Friday, March 13, 2009

March break

Last Wednesday was the last day of classes in the winter session, I went to weaving and woodcarving, but skipped the tai chi class.

In weaving I was really hoping to finish my sampler project, but it was not to be. I still have a few more inches to weave before I can cut it off the loom and either tie off or braid the fringe. This is a picture of the sampler still on the loom. It's close, but no cigar.

In woodcarving I wasn't even close to finished, I have only barely begun my bas-relief. From the picture you can see that all I have really done is chip away most of the background area. There is lots more to do, including making a plasticine model of the finished product. The other students in the class tell me I could spend years working on this first project. That's OK, I've enjoyed the class and especially enjoy the long leisurely coffee breaks in the middle, in which I sit around with all these 70 and 80 year olds discussing the news. A fun bunch.

One guy has the same name as my Dad, and I think he is around the same age as Dad would be if he were still alive (90!). Briefly we discussed family trees and we are probably not related, or if we are, only distantly. This Ted Mills served in the Navy not the Army during the War, spending time in both the Atlantic and the Pacific. I was very surprised to hear him talking about the War, I would not have put him much past 65 by his looks.

I have re-upped for the spring session classes in weaving and woodcarving, but not in tai chi. Those classes will start on April Fool's Day. Three classes a day was manageable, but only just, so I am happy to cut back to two. Besides, I am not happy with the tai chi class so giving it up is fine by me.

In the tai chi class we were learning the 24-form version of tai chi, a shortened version of the traditional 108-form that is supposed to be easier for beginners to learn. And in the Beginner Tai Chi class, we were only supposed to learn the first 12 forms, or poses. You'd think that in 9 hour and a half classes that wouldn't be too hard.

Our instructor rushed us through the first 12 forms and by class 6 she had us working on the second half of the whole sequence. The trouble was, I still hadn't learned the first 12 forms so moving on to the second 12 (which weren't even supposed to be part of the course) was just confusing and frustrating.

Our instructor told us that getting the breathing in sync with the movements was the most important part of tai chi, so she focussed on teaching the breathing. Again, the problem for me was that I couldn't get the breathing in sync with movements that I didn't know, I spent most of my time and effort looking over my shoulder at what the instructor was doing (because more than half the time she was out of my line of view), and to hell with the breathing. And I still did not get the movements.

If I signed up for tai chi again, I would have no choice but to re-do the beginner level, and while I don't mind that in particular, I was so frustrated at the speed with which she was moving through the whole thing that I could not face signing up for another session of frustration.

We would begin and end each class with a moving meditation in which the instructor asked us to visualize ourselves as trees, with the good energy of Mother Nature flowing up our roots/feet into our trunks/bodies as we breathed in, and then all the bad sickness and negative feelings flowing down as we breathed out. The second last class for me of breathing in good energy and breathing out the bad was the final straw for me, I relished playing hooky on the last day.

No more meditative trees for me!

PS - I gave my first beret to my weaving teacher, who admired it when I wore it in to class last week. She wanted to buy it from me, but for a whole lot of reasons I preferred to give it to her. She is delighted with it! I am working on my second beret.


Anonymous said...

Hi Anne,

I love the weaving you've been doing and that you'll keep at it in the next class session. Will you have to take your almost completed weaving off of the loom during the interim?

Your carving is coming along well, too. Will that be what you work on in the next class?

Oh, my! I don't think tai-chi is ever supposed to be rushed. Trees don't rush, for goodness sake! What a dismaying attitude that teacher has and I say good for you for not putting up with it. Who needs that?!

Love that beret! Glad it's gone to a good home and a person who will enjoy it and who will think of your kindness.


Steven said...

Like Tai Chi, yoga also has breathing requirements and that's where I fail every time. Oh, I keep breathing, just not in sync!

I admire your wood carving. That's something that requires more patience than I have.

Weaving looks fascinating!

20th Century Woman said...

I can't take classes because of going to Alaska, and I wish I could. But one can't do everything. I know what you mean about tai chi. I was always on the wrong foot, even in the beginning class. If you haven't done it, try woodblock printmaking sometime. You get to mess with wood, and you can experiment with tools and marks for different effects.

Wisewebwoman said...

I'm so impressed Anne with all you have on the go.
Love the woodcarving, something on my list that I'd like to try.

Zabetha said...

Hi Barbara Anne

We get to leave our weaving on the loom, putting it back on a loom would be so ridiculously difficult that I for one would not even think about it. I should have posted a photo of the weaving room, it is chock-a-block full of looms! Big ones, little ones, all kinds of looms. And I will continue working on the carving in the next class too.

Zabetha said...

Hi Steven,

Thank you!

If I were a tai chi teacher, I'd teach the poses or movements first, then I'd teach the breathing. It is difficult to get it in sync, and one should not have to be dividing one's attention between getting the movements right and getting the breathing right.

As for patience, once I get over the fact that it isn't going to be completed any time soon, I try to treat it as an activity, like say yoga, that you do on a regular basis without hope of "finishing" it.

Zabetha said...

Hi Anne,

Travel has its down side I suppose, always a little inconvenient when it comes to courses. Decisions decisions! One of my classmates was debating whether to re-up, since she and her partner are planning a trip to NZ...

The woodblock printmaking sounds interesting, I'll keep an eye out for such a course.

Zabetha said...


Thank you! Funny you say that, I actually feel like I'm not doing enough, I guess it's a personality thing. Many projects on the go, few actually completed...

June Calender said...

Glad to hear someone who doesn't like visualization meditation -- good for you for skipping the last class. I've done yoga [and taught it] but never do visualization. Breathing in yoga is easier to synchronize and, I think makes more sense with the types of movement, but some things work for one person and not another.

When you are concentrating on your weaving or woodcutting, you are, in a sense, also mediating, certainly being "in the moment" which seems much better to me than being in someone else's fantasy about trees or whatever for however many moments.

Zabetha said...

Hi June

Good point about visualization (someobdy else's fantasy), I hadn't thought of that but it probably explains my discomfort with that kind of meditation. The instructor meant well, but it just rubbed me the wrong way.

I'm sure you're right about concentrating on weaving or carving, although in this case I was also spending a lot of time chatting with classmates, maybe not such a meditative exercise! But between focusing on the intricacies of a craft and sociable classes, a good experience.