Sunday, September 30, 2007

Happy Anniverary Livona and Ira

It is Livona and Ira's 45th wedding anniversary on Saturday. Ira you have lots of things to look forward to when Livona returns. We are taking good care of her and she is showing us a few new tricks. Boy, we should all be so young!

Sunday, Sept 30, 2007 Race Finals Australia

Race Day Sunday 9-30-2007

After Saturday’s races the BC team was in the top one third. Our first race today we came in 3rd missing out on being in the semi finals by one tenth of a second. However, this ended up being in our favor, because we were seated in the race prior to the flower ceremony- only one of six full teams, along with 6 global mixed teams- to be on the water for the ceremony. We were ale to throw rose pedals in the water. Later, to our surprise, we actually came in first in our fun final division, because of a lane mix up. This afforded us both the opportunity to be in the flower ceremony as well as win in our division.

Our supporters lead masterly by captain James Cross and by strokers Ann-Marie and Aussie Michelle came off the start in first place and continued at breakneck speed. We were beaten only by an Australian team, who practice year round (taking Christmas off). The supporter team was a combination of members from Dragonheart, Singapore, Australia, Italy, Canada and Ester a gold medal World Champion from Australia (OZ). Glenna reports her race was “power paddling” and she loved her drummers Donna (OZ) and our very own Laura. Paula reports the races were empowering. And Jeanne said she almost felt like throwing up- she paddled so hard. Mary Alice found the experience life changing and enriching. Carol said “what a rush” Jane is very grateful to have been able to partake in this enriching and moving event.

The finals of the Abreast in Australia 2007 had four Aussie teams and two Canadian teams. In the end it was the exuberant Missabittatitti Aussie team that won the final race. They are not to be confused with teams Tittytittybangbang or Twintitties or Titavators.

With most of us heading back to the hotel, we were lucky to have Karen and Peter stay to collect our medals and certificates.

To cap off the feeling we experienced the entire weekend, we won first place in our first race and our last race. We really are winners.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Festival Day Arrives!!!

After 2 days of practice the festival day that we've been planning for so long had arrived!!! With only 18 paddlers in our boat sitting pretty (and pretty nervous), we paddled on our way to the team starting line with 10 supporters cheering and chasing after us along the shore. 500 meters looked so far away!! Hearing the blast of the horn the Dragonheart paddlers took off and never looked back, getting 1st place on their first race internationally!! Everyone was so excited and proud of each other especially being at their first International Festival.

Shortly afterwards they had another race and came in 2nd in their heat. Now they could take a break and get some lunch quickly returning to support their colleagues in a supporter race. Everyone was pumped and the adrenaline was running. Our supporter team came in 2nd also and everyone was excited about that.

After a few hours of walking around, trading buttons and whatever else we could find, shopping, having lunch, and catching some intense Australian rays, we raced in our final and 3rd race of the day. The winds had picked up, the water a bit choppy, and everyone a bit tired, we still managed to come in 3rd place. Everyone felt fulfilled and called it a day to go home and cool off in the pool, then have a homemade meal or go out for dinner. An amusement park evening was just not in the cards for the crew. It was a wonderful day and a great experience for all.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Australia Friday September 28, 2007

Joel made our Dragonheart sign to carry in the parade. It was a big hit with Koala’s dressed in pink shirts and the red, white and blue stripes. We even had a mock ey
Everyone is staying healthy and injury free so far. This morning we awoke to another beautiful day of sunshine and warm weather. The bus picked us up at the resort for our practice session at the Kawana Lake.

The sweep of the BC team said we had some great times. We blew away the supporter DHVT boat, who indicated they were saving their energy for their 200 meter race. Mary Ann C’s dragon breath exercise is working wonders for us.

Jim was the sweep for the supporter boat. They asked if he was certified. Not knowing what that meant- we said he was. We were fully confident in his abilities and he did not prove us wrong. He fit in with the rest of the native Aussie sweeps.

At the practices there was an exhibition boat called the Brave Hearts, which is all wooden and gorgeous. There are metal placards on the seats in memory of those that have died and the names of the survivors are along the inside on a decal. Hearts are painted on the outside instead of fish scales.

The afternoon was the opening ceremony parade and celebration. The costumes were extremely creative. We walked through the center of town and the streets were closed to traffic. Livona was interviewed by the press, but we don’t know if she was on TV or not. The town of Caloundra was very welcoming and everyone extremely friendly.

Our Ben and Jerry’s shirts were a big hit. People here even know about Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, but we haven’t found any yet. Of course, we have found some other great kinds. The shirts were so well received that many of our dragonhearters were asked to trade them. Several will come home with shirts from other teams. The Meyers scored big with a shirt from an Aussie team from a paddler, as well as the couch’s shirt. They look marvelous.

Ta-Ta Mates

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Day 3 & 4 of Aussie Trip

Day 3 Hinterland Tour September 26, 2007

Off in the morning on the bus shared with the Wonderbroads of Windsor, Ontario to the Sunshine Coast with driver Mac and host Greg, Aussie native in his old English manner impressing us by describing the flora and fauna in biological terms. (The Veves followed in the car behind practicing their left-hand-side driving skills.)

We headed out to the Hinterland through dramatic hills at the height of 1600 feet with the ocean and lakes at the base of the Blackall hills, which were the traditional Aboriginal sacred lands, were green and lush despite a four year drought. We saw native bunya trees, which produce fruit every three years in the shape of a one foot long pine cone. It was cause for the Aboriginies to celebrate, until the Europeans came- took over and sent them packing- sound familiar?

We then headed to Montville with its English cottages and Swiss chalets and rustic stone houses for some shopping in the quaint stores, where Livona bought beautiful Hemp wear in which she looked and felt marvelous. And Trish could have shopped ‘til she dropped.

Back on the bus to Melany for a delicious lunch of fresh Queensland fish and regional lamb. The setting afforded spectacular views of the Sunshine Coast from the open air porch.

Then off to Settlers Rise Winery situated in the Blackall ranges in Montville for wine tasting on the veranda in a restored Queensland homestead. Views all around of the Obi Obi Valley. White and red wines much enjoyed, especially by our very own Paula (who would have known?) – and reportedly also Gisela.

Next to a lookout with a view of the volcanic Glass House Mountains, which are 29 million years old.

Last stop of the bus tour is the 130 acre rainforest at the Mary Cairnscross Scenic Reserve. We saw a wallaby and wild turkey and an amazing strangler fig tree, which takes over a host tree and eventually the host dies and the fig tree is hollow with light shining through the center.

Dinner on our own and many in bed by 9:00pm (time difference in US and Aussie- US is 14 hours behind Aussie time)

Day 4 – First Day of practice and on our own –September 27, 2007
Water aerobics and synchronized swimming for many in the resort pool. Then off to practice. The supporter team had the pleasure of having an Australian World Champion gold medal winner practice with us. Ester was amazing. The breast cancer team had the pleasure of being led by Gail, who serves as the sweep for the Brisbane Missabittatitti team. She taught them a few new tricks.

Comments from our own Livona:

“A View from the Drummer’s Seat”
Looking down the rows of radiant faces as teammates wait for the “Sit Pretty, Paddles Up, Go!!
The brows furrow, tongues protrude from the corner of the mouth. Such power, such concentration!
The twist and turn, your whole body and soul are into it.
Sweat pours down the forehead.
I love to look at the faces on down the line and the power that goes into each stroke.
I awoke in a funk this morning. It was dark, rainy and chilly. By the time we’d been on the water a few minutes, the sun burst through, clouds flew away and my spirits sang. The water and the togetherness of the team-my heart sang and away flew the black cloud. We are drumming to victory all the way.

Comments form our own Mary Ellen and Elaine

Mary Ellen and Elaine, being avid golfers decided to visit the Greg Norman Club Pelican Country Club. As we exited the Gemini for the 5K walk-about, we were met by the two team bus drivers. They offered to transport us to the Country Club via the forty passenger team bus- Off we went! They gave us plenty of information about the local culture- then dropped us off into a beautiful area of million $ plus homes, a plush golf course and a lovely lunch of wine and salad- or was is salad and wine?
On our return walk, we met an old local fisherman, who was cleaning his day’s catch, as an audience of hungry pelicans watched his every move!. What an adventure in the land of OZ!

Opals Down Under

A select few of us--those with good taste and an appreciation for the finer things in life--made a visit to Opals Down Under to take a look at the famous Aussie Opals. Unfortunately they were too gorgeous , and we actually did more than take a look. In fact, we did so much damage that they gave us three bottles of their signature wine--Opals Down Under Chardonney-- AND even a free ride back to our hotel.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Louise, Livona, Mary Alice, Roberta, Carol, Trish, Gisela and Rafael made the trip. In exchange for one of Roberta's Dragonheart pins, the owner taught us Opals 101--a great introduction to types of opals, what to look for in a gem, and the three different ways that the gems are set into jewelry.

Livona purchased a necklace and matching earrings in celebration of her 43rd wedding anniversary. (There was also a visit to a place called Love and Lust--but that is another story.) All in all, it was a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon in Aussie Land. Expensive, but pleasant!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Thank you and Day One Australia

Thank you to all the Dragonhearters who gave us the incredible send off. We didn't leave with dry eyes, but had big smiles all across the country. It was so special. Something we will never forget.

Day One
We are here in Caloundra. All 28 of us arrived safely and on time with all bags. It was one of the longest trips for many of us- 14 hours from LA.
Livona and Trish received special treatment and where wisked through customs in the priority line. However the fruit sniffing dog took a liking to Livona and her knapsack was thoroughly searched. Ask Trish about the search of her bag. Ann-Marie had the honor of pushing Livona's wheelchair through the airport and her steering was comparable to that of her dragon boat racing steering skills- a few of you may recall the zig zag nature of the path. The others waiting in long lines at customs, but everyone was tired and still smiling when they arrived in Aussie and stayed awake the next 12 hours exploring Caloundra where the regatta will take place. Discovering Caloundra was the priortity for most including searching for the best ice cream in town and discovering where to eat-first things first.

Our jackets brought interest and conversaton through out our travels. We never lost sight of anyone.

The 13 hour plane ride is like child birth- during it - it is painful but once it is over you have the ultimate prize- Australia is our prize.

Day 2
Beaches, bike rides, shopping, walks, surfing lessons for Laura and Glenna, body surfing for Karen and Peter, Marianne and John. Excitement is building all around the town of Caloundra. Everywhere we go people are talking about the pink parade and dragonboat regatta. Of course we are asked we are from and we answer Vermont. There response is where!- is that near New York?

Pot Luck dinner hosted by Trish, Livona and Louise- what a hoot. Much conversation and dancing, congo dancing, duo perfomances with thanks to the wonderful CD provided by the McSweeney family. Who knew Jim could shimmy and shake- Oh! baby!

Somehow Jane made a prize winning apple pie from scratch, which was gobbles in short order. Home made special raviolli by Jeanne and company.

Another busy day with an early bed time and good night sleep. Off to the Hinterland tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Aussie Team News

To all Dragonhearters, our friends and families,

This is it!!! Three more days from now and Team Aussie will depart for Australia. We are all so excited. The anticipation has mounted, the suitcases are out and being packed...(One of us has been packed for at least a month!) and final details are being gone over.

Who is going? The paddlers are: Linda, Paula, Beth, Penni, Mary Ellen, Karen, Red, Pam, Carol, Mary Alice, Louise, Jeanne, Roberta, Elaine, Trish, Mary Anne and Jane. At our head will be Livona our super drummer who will be leading us, inspiring courage, strength and unity with every drum beat. We will also be joined by a mate, Jean from Philadelphia who will be paddling with us. Our support team members are: Ann Marie, Glenna, Cheryl, Gisela, Jim, Peter, Ralph, Joel, Laura and John L. Sadly and deeply missed will be our coach John who truly inspires and gently urges us on. He will be with us in spirit enthusiastically cheering.

Our exact departure is from Burlington on US Air for LA via Philadelphia and then on to Brisbane arriving on the 24th loosing one day somewhere along the way. From that point on will be a whirlwind of activities...opening ceremonies and races and lots of sight seeing and before we know it we'll be on our way home with lots of stories.

Time of departure: 11:23 AM, Saturday, September 22. We will be at the airport highly visable in our distinctive hand made team jackets and waving Australian flags which were kindly and thoughtfully given to us by Donna Butkus...thank you Donna! from around 9:15 AM until we go through security. I think I heard that some of you wanted to come by for a send off. You wont miss us! You will just add flames to the fire of enthusiasm.
Most of us will return on October 7th. Linda, Pam, Mary Alice, Red, Beth and Joel will return on the 12th in the morning after a night on the red eye ..... this will not negate the restful time that will be had in Fiji. Watch this blog for our news which we will post along the way as often as possible. Follow us and we will let you know how we are doing.

We are "sitting pretty" and paddles are UP!!!

Friday, September 14, 2007

new image

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Australia Here We Come!

Our Dragonheart Team Aussie is two weeks away from taking off for our trip Down Under. Oh Baby!!!! We have our tickets, itineraries, team shirts, and suitcases ready. Well, maybe not the suticases packed just yet, but it will happen. Thanks to Dragonhearter Karen Burt, we even have Ben & Jerry's tees. We chose the shirts with the cows and the wording "Vermont's Finest" in PINK , of course, These will worn at the Pink Parade where all the breast cancer surivors and their suporters will be decked out in pink. There will be over 70 breast cancer survivor teams from all around the world converging upon the Sunshine Coast in the town of Caloundra for this special celebration. I believe we will give a whole new definition to the term "In the Pink!"

Special thanks to Red's son, Jim Vincent for creating this blog for us. We hope to be able to post photos and stories so that you can enjoy our trip along with us. Thanks, Jim.

Stay tuned everyone!