Nice Calves

“Nice calves,” Dr. Ione admired, pinching my right calf muscle as he walked around the massage table about to start my Kirossage treatment. He was about to help my healing process by blending the art of spinal adjustment with the power of his original Kirossage therapy. While he covered my back with a soft, warm blanket and started massaging my lower spinal area my mind glowed inwardly at his admiration of my calves.

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Then my mind went back to when I was eleven, swimming in the Silver Spray Plunge in Ocean Beach, which was a part of the apartment hotel where I lived with my mom and Leslie. Leslie, as part of his Navy training was a champion swimmer. He would race through the water the length of the pool in record time, kicking his legs so strongly the splash and spray from his kicking was several feet above the surface of the water. I watched him and then copied his every movement, working hard to get the splash from my kicks as high as his. Since the apartments and plunge were connected I could use the plunge for no charge, and my mother appreciated having me swim there after school, where there was always a life guard, and she would not worry about my safety while she was still at work. For two years I swam there almost daily, and churned up my kicking splash as high as I could. Aha! That experience certainly contributed to my calf-muscle development.

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Dr. Ione was working up the nervous system of my spinal column, massaging his way through tissue, organ system and nerve roots. My ego was still enjoying his appreciation of my calf musculature and my next memory took me to an evening in South Korea where I was one of forty-four educators on a two week tour of the country at the invitation of the Minister of Education. Six of us from Hobart Boulevard School had spent the day visiting our sister school in Seoul, and then were invited to dinner at the night club owned by one of the parents.

A photo of school children taken when Carolyn was invited by the Korean Minister of Education for a two week, all expenses paid educational tour of Korea, in gratitude for her teaching of Korean children in Los Angeles
A photo of school children taken when Carolyn was invited by the Korean Minister of Education for a two week, all expenses paid educational tour of Korea, in gratitude for her teaching of Korean children in Los Angeles

There was a band playing ballroom dance music, and the vice-principal, in pantomime because he did not speak any English and I spoke no Korean, invited me to dance. He was a fine dancer, a good leader, and we did a two-step and a waltz. Then the band slid into tango music. He stood stunned. My good calf muscles had been developing through several years of folk dance, and that did include the tango. Without a word I took his hand and shoulder in dance position, and led him into following the music. Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow; Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow. First and second in line of direction, then two into the center of the circle, two outward; then repeat from the beginning. He followed beautifully, and before the dance was over he knew enough to lead me to the finish. When the music stopped he took me back to his table, sat me down facing him, ordered a drink of some fizzy kind, and at his instruction we each held our glass in hand and hooked right elbows. He downed his drink in one gulp, and I did my best to emulate his ritual. He escorted me on the tour for the next several days. Delightful. My calf musculature had served me well again.

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Next Dr.Ione was working on my trigger points—tiny knots that develop in a muscle when it is injured or overworked. When these trigger points tighten the muscles, they pull joints out of alignment, irritating nerves and causing pain. As he massaged my shoulders and scapulae, my mind traveled to a cross-country race where I competed with the Los Angeles Unified School District employees. The race was at Pierce College, and I was in the “over fifty” class. There were a few dozen runners in that class, and I came in about half-way through. I complained to my principal, who ran in marathons all the time, and always tried to get all his faculty to compete. I complained that I was over sixty, and it was not fair for me to be competing with so many people so much younger than I. He nodded, but didn’t say anything. The next year I showed up again, and to my surprise there was an over sixty category. There were only five people running in that group, and I was not surprised to come in first. I did get a trophy for first place in my age group. Afterwards I asked him whether he had persuaded the committee to arrange that, and he nodded yes. I treasure that trophy today. Thanks to George and great calves.

Dr. Ione covered me with a warming blanket, told me to relax, and left the room. I dozed, dreaming of running and swimming and dancing.

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