Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

I feel that I should write something clever but frankly, after searching hundreds of backpacks, patrolling miles of corridor and walking down 40 flights of stairs in search of candy, I'm just too wiped. So, we will make due with pictures.

For Dave, who did a muscle edition today ...
There is a second shirt rigged so it could (and was) be ripped off multiple times during the day. There were also boots. This is the "home edition."

And the ... um someone out there wanted to guess so I will let you all figure it out and then tell the tale of my son the ___ who kept contradicting the elderly residents who said "oh a ___."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My Dehaired Husband

A picture is worth a thousand words laughs.

(the tanning stuff does not seem to be working yet)

Any guesses as to what he is going as for Halloween?

Twas the night before Halloween

and all through the house, all the creatures were stirring, including the mouse.

Mama had done all the shopping with care, and was now grooming Papa, removing some hair.

Products applied and and fingernails painted. Mama! they all cried, you should be sainted.

And now Mama sits, alone in her chair, praying the Great Pumpkin will soon be here. And for Susan -- Little Squid's new sweater.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Ride in the Park

Weekends have been busy lately. Saturday, Squidette had her band rehersal and qualified for a special program with the New York Pops. Expect to see more on that as the program continues. I was busy working on tweaking halloween costumes and except for some last minute work on Papa's body, am done. Squidette had a last minute costume change due to accidentally throwing out her other costume.

Sunday was a lovely day and we all headed uptown when Little Squid went to hebrew school. While he did his thing, the rest of us did a loop of Central Park and Squidette and I discovered that our lungs do not like doing the Great Hill in 50 degree weather. We did finish the loop and then some and, since Little Squid and Papa did 9 miles a week or so ago, we are counting yesterday's mileage toward the family total. Yes, that brings us up to 745 for the calendar year. I will go and check who the winner is and announce it in the next day or two. We do plan on continuing to ride if the weather is agreeable but, maybe not the Great Hill in colder weather.
Kudos, by the way, to the New York Road Runners Club for cleaning up their act. Despite a pre-marathon race yesterday, Central Park was quite ridable. Last year you could not say the same and Papa wound up getting injured.
After the ride, the three of us had breakfast and then Papa Squid rode home while Squidette and I hung around until Little Squid was done. Our rearranged trio then crossed the park on foot, heading to Knitty City to get yarn for Litte Squid's new sweater.

On the way we passed this rock outcropping of Manhattan schist -- bedrock to you and me.

And on our way back we walked through the only tunnel in Central Park that is carved out of the bedrock .

Friday, October 26, 2007

What do Squid Read?

A very good question given that I was willing to try out a social-networking site centered around books where I have not even gotten on the waiting list for Ravelry. (By the way, there is a minor rant about that site at the bottom of this post if you wish to assist in my self-flagellation.)

Squid, as you should know, are prodigious readers. We do have to take special precautions since reading under water is tricky ... um, o.k., maybe we surface to read our books. Squidette's first sentence? "Read to you!" Accompanied by a book slamming into the lap of the chosen parent.

Personally, I am a fan of fiction. How heavy or light it is depends on the time of year and my mood. Right now I am in a light-fiction mood and am currently rereading some sci-fi already on my shelf in the absence of anything grabbing me from the new releases shelf at the library. As part of my current Tuesday and Wednesday "shuttle and feed the kids" ritual, I now stop at the library closest to the synangogue in order to collect Squidette. While there I either look for a old book from an author I am working my way through, or check out the new releases. Since I am not working my way through an author right now, I have just been checking out the new stuff. Last week I grabbed the new Debbie Macommber but this week, nothing struck me.

Print, however, is not my only book absorption medium. I am a voracious devourer of audio books. My commute home every evening (when I am the sole occupant of the car) is accompanied by the sounds of my latest Audible download playing on my Treo. Right now, my listening is also on the lighter side as I listen to some Marion Keyes but if the book is absorbing I will listen to more serious fare. Last week I downloaded "The Nazi Officer's Wife" and kept looking for traffic jams so that I could get more listening in. In the past, the David McCullough books have kept me pleasantly absorbed as I took in John Adams and Truman.

On the heavier side of things, I am working my way through "Acquiring Genomes" by Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan. When I was a graduate student, Lynn Margulis was one of my heroines. She was a famous female scientist when they were few and far between. "Aquiring Genomes" is actually a very readable book -- good to read while knitting. I made my way mostly through it while traveling this summer -- propped on my lap with my feet up it was a good "sit outside in the wilderness" book. Hmm ... maybe I'll make the effort to finish it this week ...

So there you have it -- eclectic tastes. Love the Elizabeth Peters' books -- especially the Ameila Peabody series. Love Jasper Fforde. Really like Richard Dawkins. Ann McCaffery is an old favorite and I still raid Squidette's shelves for the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I'm looking for a new series -- got any suggestions?

Minor Rant

Looking for a new author is why I decided to join this Shelfari thing when Debby invited me (you can all go blame her for the massive amounts of spam this thing has generated). It looked like a cool thing and even Mike thought so (yup, spammed my own husband). After it sent out a second email today, I dove right back under the rock of humiliation, sank into the moat of despair and basically thought about changing my name and moving to Tahiti.

Instead, I shot off an email to these folks. It read as follows:

After I accidentally spammed my entire contact list -- by the way, having everything automatically checked is a BAD idea -- I thought I was done with it. I issued an apology to the same people and took the flak that resulted.

Then I saw that an automatic NAG was sent out, further adding to my mortification. Can you please tell me what you are doing to remedy this situation? Your emails claim that people were purposely selected but your software automatically selected them and grabbed them from my contacts list and then continued to bother them.

Please, please tell me what you are going to do to fix your software to stop this harassment, both purposeful (the nag) and accidental -- the automatic selection instead of purposeful selection?

I receieved the following reply:

Good morning Devorah,

That certainly is disconcerting. On the invitation page it lists all of the friends you are inviting and states that we will invite those checked once and send one reminder a few days later. After those are sent, we send no further emails.

I do get some emails from people who invite to Shelfari and don't want that second email sent, and we cancel those reminders.

I realize this was a rocky start to Shelfari, but I do hope you stick with the community. It's an incredible group of readers.


O.k., I know I was stupid. I acted quickly and didn't read the fine print. I still think there is some deceptive stuff going on but right now ... I'm going to have a drink and take a break from the computer for most of the weekend. I have a blanket to finish crocheting together by Sunday, cat ears and a tail to sew (why are Black cats the only kind that you can find in the Halloween sections?) and other costume adjustments to make. Plus the semi-annual Mitzvah Sunday group to run. I'll be back Sunday night or Monday and maybe I will have stopped beating myself up by then.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Teens Knitting: Juggling the Academics

Yesterday was report card day. As soon as one of "my" kids (be it scholar or knitter) walks into my office on report card day, I ask to see the report.

Traditionally, the knitting club spans the academic ranges with honor students and those needing lots of support knitting together. It gets a little weird as the high achievers bemoan their 95s and the kids who struggle cheer about their 80s -- and I cheer with them. Ultimately, the answer is to bring the topic around to something else -- or else talk about gym. All of our kids have gym with the same set of instructors and all of the instructors follow the same grading guidelines so it is a safe subject.

Then I broke out the candy that Paul sent! Everyone was happy and the girls laughed at me as I tried to be politically correct about the India/Pakistan/Bangladesh mix up that I always have with them. Then we tease the boy -- who is from the Bronx. Yesterday one girl learned how to bind off, increase and decrease, three girls cast on chenille scarves using stash from Paul's box and our boy learned how to purl. All in all, a lovely hour.

Tonight, parent-teacher conferences. I'm the teacher.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Back in the Saddle Classroom

Last week a colleague was unexpectedly ill and needed an emergency coverage. I ran up, figuring that I would hold down the fort until some one could be found to do it. When I got there I discovered that the class was my subject and I called off the search for a covering teacher. Practically grabbing a kid's notebook (but not really) I asked them what they were up to and proceeded to do a review / elaboration of the digestive system. I had a great time and they seemed to be into the whole, letting me amuse myself, thing. So, the next day, knowing that the teacher was going to be out again, I told the scheduler to put me in for that class and, this time using her prepared sub-plans, once again taught a subject that I absolutely love.

She's going to be out again on Friday. The kids have a test on Thursday so she is letting me start a new unit. I am SO excited!!! Oh, and the feedback to her from the kids was that they liked me and enjoyed the classes. They thought it was funny that I was enjoying myself so much.

For some reason I just clicked with this class and was able to step right in -- and they let me! I'm practically dancing around I am so excited about teaching a double period on Friday. It is almost disgusting how happy and excited I am to have to plan a lesson and teach it. Yes, I've been out of the classroom far too long.

Still Red Faced

I can't believe I was that stupid. That said, I will stop beating myself up in public over this. As Dave pointed out, I even spammed my own blog!

What happened was that Shelfari is a Google creation and when I logged in it grabbed all of my contacts from my Gmail account. That means everyone I have ever sent or received an email from on this account. That includes, by the way, my former boss, her former boss and someone who could have been my boss. As well as lots of people from my synagogue and assorted mail lists. So when I thought I was sending to just a few people who I know who are already on it, I did not see the huge list at the bottom of the screen and neglected to scroll down before I hit send. Call it a slip between brain and finger.

Usually I like the way that all of the Google stuff interacts. One user name, one password. Simple. Not now.

I still haven't even totally figured out what this program is!

Excuse me now while I slink away and go hide under a rock for a few days. This is the kind of thing I lose sleep over!

Throughly Embarrassed!!!

I am so totally embarrassed by my accidental spamming of everyone. Can you all forgive me? Please???

Monday, October 22, 2007


Squidette and I departed Manhattan armed with googlemaps directions, Dutchess County fairground directions and a GPS. The DCF directions are only from the Thruway and the Taconic and do not include directions to either road. That's where I had trouble. As a general rule, when I travel long distances, Papa Squid drives. It's not that I do not drive. I actually drive 5 days a week, to and from work, with and without kids in tow. (They look pretty silly dragging along behind the car.) Rather, he does the long haul driving and prefers to do it and I am happy to be a passenger and knit. Yesterday, however, Squidette and I went alone.

The GPS took us up the west side highway and over the G.W. bridge. Made perfect sense to me. Then it recalculated and tried to get me to go back over the bridge. Oops! I knew enough to realize that it is not too difficult to get to the NY State Thruway from Jersey. Unfortunately we have not done it that often so it is not instinctual. Squidette beat up the GPS a bit and we finally managed to get a route that set us going north. Despite our navigation difficulties, we managed to complete the trip without any more excitement. My daughter and I sang aloud and I enjoyed having her in the front passenger seat next to me -- a new milestone for her.

Once we arrived -- and I payed full price for my now "adult" daughter, we methodically made our way from barn to barn looking for the wool for Papa's new sweater. After a lovely conversation with one proprietor, I decided to abandon my quest for washed locks that I would then dye and process myself and settled for already washed and processed roving.
Papa's new sweater!

As I was concluding my purchase, I felt a pair of eyes on me and turned around to find ...Paul! He and I had a great chat and he promised that he had secured the stuff we were searching for for Susan. Good thing, too. I think I found it much later in the day but I since I wasn't sure, it was good to know that she will get it. Paul is a wonderful guy and I am really glad I finally got to meet him in person!
We watched a llama parade and met lots of people who said "are you Squid (s)?" It was so cool to be recognized by Cynthia and Jersey Knitter, Penny and a host of others.
We met Swatchy, Debbie, Jessie, Lindsey, Lorena, Karen and Lise. If I forgot anyone -- I'm sorry! I know there were two people who we had on our card last year but were not on it this year and I was stupid and didn't write their names down. I was trying so hard to remember who I was meeting, too!
Squidette with our purchases. Yup, we kept it small this year.
Penny and PG!

The line for deep fried artichokes. I just do not understand it!
Some pumpkins ...
And some foliage ...
On the way back we only took one wrong turn and had nasty traffic on the Thruway -- my kind of driving! Yup, I actually prefer traffic to wide open highways. I do not know what to do if my foot is not constantly hitting the brakes. Comes from doing most of my driving in manhattan.

Oh, and the rest of my purchases. A few kits from Morehouse Merino. I also got a pretty button but I can't find it right now.

Now to knit some of this stuff!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Birthday Redux

For your amazement

the cake that Squidette baked and decorated for her father.

And the meal that Little Squid made (with some assistance), also for his father.
"Wild" rice salad and stuffed portobello mushrooms. (Little Squid made the salad, including chopping all the ingredients and pushing the right buttons on the rice cooker. The mushrooms were purchased already prepared and just needed to be heated.)

Now, time to wake Squidette and hit the road to Rhinebeck!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

No Longer Under 20

When Mike turned 20 he, jokingly, kept saying that he would, very likely, not turn 20. Why? Because for his entire life he had been "under 20" (a category in fencing competitions) and therefore the laws of probability were in his favor. As I could not really argue with that kind of logic, I didn't bother and let time do its thing. For the last 19 years, the odds were still in favor of him reverting to "under 20." Today, however, that all changes. There is still a possibility that he will turn 19 on Friday but, more likely, he will turn 40.I tell you , does this look like a 40 year old? Frankly, he is in better shape then he was back then. The hair is a bit grayer, the mornings a bit creakier but, as a general rule, not too bad. I think I'll keep him, hopefully for at least another 40.

Happy Birthday, Mike. I love you so very, very much!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Time Boy!

Little Squid has developed a love for watches. It was all started by his grandmother who, herself, had an extensive watch collection (which I now own). She always insisted that the kids wear their watches, something that drove me a bit batty but was basically harmless. After all, why did the kids really have to know the time -- the adults in their lives controlled their schedule.

Now, however, I get on Squidette's case for not wearing a watch and Little Squid ... well he wears 7.

Except when he is sleeping. Then he only wears one.

Yes, they are all set to a different time zone. One is set to local time (the digital -- it has an alarm that he regularly uses), one to Casablanca, one to Jerusalem, one to the Galapagos Islands and one to New Zealand. (Two need new batteries.) When you ask him the time, he asks "where?"

Monday, October 15, 2007


After reading this post I realized that I am not the only weirdo out there making her kids crazy. We already have a tooth fairy (actually an entire tooth fairy association), a head fairy and a foot fairy. Now given that our turtles are always loosing their scutes, I wonder, should the scute fairy join the flock? And, is that the proper term for a group of fairies?

Happy Anniversary!

Sometimes it is about the presents. Sometimes it's about having grandchildren that love you enough to bake a cake.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. May you have many, many more!!!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Crazy Cat Lady

My kid sister called earlier to ask for some cooking advice. Since it was a simple matter, I was able to answer her with authority. My husband, however, on overhearing the conversation, commented: "she called you for cooking advice?"

At which point Squidette decided to rehearse for Halloween and pelted her father with stuffed cats.

On the coffee table, if you care, is a piece of Papa Squid's Halloween costume and my flower basket shawl. In the purple bottle is my "contact bug killer" aka 91% rubbing alcohol. The small blue bottle holds Squidette's current shade of nail polish. She and I are going to do orange and black nails for Halloween.

Building Blocks

Shortly after I started teaching, the powers that be announced that a mall would be going up across the street from our school. That was over 12 years ago.

This is the garage. Look at this thing. They haul in the pre-cast concrete pieces on huge trucks and add a few of them each day. Yesterday I saw one of the corner pieces on a truck. Backing up. And honking at me to get out of the way. Glup!

I am amazed at how this building is going together like a giant puzzle. Look at the corner and how the size pieces interlock. Amazing.

We will forget about the huge amounts of noise that the construction site generates -- less now that the pile driving is done. When it is done there will be a Home Depot, a Target and other, as yet unnamed stores. They will also be responsible for restoring some stuff on our side of the street as they were supposed to be done before our construction was done and now they are slated to be done well after our contractors are gone. Their part includes replacing some trees that were lost to their cranes and such and other stuff that I just do not remember right now. Maybe replacing our sidewalk but I could be wrong.

Should be interesting.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Still Here

I haven't really disappeared -- it just seemed like that. Our router totally flaked out and when I could get on, it was only for a few minutes at a time. I was able to comment on some blogs but got thrown off by the router when I tried to comment to Dave on Wednesday. (Think there was a message in that?)

Knitting has been happening. Socks for Little Squid are almost done and new socks for Papa Squid are started. I had to attend a middle school application orientation meeting last night and didn't want to keep measuring Little's socks so I cast on for Papa's socks. I was, actually, very respectful for most of the meeting and only took out my knitting when the questions started. Finished the toe and started the foot of the first sock. The yarn for Papa's new socks was purchased as roving last year at Rhinebeck. I'd like to have them done for this year but that will only happen if I make them my sole project for the week. And then ... maybe not. Mike has size 11, extra wide, feet. Instead, I will concentrate on my Flower Basket Shawl, which also will probably not be done in time for Rhinebeck. So, the only new woolens worn by the Squid family will be Squidette's orange socks.

Speaking of Rhinebeck, I have spoken to my Aunt and to my children and decided that I am only going up on Sunday. Little Squid has been given the option for skipping Hebrew School but he wants perfect attendance, so it will be just me and Squidette this year.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Bopping Around Brooklyn

Each time we set out now, it is with the knowledge that this may be the last ride of the season. With Squidette starting band on Saturdays and Little Squid in religious school on Sundays, there will not be much time. Maybe, just maybe we will get in some paired rides -- Mama and Little / Papa and Squidette or visa versa. Time will tell.

Today, however, it was all four of us heading back to Brooklyn for a "not insignificant" ride, to quote Papa Squid.

We started out by making our way to the Williamsburg Bridge and crossing it, this time without tears. (Last time, a smoke condition stung my eyes so badly that I was in tears for half of the bridge.)

Wending our way along the waterfront, we finally wound into Red Hook and secured some sustenance at the Brooklyn Fairway and had a lovely snack on the waterfront behind the converted warehouse that houses it. View from Fairway
Right behind it we found three old trolley cars on a bit of preserved track. One of the cars is obviously being refurbished. I hope that these spell the start of a totally renovated Brooklyn waterfront. It could be so nice.
Also on view were Ellis Island (squint really hard and look a bit to the left)
and the Statue of Liberty in full frontal view.
(She's that white looking thing in the center of the frame. Yes, I was zoomed to the max.)

These bricks are all along the preserved trolley tracks. I found them fascinating.
Red Hook warehouse.
Remains of a warehouse.
Remains of a loading station adjacent to the remains of a warehouse.

And then we found our way back to Manhattan, via the Manhattan Bridge and on into Chinatown. This time I had my camera on my bike and periodically pressed the button without aiming and looking like a tourist.
It is these shots that I feel give the best taste of Chinatown without showing the crowds.
Unfortunately our favorite frozen dumpling place was closed again and I think it may have moved. There was a sign on the front but it was in Chinese and I did not understand it.

Total mileage for a "not-insignificant" ride": 21.1 miles. This, by the way, bums out the kids as they can no longer view 20 miles as a long ride.