Sunday, December 31, 2006


Possibly the only project I will finish this break --the first Manhattan Center Blanket!!! A collaboration of staff and students over the course of a month. (Some of the small patches date back to a project started several years ago and never finished. They worked well with some of the off sized blocks to make up a double-size panel.)

I understand that the school website has been down most of this week and I appologize to those trying to get our address. The school address is: Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics High School (MCSM for short), 280 Pleasant Avenue, New York, NY 10029. Thank you so much for your support! (Please enclose a note with your email address so that I can get a quick acknowledgement off as soon as your package arrives. Tax receipts and proper thank you notes will be sent by USPS at a slightly slower pace.)

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Weird Things Meme

I was tagged by Helen for this one so here goes ...

1. I used to be a major Star Trek geek. Yup, constant convention attendance, pretending to be crew, 6 of the 9 yards. (Never did dress in costume or try to learn Klingon.)

2. I shave my legs and pits dry. Out of the shower, in a separate bathroom. Never shall H2O and razor meet. (In my defense, I seriously cut myself -- like 6 inch long scrape -- twice in college while shaving my legs.)

3. I have a (legitimate) graduate degree from a school I did not attend until well after the degree was awarded. (The branch of the City University I was attending did not give Masters Degrees and I refused to leave without one. A deal was cut with a different branch of the University, a paper was written and a degree was granted for work done off-site. The school in question now grants en-route Masters as a matter of course.) I later attended the second school for my educational supervisory/administrative credentials and have to ask for 2 transcripts from them any time I need one -- I also have to get the transcript from the original school to prove the coursework.)

4. I have 2 degrees in Biology and spend most of my work day as an administrator and have almost nothing to do with the subject at work.

5. It is almost impossible for me to eat a meal without some sort of text in front of me. If I eat at my desk, I read email. At home the table matter is usually the newspaper or magazines.

6. I would rather pay full price then go from store to store looking for a bargain. (This may only be weird to my mom and sisters.)

I'm going to be weird and not tag anyone with this right now ... maybe later.

Friday, December 29, 2006

A Walk Around the West Village

After walking downtown to find a geocache in the West Village, we continued east to Washington Square Park where we introduced the kids to the Hanging Tree (the tree doesn't hang, people used to hang from it) and the Washington Square Arch (pictured below).
Gesturing around us, we told them that New York University owns pretty much everything on three sides of the park and then we continued on to the Asch Building, home of the former Triangle Shirtwaist company. For those of you who care, the Triangle Shirtwaist factory was the site of a horrific fire that changed both the state of unionization in New York City and the fire codes. The union that was responsible for building the complex we live in was born partly as a result of the Triangle fire.The Triangle building is now owned by NYU.

Heading east, we encountered the Alamo at Astor Place and took it for a spin ...Yes, it really spins and yes, they were able to do it.

And then pointed out Cooper Union, one of our premier institutions of higher education (and free!).
And then, keeping our eyes open, headed to Union Square for some Greenmarket apples stopping first for some chocolate! Squidette and Papa Squid spotted this place while we were riding the NYC Century and they have been there, with Little Squid but without me. A ultra chocolate cake was purchased. Forgive me while I stop writing to indulge in a very chocolate memory ...

As we headed uptown we spotted this manhole cover ...and pointed out Tammany Hall. (Tammany Hall is synonymous with political corruption in NYC.)Tammany Hall

The rest of our morning was anticlimactic after all that history and chocolately goodness as we returned home to a late lunch and some quiet activities. I actually did some spinning and listened to a Lisa Scottoline book and now will bake some cranberry muffins. Yes, I said bake. Pick yourself up off the floor now and stop laughing!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

More NYC during December

Yesterday we had to run some errands in the morning, we were also trying to get out of the way of our cleaning lady, so we took off on foot for the Main Post Office at 32nd Street. It just so happens that this exalted edifice (now covered in scaffolding so not photoworthy) is our post office -- you know, the one where packages go if you are not home. I realize that most of my blog readers live in locales where having one post office in walking distance is unusual -- we have at least 3.

After dropping off two packages and purchasing stamps we headed to the most local of famous department stores -- Macy's (nope, don't expect me to figure out how to substitute a star for an apostrophe). To avoid photo overload, most of the pictures are here and here (along with all of the car pictures and the rest from Christmas Day). The most exciting of the Macy's pretties? The Holiday Squid!
Fast -- identify the movie that this quote is from!After Macy's we wandered uptown, attempting to remember where the instrument store was. After a bit of arguing back and forth we managed to settle on the correct one and secured some reeds and cork grease for Squidette. Woo Hoo!

During our wanderings we found this:and along our path home we found this:and this:

Discriminating Squid that we are, we made no purchases from these locales but did indulge in some Chocolate Haven purchased Hot Chocolate when we came home.

Oh, and for those of you looking for knitting content ... umm there is none. The school blankie is being crocheted together -- three out of 6 panels are now one -- and there are lots of other projects in progress but none really photo worthy. I have been doing some spinning, though.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

New York Holidays

Back when my mother-in-law was still alive, I drove the kids uptown to her every day starting at 6:30 a.m. At this time of year it is still dark so the lighted displays along 6th Avenue really stood out. Last year we dispensed with this tradition due to the transit strike but this year I decided to bring it back. It took 3 mornings to do it all.

The first day, we forgot the camera, it was all about the Rockefeller Center Tree (see yesterday's post).

The second day we drove uptown (this year at 7:30 a.m. so it was a bit lighter out) with the windows open and Fiddler on the Roof blaring from the cd player. (The third day was timed to catch the big Menorah with 7 lights. Since we were in motion, all we got was the center of the Menorah and no lights. We did see them though!And finally, a few more pictures from yesterday.The Saks' windows did not photograph well so I only put one up -- the one featuring the NYC skyline of course!

Tomorrow, errands and maybe Indian food for lunch -- and, perhaps the Macy's windows.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Squid On Christmas

What do Squid do on Christmas? (Be warned ... picture heavy.)

We start the day by giving (or attempting to give) blood. One successful, one not so. Got to hit those chocolate covered raisins harder in the days before an attempt -- hey, it worked last time!

Then, having achieved parking luck once, they attempt it again and, after taking a chance, park and walk down Fifth Avenue.

Rockefeller Center Tree

Saks Fifth Avenue
St. Patrick's Cathedral
Brooks Brothers
Unwound French Horns.An Alphabet Mr. Goodbar. (yea, we thought it was intestines)

Hustling back to the car (no ticket, phew!) they move downtown and, this time leaving a Squid in the car, view some more windows.

Some of the scenes at Lord and Taylor.

One last chance at a parking space is passed up in favor of home and hot chocolate.

A nice long rest and then off we will go to Christmas dinner with friends who need more children around for a proper Christmas.

Tomorrow the Saks windows and some drive by photos of the sights on 6th Avenue

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Teens Knitting

As I desperately try to catch up on my blog reading I discovered that both Ann and Susan were promoting my Teen Knitting project and spreading my appeal to those who may not know of Squid Knits. To bring you up to date, "let me explain ...

... no, there is too much. Let me sum up."* I run a knitting club in a NYC public high school.

Several years ago I accidentally started a knitting club. At the time it was just a matter of teaching the one or two who saw me knitting and wanted to learn. I brought in some stash yarn and needles swiped from my mother-in-law and taught them. (I was trying to convert mom to circulars so I figured she'd never miss them from the shared needle stash. Yeah, that plan failed. I had to replace them when she wanted to knit a sweater.) These few kids showed their friends and off it went.

At the time I made an appeal on the Socknitters list and the knitters there, led by Elizabeth sent in so much yarn and so many needles that I thought I would drown in the stuff. Nope, didn't drown. The girls (mostly) grabbed the stuff and turned it in to blanket blocks (back then, very small ones) and later baby hats and booties for a teen mom program. They also turned the yarn in to scarfs, hats, vest and the like for themselves. The club rule -- you can use our stuff for yourself as long as you make at least one charity item for each item you make for yourself. Yes, the rule is not always followed but most of them do it.

For a few years I did not have time to run the club properly and it languished with only a few girls learning. This year, however, I made a conscious effort to promote it through signs around the school and weekly announcements on the public address system. The first week there were half a dozen girls. The following week they each brought a friend. It continued this way until last week (we've only been up and running since mid-November). The yarn that had languished in boxes for two years was out and about. Needles were poking out of and through back packs and, a boy learned how to knit! (Some girls taught him.)

After break I hope to get a proper accounting of all of the members by asking them to come by, register, and sign the card to go with our latest charity project, a blanket to be donated to some one who needs it. We will actually bring it a local organization where they know the neighborhood folks in need. The first blanket is almost done and I will post pictures of the finished object next week.

What our program needs, however, is knitting needles! I have already purchased over a dozen pair this year and have jury-rigged lots of long dpns that were in the school stash (nothing goes to waste with us). Since most of our donated yarns are worsted weight (good for blanket blocks and scarves and quick gratification) we mostly need needles in sizes 5 and up. The yarn boxes are also showing signs of the latest deluge but are less wanting then the needle cans. If you are so moved to donate supplies, you can send them to my attention (Devorah Zamansky, not Mama Squid please) at the school. (scroll to the bottom of the page for the school address) All donations are tax deductible.

Please note that I cannot and will not post pictures of the students to the blog. This is a personal blog and I usually try to keep work out of it. When the school website is updated I will try to get the MCSM Knitters page back up and running. That may or may not have pictures of the kids depending on who signs off on the waivers.

For those that need some incentive ... I will enter the names of every one who sends a box (one box = 1 entry) into a random drawing to happen ... say during Spring Break ... and there will be prizes. At the very least, some chocolate. Thank you for your generosity!

(*The Princess Bride)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Last Night of Chanuckah

The last two days of work were rough. High spirits combined with short fuses make for an interesting combination in a high school. As always, my desire to look professional warred with my need to patrol a very large building. The cute black flats? Not so good for extended walking. My poor legs were aching all night. This did not, however, diminish the wonderful time we had celebrating the last night of Chanuckah.

My folks and youngest sibling came over and we ate latkes, lit candles, watched a magic show, analyzed the contents of Squidette's closet and ate chinese food. (Hey, its not just for Christmas any more!)

The Squidlings now own tennis rackets thanks to their grandparents so we just came back from the playground where they hit at each other and at a wall for a good bit. We all went for a "short" bike ride earlier to break in Squidette's new bike computer and do some more fine tuning of my new bike. The ride uptown was fast and easy but we hit the wind coming back and it was a tough return. Tomorrow should be even warmer and we will probably hit the road again. For now I leave you with pictures of a happy family.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Yes, I'm appealing ...

to you all for your unwanted needles -- particularly in sizes 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 -- and yes, even yarn. I took a good look at the boxes yesterday and they are actually low! In my office I have 10 clear, large, Rubbermaid boxes containing the yarn arranged roughly by color. There were also a couple of bags on the floor. Yesterday I consolidated the bags in to the boxes and filled one of the bags with blanket squares to be assembled. Last night I assembled panel number 3.

The last two days have been overrun with kids. As more and more learn, they show their friends and then their friends want to learn. "Miss, can my friend have sticks and string?" Yesterday I provided yarn and jury-rigged needles to several more girls and had to turn away a few who wanted lessons because I had to do building patrol after school. We are at the point where far more kids are learning from their friend then from me! Woo Hoo! The first male has now taken needles and yarn to hand saying that he concentrates better with his hands moving. This has led me to warn them that most people do not understand the knitting and understanding thing so they should ask permission before knitting in class. I do not need my staff mad at me!

Mailing information can be found here at the school website. (This way you know I am legit and am not just taking your yarn for myself.)

Thank you in advance!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel ...

On Saturday I engaged in a futile search for Chanuckah gelt on my sister-in-law's behalf. Gelt, for the uninitiated, means money but in this context refers to foil covered chocolate coins. It is a traditional Chanuckah treat and is often given inside of hollow plastic dreidels. Saturday's search involved 3 major chain drug stores and the local supermarket. Guys, my apartment complex was built by the Garment Workers Union. In other words -- Jews! Most of the older folk here are, indeed, Jewish or of Jewish upbringing. (Apparently there are a significant number of Communists in the complex as we found out when someone came looking for signatures to get their guy on the Democratic ballot.) So ... why no gelt?

Having given up on the gelt and having passed up the only package of Dreidels that I noticed, we celebrated without.

Sunday night I hear, from my room, crying. Little Squid had just realized that a classmate would not be returning after the break and he wanted to give his friend a gift. He thought that a dreidel would be the perfect gift since his friend did not know what it was. "O.k.," say I, "why don't you stop off at CVS on the way home and pick one up for him." (That was where I saw the lone package on Saturday.) Fine. Off to dreamland he goes and that is the end of the story ... until the next night.

On Monday, Little Squid, Squidette, and Little Squid's chaperone go in to CVS and do not find ready-made dreidels. What they do find is a kit for making dreidels -- yes, out of clay. Home they come, read the directions and stuff quick-dry clay into the mold. Fast forward to 9 p.m. when Little Squid is supposed to be fast asleep. From the depths of my bedroom where I am snuggled deep in bed I hear sobs. Heartbreaking sobs. The kind of sobs that make a mother abandon her husband and run to help.

"I don't know if the dreidel will be ready in time. How can it dry in the mold?" Quick thinking, and without my glasses, I grope around on the floor for the instructions and, turning on the light, attempt to read them. Um ... "Little Squid, you read them."

"Take molded dreidel out of mold and trim excess off with scissors." O.k., seems simple enough. We grab the mold and start unmolding. Nope. No doing. That clay is stuck very nicely in the mold. I dig it out, ball it up and resmush it in the mold. Try once again to extract it. The dreidel is not having it.

O.k., time for some quick thinking again ... "let's leave it in the mold overnight and maybe it will harden enough to remove in the morning." He buys it. Time for bed. Again.

Tuesday morning we successfully extract one side from the mold and leave the other side, which does not want to give up its grip, in the mold to harden while we are gone for the day.

Tuesday evening the dreidel is successfully extracted and left to dry. "But I still have to paint it and one side has to dry before I can paint the other side. If I start it after my homework there will not be enough time to do both sides." The kid should be a lawyer except that he wasn't manipulating us, he was genuinely concerned, knowing the homework always comes first. We grant an exemption and promise that he can paint the first two sides before doing his homework and then finish it up after.

Meanwhile, Mama Squid is terrified that this will not work. She is convinced that the dreidel will not spin and will be far too wonky to please the somewhat picky youngest squid. In a rush of sad-child fueled guilt, she rushes in to two different drug stores on the Upper East Side on Tuesday evening and finds not one shred of Chanuckah stuff. On Wednesday morning she hits a CVS near Little Squid's school then Eli's (Eli Zabar for heavens sake is not stocking enough dreidels to get through Chanuckah?! They do have gelt but at $6 for 24 or so I'm not buying). Frantically she rushes in to a CVS and a Kings Pharmacy which are on her way to work -- still on the Upper East Side -- which is home to many, many Jews.

Finally, in a fit of desperation, Mama Squid parks near the Duane Reade in East Harlem. The logic here is that if all of the stores receive the same stuff to sell then if any store will have dreidels it will be the one in East Harlem -- a very non-Jewish area. Any guesses as to what she found? You got it! Nothing!!! But hey, they barely had Christmas stuff either.

Mama Squid slunk off to work and started sharing her tale of woe with fellow Jews. "Do you have a spare dreidel?" she begged. One promised to raid his son's stash and bring it in tomorrow. "Not the Mickey Mouse one," he said "my son won't part with that one." "And not the ..." "Never mind," came the response. I'll keep looking." Finally, Mama Squid's friend and mentor came through with a jelly bean filled dreidel. She was giving them to her student-aides for the holiday. Phew!

End of story ... the clay dreidel is painted and spins though it is still rather soft. Little Squid will give it to his friend on the last day of school.
(As for why this family has no dreidels to gift ... well it seems that we disposed of all but the glass ones during the great possession purge of the summer of '06.)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

First Panel

Here you go -- the first panel of the 7 needed to make a blanket. I will bring home another panel's worth of blocks tomorrow and try to get them together. Ditto Thursday and on Friday I will bring home all of the remaining blocks and try to get a blanket done before the end of the winter break. Piece of cake. (Just don't count on me doing much else.)

Too many knitters to count today -- at least 10 newbies. Two are now knitting in the round and a few are working of scarves for themselves after having contributed multiple blanket blocks.

Anyone have straight needles in the middle sizes that they don't need? I gave mine to the cause several years ago.

(I took a batch of donated dpns and put rubber bands on the ends today -- made about 6 pair this way -- and ran out.)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Holiday, Biking and a newish cousin

The weekend essentially revolved around the winter holdidays. Friday was the first night of chanuckah and we tried a new tactic with our menorah -- the traditional window sill placement. Previously there has been too much in the way of flammable material near our window so the candles were lit on the dining roomtable. This, of course, wrecks havoc with our reading material and since chanuckah candles are notoriously wobbly and cannot be moved once lit, we decided to try our currently-clear sill. What do you think?Yesterday found us upstate with Papa Squid's side of the family. Cousins played together and the adults conversed pleasantly. Here is the newest Cousin Squid cozying up to Squidette.This morning found the kids charging and assembling their gifts from the aunts and uncles. Thank you notes were then written using the stationary provided by another aunt. Yup, looks like what I imagine Christmas morning to look like.

Today was a non-stop day from the time we did the rough fit of my bike to the trial ride through Central Park with Papa Squid (the squidlings were in hebrew school) to returning home to do laundry to a trip to Barnes and Noble for last minute gifts and finally to a trip to the post office to mail out said gifts. Got to love living near the main post office! Open 24/7 it is. Candles, dinner and then some time in the lobby so that Little Squid could get the most out of the remote control hummer with which he was gifted. This thing is almost as big as his bike! No, it did not come from us, we favor smaller gifts.

Finally, a spot of charka spinning to ground me. There are still a few presents that need ends hidden and wrapping wrapped but I am mostly done. Mike will put together his holiday cookie boxes in the morning and I will bring my work presents in tomorrow and hang them where mice cannot get them for the next day or two.

Phew! The next week will be a busy one with publishing parties (Little Squid), "office" parties (me X 2) and students who really want to be else where. Have a wonderful week!