Dancing with the Stars, I have to admit, is one of my guilty pleasures. Somewhere deep in the depths of me there’s a dancer struggling to emerge. On many occasions during my life this tiny dancer has attempted to extricate herself, never with any success. The first, and most notable attempt, was in ballet class at the tender age of five. Chubby for my age, the extra pounds were well-defined by the pink spandex leotard and tights my grandmother had dressed me in for the occasion. If she’d thought to top the ensemble with a tutu I could well have been picked up as an extra for Fantasia.
My partners in crime in dance class were my two best friends Katherine and Victoria. Kitty and Vicky, as they were known to their friends, were mirror image twins. Always their alikeness proved a source of confusion for my mother who invariably called one twin by the other one’s name. This was always odd to me, knowing them so well. One a tomboy and the other a princess I thought them as unalike as raspberries and bacon. The three of us were inseparable at that age. If trouble was in the air we generally got on its scent at the head of the pack. My grandmother felt that at five, being a young lady from a respectable family, I could use a little polishing when it came to the fine arts. Like many little girls I dreamed of dancing gracefully about on my toes in lovely satin shoes. Surely, looking back, as I came through the processing center to make my appearance on earth there had to be a line marked “Dancers” I missed on the way in. Meaning to stand alongside the other long-necked, pencil thin girls, oval faces perfectly framed by tightly pulled buns. Girls whose legs began at their waists and ended somewhere outside of Charleston. Instead it seems I apparently found myself beneath a sign reading “Squatty Little Girls with Lazy Eyes”. Life, even at its beginnings, is dotted with small disappointments.
Dance class was held in a large old building in downtown Halifax. In truth such a description would have aptly served to describe most of the buildings in Halifax at the time. Though modern buildings have moved in it remains historical place to live no matter when you visit. We were led to the second floor and introduced to the instructor for our age group, Miss Leger. Miss Leger was a tall lanky being with her hair pulled back so tightly she looked as if she smiled broadly her lips would explode off her face. The room had a shiny floor, large windows to one side, a wall of mirrors, and on another wall what I was soon to learn were the barres.
Our first lesson dealt with foot positions. For me this proved a little more taxing since I hadn’t actually seen my feet since I was three. Unfortunately for me the instructor had a perfect view of them and wasn’t particularly happy about what she was seeing. After an hour of shifting our feet into the various configurations we were dismissed. Instructions to our parents were simply to practice, practice, practice.
Practice or not, grace was not woven into my chemistry at conception. In later years I was to discover my artistic side but my feet were never to perform as instructed even as they aged. Not progressing at the speed of the more gifted dancers in the class, and after one unfortunate incident with a chubby leg wedged between the barre and the wall reducing the class to pandemonium, I was excused without prejudice from dance and enrolled in piano lessons. Sigh.
I was to be taught to tickle the ivories in the house of the tickler herself. Miss Hoyt, as indicated by her name, was a maiden lady somewhat past her prime. She lived in a small house not far from ours with a very fat cat answering to Whiskers and a maiden aunt who also had never found her prince. Whiskers lay draped across the piano idly watching the metronome as my lessons commenced. For two years once a week I sat on the long bench next to Miss Hoyt, a well cushioned woman with huge bosoms nearly reaching her waist. When seated on the piano bench there was more of her body off of the bench then on. For two years I learned my scales and various musical pieces, inhaling the underlying aroma coming from her side, sort of a mix of mothballs and Brussels sprouts. At home I practiced, practiced, practiced. To this day the only song I can play with any acuity is “We Three Kings of Orient Are”. I find there isn’t much call for this at Carnegie Hall.
As we travel through our lives our talents unfold. I was to unearth a love for drawing and writing that has brought me so much. Dancing however, will be left to quiet moments in the kitchen or on the lawn with my grandchildren. Watching and appreciating the amazing dancers who did stand in the right line on the way in will have to be my vicarious enjoyment of the art. Ah well, such is life.
This chicken is so crispy and moist. Just delicious.
Crispy Baked Chicken
4 chicken leg quarters bone-in, skin on
1/2 cup soy sauce, divided
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. hot paprika
1 tsp. seasoning salt
1 tsp. dill weed
1 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray.
Mix together dry ingredients. Set aside. Gently lift up the skin and run your hand beneath it. You want to lift it from the skin but not tear it. Divide 1/4 cup soy sauce between the four pieces pouring under the skin. Take 1/2 of the spice mix and sprinkle under the skin over the soy sauce.
Rub the other 1/2 of the seasoning mix into the outside of the legs. Sprinkle remaining soy sauce over top. Divide butter into 4 pieces and set one piece on top of each chicken section.
Bake uncovered for 1 hr. Increase heat to 400 ad continue cooking for 15 mins. Allow to rest 5 mins. before serving.