Sunday, July 30, 2006

Packing Up

Just a quickie before I start getting all crazy about the packing.

We went for a short bike ride today, just 14.5 miles, and impressed the heck out of the cashier at Chocolate Haven. She asked the kids how far they had ridden today and when they responded "only 13 miles" she looked aghast. "Only 13 miles?"

And so it goes. We picked up yummy gifts for the various people we will be visiting -- a "only in New York" kind of gift and then continued riding uptown where we found this:

Since I have been informed that it is not about the riding, but rather about the chocolate, we had to stop and picked up some interesting bars. Little Squid chowed down on part of the Key Lime filled bar earlier and proclaimed it to be excellent.

This card arrived from Ann yesterday. Thanks! (I get to meet Ann a week from tomorrow!)

Now to get ready to hit the road. Blogging will be sporadic, if it happens at all, over the next 10 days.

Wish us luck -- we have a map of Pennsylvania but not of Ohio, Kentucky or Indiana. I figure we should be able to get the appropriate mappage as we get closer to each state. We are armed with a GPS which does have the maps for the entire route loaded and we will be on I-80 for most of the trip. Music is ready to go, my knitting is packed in multiple locations -- the "car" bag, my purse project and extra yarn in the suitcase. The gallon of sunblock is already in the car. Snacks are already packed as are games for both the car and when we are in situ. Phone chargers are in the car ... I think we are getting close to ready.

Fantasy and Reality

Yesterday was a day of contrasts. While exiting the subway we encountered a view of Ground Zero. At that point we decided that it was important to educate the kids as to the significance of that giant construction site. I went through what had happened, some of which Squidette remembered and all of which was essentially new to Little Squid who was just 4 when it all happened. He knew that there had been a World Trade Center but had not understood. Sadly, innocence is now lost and he asked a lot of questions and then, as I kind of knew he would, wandered out of his room at 9:30 p.m. in tears about all of the dead people. We talked some more and he returned to bed somewhat comforted. Sometimes reality is a rough place.

Reality, however, is also somewhat ironic and the sign over Century 21 attests. (The view is of Ground Zero from the Winter Garden. We were standing where the entrance to a bridge to the World Trade Center once existed.)

We then turned to lighter matters as we studied the Kite exhibit flying high in the Winter Garden.

The kites were neat but less then we expected (the write up made it seem like the kites were all different).

Sauma was amazing and better so for being unexpected. It is an interactive installation including Sight and Scent Bubbles representing 3 cities -- Paris, Budapest and Helsinki; velcro jackets for those who want to be close and, disposable wedding dresses.

We then walked uptown, touring the monument to the Irish Potato Famine and a wonderful sculpture garden just south of Chambers Street. The kids got a short playtime in at a playground in between the two and then we did lunch and hung out in the air conditioned apartment for the remainder of the day.

Notice that my mini-socks got in to the act as they found feet -- and ears -- to cover. The sock even fit one of the feet!

Now to pack for our trip and take my photos for Sunday Socks.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Squid on New Wheels

There he is -- the Little Squid on his newest set of wheels. I know it looks like a kid's bike but in reality it is a full size folding bike with with the handle bars lower then they are supposed to go (The seat is not at its lowest setting.) The nice guys at Larry and Jeff's cut about an inch off the handle bar post for us. When (if) the Little Squid needs the extra height, years from now, the post can be replaced for little, relative, cost. The shop folk also threw in a bell and water bottle because we are such nice people. (O.k., they probably did it because we give them a lot of business and the Little Squid is pretty cute.)

The Squid then all conquered the Great Hill in Central Park with Little Squid passing Mama Squid on the uphill. I am suitably embarrassed. Unfortunately, about 2 miles home, Squidette bonked and was crying when we finally made it to our exit. (Bonked is apparently the biking term for "hitting the wall." ) She simply ran out of energy but managed to finish the ride. We all got off the bikes and walked the last half mile with Papa Squid holding her bike as well as his own. All of the Squid ran through a set of playground sprinklers before going up to the apartment to inhale large quantities of watermelon and water. In the future we will pack more carefully for a ride of this length on such a hot day. We wound up being out an hour longer then yesterday (for the same milage) and it felt hotter. [Squidette is just fine -- a shower and some food and fluids brought her back to herself again.]

And in conclusion -- a monkey in a tree, just for the heck of it.

Now to figure out what knitting I am packing for the trip.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Squid On Wheels -- A Thursday Ride

No exciting destination or good food. Today was all about the riding as we pedaled up to and half-way around the Central Park loop. Then the ride got exciting. We exited the park on the East Side at 90th Street and headed to our favorite bike shop on Second Avenue (the 87th Street "Larry and Jeff''s" if you care) where the little squid tried out a new bike, a Dahon folding bike. After a bit of adjustment and several sample rides it was determined that we had a bike that could enable him to more easily keep up with the larger squid and also have a bike that will grow with him until well after puberty. The bike is having the handlebar stem trimmed a bit and will join our family tomorrow afternoon. The current littlesquidcycle is going to a friend who lives near the bike shop -- we will ride up, claim the new bike and drop off the old one with our friend. Little Squid also got a new helmet which, assuming no accidents, should last until near puberty.

I am now the only person riding a "hand-me-down" bike with a "hand-me-down" helmet. (Mike found a better helmet about 3 days after buying the one I now own.) I rode the Bike Friday today to try to get used to it. Right now I still think I prefer the Specialized but I will give the Friday another chance tomorrow.

On a bike accomplishment front -- all 4 squid rode the "Great Hill" in Central Park. We all made it up and only one squid was breathing hard. I have got to get in to better shape.

Tomorrow, the same ride.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

This and That

First and foremost, profound apologies to my yarn angel and the organizers of dye-o-rama. You guys did a great job and I apologize for being impatient. I will say no more until the promised yarn comes through. I know that the angel is doing this out of the goodness of their heart -- I offered to be an angel -- and I am properly appreciative. My words for the person who snuck out on her responsibilities however ... after all, she got her yarn.

On other topics ... this morning I went skating and was finally able to snap a picture of this:

a ghost bike. Ghost bikes are placed where motor vehicle caused biking fatalities have occurred. This one is located on the Hudson River bike path right by the entrance to the NYC tow pound. The biker was killed by a tow truck leaving the pound. As I passed this spot today, a tow-truck operator was gently honking his horn to warn the path denizens.

The couch shopping was a bust as the one we really like will not fit in to our elevator or through our very narrow door. We are now broadening the search and are first asking "can it be taken apart for delivery" before we commit our hearts to such a large object. Fortunately it is not an urgent need so we can take our time.

We did order a new coffee and end table. The coffee table's top raises so that you can comfortably work on a computer or even eat a meal on the couch. This would have been useful during the construction. It also has two compartments under the table that look like perfect storage for circular knitting needles!

I did get the "linen" shopping done and the kids now have 2 new sets of sheets each and we all have new towels. The old towels will now become "sprinkler / camping towels" and the current sprinkler / camping towels will become the cleaning rags that they already resemble. All of the new stuff still has to be washed but that is a task for another day.

Tomorrow we are hoping to do something physical, perhaps a ride in Central Park ...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I Won!

See the lovely stitch markers? I won them in the Dye-O-Rama drawing as a participant who sent her yarn and had it received by the deadline. Yes, one is "pastel" and the other is dark, it is not the lighting. Please note that I still have not received any yarn from this swap and am feeling a bit put out. Everytime I start thinking about travel projects I dream of taking my swap yarn with me and know that is not happening. Pout.

The markers, however, are happily guarding the ribbed edge of CeCe which I have mentioned many times and never shown. Here she is in a close to finished state. There is one or two more days worth of work in her.

And here is my new dining room table! Complete with hand-woven placemats and our dinner reading material.
If you want to figure out who sat where ... I am reading the hardcover, Papa Squid is reading the sports section, Squidette is rereading some Oz (same side as the paper) and Little Squid is rereading some Hank Zipser. This arrangement proved to not work as both male are lefties and both females are righties. What happened was that all of our reading material wound up competing for space in the center of the table. Tomorrow we will go back to men on one side and women on the other.

(My book is Elizabeth Peter's "Lord of the Silent," if anyone cares. I have been listening to this series and this is the second book that is not offered in unabridged audio format so I am actually reading it. Barbara Rosenblatt narrates this series and I love the voices she puts to the characters, I am trying to keep her voice in my head as I read it. It seems that the next one is also offered only in abridged format so a trip to the library is in order to get the actual text before we leave for Kentucky.)

Tomorrow may see us decide on a new couch. If you are interested in seeing the contestants in this contest, click here. The couch on which both Little Squid and Papa are sitting on is leading in the polls. My sister-in-law thinks that the print is too space-age and I think that the plain fabric on all of the others is too boring. The sofa in question also has a recliner built in to it, as does the matching chair. This should increase the over all amount of seating in the living room as Papa Squid tends to sprawl his lower tentacles all over the couch, taking up all 3 spaces currently available. Check back tomorrow to see if we were able to commit!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Squid On Wheels -- The Lower East Side

Once again, our intrepid Squid family head out armed only with 8 wheels, four bike frames, three bottles of water, two GPS and one camera. Their destination: New York City's Lower East Side, home of our ancestors. (O.k., we are not really sure that any of our ancestors lived on the Lower East Side but hey, lots of Jewish immigrants started out there so there is probably a link somewhere along the line.)

Starting from the usual jump off point on the Hudson River, the Squid (cool how that is plural as well as singular) see a sailboat with a bright, rainbow sail.

That sail seems to portend good and picturesque things for our family and they turn right and pedal merrily downstream.

After traveling down to the southern tip of Manhattan and breaking through the path-blocking line for the Statue of Liberty ferries (rant not written), they continue down and around the tip of Manhattan, passing the hoards of tourists disembarking from buses at the South Street Seaport. There, Momma Squid is tempted to yell at the illegal vendors and tell the tourists to buy elsewhere but, deciding that the vendors might try to knock her off her bike, Momma keeps pushing her way through while guiding Little Squid through the throngs.

Rolling uptown, they pass under the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and ride through a lovely, new walking path created along the East River. (Our Squid are more careful on the return trip and ride on the parallel bikepath and not the walkway.) Just before the Manhattan Bridge, the Squid spy the Grand Street Houses (a cooperative built in the same spirit as our own Penn South Houses -- the difference being that Grand Street Houses are now market rate and Penn South is still holding fast to its Socialist ideals (another post)). There they depart the path for the streets and quickly home in on wonderful food.

They stop at the Donut Plant for ... donuts (everyone drag the word out now, ala' Homer Simpson).

These delectable pastries are revealed below including the Square Jelly Donut, the Blueberry Donut and the Butterfly Roll.

The Squid, having filled the bike bags with Donuts, then proceeded two stores down to Kossar's Bialys for bagels and bialys. Yum.

Then on to The Pickle Guys where Squidette and Little Squid were gifted with pickles to eat while Papa Squid purchased more for home.

Following the pickle purchase the Squid then got a history lesson. First they gazed at Seward Park High School where Papa Squid got his start as a Teacher. Seward Park has, for a very long time, been the first educational experience for many, many immigrants. As a school for new Americans, it had poor results on the tests by which schools are judged and so it has been closed and the building will be filled with smaller schools. As for the immigrants ... I do not know where they will go now. (Rant on the criteria by which schools are judged, not included.)

Then they stopped at Seward park, a lovely, large, oasis in the midst of the Lower East Side. While waiting for the male Squid to return, the female Squid learned that this was the first Municipally built park in the city and it was a model for its time. It started public programs to get kids playing in parks and off the streets and provided all sorts of social services over its lifetime. Nearby, and not pictured, is a public library that used to allow neighborhood folk to sleep on its roof during the summer as an alternative to the stifling tenements that populate this area.

Across the street is the old Forward building. The Jewish Daily Forward is a newspaper published in both Yiddish and English and was the major source of news for the LES population back when it was primarily European Jewish immigrants. The Forward is still published and has an online presence as well.

Another Yiddish/English paper of which I do not know the history. Sorry.

A row of "storefront" synagogues. (No kidding.)

A former Communist hangout. Mike is trying to remember what the old name was.

Thus ending our incomplete tour of the Lower East Side, the Squid find their way back to the East River and proceed to retrace their path back to the usual stopping point of Chocolate Haven to pick up more ... chocolate (what else!) and then pedal back home making one more stop for fish at Chelsea Market. Pictured is the Old Homestead Steakhouse -- one of the many famous steakhouses in NYC and within photo snapping distance of Chelsea Market.

And finally, a photo of how well the leaf edging covers the top of Momma Squid's cycling shoe.

And, for those of you who are still with me ... my spinning wheel (Kromski Minstral) is now back in the living room where it belongs. Yea!!!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Sunday Socks

The first pair was actually completed while I was in Florida. The are knit with Trekking XXL 100 and the cuffs are a leaf edging from "Knitting on the Edge."

Pair 2 is the "Child's French Socks" from "Vintage Socks." Pair 3 are my latest "Plain Socks."

Have a lovely Sunday!

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Adventures of Sock and Friends in the Orlando Theme Parks -- part 3, MGM Studios

Before I tell the sock's tale I must first mention that my dye-o-rama angel commented on the blog the other day. My angel actually exists! One of these days I hope to see hand-dyed sock yarn from this swap. I am so excited!


Now on to the final Florida tale ...
On our last pre-conference day, the sock once again witnessed it's owner consume a pricey breakfast -- no inexpensive food to be had at the hotel -- and then assumed it's position in the knitting bag.

Off it went to MGM Studios Theme Park (part of Disney). There it was greeted by yet another view of New York City.

The sock was starting to freak out now. It knew it was not in New York (it figured that out during the Guggenheim episode) and all of these incorrect NYC panoramas were making it feel out of sorts. So, it did what any intelligent sock would do, it went on the Studio Tour. There it saw:

Battle ships,

A water tower sporting Mickey Mouse ears,

and best of all, the steamroller from "Who Framed Roger Rabbit!" That was way cool.

Then it saw the biggest footprints it could ever imagine. And, being a good sock, it tried to cover those poor, cold feet.

After realizing that there was not enough wool in its carry bag to knit it to dinosaur size, the sock started looking around for other feet. It saw these guys ...

But they didn't have anyfeet and the big mouse in the background just scared the poor sock.

It saw Elastigirl's feet but figured out that maybe one of it's fellow Cascade socks might fit her better.

These feet looked like they could use some loving wool:

but Frozone already had a pair of Toasty Toes.

Then it decided to go out of this world and saw the feet on this guy:

What do they wear under those boots?

Finally, the sock returned to the hotel and took a well deserved rest while the humans attended a cocktail reception.The next day, the sock rested up and in the evening, took a walk to City Walk for the conference dinner. Along the paths it spotted these guys with their tiny little feet.

It also spotted Woody and Dora. The sock was too awed to ask for an autograph.

Then it got to party at Pat O'Briens. It did not drink a Hurricane but it did have a very nice time.