to the wind and the waves on the beach. I was proud of him, as this was his first time doing that alone. All week I was marveling at how he's growing up and moving away from me in bits and pieces. I'm torn over this. The only cuddles I got were "recovery" cuddles after a frightening moment, and those were few and far between. At the hardware store, I bought him a small pocketknife and showed him how to use it. (I had one when I was his age, why not?) And for the next few days he was cutting and whittling and poking everything in sight. All boy.

He's bugbitten, tanned, scratched, scarred, bleached a bit in the hair and snaggle toothed. Yes, he lost a tooth while on Vacation. His Cousin M knocked it out while they were roughhousing, and was apparently shocked at this until Stitch began bouncing around in relief that it was finally gone. We showed her the new tooth right behind the old, and then she was then alarmed that this was in her near future. (She's 4.)

We only had one scare during the entire trip. Stitch and Cousin M were tearing around the front yard at Grandpa's, when he began screaming "OW! OW! OW!" and collapsed onto the ground. He'd been running downhill, and I feared a sprain or a break, but when he kicked off his shoe and a little wasp looking thing fell out, I breathed a sigh of relief. He waggled his foot and said it hurt like a needle prick. Just stung. I picked out the stinger, and after an ice pack and some watermelon, and all was forgotten. 

He's been voicing his desire to return to school, and as I was washing him down tonight for the second time (for good measure) he asked, "Remember that time the ice was so rough, the zamboni had to go over it twice?"
"Yes, I remember."

I think we're all ready for normalcy, at least as we define it. Campfires, lake swims, water guns and all that jazz is fun for awhile, but the weather is cooling. It's going to be some rough days ahead, what with Skating starting anew, the Old Theatre getting some rentals (meaning money coming in so they can pay for repair efforts and labor like me), schools starting and the Day Job getting busy.  I may need three of me. But we're relaxed, refreshed, and ready to go. Tomorrow I call Coach and let her know we're back, as she said she misses him and wants him back "as soon as possible." I even brought a rink friend a fossil of her own, just like I said  would.

Let's hope I remember crossovers, and Stitch remembers FS1!

Friday, August 12, 2011

On Vacation - BRB

I'm leaving this evening, so this Blog will be quiet for awhile.

There's Internets at the local Cafe and at my MIL's place, so I may be able to join Skatemoms on Sunday.

Stitch got the third grade teacher he wanted, and when we told him the cheer from the phone could be heard across the room. "He has real desks!" was Stitch's reasoning for wanting this guy. That and the other third grade teacher hands out donuts that are "too small." School is just two weeks away, so let's enjoy these last days of summer. I don't know if anyone's noticed, but the mornings have a cool snap to them when it's early.

See ya'll around the Campfire.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

About Practice Ice

For the first six months, I didn't even know about Practice Ice. When I learned about it, I thought it was tres cool but then learned of level divisions and felt shut out. I did Privates during Public Ice because that's all I thought I could get to. During the second six months, I was  buying coupons for those one-off days with Coach, because Coach made me familiar with what I really could get to, and the Practice Ice "open sesame" really happens with a Coach. Never having a real "set" schedule never bothered me, because as an Entertainment Family, we never really have a set schedule, either. I did have regular practice ice at Rink Across Town, and that was great.

Parents, I'm going to say a hard truth; After Beta, it's just not going to happen without regular practice. The ranks of PreStyle Skaters drop dramatically after Beta, with a Beta Class maybe at ten kids, and a Delta Class at two. Like Lucy (who spent two rounds in Gamma before quitting) and her mom (who blamed the two rounds on Lucy and the Coaches), people don't seem to get that there's two pieces of the skating pie that the Group Class Coach isn't responsible for; those are Practice and Individual Effort. Practice Ice has nothing to do with your "Competitiveness" or how much your kid is "into it," and doesn't mean you're gunning for a National Champion. Practice Ice is the simple notion that you can't learn to skate if you aren't on the ice. Do Public Ice, do Practice Ice, but Do Ice.

Now that I have that Rant out of me, I was debating which slot to buy for this session. I called Coach to ask her advice, but she only called me back when it was too late. Dad had deposited to forms which I left for him on the TV. I told her to go grab the form and pick the date she wanted. She told me that if I wanted to do ice on that other day, I didn't need to worry about registering for it, no one was on it anyway. I made a mental note for myself.

As I hung up, I realized that this was the first time she was heavily into my practice ice buying, which had been just "buy a coupon and figure it out later." She was also planning on making this our new lesson time. It had to be, Stitch was banished from Learn To Skate ice, which was why Saturday mornings fell out of the picture. That had never occurred to me. (I hated that old time anyway. Vehemently. Hated. I can say that now that it's over.)

I'm also remembering sitting in the stands, making small talk with Other Moms. It makes my skin crawl. Don't get me wrong, I like other people. I love to talk. But there's only so much talking about skating parents can do without edging into the Comparing Children territory which gets uncomfortable. Especially since Stitch will have dropped a level or two behind thanks to the Summer Hiatus. (I saw MiniFab grabbing her skate and bringing to her head level on Sunday and doing some weird Spin/jump thing. But then, MiniFab has the focus of a laser beam. I don't expect that from Gordon who has the attention span of a squirrel.) I don't know why we can't talk about something else. But, as it happens, I won't be in the stands this time. The Practice Ice session Coach wants falls smack during the Adult Class I want to take. HA!

I'm effectively gone tomorrow. I leave from work, on to my own Vacation. I'm reprinting the form and telling Dad to drop it off with a new Check. Instructions to Coach: Use if you need it, void and destroy if you don't. It's an act of trust, one of those acts I'm finding happen a lot at the rink.

If anyone has any thoughts as to any stretching or bodywork I can do while I'm gone, I'm all ears. Stitch and I can do it together on the beach. Primarily, Shoot the Duck. He needs to get his Shoot the Duck in order. It's the only directive I had from Coach over summer. Looks like I'm going to have to start listening to her.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

So, I heard from Coach

She called me and left me a message about Practice Ice. She reminded me about the form deadline, and was telling me that Gordon's Mom wanted the boys to learn together again, on an afternoon that cuts too close to school. I can't swing it. There is a timeslot I can swing, but if I take classes on that same day, I'll have to plan a picnic dinner to eat in the lobby, as there is just a little more than an hour between the practice ice time and my class. This will take some creative scheming. He'll have to go to the rink right after school and be there until 8ish, first to skate and then do homework while I skate. As he's eight now, I'm going to have to start asking him to take care of himself more, grow up a little bit faster for me.

Yes, I carved out enough money in the budget for me to take a class. After trying to do backwards stroking a few times, I need some help. Hopefully I can whip my forward crossovers into shape enough to be declared Beta and get someone to make me go backwards. I'm trying to remember what all Alpha means, and if I can do it all. My Skating Parent Addled Mind only remembers the imperative of "crossovers" and forgets the nuances.

This is the first time she's spoken of Practice Ice to me, the first passive directive to buy it. Before, I just kind of winged it. Just something I noticed, since I'd seen other Coaches going over the ice schedules with their parents and I always felt like I was stabbing in the dark. I guess I was kinda jealous of Coach walking Ms V through the process while I just happened to guess correctly a hefty percentage of the time.

Coach also said she wanted him back "as soon as possible." I told her to call me at the office today so we can talk. I worry about getting too excited at this "package deal" and throwing him to the proverbial wolves. (Ten year olds have no business talking about restrictive diets, and I won't apologize for that opinion.) I had forgotten about the incredible lag time between the end of Summer Session and the beginning of Fall Session, but it's probably a good thing so Stitch can get his sea legs back and get back into the swing of a skating schedule. Also, the banner ad for Winter Show is up.

Coach says she misses him. I miss him, too. Last night after I talked to him, I had to excuse myself to go cry for a minute. This has been a hard summer. On Friday, I leave via train to meet up with The Boys, who will be already midway through our vacation state. We'll be there for about eight days, coming home on the 21st. (I'll see if the town coffee shop has WiFi so I can join Skatemom Chat Sunday night. I'm pretty positive they do.)

Fall can't come soon enough.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Next Challenge; T-Stop

So, I got this book at the library. Seems pretty simple, t-stopping.

Yeah, I think I can handle this. So I tried it, forgetting about my new mondo edges, still pretty sharp.

Hm. I think I need to practice this some more.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Has anyone seen it?

I had some friends video my progress, just to see if I was coming anywhere near the correct posture or if I was looking like the Rachel Flatt image of myself that I have in my head. On reviewing the vids, I made a horrifying discovery.

 What happened? 

To be fair, all these backwards attempts are giving my rear a workout, so perhaps I will find it again. In the meantime, I will have to turn a blind eye to myself and focus on what my feet are doing. (Since I can't do that on the ice.)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I need "That Girl" back

Practice last night. For me. (Stitch is swimming with his Grandma, still avoiding the math stuff I sent with him like the plague. But he's back in just two short weeks!)

I had my skates sharpened, which hadn't happened in awhile, and I nearly faceplanted when I tried to stop. No, I told myself. You didn't catch an outside edge by accident, that is just your New Mondo Inside Edge. But onward I went, sailing a bit faster now and a bit shaky because I wasn't sure about these new edges. I took up a hockey circle and started trying crossovers. Again. This time, hold it.

Like Shuffles, my pushing foot didn't want to leave the ice. I'd try, and it would stay, and I'd get frustrated. So I'd get it off the ice, try and send it over, and abort. Self, I said. What the hell. What are you afraid of? It's not like you've never fallen, or gotten hurt, or recovered.

This isn't the girl who passed out mid-loop on a stand up rollercoaster, coming to again at some bizarre angle, only to run around and do it again. This isn't the girl who worked fly rail, holding onto a lineset badly out of balance then finding herself three feet in the air and being told to "hang on while we fix it!" This isn't the girl who tried taking apart scaffolding while she was still on it. Okay, that last one was dumb, but it was still funny. But for some reason, the part of me that says, "Try it, how bad can it be," mutes when I step on the ice. I had to get that part of me vocal again.

Okay, so what happens if I fall? I get back up. Self, I said, it's that simple. Fall, get back up. No problem. But this mental battle is shockingly hard, leaving you wresting with the notion that this is all you. Other people do it, it's clearly possible, the only thing stopping you is this mental barrier to learning in the first place. I want to skate and I don't want to fall, but skating means falling, so which is it? You can't have your skate and your proud, unbruised ass, too.

I started again. One foot over the other. I thought about rollercoasters. One foot over the other. And again, again, again. Without noticing, I sailed right over that gouge in the ice that I'd been avoiding. It didn't scare me anymore. But the Freestyle adults were doing spirals and I felt in the way, so I recused myself to the studio rink where public skate was going on.

Eventually I was doing crossovers, one after the other, with never both feet on the ice. I could keep it up for five or six strokes before I felt like I was going ninety miles an hour on those new edges and would slow down, but it was a solid improvement over last week. Rink Pal said he saw three good ones. I didn't fall, but I came close several times while trying backwards half-pumps. But I didn't let that fear stop me from trying again. Backwards crossovers look cool.

Courage in the face of yourself is hard. I'm a Legend of Zelda fan, and one of the hardest battles in the games is when you fight the "Dark" version of your protagonist character; "Dark Link." Whatever you do, he counters because he is you, everything you are only meaner. You can defeat him with the Megaton Hammer. So, I guess the lesson here is to beat that Dark part of yourself into submission.

(Yes, I know about the Din's Fire trick too, but this is ice skating. No fire.)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Hang on, I'm a bit Rusty...

This summer, for me and I'm sure for many of you in the US who are locked in the Heat Wave, has been a humid nightmare. What I didn't realize for skates was that all this humidity was wreaking havoc on our blades.

As in, despite my best care practices, they were getting rusty. Stitch's blades fared better than mine, a light film of rust. Mine, however, had big reddish patches that were leaking up onto the chromed portion of the blade. I'd take a soft scrubby thing to them before we went to the rink, but Stitch and I still had to do a few laps to work off the rust.

And we're not the only ones. Last weekend I saw a girl come of Synchro practice in tears, saying she simply could not skate. She lifted her foot and her blade was toepick to back, brown with rust. Parents and Rink Staff performed emergency triage, but there's not a lot to be done in a bad case like that.

Here's what happens on a Rusty Blade: You step on the ice, you push off and you get a face full of ice. There's just too much friction. It doesn't work.

Usually I can work off a light rust by doing those forward slalom things before I try any real stroking, but Stitch will declare the day a lost cause due to rust. Also, once rust gets a hold of something, it doesn't let go. The oxidation process starts, and it doesn't stop. According to this website, http://www.sk8stuff.com/f_basic_ref/boot_and_blade_care.htm, a rusted blade will never hold an edge again.

Well, that's bad. Clearly, my Blade Care needed some advice. I headed over to the skate shop for a sharpening and to ask what to do.

I handed them my rusty blades, they asked about Stitch, we chatted nicely. For once, there was no one else in the store. I asked about rust prevention.

"Get some three in one oil, rub a light coat on the blade after drying. That will help."

Ah, of course! Oil keeps oxygen from getting to the blade and displaces water. And you won't need a lot, just a quick swipe. Perfect.

Still, don't put the blades in soakers right off the ice. Dry them first. Let them sit out while you do other stuff, then come back and dry them again. Think condensation on your cold drink cup. I got a paper towel soaked in 3 in 1, and put that in a ziplock bag. That will be plenty. Tonight, I'll give them a swipe after the second dry. Into the soakers they go for the trip home, and out they come when we get there.

Rust Prevention is easy, Rust Removal is impossible.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Don't draw attention to yourself!

Sunday afternoon I hiked to the rink, to get some practice in and to cool off. I put on skates and started tooling around, even going backwards a lap and trying to get my feet in as close as possible, as per Coach. I'm getting better. I tried stopping without needing half the rink to do so, and debated trying a two foot turn. I can do it if I go slow and I'm grazing the wall with my hand. I'm still learning the weight balance for backwards half pumps, and my left foot continues to argue, catching the outside edge while it does so and threatening to send me down. We're talking, my left foot and me.

Most people I talk to are happy to see me actually try this stuff. They're encouraging and kind, offering tips and telling me I'm not doing as badly as I think. I'm getting a new perspective, and when I talk to Stitch at night I let him know about it.

"I don't know how you do it," I told him.

"I just do," he replied.

But Sunday I was on and off the ice, coming up for air and a Diet Coke. At one point I noted that the mother I call Condor and her girl Helmet had arrived. Condor I pretty much only see on Sundays. She brings Helmet, who is around Stitch's age and old enough to know that real skaters don't wear bike helmets. Condor sits in the stands and watches her daughter with eyes of steel. She will stand up and rant, flinging out her arms, shaking her head at bad attempts and even turning away at failed attempts. Many times she has brought poor Helmet to tears with her "thumbs up/thumbs down/WTF" hand gestures.

With my new on-ice perspective, I know that it's kinda hard to hold out your arms. With everything going on at your feet, your upper body gets lost in the shuffle. When Helmet was trying three-turns, with her arms low, Condor was rolling her eyes and screaming that "This is easy! Hold out your arms!"

Uh, no. It's not. But Condor doesn't seem interested in this perspective. I've never seen Condor in skates in the year I've seen them.

Sadly, one of The Rules of suburban parenthood is that you can't really say anything to other parents. So, I averted my eyes as Condor pulled Helmet off the ice for a moment, to draw in the condensation on the glass, telling Helmet in terse words precisely why she was awful.

That afternoon I tried a fast crossover on a turn, felt the back of my blade do a death rattle against my toepick, and decided that I actually did not want to sprawl out on the ice in front of Condor, who had been staring daggers at me all afternoon. I aborted the move and decided to continue working on outside edges on the turns, extending my leg and I even caught myself pointing a toe here and there. Not bad for someone who did Tap briefly in high school. I think I'm a year out from a full on Spiral.

Thing is, I know if I fall in front of Condor, or any of the other moms in the stands who give me dirty looks for skating, the results won't be pretty.