Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Squirrels in Class

With renovation come problems. Most buildings wind up with some sort of issues with mice or rats or insect-type vermin as the property is torn apart and reconstructed. We have issues with squirrels.

Several years ago, squirrel-proof screens were installed on the windows in my suite. These worked very well until this autumn, when they were removed so that the windows could be replaced. All of sudden the squirrels were anxious to get into school. Blog readers have suggested that maybe they are looking for a job. Since my office seemed to be their main destination, the theory made sense. Until today. Now I think that they are looking for a diploma.

This morning started with the usual this and that all preventing me from actually setting in until about an hour after arrival. By 9:15 I was finally sitting down to do some paperwork and was just getting into it when my phone rang. "Mrs. Squid, there is a squirrel in my room and I heard that you were the person to call," said the trembling voice on the phone. "On my way!" I responded, stopping only to alert the custodian and grab a garbage can. What I am planning to do with the can I can only guess. After years of experience in this field, I know that it is unlikely that I will be able to trap it with a recycling bin. Still, one can always hope.

As I enter the room I am greeted by excited students and the teacher points to a furry object in the closet. At first I do not see the tail for what it is -- it just looks like a shadow and I think that someone is playing a joke on me. Then it moves. Knowing what might come next, I tell the teacher to take the class to the library and give dirty looks to the kids who want to grab their jackets from the closet. This, by the way, is when my students prove that they have no knowledge of animal craft as they chatter and yelp their way out of the room. City kids.

The custodian arrives and, after assessing the situation, sends for his trap. He flushes the squirrel out of the closet and we watch as it limps along the floor. In to a corner it goes and then it goes right to ... the radiator housing. We are feeling pretty sorry for this guy. He appears to be hurt and we want to get him back outdoors where he can nurse his wounds, and leave us alone. Once inside the radiator housing, however, it attempts to climb the inside walls to the second floor. Fear flashes across our faces as we realize that we might have sent it up to the Junior High School. Oops. Something, however, prevents the squirrel from getting higher then about 4 feet off the ground, and we see it descend back to our level. At this point it seems prudent for us to leave the poor guy alone and we make a quiet exit -- and I grab the students jackets.

Having returned the jackets and reassured the students that we will not kill the squirrel I try to continue with my day. A sign is posted on the door of the affected room, directing the next class to a different room. Just before the next period is due to begin I get the urge to check the trap. Lo and behold it is closed and our poor furry friend is trapped inside. A quick trip to the park and up a tree he runs.

Will he be back tomorrow? Does he really want a diploma or just a potato chip? And how many of his friends are in our pipe casings?

How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?

Um ... take the C train? (Any one out there not know the punch line?)

Last night started the second half of our subscription season at Carnegie Hall. On the program, the New World Symphony with guest cellist, Yo Yo Ma. This concert was a lot of fun for a number of reasons.

First, I have never knowingly heard any of the pieces that were performed so they all held my attention.

Second, watching Yo Yo Ma perform was just amazing. Last year we saw a number of young soloists and I was amazed at the differences in performance styles. Yo Yo Ma kept me amazed and guessing throughout the performance.

Third, the bagels. Yup, the bagels. The piece that Yo Yo Ma performed was Shostakovitch's Cello Concerto No. 2 in G Major, Op 126. The program notes for this piece speak about a part of the final movement in the following terms: "... Next comes a scherzo, a kind of jazz dance based on an Odessa street cry: "Bagels, buy our bagels ..."" So when Yo Yo Ma and the conductor came out for their bows holding bagels, half the audience burst in to laughter ... the other half was just confused. I am so glad that I read the program notes before the piece so that I got the joke.

We were also honored with a pre-intermission encore which I have never witnessed before. Way cool. Oh, and the kids were home ... it was an adult evening out. We are nice parents but not that nice. Both kids prefer opera to a straight instrumental concert.


On a side note, if anyone was planning on donating to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Squidette recently completed a Math-a-thon and has a donation page up here. She already held up politely asked and received pledges from most of her aunts and uncles so her school obligations are now fulfilled. This is not one of those big blog-drives ala' the Yarn Harlot, just a small PSA. No obligations, no goals. Just, if you already were planning on donating for some strange reason then here is a link to do it through. Really, I'll let you know when I really need your help. I like this organization and support it myself. 'Nuf said.

Tune in tomorrow for the latest Squirrel story. It's short, sweet and telling of the time we live in. And there are pictures!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Back to School Blues

I love my job but I hate going back after a vacation. Everyone is somewhat out of sorts and that includes my own squidlings. One greeted me this morning with an "I'm very emotional this morning" and the other burst in to tears four times before he got to school. One was put to rights with a hug and a cup of tea -- and a "isn't puberty grand," and the other with a new lunch box, a strap for said lunch box (actually an old lunch box dug out of the closet), a pile of clean shirts and a promise that the wet spot on his pants would dry (very wet snow fell from the car on to his pants).

Once at work I dealt with an issue that had kept me awake all night. One of those "dang, I forgot to do X before the break and it is going to really mess me up now" moments. After 2 hours of my assistant dealing with it she suddenly realized that yes, I had asked her to do it before the break and not only that, but she had dealt with it before break and we were not in trouble. In other words, I had done what I thought I had forgotten to do and she had done what I thought I forgot to tell her to do. So, tonight I am exhausted all because I was actually properly efficient. I just hate when that happens.

My new windows are in and look good. The site supervisor made nice to us and did all of the finishing work. The classrooms got the finishing piecemeal -- windows one week, plastering the next, painting the third week and finally shades. I came back to plastered, sealed windows with shades ... and a good squirrel story.

Apparently, while they had the windows out, the squirrels came in and ran all around the suite of offices. They even set off the building alarm system when stowaways escaped into the corridor. Finally, they were herded out a side door. Evidence of their presence was on my desk. Blech!

And now it is Tuesday and I will have the pleasure of seeing Yo Yo Ma at Carnegie Hall tonight. Weeee!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Another Break, More Finished Objects

At the start of the mid-winter recess I mentioned my knitting goals for the break. I am pleased to announce that not only did I finish all of my break knitting, I also started and almost finished one additional project -- new felted clogs for Squidette -- and finished felting my Boogaj bag. Pictures of the bag will appear after I have inserted the strap.

So, in order of finishing, I present ...

Bumblebee Scarf, as modeled by Little Squid. Now he has matching hat, scarf and mittens though the mittens did not join the hat and scarf on the ski slope in sub-freezing weather.Mystery Project. I show you the cakes of yarn to prove that they were used. Mystery Project will be revealed in a week or so after Papa has had a chance to use them in school.

Tulip and Gingham socks for Squidette. These were started several months ago and completed on Friday night.Mermaid socks for Mama Squid. Knit out of Cabin Cove yarn -- my one and only skein. Dave, I need a fix! Just not a lace weight fix, thank you.

And work was done on the third school blanket. There are not yet enough blocks for an entire blanket but I pieced together a few of the odder shaped blocks in to one larger block.A new pair of socks is on the needles and I should finish the clogs by Wednesday with felting on Sunday.

Tomorrow, back to work in the snow and slush. Yick! I really dislike commuting in this kind of weather and NYC simply does not close schools for less than a foot of snow.

Some Quick Thoughts

One: from a squid point of view, this site is a great place to waste time.

Two: from a squirrel point of view, this article is enlightening.

Three: I received an email from the site supervisor for the school construction job. He let me know that he was careful to put the baby squirrels in to my desk drawer when they replaced my windows. Love a contractor with a sense of humor.

Four: Photos of all the finished objects from this break will be posted later today. For those in need of some quick knowledge ... I finished all of the projects I set forth, and then some.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Spinning in Circles

I love to spin but have done very little of it this week due to our travels. Currently, I own three wheels and a charka as well as sundry and assorted spindles.

recently asked for opinions on the Journey Wheel and I chirped in with mine. Short version, noisy but I love it. During last summer's renovations it was the only wheel I had accessible and so I did a fair amount of spinning on it. Usually I save it for plying and it makes a great side-table next to my knitting chair.

My other wheels are my Minstral,

and my Louet S-10 which now kind of belongs to Squidette and is buried in the back of a closet where I cannot easily take a picture of it. It went there last summer and I have yet to excavate all that was stored in that closet.

My charka, also a Journey Wheel (notebook size). Love it! I may even take it traveling with me this summer.

Also on the spinning front ...our new bike trainer. The old one bit the dust right before the break. You should know that I spin while I spin. I have a spindle project that is designated specifically for exercise time. I picked up this roving in Lancaster, PA last summer and am just about ready to start the third spindleful.In my purse and designated for laundry time is one of my Bosworth spindles with some lucious silk on it. I started this silk two years ago and recently decided to fast track it so that I could rip the shawl I started and restart with Eunny's Print O' the Wave pattern. I am thinking that it would be a good carry-along during our travels this summer. Yes, we are already thinking summer here at Casa del Calamar. Since Squidette did not make it in to the program she was trying for, we have decided to dispense with camp and spend the money on travel instead. Montreal and the surrounding area is leading in the polls due to the extensive bikeways present in Quebec. It would also give the kids a chance to finally use their passports. Add to that a trip out "west" to Indiana (and Kentucky if my brother-in-law stays put) and our annual jaunt to Pennsylvania Dutch Country and the summer is filling up nicely. My sister tells me that her town has added miles and miles of bike paths so another journey to New Hampshire should also be in order. I'm getting excited just typing this! Now to figure out what knitting to take ...

For you long haired bikers out there ... how do you get your hair off your back without interfering with your helmet? Cutting is not an option right now. On the trainer I can pin it up but then I do not bother with a helmet on the trainer since there is no way the bike can fall.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Home Again

And my urge to blog in rhyme is gone. Sorry.

The last few days were wonderful. My sister and her husband are great people and my nephew is just the cutest, sweetest baby I have ever met ... since my own.We all gained new skills and new confidences on the ski slopes and grew as people. Originally, Little Squid did not want to ski this year after coming up short in comparison to Squidette the year before. To get him to take the lessons, I had to promise to do the same. Since I do not believe in breaking promises to kids, Papa and I took a semi-private lesson. (We shared it with each other.) We got lucky and had the same instructor as last year -- and she even remembered us! Despite the easiest slope being closed, she got us up and down the mountain twice.

At the end of the first day, three squid had descended the easiest available beginner trail and all had found it kind of scary. Two squid opted for not skiing on the second day, one got up his courage and promised to go down the mountain and the last squid wanted to ski but only on the bunny slope. That same squid was a bit offended by her stanza in yesterday's verse so here is her correction:

Squidette found her place
On the Bunny Hill

And went up the rope tow

With balance and skill.
She also kept an eye on her brother and let us know when he went up the mountain. This guaranteed a cheering section when he came back down.

This morning we were all up early and hit the road before 9:00. Others would have stayed and skied some more but we are home-squid and wanted to be in our own abode by dinner time.

Once home, laundry had to be done.

This is how many wool socks Squid wear in sub-freezing weather.They are now scattered around the apartment on top of convector units, drying.

On the way home we passed this "tree." Any of you have cell trees in your neck of the woods?
Knitting did get done. As you can tell, Little Squid's scarf was ready for skiing. Also finished was the mystery project. That project will only be revealed after it has first been used for its (their) intended purpose. The first mermaid sock is done and I fully expect to get to the heel of the second sock today. We Squid go to the dentist en masse and I have the dubious pleasure of being the last one in the chair, so lots of knitting time.

Later, pictures of the blocks for the latest school blanket and of my Journey Wheel.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


As I sit with my laptop
Typing one-handed
My nephew, he coos
And acts like he planned it.

While mommy went skiing
and so did the cousins
Nephie and I
communed with the dozens

Of family members
Left behind in the lodge
While their others were
Weaving and doing the dodge

Around those cute moguls
And under the lifts
Waving at mothers
Watching in shifts.

Up on the mountain
One child, he did
Ascend and descend,
My Little Squid.

He conquered his fear
And rode up the lift
And down he did ski
Really, quite swift

Squidette found her place
on a small little slope
and amused herself silly
that cute little dope.

And hence ends our tale
Of Squid on their Skis
This might be repeated
But you have to say Please.

Monday, February 19, 2007

A Day on Squid Mountain

And so our intrepid Squid took to the slopes,
The weather was cold But they knew the ropes.

The Squidlings they went off to camp without stressin’
And Mama and Papa joined up for a lesson.

And ‘lo did the have the same teacher as last
Who assumed that Mama should just have passed.

But with grit and with vigor Mama stuck to her guns
And treated the spectators to two very slow runs.

Down the mountain she came, terrified all the while
Greeted by Papa with a very large smile.

The parents they took to the lodge for some lunch
While the Squidlings enjoyed a late morning brunch.

Then off to the mountain did Squidette then go
And partially up slogged our Little Squid, Oh!

A little bit scared and a little bit frightened,
The Squidlings still ended the day somewhat brightened.

They made themselves proud even though they were scared
And came home to hugs from the people who cared.

And so ends day one of the Squids’ winter journey,
We hope no one returns to New York on a gurney.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Squid in the Snow

(With apologies to Dr. Seuss)

In the land of the Squid
In the time of the Snow
The Squidlings once begged
It is time we did go.

To visit our brethren
To frolic and flee
From the dirt of the City
They said it to me.

And so we departed
Like Squid all a fire
And started our trip
To the mountains of 'Shire.

We drove through the morning
And almost 'til noon
When we thought we would stop
To pick up a spoon.

For food we did need
The poor Squidlings creeled.
And so we did stop,
In the Land of Springfield.

What sights we did see,
The kids they did chertle
To see Papa's sock
Near Yertle the Turtle.

Then 'round the next corner
The Squidlings, they flew
To see the next sight,
Thing One and Thing Two.

Then Little Squid gasped
And laughed with the fun
To see the Who
On the elephant, Horton.

Having seen their brass friends,
The Squid picked up the pace
They kept on driving
As if in a race.

A race to the snow
To the powder so deep
That a Shepard could easily
Lose track of her sheep.

When finally long gone
From the City they'd fled
The Squidlings they finally did,
Climb on a Sled.

Through the snow they did slide
And floundered around
And the Doggies did help them
Get off of the ground.

Then in to the house
They went with all a buzzin'
To have a good time
With their littlest cousin.

More fun in the snow
Will follow this post
But now we must munch
on Hot Chocolate and Toast.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Goals for the Week

We Squid are now enjoying our mid-winter recess. Today was a quiet day as we ran errands and cleared the decks for the rest of the week. My folks came in for some quality visiting time and a private concert by the Squidlings. Tomorrow we get busy! With that said, I have major knitting goals for this week.

I absolutely, positively, must finish this scarf by the end of tomorrow. Got to be able to distinguish my Little Squid in the snow!Next up is this:
What is it? I'm not telling! All I will say is that Papa needs it as a teaching prop by the time school starts up again.

As for these, well they have a chance of being finished but the two projects above will take priority as of tomorrow morning.And Mermaid? She will see plenty of progress when I need to switch to smaller needles. Only half an inch to go before starting the toe decreases!

Other yarns are waiting in the background in case I finish all of these. Any bettors out there? Will I finish all four projects? Will I flake out and start a fifth before any are done? And what about Naomi?

Friday, February 16, 2007

Squidly Office

I had the opportunity the other day to photograph the controlled chaos that is Z's office. It is far more creative and much more interesting then my own office, so I thought I'd share.


Captain Underpants, Klein Bottle

ChthuluDust Puppy, Egg Kalidescope, Magic 8 Ball

Papa Squid is a unique teacher. If you ever bump into someone who graduated from Stuyvesant High School after 1992, ask them about Mr. Z. You should get some interesting stories.

Feel free to ask questions about the various bits and pieces. Most have interesting stories behind them.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Walk in the Snow Slush

Today was one of those rare work days when I was not at school at all due to back to back meetings downtown. Since I hate to drive and park in that area, I did what any sane New Yorker would do, I took the subway.

On my way back uptown for another appointment I decided to treat you all to some pictures of "Manhattan, the Day After."Not a pretty sight.

O.k., we do have some beauty ...
Central Park
(Courtesy of my totally flaking and winding up on the wrong train and thus having to walk across town in subfreezing temperatures.)
Wollman Rink (site of my Aunt and Uncle's first date)

The Pan Am MetLife Building (And the really pretty building in front of it)

The Chrysler Building -- my absolute favorite in terms of architecture.

Neat sculpture -- see the snow?
There are more but it is bedtime now. Tune in tomorrow for ... The Kiss!