Saturday, April 27, 2013

I thought I had an amazing job ...

And it's turned out even moreso. I've had 10 children learn life-saving aquatic skills this session. Even  12 years later, I'm amazed watching them do it. I don't think it'll ever get old knowing a child can save himself.

And that's even more poignant given the lesson I filled in for an absent coach. There was an adult on my schedule. Oh great. Adults bring lots of baggage to learning to swim. I'm not a psychologist - I'm an infant swim teacher.

So the woman gets in and tells me it's her second lesson and what had been worked on previously. We went to the other end of the pool so she wouldn't feel embarrassed. She told me when she was young, she remembered being in a group swim lesson and was told to jump in. All she remembers is seeing the numbers at the side of the pool and someone jumping in to get her. Learning to swim "is on my bucket list," she told me and "this isn't my first rodeo." She told me of the other times she's tried to learn.

Now I'm really thinking: how the heck do I get through this and not traumatize this woman further? This is going to be a lonnnngggg 30 minutes. 

We blew bubbles. Her hands shook at the side of the pool. She fully submerged in the water and her body was visibly shaking. "Let's kick down and back to get ride of that nervous energy," I said.

Five minutes left in the lesson. She held the kickboard out in front of her, I wrapped my arms around her waist and suggested she lay prone and blow bubbles again. Again. I moved my hands to either side of her hips. "Bubbles, again." 

One minute left in the lesson. "Bubbles and this time kick." She kicked 3 feet to the wall without me. "You just swam."

She smiled, she laughed, we high-fived, we hugged. "I did it. I never thought I'd swim!" she said. I thought I'd cry. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Moms & Muffins

Hayes had a function at her school this week so I drove up to spend 45 minutes with her enjoying the Moms and Muffins program. She is so pretty.
 Later, I got Cort at school and we spent a few hours together having lunch and playing games.
It was a very short visit but worthwhile to see those faces! We talked about our next visit over Mother's Day weekend and our plans for that. Stay tuned!

Biltmore Estate

My Uncle Dean was scheduled to speak at a conference in North Carolina and he and his wife Melinda planned to drive down to South Carolina to see my grandmother. Well, we kind of took over the trip and told them we would meet them in Asheville so Dean could show Melinda the Biltmore Estate because she'd always wanted to see it.
Before we met them, my grandmother and my Aunt Susan and I walked around Asheville where my grandmother had worked at a radio station and met my grandfather, who was an Asheville native. As we were walking, we came upon The Flat Iron Building, which housed the first radio station my grandfather ever worked. How cool was that?
 The next day, we met Dean and Melinda to tour the Biltmore house. I don't know how many times I've been to Biltmore but I learn something about it every time. At present, I'm reading "The Lady on the Hill" about how the estate was opened to the public to try and help the town during the Depression and help pay taxes on the behemoth. It is a very interesting read!
 What is more amazing is we got this family photo where all of us look pretty decent and not one person has their eyes closed!
 I love the mountains. What I don't love is how I look like a Muppet in this picture.
 Here's my MawMaw!
 In the greenhouse, we came upon this topiary:
 And I found this hat in a size I thought I would always love to have but I couldn't SEE so it stayed at the store.
For some more amazing shots of Biltmore, visit Dean and Melinda's blog:

Steeplechases: Camden & Atlanta

My annual rite of spring is the steeplechase. It is all the more poignant this year as I'm writing a book about the history of women in steeplechasing and would be "working" at the races.

As I love to do, enjoying the morning gallops is my favorite thing to do:
My pre-race interview was with timber trainer, Alicia Murphy. We went back to the barn where she let me photograph her featured horse of the day, Nondo, whom Hayes really liked back in the fall. So I got his picture to message to Hayes and let her know how much I missed her at the races.

 Here's Nondo saddled before the race with, from left, Alicia, her assistant Tiffany and jockey Mark Beecher. Unfortunately, Nondo pulled a muscle during the race and was pulled up. Alicia texted me that if Hayes were around, Nondo would love her company as long as she came bearing sweet potatoes! Ah, an opportunity missed!
One of my interviews was with trainer, Kate Dalton, who operates a small stable with her jockey husband. Kate is one of those people you like immediately. Nigel, Camden's track announcer, asked Kate to handicap the feature race and she did so well, I said she had another career ahead of her!
 Mid-April came Atlanta's steeplechase and pre-race entertainment were the Budweiser Clydesdales. I couldn't figure out the racecourse to go hang around with them, which is a pity.
 And just a random shot from the races. Usually, I am spot-on picking winners during steeplechase. This day I went 0-7!