Saturday, June 30, 2007

Summer Projects

This is where I lay down what I intend to do this summer and you get to laugh at me. First up is my summer reading list:Yes, I have already read the Anne Frank, I want to reread it with an adult perspective. All of these were borrowed from the English Department bookroom hence the heavy duty bindings.

Then, my summer growing list:
Pumpkins. Don't laugh! My favorite Otter is also attempting to grow pumpkins in a container. Look! A tomato! First one of the season.Cucumber vines! Yes, I am aiming for chef's salad with my own cucumbers and tomatoes. Last year we managed a whole pasta dish with our tomatoes. Yummy!

Then we have the knitting which is somewhat constrained by the two Knit-alongs. First up, my first pair for the Summer of Socks.The Padded Footlets from Favorite Socks without the padding. Knit in Regia Silk, these fit Squidette's newly sized 7 feet. Save me from growing children, please!

Then the Tour de France knit-along. I signed up for the yellow jersey. I am making the Chevron Vest from the Summer 2007 Knitters Magazine from my handspun silk/merino/alpaca mix that I picked up at Rhinebeck back in October. Then there are all of the projects already in the queue. The Go With The Flow socks, also from Favorite Socks, a yellow baby sweater started so long ago that I do not even remember how old it is, my cobweb lace stole and a silk scarf that I started a few weeks ago. Oh, and the theoretical blanket that I started weaving on my Hazel Rose looms say ... two years ago? I started in again on this one earlier today and have two more triangles and a square to show for my efforts.

And the spinning ... the bamboo-silk from Susan and some very dirty alpaca that I started on the Journey Wheel after Dave went on about the awesomeness of actual spinning on the JW. Yes, it is awesome to spin on. No, I am not enjoying myself as much as I should since my fingers wind up BLACK during a session with this stuff. I will, however, see it to the end as it is only 4 ounces or so total. That project saw almost 2 hours of work today as I enjoyed myself with an audiobook out on the balcony with my plants.

And there you have it, my summer projects. Will I finish them all? And how many more will get started? And what about the painting?!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Que Serra Serra

After work today, I rushed downtown to meet the rest of the family at MOMA. Friday evenings are free so we decided that this would be a nice way to kick off the summer.Currently on display are the works of Richard Serra -- HUGE pieces of steel that defy imagination. Some of them I found really cool, like this one above and below, others made me wonder "why?"After getting our fill of Picasso, Mondrian, Kandinsky and others, we headed home. First, however, a stop at Myzel's where I met Camilla and got to purchase and eat some amazing chocolate. We chatted about art -- she agreed with us regarding certain works -- and made a new friend. If you are ever in the area, a visit here is a must. It is a small, family owned business and we will certainly do our best to keep them in business if we can figure out a way to ride there safely. (Camilla explained why Elk Candy went out of business. It is a sad story.)Heading home, we passed City Center and I got to show off my knowledge of its history as a Masonic Temple. The bottom picture shows a glimpse of its terra cotta covered dome. Not a pterodactyl covered dome. I read about this recently in a work of fiction and was amazed when I looked into its history. My pictures do not do the building justice. It is really lovely to look at.Now we are whiling away the evening and I am trying to get into vacation mode. Sadly, I forgot to do something, so I do have to swing by the school on Monday to finish up. Only about 5 minutes should be spent inside, so no big deal even tho I did obsess about it for most of the evening. And no, we do not have a new principal yet.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

While Mama's Away, the Squid Will Play

And while they were playing, they were thoughtful enough to provide me with blog fodder.

First (because that is how the pictures loaded and I am too tired to rearrange them) a tour of Central Park as seen from a row boat.

Bow Bridge with the Dakota (of John Lennon fame) in the background. The Dakota is the short building with the 3 dormers. Read through the link -- it has some really great information and much better photos.
A plethora of turtles.
The Plaza Hotel (of Eloise fame).
The San Remo Apartments. This is the building that many assume is the Ghostbusters building. In reality, that distinction goes to 55 Central Park West.


View of the ever famous Squidlings, attempting to row the boat.HeronPapa Squid rowing. (He was actually a very happy Squid and not as grim as he appears -- rowing is hard work!)

After rowing, a trip to FAO Schwarz was in order and the squidlings were free to choose something as a "hey, you did a great job in school this year" gift (NOT a reward.) They actually did not find anything they wanted here but did get some great LEGO photo ops. (A toy was procured at a less exclusive toy store further downtown.)Continuing on the way home, they stopped in at Myzel's to get cookies. Mike chatted with the owner and had a lovely conversation. She in turn gave the kids some chocolate. No, they didn't bring any home for me. (In their defense, it was in the 90s today so the chocolate would not have survived the walk home.)

And a great time was had by all. (Except Mama, who had to work.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The End is Near!

Last day for students and teachers today! Yea!!! I still have Thursday and Friday to clean up the bits and pieces that need to be squared away. Interesting how there is always more to be done then you think there is.

I've been up since 3:30 and am wired. I'm so wired that I knit an entire sock toe in the near dark -- by the light of my laptop. Now I am working on the heel flap to a sock I started too long ago to be considered a part of Summer of Socks. There will, however, be pictures later of my first finished pair for SOS.

Yesterday was kind of sad. At our end-of-year meeting, the usual departures were announced including the retirement of a woman who means a whole lot to me. Ms. W (not her real initial) took me under her wing when I started teaching and educated me in what it means to be a teacher. When you look up the words "model teacher," you'll find her picture. For the lasts 35 years students have passed through her classrooms and have emerged not only with a greater understanding of Biology, but with a greater understanding of life. Her standards were high and her students lived up to them because to not do so would be wrong. She has spent her entire adult life learning and teaching and those of us who have benefited from her wisdom will miss her.

Ms. W received a standing ovation from the faculty -- one that went on and on and on. And she i s worth every clap.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Birthday Meme!

I've been tagged by Isabelle for the Birthday Meme

The rules: You go to Wikipedia and type in your birthday (day and month). Then share 3 events, two births and one holiday.

3 events: 2 births
1 holiday
I'm tagging Elana, Susan, Cookie, Debby and Sarah

Sunday, June 24, 2007

George Washington Bridge

In an effort to avoid the crowds created by the festivities in our neighborhood today, we took off in a Northerly direction today. Our destination: New Jersey!

(We do not discriminate, we avoid all parades when possible!)

Last summer, Mike and I circumnavigated the lower Hudson using the path on the north side of the George Washington Bridge. We determined that this route was not kid friendly and so the squidlings had to wait until the southern path was reopened to "do" the bridge. This summer Mike and I will investigate the northern routes in Jersey and see if they are more child friendly.

Today we rode up to the Little Red Lighthouse and started up the Big Hill. Halfway up I found Papa grumpily staring at his chain -- which had broken. This is one of those times when knowing the theory and having the tools paid off. He managed to remove the broken links and reattach the chain. Riding was then possible despite the constant skipping due to the too short chain.

We finished mounting the hill and found our way to the bridge pretty easily.
Little Squid became temporarily stupid and forgot to use his gears so he wound up walking up the ramp to the bridge but he did get there ...
The G.W. bridge is essentially flat once you reach the road bed and personally I find it a much easier bridge then either the Brooklyn or Manhattan bridges. Look, they made it to New Jersey under their own power!

And, after pedaling past kayakers, and ruins (?)
and wonderful views (this photograph attests to my refound confidence as I took the camera out of my bag and snapped this photo while riding)there was a cooling dunk in the fountain.
21.6 miles with no real rest stops except for the chain repair. (A few quickies while the lead team waited for Little Squid and his accompanying parent but those were less then a minute each).

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Overly Productive Day

I went on a major activity kick this morning. The kind of bender that usually starts right after school ends. It started early this year.

After lifting weights and riding on the trainer (am I sounding sickeningly virtuous?) where I spun many yards of wool on my spindle (yes, I spin while I spin) I went on a cleaning binge. The binge was predicated by our recent loss of a set of ramikens and the kitchen scale. My binge did not uncover them but did serve to remind me of all the lovely crystal bowls we got for our wedding. They have now been degreased and put back into a freshly scrubbed cabinet to sit and collect more kitchen grease. Maybe we should hold a party?

Then I pressed Squidette's new top (finished last night) and started in on my first pair of the Summer of Socks. These are for Squidette who, after being given all the yarn you saw two days ago to choose from chose the Regia Silk. Figures. (Yes, I bought it for myself but far be it from me to begrudge silk socks for my daughter.)

Since most of today was spent at friends for their daughter's birthday, I managed to almost finish the first sock -- and got a lot of silk spun to boot!
It is now kitchenered and sitting on my lap. I will cast on the mate and then work on something else for the remainder of the evening.
Oh, and somewhere in there I finished plying the last of the current batch of silk singles. I'll let you know how much it is when I skein it. Right now I am estimating between 300 and 600 yards on the bobbin. It was two spindle fulls. (No, I didn't do it all today -- I did most of it last weekend.)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Cobweb Silk

Dave and I have had a few email conversations since he got his new Journey Wheel. He has discovered just how good this wheel is at spinning laceweight yarn. I have never tried it. My Journey Wheel is primarily a plying wheel due to it's fantastic orifacelessness. This makes it easy to stop in the middle of a plying project and detatch the bobbin to start another project if desired or to just pack up the wheel if needed. I've actually only done this once or twice but that is primarily why I got it as a second wheel -- that and the fact that is travels well should I choose to take it on the road. The only time I have actually spun on my JW was last summer when I had the Kromski packed away.

For laceweight, I can spin a pretty thin yarn on my Kromski Minstrel but I can get even finer on one of my spindles. My preferences in spindles is decidedly Bosworth. I have another work horse, my Emily and have just not found another spindle that I like as well as those produced by these two artists. (And I have tried many.)

Pictured below is the cobweb singles that I am Navajo plying into cobweb three-ply for my shawl.Single3-ply

My photography is no where as good as some bloggers for items this small, but I try.

All of the singles were spun on my mini-bossie spindle during odd bits of time. Today I got about 15 yards of single spun while waiting for my lunch (5 minutes or so). That will translate into roughly 5 yards of finished yarn once plyed. Every week I take my spindle to the laundry room while the clothes dry and knock of uncountable yards of singles. On the rare occasions that we get to the playground these days, my silk spindle accompanies me though if I don't feel like having a conversation with random kids, I take out my knitting instead -- it attracts less attention. So far I have spun over an ounce of these singles with much of it spun over the last few months. (This project mouldered for about a year until settled on the final shape / pattern for the shawl. )

Yes, with practice I could probably get as fine a product on my big wheel -- and can do so in cotton on my charka but I like my spindle and I like producing ultra fine yarn on it. There is something very satisfying and meditative about taking my spindle out of my small purse and producing something so thin that it is difficult to see. The satisfaction of quickly turning out thicker yarns on my wheel is also a factor -- my "thick" yarns are still sport weight so it is all a matter of perspective. I seem incapable of spinning thick though I did work hard at it last summer to some success.

During the school year, I take out my wheels only on the weekends and then not every weekend. The weekday evenings are too short to separate myself from my family behind the wheel, so I knit instead (besides, I have to knit up all the yarn I am spinning). Summer time is for balcony spinning in the late afternoon sun. And maybe weaving.
The current state of the shawl. It's a bit windy -- I'll try to get a better picture tomorrow.

What to Do ...

Decisions, decisions. Summer of Socks began yesterday and I have yet to cast on. Cookie suggested that I knit socks for Squidette. That works since her feet are adult size so she qualifies for SOS. But what yarn to use? And what pattern?
Meanwhile, I did make this for the same woman-child but have to find a crochet hook to finish up.
From yesterday's birthday celebrations, proof that growing up does not mean for going presents!
Little Squid went out and bought the cat house with 5 cats for her. They then spent the evening playing with the cats. (If you got here by googling cat house and are sorely disappointed then I am sorry. Try googling bunny ranch instead.)
Birthday Souffle! No candle -- it would have made the souffle fall. Yummy!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Growing Up

What do you say about your eldest child on their 12th birthday?

Obviously, I think she is the smartest, cutest, most wonderful kid in the world. Others concur, but they are mostly relatives.

Honestly, she is a bright, sensitive, caring young lady and I am proud to be her mother.
What a difference 5 years makes.

Happy Birthday Sweetie!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

All About Me (a poem by Squidette)

All About Me

I like to read
Fantasy, fiction

I have one brother
Younger, shorter

I have a pet
A turtle girl

I have two parents
Mom, dad

I wear earrings
One per ear

I can swim
Frontstroke or back

I love music
I play two instruments

I like to draw
People and places

I am tall
Five feet

I love to write
Poetry and fantasy

I can run
Fast and slow

I can knit
Sew, spin, weave

I like my school
I love my family

I am myself

Monday, June 18, 2007

How Did He Know?

Every night, as I am heading into my own room, I give Little Squid a quick kiss and sometimes have profound discussions with him.

Last night I gave him a peck on the forehead and then stealthily bent over to examine his "bite" mark.

And he hit me!


Because he thought I was going to bite him.

Now why would he think that? I don't usually bite him. It's been years since I pretended to munch on him but, that said ...

I was going to (pretend) bite him.

How did he know?

(His father is very proud of him this morning for being able to detect a duplicitous mommy. The "hit" by the way was also in fun, we do not tolerate real parental (or child) battering in this house. We also do not really bite.)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Slow Kind of Weekend

Little Squid was the only one who was not wiped out by the frantic pace of last week. I think the vampire/werewolf bite had something to do with it.

Yesterday was spent hanging around in the morning and movie going in the afternoon. Little Squid saw the new Fantastic Four movie as part of a birthday party and the rest of us saw the new Shrek movie. Good stuff! Since the party included pizza and such afterwards, and was no where near home, the rest of us wandered about the neighborhood and did some book shopping.

Today we are still wiped out but I got everyone on their bikes and we did a light ride down to the Lower East Side and got ...
ice cream! Squidette has decided that as much as last summer was all about the chocolate, this summer will be all about the ice cream. Yum!
Flavors sampled -- chocolate malt, chocolate, strawberry, vanilla and ginger. Mmmm.

(Notice my new hairstyle? The braids are lighter and cooler then a single one down my back. I may look like I'm eight years old but I'm comfortable.)
Look! This really is a knitting blog!

This afternoon Squidette and I went off to the big NDI performance at Laguardia High School. Several of her friends were in it so we were there for more than just the great performances.

Laguardia High School is what the High School of Performing Arts became when it merged with the High School of Music and Art in 1984. Performing Arts was the school on which the movie Fame was based.

Across the street stands the building that was formerly Martin Luther King Jr. High School. (High school, not Junior High School) The two schools were as different as apples and oranges. Laguardia served (and still serves) a select population and King drew from the nearby housing projects. King closed in 2005 and the building now houses six smaller schools, none bearing the name of the great man whose name graces the building. I've always found the contrast to be quite sad.

The article that I linked to, by the way, is wrong. One of the first schools closed for low performance in NYC was Benjamin Franklin High School in 1982. Founded in 1935, Ben Franklin was an amazing place, an integrated school in a time of de facto segregation. I've met many of the graduates over the years and those from the earlier days -- even as late as the 70's have nothing but good things to say about Franklin. The grand edifice that was Ben Franklin High School now houses Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics High School (est. 1982) and Isaac Newton Middle School for Science and Mathematics. Yup, where I work.