Thursday, November 30, 2006

Giving Thanks for the Stash

November is now over and the stats are in: yarn used -- 13 units, yarn gained -- 2 units. Net loss -- 11 units! (A unit is a ball or skein of any weight.) Items completed: Sock-ret pal socks (1 unit), baby blankie (4 units), teacher scarf (4 units -- balled and multistranded from a large cone of lace weight merino -- balls were roughly 40 grams a piece), Violin gauntlets (2 units), Fetching (zero units -- there is still enough yarn to make a third mitt). There is still one teacher scarf in progress that has already used 2 units. I am going to continue trying to use more then I acquire for the month of December. I do acknowledge that I will have to get three skeins of something bulky and baby friendly so I can finally give my friend his baby blankie.

Now, since the previous paragraph was totally boring, I present:

Violin Gauntlets modeled on the lovely arms of Squidette. A gift for our wonderful Violin teacher who cannot wear wool.
Pattern: my own riff on Fetching using one fewer repeats, cables crossing on different rows and much length.
Yarn: Reynolds Tiara Silk and Viscose purchased many years ago at the annual Smiley's hotel sale (which I am passing on this year)

And as for the Squirrel Update: He appears to have found his way out of the building or at least out of the display case. I am really bummed that we were never able to get a picture of him. Every time I entered the lobby, he was hiding. Apparently he did give a good show for our students -- kind of like having a mini zoo in the lobby. I will work on editing Act 3 over the weekend for posting during a slow news day next week.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Saga of the Squirrel: A New Tale

So far the Squirrel Saga Acts that you have read are several years old. Today's tale is fresh ... so fresh that it does not yet have an ending.

And here we go ...

This morning as I am slowly getting my act together and putting away my coat, purse, etc., a teacher comes in and asks "have they caught the squirrel yet?"

I look at her blankly. "Squirrel, what squirrel," I say with confusion in my voice, thinking that it was a rather strange coincidence since I had just posted Act 2 last night.

"The squirrel in the showcase," she responds, matter of factly.

"Explain, please," I respond, still confused.

Apparently she had been working on the two showcases in the lobby yesterday -- yes, I remember her scraping tape off the glass -- when all of a sudden the kids noticed a squirrel in one of them. Seeing the kids, the squirrel scampered up and perched on top of the light where it seems to have stayed all night.

As of this morning it was still on the light where I saw it's beady eyes with my own narrowed gaze. It was sighted periodically throughout the day today.

While the cases were open on and off all day yesterday, there was always a person in them and they would have noticed a squirrel flying by. It seems, however, that there is considerable open space along much of our electrical conduits and this guy somehow got into this open space and found his way to the display case from the inside. Mice have also, apparently, found their way into the case on occasion as evidence on the bottom of the case suggests. Our friend has emptied it's bladder at least once during its captivity. We have no idea how he got in to the walls of the building.

Pest control has been called and at least one Hav-a-Heart trap will be on hand by morning.

This is a true story. I can't make this stuff up. My imagination just does not run to squirrels in showcases.

May your day not involve wildlife where it should not be.

This post is the sole property of Devorah Zamansky and may not be copied without permission.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Saga of the Squirrel: Act 2

Setting: My office which has the usual four walls but with doors in both the northern and eastern walls leading to other offices. The Southern wall is entirely taken up with radiators and windows. The Western wall is taken up with old fashioned built-in floor to way-high (not ceiling) cabinets. There is no way to directly access my office from the hallway.

And so on to our tale …

So, there I was, minding my own business, bopping around the building and in and
out of the offices actually getting things accomplished. I had left the top sash of my window open a little because unlike much of the school, my office is rather overheated.

Now, I rarely open my bottom sash and when I do I only open it a crack because
squirrels seem to love our school. On this day the bottom sash was not open because even though my office was hot, I did not need a 20 degree breeze across my keyboard.

After finishing my stroll of the facilities, I returned to my office where I noticed a squirrel on my window sill -- inside. Normally this is not a big deal but as I said, the bottom sash was not open and the upper sash was a good 8 feet up from the window sill. I momentarily panicked – after all, I had to get to the window in order to open it to let the squirrel out. My secretary closed the door from my office to her office and I closed the door from my office to the adjacent office. I then retrieved a window pole from
another room and set out to enter my office from my secretary's office. I
figured I would use the pole to push the window open from the bottom without getting too close to the now panicked squirrel.

In the meantime the squirrel was running around the room jumping desperately in an effort to get out through the top sash. There were no curtains on the outer windows and the shades offered only a slippery surface for the squirrel’s sharp claws. Returning with the window pole I put my face to the window just as the squirrel gave a flying jump AT
the door and caught itself, briefly, on my door curtain. What I saw was squirrel
belly and claws -- my face was protected by mere millimeters of 60 year old glass. Yes, I know I was on the other side but I have to admit that I screamed.

Once again I approached the door, hand on the knob when the blasted squirrel flew AGAIN at my door. Why he didn't go for the other door where my male colleague was watching, I have no idea.

At that point a braver teacher than I observed the situation and cooing “poor squirrel” opened the door, calmly walked to the window and opened it. The squirrel left as fast as it could and we closed all the windows.

For days afterwards my office stank of scared squirrel.

Ironically enough, there was a squirrel trap in my office. (Hav-a-heart if you care.) However, since it was in my office I couldn't get it and this squirrel, unlike the one we bought the trap for (act 1) WANTED to leave.

The image of squirrel belly flying at my face is one I will never forget.
The contents of this post are the sole property of Devorah Zamansky and may not be reproduced without permission.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Happy Birthday Sis the Elder!

*** THANK YOU for all your wonderful birthday wishes!!!***

I'm not joking you. My sister's birthday is the day after mine. She is X years and 364 days older then me. (Hey, I shared my age, I'm not sharing hers.)Doesn't she look like the younger sister?!

Having siblings so separated in age is interesting. I think that we have to work harder to be friends because, growing up, our ages very much defined what we could do.

Over the years we have shared confidences, joys and sorrows. As my only older sibling she is and has always been a role model for me. I watched as she went off to college and had what seemed to be a rip-roaring time while getting grades that set the standard for the rest of us.

Sis also set the standard for how to build an adult life -- an example that we have all learned from and turned to our advantage. It is always a good thing to have someone pave the way.

In the last few months our roles have been somewhat reversed and it has been kind of cool to be the more experienced sibling when it comes to our kids. Watching her turn in to a mom has been a wonderful experience.

As a human being, my older sister is kind, intelligent, humorous and an all-around great gal. I am so glad to have her both as a sister and as a friend.

Happy Birthday Sis!

A Birthday Letter From Squidette

Dear Mama Squid,
Today you are 40, the age you are meant to be, or so you say. You have provided Little Squid and me from the start what with food (don't contradict me) and socks and a place to live. You drive Little Squid and me to school and bring us to places we would never see otherwise. You give Papa Squid, Little squid, and me all the winter wear we need. You are loving, kind, caring, and have a sense of humor. You are good at your job and provide for us all. For all of this, Papa, Little, and I wish you a happy 40th birthday. We love you.


Last Day ...

of my second score. (Or, last day of my 4th decade if you so prefer.) It was only as we came home that I realized that my family should be especially nice to me today since I will never be a 30-something again. They didn't buy it. But then Papa Squid and Squidette are busy making my birthday pie for tomorrow. Yum!

We hit the New York Botanical Gardens today for the train show. I really think that it should be called the "model house" show since that is the real highlight. There are dozens of scale versions of famous structures (buildings, bridges, lighthouses) all done in plant materials.The Guggenheim Museum done up in fungus.
The Haupt Conservatory where the show takes place. Now if they only left a window into it with a Conservatory within a Conservatory within a Conservatory ... that would be neat!
A view of NYC if the buildings were made of plant materials and were that close together. *grin*

More Train Show Photos can be found here.

A new breed of plant. These were popping up all over in the forest. Odd. We think they must be a type of fungus, all connected under ground.

Tomorrow, a guest post by Squidette!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Sock Rides Again

If you are looking for Act 2 of The Saga of the Squirrel, give me a day or so. Much editing must be done before I feel that it is ready for the public. The Saga was originally written in the present tense and may present a certain respected person in a somewhat negative light so I am working on it and making sure to maintain the truth while protecting the innocent.

Back to your regularly scheduled blog ...

For the last two weeks I have, amazingly, not had a sock-in-progress. Instead, my carry-along project has been a pair of gauntlet mitts for our violin teacher. Yesterday I finished them. Tomorrow I will gently hit them with some steam and take a picture for you. After finishing them, however, I had the unreasonable urge to start another project mainly, socks. Grabbing a ball of yarn purchased this summer while traveling, I cast on twice for socks for Little Squid. I was going to put a pattern in to them but I've decided to go with my standard k2p2 ribbed all the way cuff and a plain foot. Knowing how Little Squid wears his sneakers, I think this is just safer in terms of lack of sag possibilities. I am also working on the second teacher scarf but that gets big, fast, so it is not my carry-along.

The sock is one anxious to get in to the thick of things so it came with us on our morning shopping excursion.

First it hit Home Depot and was amazed at how many drill sets they expect to sell this holiday season. It was also pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to return the fan purchased just yesterday. (The fan started to overheat within minutes of being plugged in.)Then the sock went to the Greenmarket at Union Square. Apples!At this point the sock saw a wool vendor and hid in terror of being sold so it was not able to witness this photograph which documents how New York Squid shop -- with shopping carts and luggage racks (for schleping the fan) in tow.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Saga of the Squirrel: Act 1

Some background – I am an Assistant Principal at a New York City Public High School. The following story has absolutely nothing to do with the city’s Department of Education; it is only about a squirrel. All of the people involved really exist, and this tale is absolutely true.

The Setting:

A large High School Building near a park. The building, erected in 1941, has all the characteristics of that time – huge windows, double height ceilings and wonderful marble work in the entry way. Built before modern ventilation, all classrooms have enormous, double hung windows. The top sashes cannot be opened without the aide of a “window pole,” an item consisting of a wooden pole 9 – 12 feet long and 1.5 inches in diameter topped with a hook used to pull top sashes down and then push them back up. Basement classrooms have full sized windows by dint of concrete lined window pits that reach from ground level to the floor level of the room outside the window. The pits are probably eight feet wide from window to wall, and let in a good amount of light, as well as other things.

And now our tale ...

Once upon a time, a squirrel managed to get into one of the basement classrooms. Smart thinking staff members opened a window in a back “cage” (closet created with wire mesh walls), and shut the squirrel away from the main classroom. Classes went on in the outer room while the squirrel quietly explored his surroundings and decided that they were good. Every day we checked on him and periodically, thinking he was gone, shut the window. This went on for several days with him periodically reappearing to torment us. This guy wasn’t having any of that open window leading to trees and nature, he had discovered that high school students are a veritable font of snacks and, as far as we can figure, he made his way out of the cage each afternoon and munched happily on our kids’ leavings.

Meanwhile, a Squirrel Savvy teacher had gone out and purchased a Hav-a-Heart trap which we left in the cage. The squirrel, however, was more savvy than the teacher and, not needing the food in the cage, ignored it and went for the candy crumbs and sunflower seeds scattered about the classroom by considerate students.

Finally, after days of ignoring the humans in the room, he came through the rather crude cardboard barrier we had erected at the bottom of the cage door, and ventured in to the classroom while class was in session. This terrified our urban students, and they fled for the safety of a wildlife-free classroom. Something had to be done.

Our intrepid and creature-loving teacher decided on a more forceful approach to squirrel removal. Reclaiming his trap, he baited it with fresh peanut butter, and bravely ventured back in to the classroom. There he waited. And waited. And waited. All the while our furry friend had gone in to seclusion beneath the radiators. In those dark corners he lurked, waiting for us to leave him alone. The teacher was having none of it though and he requested that cheese be brought. The lovely ladies in the cafeteria complied, providing a whole meal worth of cheese for all involved in the venture, as well as the squirrel. Then the idea of toasting the cheese was suggested – the scintillating aroma might entice our friend out from his hiding place. Yours truly ran off to retrieve the toasting materials, and when I returned I was greeted with an urgent “hush!” Slipping into the room, I let the door close quickly and silently behind me, catching my skirt in the process. There were now three humans in the room – our squirrel savvy teacher, our fearless stockman and me with skirt caught in the door, unable to move.

I looked around the room, and saw that our furry friend had emerged from his hiding place and was sniffing about, looking for a snack. He wandered about the room sniffing here and there, but alas it was early in the day and no food had yet been deposited on the floor. After a while, his nose guided him to the trap. He approached from the side, sniffing experimentally. A paw snaked out and tried to snag the tasty treat inside, but he was thwarted by the fine mesh of the trap. Circling, he tried from the other side, to no avail. Finally, while the humans held their collective breath, he ventured in to the opening and sniffed at the food. Daintily he started licking the trigger. Oh so gently his tongue lapped at the peanut butter while all the while his front paws remained suspended in mid-air.

The humans looked at each other. This was, after all, an East Harlem squirrel. He was street smart, and not about to get caught in some silly old trap. Our Squirrel Savvy teacher motioned to the stockman who passed over the window pole. Slowly, moving with deliberate care, Squirrel Savvy held the pole like a harpoon, and moving as carefully as Queequeg going after that famous whale, he sighted on the trigger and snapped the trap closed! All rejoiced as our furry friend was paraded to the nearest exit, and taken to the nearby park, where he was released to join his brethren – and live to torment me another day.

Thus ends The Saga of the Squirrel. Act 1

The contents of this post are the sole property of Devorah Zamansky and may not be reproduced without permission.

The Day After

... is when you forget until the next holiday that you need: more serving utensils, a much larger table cloth and a pretty glass pitcher for water. Since today is Black Friday, I am unlikely to try to obtain these items. We may, however, try to obtain a new fire extinguisher (no, we did not exhaust the last one, it is just really old) and a new ceiling fan/light for Little Squid (lucky we didn't have a fire because of the old one ... then we might have had need for the extinguisher which was so old that the charge was probably gone). Those involve Home Depot which opens in a mere hour and should not, I hope be subject to the Black Friday masses.

Meanwhile I leave you with images from yesterday.Yes, that is Big Bird's head and tail in two of the photos -- we ventured out to the turn-off area from the parade for a few minutes.

Thanks to Ann and Susan for the sweet e-cards. You got my day started right!

Happy Black Friday All!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

40 minutes

That's how long it took to get home from ignition on to ignition off. Good time if I must say so myself. Dave wins!

Cookie asks "what are they like?" in reference to my students. They are nice, usually polite, teens. In a small, cozy situation like the one I described yesterday (7 people in my small office can only be called cozy) they are delightful. En mass, as in during dismissal, they can be a true force.

I have the privilege to work in a "magnet" school. Most of the kids are there because they want to be there and want to go on to higher education. In our 25 years we have turned out Doctors and Lawyers and Teachers and many other professionals from a largely immigrant population. Some of our kids are the first in their families to finish high school let alone go to college. They take Advanced Placement classes by the bucket load and most do not flinch at the high standards that we expect of them. Ethnically our students span pretty much all of the groups represented in our fair city. From Bangladesh to Poland to the Dominican Republic and tons of other places, our diversity is truly amazing.

Sally asked how I find the time to do it. I'm not sure if you mean the knitting club or my personal knitting. Since I restarted the club one week ago I have come to realize that I was shortchanging myself and my students by not running it. As an administrator I could easily go all day without interacting with a student. The knitting club brings me into intimate contact with my constituency and grounds me in the realities of our school. I do it to remain grounded and, frankly, to have some fun. If you can find ways to make your job fun, I say do it! If it means that I have to work a little late one day to make up for the hour of club then so be it. If you mean the personal knitting ... why I find the time the same way as anyone else ... at home in front of the t.v., while waiting in lines, pretty much anywhere I can get away with it.

Syl talks about how teens come to see her as a big sister and not an authority figure. I find the same thing happening with my students. They do, however, recognize my authority in the building and my relationship with them actually helps to foster it. When I walk in to a classroom that has some of "my" kids in it, the class comes to attention more quickly and listens more attentively. That is one of the things I forgot the last two years when I let the club slip almost out of existence. The side benefits of the student-teacher bond last for a long time and spread throughout the school in the form of respect-by-association.

Have I mentioned lately that I love my job?

On other topics ... periodically we joke about the books we will write when we retire. Mine will be titled "Wildlife in the Public Schools" and will discuss the perils of squirrels, hamsters, chickens, snakes and the like in a NYC public high school. As a certifiable squirrel wrangler (not certified, just certifiable), I have several amusing stories to tell. Anyone interested in reading them?

Happy Thanksgiving All!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

If it's Tuesday ...

... it is knitting club! Today saw 7 young ladies, one new and the rest returning from last week. For a full hour they sat and knit (one purled) and chatted. That is my favorite part of the group. The kids talk among themselves and tend to not realize that an "authority" figure is listening. I learn so much about my students just by quietly eavesdropping on their casual conversation. It probably isn't eaves dropping since they are aware that I am in the room. They talk about boys, other kids and, of course, their teachers. Totally fascinating.

As a group they would prefer if I stop announcing how many blanket squares we have (zero) so I told them to get busy knitting to get this blanket off the ground. It was suggested that I set a deadline so I did. We want the first blanket done by the winter break and will ask the church across the street if they have someone who could use it.

On the home front, one Violin Teacher Gauntlet is done and the second started. I would like to have it finished by the end of the long weekend but we will see if life gets in the way. The first Teacher Scarf is also almost done and should see bind off tomorrow.

Here's hoping that your "day before Thanksgiving" is a good one. Any bets on how long it will take me to get home on Wednesday? Hint: a fast commute is about 35 minutes, a "normal" commute runs closer to 45 minutes. Last Friday it took me almost an hour. The day of the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting it can take well over an hour and I do not go anywhere near the tree. Any takers? (No prizes ... just fun.)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Yes, I Can Finish Stuff

Look! I really can finish stuff! And ... using stash yarns! This is the newest niece's welcome blanket. Now I only have one more blankie that I have to knit and I could knit it in stash yarn but then it would be in worsted weight and that takes just that much longer then bulky. So ... I think that my colleague will wait another few weeks and I will focus on my holiday gifts for another 2 weeks and then pick up the bulky and knock out his blankie in December.

These went out yesterday.

The one on top is for Susan and the one on the bottom is for my Sock-ret pal. I do not think that she reads my blog so it should not be a give-away. Size, by the way, is no indication of contents. Those are just the boxes I had available.

Now back to knitting Gauntlets for our Violin teacher. I made a pair for her last year and then discovered that her eczema is aggravated by wool so she got a pretty scarf instead and sister-the-younger (of the no leafy greens) got the gauntlets. This year I am using a silk blend so hopefully dear violin teacher can wear them.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

In Which Mama Squid Apologizies and Takes a Stand on Age

What I meant to say yesterday was that I clean up what is left after Papa Squid cooks. This usually includes a pot or pan if there were leftovers and the counters and sink. Papa Squid would like those out in blogland to understand that he cleans as he cooks. I must admit that he does do this. The kitchen takes from 5 to 15 minutes to clean up each evening and I rarely have to spend time scouring pots and pans. My sincerest apologies oh dear Papa Squid. Do I still get my birthday pie?

For those interested, this is Squidette's latest quilting project as of last night.(As of this writing one of the 16 small square is now complete.)

And these pictures show the vast amount of food that came in to the apartment yesterday.
Lots of yummy fresh foods from the Greenmarket and plenty of other basics to feed us for the coming week including, Thanksgiving. We are hosting this year with my sisters and parents coming to our apartment. The youngest nephew will be present and with 9 years separating him and his next youngest cousin, there will be plenty of adorable photo-ops.

(No dear younger sister, the green leafies are not for Thanksgiving -- promise.) The Turkeys (yes, plural) are buried in the bottom of the refrigerator and the potatoes (both sweet and white) are now in a dark cabinet awaiting their fate. (Again, dear family, the white potatoes are destined for mashing ala' a "normal" Thanksgiving feast.) Apparently a long past Thanksgiving has scared my dear family for life. No Pumpkin soup this year, promise.

Right now Squidette and Papa Squid are making apple pies. Yum! They are not destined for my Birthday Pie -- that will be Maple Cream and not available for consumption until the actual day that I leave my thirties. The Pecan and Pumpkin pies are already in the freezer.

Regarding my birthday, I must let all know, far and wide, that I am embracing it with arms wide open. I feel that I will finally be the age I am meant to be. After a long time spent figuring out who I am and what is "right" for me, I think I have finally reached a place in my life that is as close to right as it will ever be and it is damn good! Move over world -- 40 here I come!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Two Squid Went for a Walk ...

And found lots of neat stuff while managing not to buy any yarn despite stopping in two yarn stores. We did, however, get lots of chocolate for gifts ... and for eating. Also obtained were a neat octopus/squid stamp and a new stamp pad for Squidifying outgoing packages. The stamp came in to our possession as we wandered down Eighth Avenue looking for a place to buy a pen so we could log a geocache. We did get a pen with the stamping supplies but never found the cache. (We think another cacher was retrieving it when we approached.)

Continuing our wanderings we secured a cute present for the elder sibling and supplies for making dinner as well as for setting out before the Thanksgiving feast. While ambling down Sullivan Street we found a store with yummy savory pastries and munched on chicken pies before hitting Purl and Purl Quilts where Squidette saw the quilt she wanted to make. She is busy cutting away as I type this.

My "can't do anything right" phase seems to be over and I have successfully installed some of my more difficult-to-get-working applications on my new computer. I still have the GPS software to install so I may have just jinxed it. Printers, however, are still not accessible but I am leaving that issue to the Master since they are networked and he is the network admin and all around computer guru. (Who doesn't do Windows and hence despises my machine which must run Windows for work purposes.)

Yes, Squidette and I are supposed to cook dinner. Do I hear the sounds of laughter from far and wide? We are making chicken parmigania and she is leading since I have never cooked this. My intent was to make Chicken with a Mustard Shallot sauce but it seems that the cookbook with this recipe is at my sister-in-laws following the Great Apartment Purge of ’06. I, of course, am too chicken to wing it.

[Somewhat later due to Blogger issues ... The dinner was edible but was not quite as good as what Mike makes. (We all admit this.) Good man that he is, he did some of the clean up. Usually when I cook I have to clean as well while when he cooks ... I clean. I accept this inequity in the interest of edible and yummy food on my plate.]

Friday, November 17, 2006

Mess? What Mess?

I should not be allowed in the kitchen. There it is, plain and simple.

All I had to do tonight was to reheat some leftovers so that the kids would not starve. Repackaging the chili would be considered bonus.

How then, did I manage to create a huge mess?

How did I manage to get pasta sauce all over the immersion blender (and cord) while not actually using this device?

How did chili wind up all over the counter?

How did flakes of frozen pizza wind up all over the floor?

How is it that the only person who was really in the kitchen was me and yet the place still took as long to clean as if Mike had cooked?

I give up. Its the couch with a book for the rest of the night. Hopefully I can't get in to too much trouble there!

[Thanks for all the nice wishes about my wrist. It is healing amazingly fast and I might even knit a bit tonight. I swear that I will never lift weights in anger again.]


Lesson learned ... do not lift weights while angry. The result of trying to channel my anger ... a very sore "wrist." (It is actually a different part of my hand but in the same basic area.) I know I did not seriously damage it but I does hurt and certain actions are painful. I was good and really babied it yesterday -- lots of aleve and ice and very little of anything else, including knitting and spinning. Knitting is not one of the activities that hurts but I am trying to be smart here so it will heal faster. I am even typing one handed. Worst ... it is my right hand and I am a rightie. Blah.

At least it gets me some sympathy at work. I had to meet with the contractors yesterday and I am rather miffed with them so ... I let them think it was their fault. (It wasn't, I was angry at something else at the time ... the contractors have never made me so made that I needed to work off energy.)

This means that my dear new-niece's blankie is sitting waiting for its edging and the violin teacher's gauntlets are still rather gaunt.

On a positive note, on Sunday Squidette's knitting needles (circs that were her grandmother's) and knitting disappeared. Yesterday the needles were returned with a note saying that they had been turned in to the Synagogue with two completed blanket blocks! Very cool.

Now off to work where I will hopefully contain my frustration without injuring myself!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Add 10 to the Fold

For weeks I have been swearing that I would restart the knitting club at school but something always got in the way. Finally I made up a flyer and made sure that the club was announced every morning for a week (this was easy as I do the morning announcements). For the last few days kids kept coming up to me to ask when the knitting was happening.

Within minutes of the final bell, two young ladies were at my door. They were quickly joined by three more and then somehow another 5 squeezed in to my miniscule office. Within half an hour they had all mastered casting on (long tail over 2 needles) and were knitting away. The Principal came over and plyed them with donuts and candy. Somehow the entire box of M & Ms disappeared. I think her ploy of getting the youngen's to eat the chocolate worked a little too well and she and I will regret it when we need our chocolate fix tomorrow. I usually hold off with the candy until the club is well established and the kids come in in smaller groups. If they know you have candy they are around all the time ... *grin*

With 10 to start with, I expect a steady trickle during lunch and after school for the next few weeks. Way cool! I really get a kick from watching them learn and then listening to them talk while the knit away in my office. The last year was difficult for me as Mike and I adjusted to not having child care and the club never really got off the ground as my hours were somewhat limited after school. Now I am committed to Tuesday afternoons and this year to Warm Up America. First, however, I have to make more needles! (That or start teaching with thinner yarns and smaller needles of which I have a plethora.)

This morning I filled a pretzel jar with yarns in assorted colored it and labeled the jar "Warm Up America! Take a ball -- leave a "square." (Count on the teacher to have a problem with the word square when applied to a 7 X 9 blanket block.) The young ladies all got the lecture "if you like this and use the school supplies you must make at least one item for charity." As expected they all jumped at the opportunity.

I can't wait to see their progress tomorrow! While the club meets officially on Tuesday, I know from experience that they will be in and out of my office all day tomorrow and will be dragging their friends along with them. Just thinking about it makes me squirm with excitement! Squee!!!

Giving Up

I decided that it is time to give up on trying to keep Squidette small. The smushing does not seem to be working so well , she keeps growing out of her clothes ... and now she is doing as much growing "out" as she is growing "up." So instead, Papa Squid and I have decided to concentrate our efforts on keeping Little Squid little. We figure that our efforts with Squidette were defeated because we were also working on Little Squid and so everything we did was diluted. Today starts the first day of this new campaign. I'll let you know how it works.

[Note: Papa Squid had already started a campaign of slow starvation as so far he has forgotten to make lunches twice in the last two weeks.] [As Squidette is pointing out, his campaign is doomed to failure since Little Squid is perfectly capable of slapping a few pieces of salami on some bread and Squidette wields a mean peanut butter knife.]

Yesterday was Parent Teacher conferences at Little's school. His teachers told me that he is a pain in the tush and should be kept at home ... oh wait, that's not right ... no, only good things came out of the conference. Why is it that teachers see your kid through much clearer eyes? Why is it that my kid is a different (just as good) person at school? I guess he isn't really different but it is interesting and nice to hear their take on him.

Papa Squid does the middle school today -- partly so that he can pop in on some of his old teachers. We expect to hear more wonderful things about Squidette.

Hope your day is full of good news!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Blatant Plug

... for my favorite author and good friend Laurie Hornik.

(Jacket illustrations copyright Debbie Tilley 2001 and 2004)

Laurie and Papa Squid played together as kids because their moms were best friends. When our kids were born, they too, played together because their Grandmothers took care of them and, were still best friends. Laurie and Mike drifted apart over the years but it took just one afternoon with Laurie and family to cement our friendship. [This kind of explains how Squidette and I wound up in the woods of Rockland County to experience the most amazing leaf fall this weekend. The memory of my daughter standing in the middle of a clearing with her arms outstretched as leaves fell all about ... well that's why we wrote a poem.]

Laurie's books are geared toward a third grade audience but are fun for all. Zoo School actually speaks to anyone in education and had me rolling with laughter over things that the kids found interesting but not fall-on-the-floor funny. (They found other things extremely funny.) I have since given it as gifts to adult friends. (We will not speak of the times I have gone in to the Big Box Bookstore and bought 3 copies at a shot of one or the other book for birthday presents. I even thought of giving them to Laurie's son one year as a gag gift.)

Anyhow, if you are looking for a good gift for the 7-10 year old set, you can't go wrong with these books. (Unless, of course, they have them already.) If you want a good read for yourself, hey, they work for that too.

(I am not linking to an on-line bookseller because I refuse to publicly support either of the two biggies and am actually rather miffed at both of them.)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Knitting Made Me Tired?

How could a day spent knitting be so exhausting?

The day started with the deposit of the squidlings at religious school by yours truly. A quick trip to the local bagel store for a cuppa and then back to the car for breakfast and some quality knitting time. Knitting was interrupted for a brief walk to obtain NYC swag and then some more knitting time while waiting for the squidlettes to come down from their classes.

Another walk, this time with Squidette, and then lunch with some knitting on the side. Finally, an afternoon of mitzvah knitting where this Squid actually only knit about 5 rows. Several others, however, were brought in to the fold, problems were solved and at the end of the day, 35 completed blanket blocks were completed.

The project was deemed a success with most promising to drop their completed blocks later in the week. Many asked for the day to be repeated so we will try to find a way to do this once a month or so during the later religious school session on Sundays. It is a good way for the moms to pass 2 hours while the kids are learning and those early session folks can just stay on for a bit.

The real heroine of the day ... Squidette. She served as a third co-leader running errands, winding cakes of yarn and helping the younger set learn how to knit. We could not have done it without her.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Glimpse of Our Day -- in Poetry

All Was Still

All was still

Softly blew the wind
Snowing leaves
Quietly dropping
Carpeting the floor
With soft autumn colors

Silent, spellbound
Creatures froze
Falling leaves
For miles around

All was still

This poem is brought to you by Squidette and Mama Squid. But mostly Squidette.

Friday, November 10, 2006

How to Help Others While Helping Yourself

Let's just pretend that today did not happen. I'm home now and am focusing on the weekend.

A few weeks ago a good friend asked for a favor and we agreed to bring her to a work commitment that would serve as a nice outing for us. Today another friend called and asked if we could help her tomorrow. After thinking it over (about 2 minutes) we decided that we could help both and have fun in the process. So, tomorrow Squidette and I will drive our friend to a book fair where she can be the wonderful author that she is and we can happily peruse kids books to our hearts content. Little Squid, meanwhile, will host a friend so that the friends parents can do something that they really have to do. Little Squid is thrilled to have a day-long playdate, Squidette is thrilled to have a girls day out and Mike and I are happy to be able to help friends while doing what we want to do. Works for us!

I fell off the "Thanks for the Stash" wagon a smidge today when I went in to Knitty City to get Susan's and my sock-ret pal's yarns. In addition to their yarns I also got two skeins of Regia Silky. I am thinking it will make a nice pair of socks for someone who reads this blog. That said, I will now shut up about the matter.

For tonight my plans are to finish my sock-ret pal's socks (just a tiny bit of toe left) and to do some more damage to the baby blankie. I'd like to have the blankie finished coming out of this weekend but I will live if it is not. My niece will be in town for Chanuckah and I figure I will give it to her then so there is no rush. I might start some of my other gift knitting ... I'm thinking the armwarmers I promised our violin teacher last year. In stash yarn of course!

Hope your weekend is a good one -- I know mine will be!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Better Day

When a day starts by breaking a glass while emptying the dishwasher there is not a lot of hope but today proved otherwise. After cleaning up the glass and making lunch for the kids because someone forgot to do so the night before. For the record, sandwich making is one of the things I am theoretically forbidden to do in the kitchen because I might put mayonnaise on the pastrami.

Fortunately the schlep uptown was much better without the rain and given all the things that could have continued from yesterday, none did. And ... I got the car back ... but my parking permit is missing ... but I have a second one from Mike's school so I'm o.k.

Tomorrow is Friday. Need I say more!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Day

It has been A Day. No one died -- though I thought I might want to kill one or two people -- and no blood was spilt but it has still been A Day.

It started with the mildly aggravating slog through the rain to get me and the kids to our respective schools. Nothing horrible and I did get some knitting done on my sock-ret pal sock. I did catch a bus pretty quickly after dropping Little at school. He even kissed me goodbye.

Then I walked in to my office. Let it be said that The Day started before I even had my coat off. The major problem at the time was A. Later, B and C would come in but A was still the big one and remained the big one through D and until E. And then F hit and A was not such a big deal any more. By the time I finally dealt with A I was almost ready to forgive the transgressors since much bigger fish had since landed on my desk and were stinking badly. Tomorrow will be a day of extreme vigilance to prevent D through F from recurring. Blah!

Oh yeah, and then the car isn't ready yet. They promise it for tomorrow. On the bright side it means more knitting time. Frankly I think I've gotten a bit soft driving all the time. I have to get my tough New York Subway Attitude back. *grin*

Now ... for an evening of serious blankie knitting!

Contest Winner!

My sincerest apologies for not posting the winner to this contest.

And the winner is ... Susan! Susan guessed 472 miles and we rode 474 miles. What did you do Susan? Bug our GPS? Congratulations! Email me with your favorite yarn colors and give me an excuse to hit Knitty City this weekend. The 2007 "Guess the Squid Mileage" contest will probably open sometime in April.

Life is very normal around here with the most "exciting" thing being the current lack of car while GEICO performs the repairs. Yes, it is costing us our deductible which is intentionally on the high side since after 9 years of car ownership this is our first claim. What it means to be carless is that the morning commute is a bit messier and the afternoon commute (on a day when Squidette has to be picked up from afterschool) is a lot messier. Hopefully we will have the car back by the end of today.

The current baby-blanket-in-progress is now half done. Yesterday I wrote out all of my "must do by the holidays" projects and I better get cranking. I have another baby blanket to get done after this one and a few teacher scarves. I think that my current charity blanket block will be the last one outside of Mitzvah day for a while. It makes number 11 and I figure I should be able to get one or two more done on Sunday for an even dozen / bakers dozen. I also found a scarf made but never given a few years ago. That, too, will go in to the charity pile for the school clothing drive.

In other news, I have declared November to be the "Give Thanks for Stash I Have" month and am trying to knit entirely from stash and not purchase anything new for myself. I have already figured out how to use those cones of lace weight merino for the teacher scarves (multiple strands to make a worsted or bulky yarn) and realized that I have 2 skeins of "snake scarf" yarn in the stash for other gifts that have to be given. This is not a yarn diet per se but rather a move to move out some stash that has been marinating for a while. The dig for the yarns for the blanket blocks revealed a lot of stuff that has just been sitting in the stash for a while and I need to figure out how to use it.

Now ... to slog off through the rain to the subway. I hate the subway in the rain!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Winter Wonder Knits

One of our squid cousins was in town for a family (other side of hers) party so she spent the night. Since spending the night also included a day, we went out on the town.

First stop was our favorite local Chinese restaurant since cousin bemoans the lack of good Chinese in her state. Here we feasted on Soup Dumplings and other assorted goodies that we do not usually get when we order in from these guys. Cousin is sporting a cashmere watch cap borrowed from me and knit for and inherited from my mother-in-law.

Here is Little being particularly cute despite being a bit cold. Yes, those are elephants on his hat.

After lunch we did a bit of gallery hopping on 26th Street. Whenever we go to the galleries we always do the same circuit and never go beyond the street level rooms. We get in to half a dozen to a dozen exhibits and then call it a day. One of these days I swear that we will pick a building and hit all of the galleries in just one building. Papa humors me and pretends that it might happen.

While outside I took advantage of the natural light to finally photograph the Northern Lights Mittens.

Tops, Bottoms and flipped open. Yes, the insides are different and she has now decided that she does not like this so ... eventually I will rip back the inside of the purple one and replace it with blue -- all except the last row. First, however, I have to finish Little's Bumble Bee mittens and the niece's blankie. Yes, the mittens are a new project but all he has that fit are his felted mittens (see the last photo) and they are a bit warm for early winter.

Just for the heck of it, here are the Squidlings in their handknit hats. Proof that this knitter's family is indeed kept properly warm in the winter.

And, finally, just because it is cute picture ...

Friday, November 03, 2006

The "Tooth Fairy" rides again

Despite the comments of the so called "Tooth Fairy" and her erstwhile companions Mel the Elf and Molar the Tooth Pirate (see the comments to my last post), I am gearing up to do tooth duty again tonight. Yes, Squidette lost another tooth. To be precise, Mama Squid gently tugged on a tooth and had it come out of Squidette's mouth. Frankly, I think most of this kid's teeth have been yanked by me ... whatever happened to them coming out on their own? (To give credit where due, most of Little Squid's teeth have come out without maternal assistance.)

That said, I must once again appologize for the lack of mitten photos -- by the time I got home from work and finished dealing with the insurance company (someone put a huge dent in my front fender while I was parked at work today) it was too dark to get a decent photo. Tomorrow! I promise! They did keep Squidette's hands nice and warm today.

Tonight I plan to sit in front of the t.v. and knit on niece squid's blankie.

Here's wishing you all a wonderful weekend with no problems from those interfering faries.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Drive by post

Hi guys, I am wiped out due to a series of late nights and have to stay up late again tonight to pretend to be the Tooth Fairy for Squidette. Check back tomorrow for pictures of the finished Northern Lights Mittens.

*** Addendum -- apparently my brief post angered a reader, please read the first comment for an interesting revelation. ***

*******Double addendum (addenda?) I'd appreciate some help from other parents. Seems that I'm being insulted by a Fairy! for pete's sake. Any comment type assistance you can provide would be helpful. The T.A. is also welcome to post rebuttal on the Fairy's behalf.*********

Viscious Pumpkins

This post of KnittyOtter's inspired this morning's brain storm.

Five ways a Pumpkin can kill -- a joint collaboration with Squidette

1. Roll under your feet and trip you ... at the top of a flight of stairs ... on to a bed of nails.
2. Smother you with it's gooey insides.
3. Convince you to eat it's seeds ... and then choke you with them.
4. They are in cahoots with the cows ...
5. Persuede you to turn it in to pie with lots of condensed whole milk ... death by cholesterol!

(Spell check is not working this morning, please forgive anything I missed ... it is early.)