My gramma just moved into a retirement residence and um, her attitude seems to have done a sudden shift. You know, folks get old and it's a bummer that the body doesn't co-operate. You don't have to be 83 to know about this, but imagine how much more it's in effect when you're getting up there. So, here's my gram, who's been rocking retirement: every day was aquafit or euchre or lunch with her pals. And she got more creaky, and couldn't see the cards so well, and she was getting mopey, and really, what are you gonna do about that? It's an honest to goodness problem. And people just think, "Oh. Having to move out of your house is the icing on that cake." And, yeah, she had to.
Next thing I know, Gramma's all chipper, though. Did you know gregarious refers to creatures who just have to be in company? That's my gram. (We have that in common, big time.) She gets into a place with activities and people (and well-balanced meals and exercise) and she's signing up for the bus to the mall and plopping herself at a table with different company for every meal. It's like, she knew what she needed but it was a big drag to actually do it. (Oh Nike. Darn you for your perfect slogan.) And then she did, and it made everything else better and easier.
Anyway, some days the archery range is my retirement home. It's got activity and people and self-actualization. But I just don't want to take an hour long bus ride for something that's so close. It's literally an uphill climb, when I leave, too, with equipment strapped to me. And it's because it's challenging that I feel good later.
The first day of Pan Am archery seemed all gentle and nice. Everybody played, no eliminations. Rob came with me - his first time watching competitive archery. We waved hi to people we know from here and there. Including Vanessa Lee, an archer on TeamNext, and she egged on the cheering for Canada by showing her own enthusiasm for her pals out there. We sat next to an aunt and nephew who're going around to all different venues, and he was excited about archery because he's done it at camp. We also sat next to the folks of one of the Colombian competitors who were face-timing the game to another archer's family back home. And I got to point out all the Canadian team to Rob and tell him everything I've learned about them.
And now that he knows about them, the ending of Day 1 came with a gut-wrenching twist: not only are our gang going to get picked off as the Games go on, they have to do it to each other. If you got into archery because of The Hunger Games, you're going to love this, I guess.
Like I said, this match we went to, it seemed like a gentle, nice game. Just playing to sort out who'd be paired up with who in the coming round. But the way the cards fell, Jay (ahem, see No. 5) and Patrick AND Georcy and Virginie will be facing off against one another. Yikes! You see how this is gonna go? One third of our team has to wipe out another third right away. How brutal is that? Besides which, the American and Mexican teams look pretty fierce. I didnt know I'd get so caught up in the drama of this. Tense!
Now, on the other hand, for sure two of our team will still be standing on Thursday, and in the best case scenario, four of them might be. If you're going today, I think this is going to be the nail-biter of the Games. I've got tickets for Friday and Saturday and I'm wriggling in suspense, hoping there'll be Canadians left to cheer for by then, so please, please show them all your love and Canada flags if you're going today!
All gone. All done. Whew. Throwing a fundraiser is a bit of a whirlwind - begging for donations, orchestrating a potluck, picking up various contributed helpful things, setting the scene, getting the word out, securing a hairdresser (er... there was a snag with that in the end but more exciting, right?), getting rained out and rescheduling.
That video's from the Artemis and Friends' Toronto Archers for a Cure picnic & haircut this past Sunday, complete with uke tunes, super people, too much food and no 'after' picture. I totally forgot to take an 'after' picture. Why didn't I think to get one with Crispin Duenas?
I am so kicking myself. Our local Pan Am competitor, Crispin Duenas, strolled over and starstruck us all for a bit before he got down to his training. It was very cute - like just really normal, because we see him around, but he still kills us. My pal and impromptu barber, Simon, was like, "Crispin, you're star-striking us." He'd popped over to make sure everybody knows about The Boob Shoot, as folks know it, a cancer fundraiser in Waterloo that happens in February. I'm so going. Don't say I didn't tell you. You should be there, too.
Now, it happens that in the course of planning this event, I've heard from more than half of our Pan Am archery team and I'm looking forward to seeing this gang play in the games even more than before. I messaged them asking for amazing hair pictures to help promote this schtick. Jay Lyon and Patrick Rivest-Bunster were like, "Dude, I'm bald..." (Jay, especially, said it in a way that made me fall in love with him a little, though.) But I think Georcy-Stéphanie Thiffeault Picard might have been waiting all her life for someone to ask her. She takes full advantage of her insane mane, styling it up. Look what she came up with.
Aw. I'm so jazzed to see these folks do their thing. I guess maybe I won't give myself a well-deserved break from blogging next week, after all. I mean, right when Pan Am tickets went on sale, I grabbed some and I just figured "Heck, I'll find somebody to go with." My partner, Rob, spoke up to go with me on Day 1. (See? On the first day, everybody I want to cheer for will be playing, and my other tickets are for the big rock finish!) Then when I was putting the fundraiser together, I saw a suggestion for a silent auction and I knew I'd just found the most exciting way to get some company. Me and someone I don't even know are gonna spend the day together at the finals!
And now, if you'll pardon me, I'm going to go do nothing for a bit.
Darnit, did I give away the punchline with the title? This is why I don't tell jokes.
I took this one of these things up to folks around the range and asked them what they figured it was for. Nobody got it. (It wasn't attached to the arrow at the time. I guess that's relevant.) It's an FOB - a 'fletching only better'. I can't vouch for that myself but it's definitely a curio. It's designed to stay behind to mark your spot, if your arrow passes through the target.
Mostly, I was digging the company of the trio who were zinging these down the range. Again with the guessing games, if you'd asked I would have guessed they were family but it was a fun guy named Phillip with a couple of youthful church-mates. He's into archery and one of the kids who helps out there was excited about it, so with the mom's permission, the kid and his sis got to give the bow a go. They were having a great time, and they were a very sociable bunch. I offered to help them do the search in the grass for stuff that went past, and Phillip offered to get the FOB guy on the phone! Alas, no answer, so the joke was on us.
Thanks to Henry Zhu, who just happened to be nearby with a fancy camera, so I said, "Hey, can you take a pretty picture of those and send it to me?" It is pretty, Henry!
Age, just a number. In this case, the number's 42. Which is the answer to life, the universe and everything, right?
Kateri Vrakking is 42, and I'm really excited she'll be playing in the Pan Am Games in Toronto this July.
The number's the reason I'm excited and it might have been the reason we never got to see her there.
Me, I'm 38. And proud of every bit of it. People are surprised sometimes. It's my best party trick just to tell people my age. Maybe 38 isn't necessarily like what they think. I certainly feel like I'm getting better all the time. I'm constantly adding new accomplishments. Every day I have more behind me.
I was surprised and tickled to see an archer on the front page of the Toronto Star when I popped into a coffee shop this month, and in a lot of turmoil when I read why. Etobicoke gal Kateri made the news because even though her scores would put her in the third spot, she didn't make the Canadian archery team for Pan Am, while a younger player did.
Archery can be done by almost everyone. Age isn't a barrier, gender isn't a barrier, most physical disabilities won't even stop you. This is put front and centre when you're learning to coach. But I still don't see as many women as I'd like, and I really would like to see (and coach!) more women who are old as me, and way older than me. I mean, it was lots of old men down at the public range when I started going. So I think Kateri could be the best thing that's happened to archery. She didn't start till she was 27, and at 42, she might make some 'mature' women stop and think, "I'm going to give that a go."
My very competitive friend, Rachel, was at one time moving in a direction that could have taken her to the Olympics doing ballroom dancing. But if she got that far, it would've been her going against, basically, young'uns. Rachel's not the only one who looked at the Kateri situation and said, "Fair's supposed to be fair." Me, I'm willing to say I don't know the details of the situation, and if the rules say that the top 1st and 2nd place are shoo-ins, but Archery Canada gets some discretion on the 3rd, I don't know enough to judge what they should do. But I'm going to enjoy the show way more with someone closer to my age than I would without.
But wait... there's more. Another archer, who was sitting pretty with his own spot on the team, a "fair's supposed to be fair" guy, spoke up about Kateri's deal. He made a Facebook post calling for more respect and equality for women archers from Archery Canada. And because of that, he may lose his spot in the games, himself. I like this guy AND respect and equality for women is huge for me. I want to see where this is going to go. AND I'd enjoy the show way more with someone who speaks boldly about these issues AND someone closer to my age, than I would without them.
So, I bumped a post about my cancer fundraiser on Sunday - haircut and a picnic! - to say all this. Please make a donation. And please, come to the picnic! Everyone's welcome:)
This Saturday, I joined the analog angels of temptation.
It was the Ontario Spring Classic, an annual Archery Canada event, and people come from all over the country to participate, with family, coaches and dogs in tow. Rob Jackson from Bullseye Buccaneers invited me to come out and suggested a job for me close to all the people to talk to, which suits me to a tee. All 3 of the women who'll be on the Canadian Pan Am recurve team and the Pan Am recurve coach were there. Friends I know from the public range were there, shooting and supporting. There were people I knew by sight, too, and it was a fun day to get to know them a little better. I met lots of cool folks who make things happen behind the scenes. The volunteers are archers but also archers' moms and dads and partners and kids, and some pitch in even when the archie in their life isn't at the tournament, like Fran up there reading me the scores.
We were on the results team. The archers just needed to peer over their shoulders to see how they were doing. Ask yourself, what does it do to you to know that? Would you try a little harder, knowing you're a few points from leapfrogging over the next person? Or would it make you crazy, trying to keep focus while your rank rankled? It was Anne from Target Pro Archery, my partner on the recurve leaderboard, that long day in the sun, who clued me in to the turmoil we could be inciting in archers' souls - when she competes, she struggles to avert her eyes, as if the leaderboard was Medusa.
Each end we moved names on velcroed strips up and down and markered in scores as people changed position. Oh, and erased the scores from before. So much tough erasing on tiptoe. I figure it's good to balance me out, since a masseuse told me she could tell I do archery because I've got more back muscle on my other side. Maybe Archery Canada dreams of a digital scoreboard but it was funky retro stuff. Pay no attention the men behind the curtain, in the wedding tent with their laptops hooked up to printers.
Scott Ogilvie (Executive Director of Archery Canada) and Alan Brahmst (Archery Canada’s High Performance Consultant)
Scott Ogilvie (Executive Director of Archery Canada) and Alan Brahmst (Archery Canada’s High Performance Consultant)
And soon I'll be sending it in Canada Post.
This hair's to share.
I'm donating my spare to the Canadian Cancer Society and putting together a fundraiser picnic to send it off.
I asked Melissa, archer-hairdresser - her company's called Arrowbow, - if she'd shear me. Immediate yes. I asked Jimmy to fix it so it's the first thing you see when you go to the E.T. Seton Folk page. Immediate yes. As soon as it was posted, Meaghan volunteered that she's not just an archer, she works for the cancer society and she's started helping immediately. And right away, archer friends - like Stuart, who does cancer fundraising by making smoked fish - were signing up to come for the picnic. Like a great haircut, everything's just falling into place.
I love this community. You're all like, I dunno, golden strands braided together really intricately. Lots of us don't even do archery together that often, but we cross paths every here and there and the whole thing's really gorgeous. There are extensions that give a little extra colour, people from my work and Catie at book club who told me last night her sassy cut came about similarly. It's weaving together into a bit of a do here, isn't it? I hope it'll be a blow-out, even!
There are longer tendrils, too. I got encouragement from the Dresden, Ontario group Archers Against Cancer, who had an event this past weekend. There's a Waterloo group, too, Canadian Archers for a Cause, and their event's in the early part of the year. It goes far, but then I guess everybody's had some way their lives have been tangled with cancer. (You know, let me give a nod to a man I never met who painted my bow. If you were reading back in 2013, you might recall cancer figured in that story.)
Here's to no more tangles.
I hope you'll all go here to pony up. (But also go here because when they said 'personalize your page', I went to town. Consider it a bonus blog post.)
If you know Kensington Market, I'm guessing you know Global Cheese. I remember watching an episode of The Elephant Show that was set in Kensington and being like, "Ack! That's the horrible smelling place!" Kids, right? Anyway, the reason cheese is notably global is because every different part of the world makes cheese that's distinctive - foodies might say it has terroir. If you live in a place thats hospitable to Brevibacterium Linens, you'll get stinky cheese. Whether they graze on grass or herbs, cows diets affect the taste of the milk and then the cheese. And, hey, maybe you live in a place with yaks rather than cows.
My friend UV pointed out that its not so different with archery gear. He's a traditional archery - and cheese - aficionado. He likes the styles of bow that hearken back to longstanding cultural traditions. He's shaped a thumb ring, used in Asiatic styles of archery, from antler. They're figured to go way back to Neolithic times, made from leather, but thank goodness they decided harder materials work better because it's those harder ones that we still have as artifacts. Now, historically, you might be surprised that they were pretty decorative, inlaid with showy metals and gems, say gold and jade. To show that one belonged to the elite archer class you'd want it to be made with status materials. Hungarian horse bows are distinctive to their region, too, being made from horn.
UV was also experimenting with making a silk bowstring. That would have been typical in parts of Asia, whereas linen would be more common English longbows made from yew and string of linen. I would add that the machined metal and synthetic equipment produced internationally for the Olympic style of archery speak just as loudly about global economy and industrialized nations. See how they all reflect their cultures?
Bringing the cheese wheel around full circle, I have to mention this: i found a forum where a guy was planning to make a backing for his bow from cheese slices. He'd found an ancient one under the seat of his friend's car that had turned into something like vinyl and tough enough that he couldn't tear it. We all like to make Swiss cheese of our targets, but that's carrying it a little far, no?
Tara Vaughan lives with Rob Cruise and their pooches, Artemis and Louis in the East end of Toronto. They sort of dabbled in archery for a long time but actually got equipment a couple of years ago. Tara's loving it and Toronto and - Hey, look! She has a blog about them.