All posts in the rambling category

We’ve Moved!

Published March 29, 2015 by Vegan Derby Cat Party

Hi all! After 5 years at this website, (3 as Camera Phone Vegan & 2 as Vegan Derby Cat Party) I decided I was ready for a change. So for the 5th anniversary, I decided a new blog was in order. This time in conjunction with my soon to be husband, and vampire accomplice…

Please follow us over at Vegan Vampire Bites!!

tt vamps


 Ty, Thomas, Ganon, & Midna

Happy New Year! We’re moving! (But staying in Seattle)

Published January 5, 2015 by Vegan Derby Cat Party
Happy new year!

Happy new year!

This year I decided to copy my parent’s tradition of going out and buying a whole bunch of nice specialty foods to snack on, and just having a nice night in together. We had the best time!


We had black beans, (2 kinds of hummus, which I happened to notice had milk in them before we opened them, so we skipped those), Earth Balance cheddar squares, garlic stuffed olives, chips and salsa, pita chips, grapes*, black berries, Fieldroast celebration roast, Daiya Jalepeno Havarti cheese wedge, and Fieldroast tomato cayenne and coconut herb sliced cheeses. It was great! *It is a Cuban tradition to eat 12 grapes at midnight. As you can see here, we were more than prepared!

And our 1st order of business in what will be a very hectic, eventful, and expensive 2015 was to immediately start looking for a new apartment. Our current residence was one where we traded cheap rent and location for an old shoddy building, so it was time to get looking since I told them that January would be our last month. After doing tons of looking this week, I finally found “the one”! It had nearly everything on my list except a washer and dryer in the unit. (And a garbage disposal. I’m wondering if we can put one in…)

Lucky number 7


Read the rest of this entry →

Bearings!! An unscientific comparison of 3 types!

Published October 28, 2014 by Vegan Derby Cat Party

Hey, so the video pretty much says it all. I did a super un-scientific comparison of 3 types of bearings. Moto abec 7s, Bones Reds, and my fiance’s (yes, we’re engaged! I forget I can call him that now!) really old Bones Swiss bearings. Here is the video, graced a lot of course by Sir Ganondorf, the sphynx rex cat.

So much scrimmage!

Published October 13, 2014 by Vegan Derby Cat Party
September 7, 2014 PFM scrimmage

September 7, 2014 PFM scrimmage

SO MUCH has happened in the last month, and most of that “so much” has been in scrimmages. In fact, the week before last, I skated 3. September started out with the regular monthly PFM scrimmage (above). I had just gotten over the stomach flu that day, and didn’t even know if I was going to play. Much to everyone’s surprise I showed up determined, skated my very best ever, and completed my 6th scrimmage. It was a little bit of a turning point for me. It was the first time I felt like I had a strong sense of what to do on the track, and I was able to focus my energy on trying to improve my blocking.

Thomas & I at the NW Derby Summit 9/14/14

Thomas & I at the NW Derby Summit 9/14/14

The weekend of September 13 &14, we headed down to the NW Derby Summit for the most skating I’ve ever done in such a short period. It was a super fun weekend, not only because of all the great coaches, and my derby besties, but also because I was able to convince Thomas to go with us. We had a lot of fun taking classes together and practicing some new moves. It was also Thomas’ first contact drills. He’s attended a few non contact fitness type practices since he got back on quads, but had never done any hitting or blocking. We did all the beginner and all levels classes. His lifetime of skating was really evident here, as he was able to jump in with no problem. The second and final day ended with a short, kind of informal beginner scrimmage, which Thomas decided to skip, and video for us instead. It was the first time I ever skated with strangers before. It was terrifying to step out of my PFM comfort zone. It comprised a small group of girls with a similar skill set as me, but also a couple of guys and junior skaters of varying levels. It went okay. Mostly everyone was just exhausted after skating so much all weekend.

A picture of me jamming in the same early September scrimmage that really shows off my adorable skort.

A picture of me jamming in the same early September scrimmage that really shows off my adorable skort.

The following weekend I joined Jet City Rollergirl’s Cadet (Fresh Meat) program. My 1st day was part of the 6 week Bomber’s Clinic they’re running, and was an open scrimmage! Eeep! I was so thankful that I had done an open scrimmage the weekend before because it really helped me to deal with the fact that I was about to skate with very experienced skaters and all stars from all over the area. It was a leveled scrimmage so the first 30 minutes was a beginner level/positional blocking only half, so that we could include the junior skaters. The second period was a adult only, full contact, intermediate level including some big name fancy pants all stars. This scrimmage ended up being just the confidence booster I needed. I ended up skating against a couple of ladies that I had just seen playing against the best WFTDA team in the world two weeks before, AND I was able to get out of the pack every time I jammed. I was so proud, and glad that I survived!


The following weekend was double practices (Jet & PFM) on Saturday and Sunday. We were alerted that Saturday that they would be assessing us on Sunday to clear eligible skaters to begin practicing with teams. What an exhausting weekend! The assessment consisted of some minimum skills and scrimmage scenarios. I was really unsure if I was going to get cleared, as my weak sided turn around toe stops at a 12 second lap speed left a little to be desired. We spent the next week frantically awaiting any word of our results.


The next week also happened to be the week of 3 scrimmages! PFM had a special opportunity to do a late night scrimmage on Tuesday September 30th with a full officiating crew and Rinxster doing our statistics. (Since we’re just a practice and learning team, we usually don’t have all that fanciness.)


Again, I used this opportunity to work on developing my blocking further. I did some pretty successful jamming too.


That Saturday was another Jet City open scrimmage. This time I was pretty fearless, and just had fun. We were really hoping to hear the results of our assessment that day, but were told we’d hear back the next day. The next day was the 3rd scrimmage of the week, and  PFM’s regular monthly scrimmage.

PFM October scrimmage

PFM October scrimmage

I think you can probably just tell by my expressions in these last scrimmage photos that my mental game had changed into something a bit more focused and determined, already.


That weekend my goal was to start playing a more aggressive game. And by that I don’t necessarily mean trying to kill people, but just not giving up as easily as I have in the past, and also relying less on other people to bridge forward and back.




It was also a lot of fun to be skating with my original team twice in one week!


We finally got the results of our assessment on Monday. It turns out I was cleared to scrimmage with the league, but not to attend team practices yet. They were still getting to know my skill set, so they wanted to be sure I was ready for team practices. I was really hoping to knock their socks off at team scrimmage on Thursday so I could skate with my other good friends that were cleared, but unfortunately after the Sunday scrimmage my shoulder was feeling a bit sensitive all week, so I declined. They were very understanding about it. I did however, get all my scrimmage shirts ready for this week.

My required 8 colors of scrimmage tees!

My required 8 colors of scrimmage tees!

This last week was a bit hard emotionally, for reasons that I will probably save for my next post, but I’m hoping that I can get it together again in a few days, and get back on that wave of confidence I was starting to feel and push through. We shall see!

August PFM Scrimmage

Published August 11, 2014 by Vegan Derby Cat Party

So some of the girls I skate with like to do “derby thoughts” on facebook after good practices or scrimmages, and they inspired me to get on board. Mine came out a bit stream-of-consciousness, so please ignore the tense changes and such. I decided to just minimally edit it and leave it fairly raw.



August PFM scrimmage:

I woke up at 7:30 am, nervous, and with an unhappy tummy. My GI tract loves to show support by not functioning optimally in times of stress. We had a complete lack of bread products on hand, so I made biscuits. Then I sat quietly, drank tea, and watched roller derby for several hours, hoping to magically absorb the jamming knowledge of Suzy Hotrod, Bonnie Thunders, etc. When I was finally able to convince Thomas to get up and eat biscuits, I made him practice some new moves with me, in our underwear. Here’s my fave video from the morning:

Getting ready helped. Putting on the outfit I selected the night before and getting my Vamp face on gets me in the right frame of mind. Say what you will about modern derby athleticism and all that, but I think the beginning of this revival got a whole lot of things right. Boutfits and derby personas are really helpful for girls like me, who didn’t come to this sport to be athletes per se. Fishnets and booty shorts? Yes, please! It’s a lot easier to do all of this in character. I really love that PFM allows us this outlet.


Gearing up with everyone during our monthly meeting is always nice. I got to try out my new arm bands this scrimmage. They worked out quite well, AND they match my helmet. 😉

Photo by Robert Bakie, armbands by SkateGEEK

Photo by Robert Bakie, armbands by SkateGEEK

Doing warm-up with an audience freaks me out a bit. I’m not really into this aspect, but I’m glad that we do get to show the results of all our time and efforts to select friends and loved ones. I remind myself that they’re really only there to see their person.

Even though I really don’t want to go out in the 1st jam, I do. This is the first time I’ve played my first jam and not felt like I had absolutely no idea what was going on. Also, the first time I didn’t ask myself repeatedly, Why on earth did I think I could do roller derby?! Mod Quad is coaching us and when we come back to the bench she is super excited and high fives us. She will do this throughout the game. This is really nice.


At some point early on, I smash my face into the helmet of Ruu Thless Phoenix, and I feel my eyebrow swelling as I’m sitting at the bench. Later, Stormy informs me that she thinks she’s broken her toe, but that she taped it up, and is good to keep skating. There’s a new girl on our team, and she goes in for her 1st scrimmage at the second half. You can tell she is hooked. I love roller derby so much.


The game goes great. Under the advice of our coach, we are coming up with strategies for each jam based on the wants and needs of our jammer, and it’s working pretty well. When jamming, I don’t feel as worn out as I did in my past scrimmages. Today is my fifth. I received no cut track or forearm penalties for the first time. I am not using T-stops on the track at all, also for the first time. My plow stops have finally improved enough that I’m able to incorporate them into my game play. I even got to use one of the moves I practiced that morning with Thomas (kind of)!



The game ends. It went by fast. I’m usually so relieved when that last whistle blows, but this time I’m slightly disappointed. That felt great. I still felt lost in parts, but I can tell that I’ve improved. I might actually be getting the hang of this thing after all. I’d been spreading myself pretty thin lately, skating with three different groups, and it was so nice to reconnect with my original home team. I love these girls.


I think part of my nerves about scrimmaging were due to the fact that I suffered two minor injuries recently, and I am so glad that I leave without any today.


As always, thanks for reading! Here are a few cat pictures for your trouble…

Vampira Bitely




Midna & Ganon

Midna & Ganon



Rolling on

Published July 8, 2014 by Vegan Derby Cat Party



To be perfectly honest, I’ve been slacking so much on the blog that it’s almost impossible to know where to begin again! I have several, long, picture filled posts I could write, but it’s probably better that I just write about what’s on my mind today, and that’s where I’m at with roller derby.

(But first, I should probably multi-task, and get some bleach on my roots… Ok, bleach on…)

After feeling a little burnt out, and having little hiccups and travels, I’m finally starting to feel really motivated derby wise again. Which is great! 🙂  Getting on Rat Lab was a bit terrifying and overwhelming at first, and I really wasn’t sure if I was going to stay on. There are two levels of Rat Lab. The fundamentals (which I’m on) and Competitive Rat Lab, which just like it sounds means you scrimmage and bout, have a number of practices you commit to per week, and also become draft eligible for one of Rat City’s four home teams. Even though I wasn’t on CRL, the new pressures associated with skating with these much higher level players was something that took a little getting used to. But I’m happy to report that I’m staying on, and feeling more capable and motivated all the time!

Speaking of more capable… we had PFM scrimmage on Sunday. And while I jammed less than usual (partially b/c I wanted more practice blocking, and partly because my ankle was swollen from a wheel hit to the ankle bone a few days prior), for the first time I actually felt like I was doing some effective things as a blocker!

(Bleach off!)


And even tried a little backwards blocking too!


Of course, I’m still learning. One of my struggles is endurance, but it’s definitely getting better. I think part of it has to do with sleep and hydration, which I’m perpetually trying to improve. But it’s no secret that I was never physically active as an adult prior this, besides dancing to bands on the weekends in my twenties, so a big part has been just getting myself in shape. Another factor that I think is playing a bigger part than I realize is the entirely foreign [to me] concept of mental game, which I haven’t quite figured out yet. For this, I just started reading Mind Gym, based on good reviews from rollergirls I know. I will report back on how that goes, but so far it seems to be about positive thinking, so that sounds pretty good for a start.

What else? I’m getting very close weight wise to the heaviest I ever got, which was the summer I gained 15 pounds before college. (Apparently I just couldn’t wait to pack on my freshman 15!) And you know what? I look pretty darn good. That weight has certainly been distributed differently this time around though, as it seems to all be in muscle in my lower body. And again, like before, I’m getting faster. Penny counted me at somewhere around 29 laps in 5 minutes last night. (It was hard to hear when exactly the time got called.) So those muscles are definitely doing what they’re supposed to.


Here's a pic of me jamming the previous scrimmage, which I never got around to sharing!

Here’s a pic of me jamming the previous scrimmage, which I never got around to sharing!

Besides all that, I’ve also taken up the job of helping to coordinate the new skater sessions for PFM. So between PFM, Rat Lab, volunteering for Rat events, general summer activities, and life, I guess it’s probably no wonder why I’ve been a little quiet on here, huh?! I’ll be attending Jet City‘s Bombercon at the end of July, and most likely Rose City‘s Derby Daze boot camp down in Portland at the end of August, so don’t be surprised if a lot of my next posts are derby, derby, derby. 🙂

OH! And I also forgot to tell you, I had a slight name change to VAMPIRA BITELY!


My new helmet decal is on it’s way from Helmet Candy (on etsy) in California as I write this to you, and she was even nice enough to make me some awesome fangs to boot!



He was taken on for a salary position at his job, and has had health insurance now since July 1st! YAY!!!! He finally decided to get back on quads and give men’s derby a try, so I bought him a pair of Bont boots (same as mine!) that had to be made, because his size was out of stock. In the meantime one of the refs (and also a girl that I skate with’s hubby) was nice enough to lend Thomas his old pair. As expected, even after not being on quads since he was 8, Thomas immediately took to these with no problems and will likely be a much better derby player than I am on day 1! (He’s a skilled inline speed skater who learned how to rollerskate at the ripe old age of 2!) He’ll be starting training with Puget Sound Outcast Derby as soon as he gets all his gear, and we’ll now be practicing and watching each other skate in the same space, which is SUPER AWESOME. He may even go to BomberCon with me, as a skater. We shall see…

Thanks for reading!

Vampira Bitely


Announcement: Vida Vegan Con III Date Change!

Published June 11, 2014 by Vegan Derby Cat Party

VVC 3 date changed to weekend AFTER Memorial Day for 2015!

Vida Vegan HQ

New date for Vida Vegan Con III!!

Due to an unforeseen scheduling conflict with our event space (we’ll tell ya just where on Friday, stay tuned!), Vida Vegan Con has adjusted our official date. That’s right, we’ve all got an extra week to wait! Deep breaths, noochy popcorn, and please adjust your calendars and travel plans accordingly.

vvciii date change

Head here for exclusive Early Bird rate (launching Friday June 13) and more Membership Drive options, including inclusive packages, blog features, or a trip to Portland to brunch with us!

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Published June 9, 2014 by Vegan Derby Cat Party
Photo by Steve Messerer

May PFM Scrimmage – Photo by Steve Messerer

Hello there!
Just a quick note to say, Holy Cow! Has it really been so long?! May was a super busy month of cancelled practices, traveling to Portland, scrimmage, traveling to Florida, and being sick, and it seems that I skipped writing even one update during the whole month! (A first, I think.) I have a whole bunch of things to tell you about though, so stay tuned. Posts coming soon!:D

Ty Vampira Knightley

VVCIII Takes On…Austin!

Published April 29, 2014 by Vegan Derby Cat Party

Just announced: Vida Vegan Con 3 will take place in Austin, TX! (#VVCIII)

Vida Vegan HQ

If you received yesterday’s official VVHQ newsletter, then you’re already in the know. But for the rest of you, we’ve got some pretty big news (and subscribe here for the first look next time). So let’s get to it!

Vida Vegan Con III (or #VVCIII, if that’s how you see the world) will be in…


Austin, Texas. May 22–24, 2015.

That’s right, after hosting two glorious, action-packed conferences in our home city (and vegan wonderland) of Portland, we’re taking this show on the road. Janessa, Jess, and I (Michele) have spent over a year scouting about for the perfect city and space in an exciting, happening vegan community to rival our little vegan mecca.

We’ll have loads of information on all things Austin, including:

  • lodging & travel tips (getting to and around Austin)
  • our favorite grub (lots of budget eats)
  • just where and when all our conference happenings will be—because…

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Derby body image struggles and happiness

Published April 22, 2014 by Vegan Derby Cat Party
Here is a great picture of me doing a Mohawk, demonstrating how even with my new muscles, my new strong thighs are not fat whatsoever! Stupid brain!

Here is a recent picture of me doing a Mohawk, demonstrating how contrary to what my brain was saying, my new strong thighs look pretty good! Stupid brain!

I originally started writing this post back in February, when I was freaking out because my weight had climbed. I was hoping to get useful feedback from other female athletes, but also reluctant to talk about a  topic that can be emotionally triggering for some readers. (But here it is!)

I’d never been really been athletic or active before derby. So of course I thought I might drop a couple of pounds and tone up with this new venture. Which is exactly what happened… at first. And that was all fine and good, until the scale started to creep up, right up to a number that I had only seen once or twice before, and didn’t care to see again. PANIC MODE!

In my family, the insecurity has always been our thighs. (Even though there is actually nothing wrong with them. We’re freaking Cuban, that’s all!) As a kid and teen, I was super self-conscious, especially about my thighs. (Which I didn’t realize until years later, were SO FINE!) Societal “norms” have changed a lot since my childhood, and gotten a lot more multi-culturally friendly, which has helped so much. But when the scale started showing me higher numbers, and all my pants started fitting tight in the thighs, all I could think about was how much food I was eating, and how I needed to make it stop. However, just when I decided I needed to “zip it” until further notice, someone from my team posted this article. (Just a few hours later, as a matter of fact!)

Basically the article says: if you don’t eat enough for your sport, you’re making it very likely that you’ll get injured, because the metabolism will take what it needs, even if it’s from your healthy new bones and muscles. WHAT?! That got my attention.

So then I went through this whole period of trying to reprogram my brain. Part of this was doing a serious assessment with a wall mirror placed at an angle on the floor so that I could see my whole body. I spent about 20 minutes one night in my underwear looking over my entire physique prodding, flexing, and jiggling while Thomas giggled nearby.

I learned several things. 1. My butt and thighs are much firmer now! 2. There are muscles and definition that never before existed! 3. My calves look awesome! 😀 At the same time I also coined the phrase, “the proof is in the laps!”, because I had also recently gotten a lot faster on the track. That’s when I started to make my peace with it.

Soon after, a couple of other relevent articles came out, including this one, written by a Rat City Rollergirls, Derby Liberation Front skater, who is one of our coaches, and also a physical therapist! It was nice to read about her very similar struggles as I was going through the same thing. When I talked to another girl that I skate with about it, she confessed she had ripped a pair of her work pants about the same time that I was outgrowing my scrub pants.

It seems to be a thing that happens to a lot of girls. Which is why I thought it was worth mentioning.

So what did I do? Well, I finally had to order some new underwear and scrub pants. I mostly just wear scrubs or derby clothes these days, but in the event that I do something social (like go watch another team’s game), I’ve been wearing skirts and dresses because trying to get my jeans on is NO FUN. But eventually I’ll have to try to find some jeans that fit too. (Which has already been challenging with the skinny jeans not being thigh/butt friendly, even before derby!)

The funny thing is I’m TOTALLY happy now with my new body. I love that I’m getting firmer, faster, and stronger! I think watching the Olympics also helped tremendously. Seeing all those strong, muscled legs really helped me to look at my body in a more athletic way, instead of just as an ornament. I remember in high school thinking to myself that I would never do a sport like soccer because I didn’t want to bulk up my legs! So ironic now. But really, I’m pretty proud of me for getting around my deeply embedded, self-loathing head trip!

Here’s another blog post that I thought was great, talking about how roller derby improves body image: here!

Most of all I’m really thankful for the opportunity to be involved in a sport that embraces all body types, and all kinds of people. It’s done a lot for me in ways that I really didn’t anticipate, and I know it does that for so many people out there too.



Ty / Vampira Knightley / Vamp

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