With the aquisition of a new pair of skates yesterday I began to wonder how many pairs I have now, so I called a meeting to have a count. Five, bladed and wheeled, all beloved.

At the top left, my first adult skates my mom bought me at the age of feet-stop-growing. French wide foot boots, used when I got them, they must be 30 years old.

They were replaced when I took up skating again 3 years ago by the swanky Klingbeils which cost more then some cars I've owned. (bottom right) Custom made to my odd shaped feet, built in Queens NY, an edelweiss engraved on the bottom of the soles along with my name. The day they arrived after a 2 month wait was glorious.

The old white rollerskates above them were given to me by a friend who was a competitive artistic roller skater until most of the wooden rinks closed down and she switched to ice. They fit perfectly though need some work.

At the bottom left, rollerblades my nephew outgrew. Also a lucky perfect fit, though I don't enjoy rollerblading so much as the absence of a toe pick / toe stop has me falling on my face a lot.

And in the middle, the newest addition: a pair of slick Firecracker speed skates, with a Pursuit 2000 leather boot, red laces, ABEC 5 bearings (fast!), and Sure-Grip Zoom racing wheels. All the faster to chase wild geese with.

Though I do engage in a lot of activities that could be called frivolous, skating is serious business. After quitting my waitressing jobs and going full time with illustration I went into a steady physical decline. I sat at my desk sometimes 30 hours at a time trying to establish myself. By 29 I was a disaster, overweight with hypertension, increasing pain in my arms and back, and anxiety attacks that could paralyze my face and hands. And then I wasn't getting the work done. It finally turned into a crisis.

Something clicked at 30 and I started taking back my life. I worked out-of-the-house jobs, began socializing, and found an ice rink. Ice skating was my first ever love, the joy of it kept me going back every other day, and I haven't tired of it yet. It prepared me splendidly for many more great things to come after, puppeteering, fire twirling, dancing. I certainly haven't figured out how to balance them all yet, but I'm learning what's essential.

Mum, thanks for the skating lessons all those years. You got a lotta bang for your buck on that one.