The Casual Blog

Tag: SparkCON

Saturday: the Farmers’ Market, the gym, physical therapy, and SparkCon

13 09 13_4296It was a particularly intense week at work, and I was glad we hadn’t planned any major travel adventures for the weekend. The weather turned cooler on Friday night, and Saturday morning was sunny when I went over the N.C. farmers’ market. It was colorful, with gorgeous squash, peppers, beans, tomatoes, and apples. I bought some kale and collard greens for smoothies and a basket of peaches.
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After that I went to O2 Fitness, where I did a work out inspired by my session earlier in the week with Larissa. Along with a variety of lunges, bends, squats, hops, balances, twists, pulls, and pushes, I worked in some high intensity rowing (two-minute intervals) and jump roping. I rigged my TRX cord device to a chin up bar, put my feet in the grips, and did some side planks, level planks, and a complex core series including pikes. Then 10 minutes on the treadmill and 20 minutes on the escalator-style stairs. The stairs device looks ridiculously retro but gets the heart to seriously pumping. Then stretching, and finally some foam rolling. All this took a little over two hours, during which I listened to most of The Marriage of Figaro. I felt really good afterwards.
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Good health is a fundamental element of happiness, and you can’t take it for granted. It’s a moving target, and it can get away from you quickly. My right arm has been feeling not so good in recent months, and my various attempted home remedies (rest, ice, stretching) were not successful. Twisting and lateral movements were particular problems. As it got worse, I began to have some trouble turning the steering wheel when driving and lifting a fork from plate to mouth. This caused an intimation of mortality, and reflections on how life would be much more difficult without the ability to use arms for, say, eating, dressing, driving, typing, golfing, piano playing, hugging, etc.

Larissa, probably tired of hearing that she had to take it easy on my arm, referred me to Jeff Vajay at Impact Orthopaedics, a physical therapist with a specialty in arms. I’ve had good luck with physical therapy, which I mention because I suspect there are many people who have no idea it can be so effective. There is a species of physical problem that MDs have no idea what to do with, and well-trained, experienced physical therapists do. I’ve had complete long-term cures to lower back and rotator cuff injuries. It took an investment of time in each case, and a continuing commitment to special exercises, but it was a small price to pay.

Anyhow, Jeff ultimately diagnosed my problem as muscle related, and he worked on it with some intense massage and dry needling. The needing involves using small needles to penetrate muscles and release tension. In places it hurt a bit. But the results were positive. Now, after three weekly visits, I feel 90 percent cured and optimistic about the last 10 percent.
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In the afternoon I practiced the piano with a view to getting ready for a lesson on Sunday with Olga. I considered playing a few holes of golf, but didn’t leave quite enough time, so intead I walked over to Fayetteville Street to see the SparkCon street fair. There were several musical groups performing, the loudest of which were, wouldn’t you know, the worst. There was a circus group and various craft and food stalls. My favorite part was the chalk sidewalk art. It’s not so much about artistic profundity as energy and life. Most of the artists were done by the time I got there, but a couple were still at work.
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Welcome to fall and a new ballet season

Of the four seasons, fall is my favorite. Finally there’s a break in the hot weather, and the cooler temperatures make it easier to move. Days shorten, leaves change their colors, and migrant birds flock and prepare to move south. Harvest time is at hand. And the new arts season begins.

Our first event of the new arts season was Carolina Ballet’s performance last Friday of a program entitled Firebird. I was sorry to see the there were a good many empty seats. The audience is an important part of a performance. Those of us without dance training have a role to perform — that is, the audience role, absorbing and responding. I always feel like a better person after the ballet, with posture at least temporarily improved.

Why were there empty seats in Fletcher Hall? I do not know. People squander their precious life hours on the most amazingly nonsense yet pass up such richness close at hand. At any rate, those who made it were well rewarded. There were strong new works by Weiss and Bourtasenkov, as well as the repertory masterpiece set to the great Stravinsky score. And of course, the incredibly talented, disciplined, beautiful dancers.

As a Mahler fan, I was especially interested in Weiss’s new Sturmische Liebe, a pas de deux to a Mahler chamber piece with Lara O’Brien and Alain Molina. It was taut and tragic to the danger point, as though the end of love could only mean the end of life. It seemed to draw on the spirit of tango. I admired Lara’s intensity and her total immersion in the character, which was so somber that I briefly forgot it was acting and worried she might be a danger to herself.

I also particularly enjoyed the very different new Weiss piece Moving Life, a non-story to three enigmatic works by Erik Satie. Part of the music, the Gymnopedies, was familiar to me from a marathon performance I helped with years ago, and I went home after the show and ordered the sheet music online from Sheet Music Plus. Peggy Severin Hansen was again magnificent as the Firebird, in many regards birdlike — astonishingly light and quick, yet elegant and powerful.

Sal and I spotted Lola Cooper at the second intermission with a cast on her foot. She greeted us warmly and brought us up to date on her news. She’d had surgery a few weeks before to address a congenital bone problem. She seemed upbeat about the good progress she was making on her rehabilitation. It has to be so difficult for a dancer with such dedication to be sidelined even for a few weeks.

After the performance, Sally and I parted temporarily, she to hunt for her Mini Cooper and I my Clara. There was a street fair on Wilmingstreet called SparkCON. I spent a few minutes watching performers dancing with fire to African drumming. I couldn’t figure out how a flaming hula hoop didn’t case burns. It was fun to see the street performers, and I would have given them a few dollars if they’d asked.