Skiing – part 2 – skiing

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Β πŸ™‚Β  πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Skiing is cool πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

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As I said in part 1, the piste is less than half an hour from my Ski-partner’s house, and he lives just over an hour away (assuming you use public transport and it’s snowing. If you drove on a sunny day it’d actually be more like 45 mins total). We chose the third closest piste to my ski-partner’s house, the other 2 are smaller and/or easier.. Ours had one slope, divided into 3 by 2 sets of 2 T-bar lifts. They progressed [minimally] from easy to less easy, but none of them was too scary. The lifts ran until 10pm, with floodlights turned on as soon at dusk approached. It wasn’t a slope for super skiers, and I think even I would get bored after a while because they’re very short and you spend more time waiting for and riding the lift than actually skiing, but it was the perfect slope to start the season with πŸ™‚ Especially teacherless. I spoke to my teacher afterwards about how different it was skiing by myself, and how many bad habits I’ve probably got into, and he said it was good that I’d gone without him because I ask too many questions and need to play and figure things out for myself and not just do what he says. I will have to think about that.

Yesterday’s snow was ‘matschig’ – a great word which means something like slushy, except it wasn’t wet, just really really soft. Unfortunately there wasn’t very much snow, which meant that by the end of the evening there were bald patches, where the grass showed through and where turning wasn’t much fun.

It was about -5 degrees which is plenty warm enough if you’re dressed well πŸ™‚ Having stayed up longer than I’d planned to the evening before, washing my new thermal undies in the sink*, I was extremely pleased to register that it was well worth it. The only place I noticed the cold was my nose …… and my wrists when I hadn’t tucked my gloves into my sleeves properly ;). The gloves are brilliant. I bought them in Aldi for a fiver and was a little sceptical about whether they’d be any good when it got ‘properly’ cold. I borrowed some ‘tried and tested’ leather skiing gloves from my teacher, but left them in the car, so I could test mine first. I figured that since this was a very small ski ‘resort’ where you can practically see your car from any point on the slope, it was better to test them here than at one where it takes half an hour and a ride in a gondola to get back to the carpark. I was very pleasantly surprised – they’re fantastic πŸ™‚ Not only coldproof, but also waterproof and much more flexible than the leather ones πŸ™‚

They weren’t the only bit of kit I love. I also love having a helmet (keeps your ears warm as well as protecting your head from malicious T-Bar poles), a good jacket (also borrowed) and good socks (mine!). If it wasn’t such a hassle going to the loo, I would also love my salopets. *thinks* Na, I guess I love them anyway..Β  falling over wouldn’t be nearly as fun if it meant getting wet! And they’re well padded as a bonus. Then there’s the boots. they’re tight – a must if you want to have any control over your skis and to reduce the chance of breaking your ankles – but not [really] uncomfy; not til you’ve skied for a couple of hours anyway, and by that time you’re so high on mountain air and adrenalin you don’t really notice. I stuck [cheap] compeeds just above my heels prophylaxically (if that’s a word ;)) but I forgot my arches. It luckily wasn’t a problem, but I will try to remember to do them next time.

I have allround ‘carving’ skis (borrowed) which are just generally brilliant, but most ‘useful’ on harder snow where you can dig the edges in and go round corners on the curved ‘blades’. They’re almost as long as I am tall (= not very ;)) and shaped like a loosely drawn elongated sandtimer – thinner in the middle than at the ends. Putting your weight on one side of your foot tilts the ski slightly. The thinner middle part of the ski would be raised off the ground if the ski wasn’t flexible. Luckily they are, so they bend, allowing the middle to touch the ground too. The ski is curved, so having the entire length of the edge on the ground means the ski automatically forms part of the circumference of a circle. When you add motion, you carry on round the rest of the circle. If you increase the tilt (= the angle between the ski and the ground), you make the radius of the circle smaller, and if you keep the ski flat on the ground you go forwards and ignore the circles. Although you generally learn to ski by ploughing (toes turned inwards), as you progress you try to keep both skis parallel. If you put your weight on, say, the left side of each ski, you will [most probably] turn left. If you put your weight on the right side of each ski, you will [most probably] turn right. If you put your weight on the inner side of each ski, you will [most probably] start ploughing and slow down. If you decide to put weight on the outer edges of both skis you’re liable to land on the floor. In other words; the thinness [combined with flexibleness] makes the ski bend more easily, the curves make them turn more easily and you can steer by putting weight on different sides of your feet. Skiing in S-curves feels something like this: skies flat, weight to right, skis flat, weight to left, skis flat, weight to right, skis flat (etc etc etc).

On ‘hard’ or powdery snow, the ‘sharpened’/filed edges dig in like an iceskate so you don’t slither about. However. When the snow’s really soft you tend to sink in a bit and slither around corners regardless of sharpened and curved edges. I actually quite like it when it’s soft, but it does mean you have to work harder to get your skis to do what you tell them, OR, you ‘go with the flow’ and take it as it happens without being too decisive/bossy about where you want to turn.

(Disclaimer: Yes, I am probably talking rubbish here.. if you are a proper skier, please feel free to correct me, bearing in mind I’ve just been for the fourth time I can really remember and am basically happy when I get to the bottom of a slope with everything intact and without running anyone over)

When lots of people ski and snowboard down the same bit of slope for most of a day the snow gets pushed about and heaped into piles. Because it’s easier to go round them than over them, the piles get bigger. The piles are called moguls, and sometimes whole stretches of piste are prepared with them especially. There are loads of techniques for going round them, over them, turning on/before/after them and I’m not proficient in any of them πŸ™‚ Despite my lack of technique, I can generally make my way down a slope with them on it πŸ™‚

(Disclaimer: Again, I might be talking rubbish here, too. Fact is though, at the end of the day the slopes are always more lumpy than first thing in the morning when the snow’s been brushed into place by the piste-basher (They’re really called that – I looked it up!)).

I practiced ploughing, going from one side of the slope to the other in long, slow, meandering S-curves, turning while keeping my skis parallel, going backwards (not for long though, it’s too unnerving when there are small people whizzing about round you and also when it’s dark. And when you’re a scaredy cat like me ;)), catching and letting go of the T-Bar lift from the left and right hand sides, jumping (= more like being thrown) off ramps made by the piles of snow, skiing with and without poles, skiing round and over the moguls, something called “hoch und tief Entlastung” in German, and which I haven’t found a translation for yet,Β  skiing ‘schuss’ (straight down the hill without curves) in plough and parallel, and falling over.

I’m going to need a lot more practice – good thing my teacher doesn’t need my kit for a while, and my ski-partner’s willing to go again soon πŸ™‚

Facit:

Skiing’s very cool.

And made even better by it being doable as a day-trip. I think I was out of the house for 12 hours max including 5 hours on the slope and approximately half an hour in the car for lunch. If I hadn’t stopped at work to blow the skis and boots dry (I have an “air-gun” I use to blow bits of glass off my table), or if I’d hobbled faster, it would have been even less.. It’s not very expensive either if you have (or can borrow) your own kit. We bought 50 points on a plastic card – he already had some but we weren’t sure how many or how often we wanted to attempt to kill ourselves πŸ˜‰ – equivalent to 50 journeys on the lift. The card cost 4€ to borrow, which you get refunded when you give it back, the 50 points cost 17.50€ which we skied away (I think it was actually 26 or 27 runs each) over the course of the afternoon/early evening. We took our own lunch, and the train from here costs maybe 7€ each way. I’m not sure, because I have a seasonticket for 2 zones and buy any extra zones as 4-journey-tickets which cost less per journey. = 20-25€ for the whole day out, muscle ache thrown in gratis πŸ™‚

 

*I’d put off washing them because it meant taking 3o seconds to find a pair of scissors and cut the labels off.. and besides, there was no snow when I bought them πŸ˜‰

Quote: Can’t v. will…

Remember:

The people who say you can’t are probably the ones most scared that you will.

– apparently Usher (though I think I’ve heard/read it from other sources…)

On skiing – part one – planning and ironing

I’m going skiing tomorrow!! πŸ™‚

Yay πŸ™‚

It’s snowed quite a lot this week and skiing’s cool, so when I looked out of the window at lunchtime and realised it was the weekend soon I emailed a friend and we organised an afternoon’s skiing. He lives about half an hour away from a piste with a ski lift. Not a huge one, but pretty good for getting the hang of hurtling down snow covered mountains at 40mph (???) after a year of meandering along reasonably flat pavements.

I haven’t been skiing very often. I went for a week as a kid (I think I was 5) and again for 3 days (= 1 and a month later another 2) last spring, and I’m hooked. If it hadn’t been so warm and the snow so slushy, I would have loved to have gone again. And now it’s a new year with new snow and a new chance to slide down a mountain on my face with my feet in the air πŸ˜‰

After work (I stayed on for a couple of extra hours to practise for my exam) I remembered that going skiing involves a heck of a lot of kit, none of which I own, apart from the socks. I have a friend who is handily a skiing teacher with enough skiing siblings/family that I’ve always been able to borrow everything I need from him and/or his relatives. He lives about an hour away and in the wrong direction to combine it with going to the ‘mountain’ tomorrow. I came home, made dinner, ate half of it and set out to collect ‘my’ stuff. (Yes. Obviously I asked him first. Who do you think I am??). I even got to the busstop before the bus did πŸ™‚

When I got there he’d arranged all the things he remembered me wearing last year (and some others as well, just in case) in the hall. I tried on 2 pairs of boots because I have an awful memory for things like that. Ask me the lyrics of ancients songs, or what cereals non-main-characters eat for breakfast – no problem. Ask me what colour my boots or gloves were a year ago and I’m stumped.

Then we moved on to filing and waxing my skis.

For anyone who doesn’t already know; skis slide better if they’re waxed, and you have more ‘grip’ (for want of a better word) when the edges are sharp (especially when it’s icy). I haven’t skiied enough to really tell the difference between blunt and sharp, polished and unpolished. I also have a great teacher who makes sure my skis are well sorted out before I go anywhere πŸ˜‰ However. I think everyone who has ever been iceskating with blunt skates can appreciate the benefits of having them sharpened and the priciple’s a similar one.

Usually people hire their skis from a hut full of minions who do everything for you, or take their own there before heading for the hills. If you ski a lot it makes sense to do your own. It goes something like this*:

  • lay your skis upside down on 2 trestles
  • brush all the old wax off the undersides of your skis with a softish wire brush
  • brush the bits off with a very soft ‘hairy’ brush
  • file the rims/edges with a pretty cool file holder, making sure the file’s facing the right way
  • apply melted wax to the entire under surface. This is done by holding a block of wax against a warm iron and letting the ensuing drips land on the skis in a somewhat orderly fashion (i.e. spread equally along the ski, not all clumped tgether). The skis are then ironed to spread the wax blobs into a thin layer
  • leave to cool
  • scrape the excess wax off the bottom and sides of the ski with a plastic scraper
  • brush the ski once along its length with the soft wire brush

Apparently there are different types of wax for different types and temperatures of snow. There’s also go-faster wax, which is more expensive, and wax which you put on cold (instead of melting it on) and which rubs off after a couple of runs.. Until this evening, my knowledge of wax extended to candles and bees. I have now glanced at a world beyond my understanding. I smiled and nodded (and asked questions to show how much I still didn’t understand) and got on with watching him prepare my skis. I had a go at filing them myself, but I’m not very good..

Then we did his. He’s going training with his racing team tomorrow.

Somewhere between the third and fourth ski he looked at the time. The busses to the station from where he lives go every hour in the evening so missing them is a problem. I had 13 minutes to be on it or at least at the busstop. We left the fourth ski to its fate and rushed around finding poles, a bag to put my skis and poles in, a bag for the boots and gloves and goggles, the backpack I’d brought with me and left in another room, my ‘normal’ gloves… and eventually I was loaded up and on my way out of the door and he could go back to his ski.

There must be a more elegant way of getting on and off busses carrying that much stuff, but I haven’t mastered it yet.

I work next to the station, so I let myself in and left my ski stuff in the workshop to save having to lug it home tonight and back again tomorrow. Being at work at night is a very strange feeling.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow, even if I am a little scared of going without a teacher – I haven’t been skiing since last year – but I wish I’d done more leg-muscle-training… I have a feeling I’m going to need a very long hot bath when I hobble back tomorrow evening!

* Please find someone who knows what they’re talking about to show you how to do it properly, before tackling your own skis…. don’t take my word for it…. please…

Click here for Part two…

On baby chickens and other Mystery Guests

I found the skeleton of a baby bird in my bathroom vent (see Day 14). It was well and truely dead (as in, only the bones were left) but it still made me queasy. It’s snowed here so I couldn’t really bury it properly. I dropped it off my balcony into the bushes instead. As a compromise for the heartless burial, I walked through the snow on my balcony barefoot. Apparently it’s good for the circulation. And I was already barefoot from cleaning the vent.

I hope it wasn’t the baby chicken my landlord heard. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t. I would have smelled it if it was.. Right? I hope it was already there before I moved in. That somehow makes it less my fault, even though falling down the shaft was something the bird did by itself.

My Mystery Guest went home today. He left the first message in my 2013 Guestbook. He wrote:

Dear Jesska,

One seldom finds such open and nice people as you in life. Therefore I thank you for your sincere/hearty hospitality during the festival and wish you lots of pleasure/enjoyment with your Couchsurfing Project.

P. [his name]

P.S. I ate 2 eggs for breakfast, I hope you weren’t planning on making Omelette this evening πŸ˜‰

It sounded better in German, but it’s still pretty good in English πŸ™‚ I like having good “written-down-comments” – they cheer me up on the days when I don’t get good “spoken-comments”.

Whatever.

I think I declare the CouchSurfingProjekt 2013 officially started πŸ™‚ I still have to register, but I think it could be fun πŸ™‚

On late nights and strange men

– Thanks Ed Sheeran for the title πŸ˜‰ –

This is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a week*. I can’t say I didn’t have time, because I had as much time as in any other week, I just used it for other things…Β  πŸ˜‰ I think it’s going to be a long one… πŸ˜‰ Admit you wanted one, and don’t tell me I didn’t warn you..

I haven’t been in bed before midnight since I can’t remember when, maybe last week sometime.. And men are strange. I’m going to provide some examples, but they probably won’t begin to cover the strangeness of men in general πŸ˜‰

***

I changed the workshop round on Monday. Most of the move had to do with the atmosphere in the workshop and my inability to work when distracted as well as wanting to create distance between myself and the ‘unhappy’ person (man) with whom I share my workshop..

***

I went dancing on Tuesday. I think I wrote about how I have a whole group of new people to get to know. As a woman, I tend to dance with men, which makes getting to know the women a little more difficult. Naja, at the end of the dance class, all the women vanished, leaving me and 3 of the guys to decide what we were going to do with the rest of the evening. There was the offer of meeting the intermediate danceclass for waffles, but they’d been there for an hour or so already and were on the verge of going home. The dance teacher had mentioned a bar/club/restaurant which has a Brazilian evening every Tuesday. We dance Forro, a Brazilian dance, so that sounded pretty cool. When we got there we were greeted by a rather underdressed lady who presented me with a coupon for a free cocktail; ladies only. I was a little disturbed by the idea, but maybe my imagination is too active. The others tried to get her to give them coupons too, but she wasn’t covinced by their feminine sides. The dancefloor was entirely empty as we finally made our way down the stair into the underlit bar. An even scantilier clad lady sat on a stool singing while a couple of guys accompanied her on a DJ mixing deck (???). A this point I wanted to bail out. I didn’t because.. actually I don’t really know why because.. I just told the barkeeper-bloke who appeared out of the gloom that we wanted to sit somewhere, and that there were 4 of us. It’s probably not fair to assume the others were too busy oggling to answer. It was pretty loud, maybe they didn’t hear him ask….

*grins* A short while later things started looking up. The others ordered burgers (Tuesday special) and one of them offered to buy me a non-alchoholic cocktail in exchange for my ‘surprise’ cocktail which the waiter kindly explained was premixed and therefore couldn’t be made without. I ended up with 2 half-burgers (the special involved buy one get one free and all 3 of them ordered them. Only one managed to eat both of his) in addition to my non-alcoholic contail. In return, I let myself be persuaded onto the dancefloor by one of them, where we were the only dancers. A couple of songs later, one of the others demanded it was his turn, and a couple of songs after that we all decided it was late and we should probably go home. And that was the end of another interesting day.

***

I spent a lot of time between Thursday and yesterday with a man with metre long dreadlocks who has been staying at my house for the duration of the film festival in the city. He’s a pretty awesome guy. Runs a film school for people who aren’t interested in making Hollywood style films. He knows EVERYTHING there is to know about films, and shared a minute fraction of that knowledge with me. I am now a million times more knowledgeable about films than I was before… He got me a film festival pass, and helped me decide which films would probably be worth watching.

***

I walked home last night and was asked, “Can I know you, please?” by a random stranger on a bench. I’m not really sure what that means. I know the Bible occasionally refers to sex as ‘knowing” someone, but I’d never heard anyone use it in normal conversation (as far as yelling at passing strangers counts as normal conversation) so I assume he was foreign (though I couldn’t say where from) and just wanted someone to talk to… I don’t particularly need more strange men in my life at the moment, so I smiled, pretended not to understand his broken English, and carried on home. He went back to his beer. Which is probably a good thing, considering.

 

* I’d almost finished it too, but left it in Drafts. I’ve finished it off (wasn’t much needed) and posted it today, 29.7.16, 3 1/2 years later, but it the ‘rightful place’….

Day 8 – pictures – dedicated to Miss Happenence

 

On changing sides

-or how I waged war on the workshop-

This morning I left my role of victim and became the perpetrator.

This morning I asked/told my colleague about my brilliant idea. He took it far better than I thought he was going to, simply replying sardonically; “it’s a good thing you don’t go on holiday more often. I couldn’t cope with many more of your ideas.” Having agreed he even more amazingly helped me carry it out, since he’s ‘the last person who’s going to stand in my way’. Could’ve fooled me. But maybe I just haven’t noticed the rest of the world because I was looking the wrong way.

Almost 12 hours later I was finished. Naja, not really. But a lot closer than before.

I would love to post pictures but I don’t have the right cable for my camera πŸ™ Maybe I’ll figure out how to use the bluetooth tomorrow..

 

Hmm? You’re confused? No way! You haven’t guessed what my idea was yet? Hmm.

Okay.

I’ll tell you.

I swapped places at work. I am now no longer the centre of attention, I no longer have a hoard of old men sitting around watching me work, I will hopefully no longer be distracted or commented on or dragged into tortuous discussions. I will be able to go to work, and work while I’m there. I won’t have to spend my evenings practising for my exam while no one’s watching, because I’ll have spent the day practising. I won’t have to grit my teeth trying not to go mad at the idiotic banter. I won’t have to pretend I care that my boxes are blocking the way to the radio, because they won’t be anywhere near it. I won’t have to answer the telephone just when my apparatus is getting to a crucial point, because I’ll be too far away πŸ˜‰

Life could get a whole lot brighter πŸ™‚

The workshop is longer than it is wide. A row of 2m high windows runs along one of the long sides. Against the wall under the windows runs a worktop known as the windowsill. Underneath that is another shelf and under that the radiator. There are 4 workbenches each placed perpendicular to the windows, facing towards one of the short walls. My colleague sits at the back facing the entire workshop, then came my bench, then the spare bench he uses for Quartz, and then the bench hidden by something like a million boxes of Glass Things. Each bench has 3 chests of drawersΒ  holding it up (solidly – they’re incredibly cool benches ;)). One on the left, then a space for your legs, then two on the right. My bench hung over the edge of the drawers on the left, meaning you could place a table half underneath the end. The table is wider than my bench, so it sticks out on 3 sides, each approximately facing my bench. That is where everybody sits. The end of my bench was also exactly opposite the door. When anyone came in, I was the first person they made eye contact with (the rest were sitting with their backs to the door), and hence the person they brought their broken glass to. I don’t mind, that’s pretty much what I’m there for, but it didn’t do my popularity many favours.. Workshop Leader’s don’t appreciate being ignored, even [or especially] if they are drunk.

I now sit right at the front, with my nose to the wall πŸ™‚ The world happens behind me. My colleague’s not happy about it, but he hasn’t actually told me how unhappy he is, so I’m going ahead while I still have the chance πŸ™‚ He told everyone who’d listen that we were putting up the new east-west divide and only stopped when someone pointed out that he’d be on the east side… He also said (to them) that one of us was there to work and the other was there to act (or for the drama?). It’s quite nice acting and not just reacting πŸ™‚

 

Today was pretty chaotic.

We -or more specifically my colleague because I’m useless when it comes to being usefull- carted the boxes of Glass Things into the Storeroom where they will probably continue to collect dust in a similar fashion – why change the habit of a lifetime? I was going to put them on the Quartz bench and put the Quartz lamp on my table but that was totally out of the question. “What would that look like?!!”

I was never especially talented in those games where you have one space and 8 or 15 square pieces you have to slide around to make a picture. You know the ones? I haven’t seen one for years, but they were incredibly popular while I was small. Anyway, that’s what the rest of my day was like.

Once the boxes were gone I set about washing the layer of dust, grime and glittery glass sprinkles off the bench, the window sill, the window, the wall, the thin space between the bench and the wall. I’d like to say I’ve never seen such filth, but I’d be lying. I already washed everything once, and it’s only been 18 months since then. When I did it last time it had been more like 18 years since the last wash. *shudders*. Moving on. Once the worktop was clear I swapped the drawers round. Then I had to find space for all the stuff that’s accumulated over the years, and rearrange the plants to accommodate my Glass-Tubing-Rack. My old ‘windowsill’ was divided by a huge concrete pillar, my new windowsill is complete. I didn’t want to adopt the junk so I had to play Workshop-Tetris to get it all into the other spaces. As soon as there was space for my feet on my windowsill I washed the windows, and moved the plants. Then I moved everything from on top of my old bench to the new one. In between times I swept the floor, including under the radiators, and explained to everyone who came in and wanted to know, just what exactly I was doing.

It’s amazing/terrifying how much RUBBISH you collect when you settle in anywhere. I’ve been there for just over 3 years. I have 15 drawers and several cardboard boxes – bits of broken stuff that I need to mend or rescue the joints off, preparations for projects I never got round to finishing, small bits of tubing that are too short to put back but too long to justify throwing away, bits of paper with scribbled lists of things to do, or instructions for building something undiscernible, newspaper articles, Wikipedia-printouts from conversations with the ‘other guy’ (he can be relied on to bring a semi-relevant article with him the day after a discussion), old calendars.. just STUFF!. There was no way I was going to go through it all today, so I’ve hardly touched the content of the drawers, preferring to leave it for a better day. I packed everything else into fewer, bigger, boxes where it can also wait for me to get round to it. I’m thinking of tackling it Flylady style – 15 mins at a time.

What also amazed me was my colleague’s enthusiastic clear out of the things that have been occupying the end of my bench since my arrival. As long as I was there they HAD to be there; “that bit of the table’s ours”, now I’ve gone; “if we’re doing tidy, we’re doing tidy properly” !! Still, I can’t say I’m very sorry they’re gone. I’m not sure how much anyone needs small, talking, stuffed domina-mice.

 

Now to get some sleep so I’m ready for tomorrow πŸ™‚

 

Oh yeah, and I’m allowed to decorate the wall too πŸ™‚ 2 x 3 1/2m fresh unadulterated wall – mmmmmmmmm πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ And no more naked ladies!