Thursday, October 30, 2008

Twas the night before Halloween ...

... and it took three, count em, three tries to get my nails orange. The first attempt included black stripes that I decided looked stupid. The second attempt was destroyed by my desire to get my comforter into it's new cover before my nails were totally dry. The third attempt looks o.k. and that is all that matters since they will be a wreck after 2 hours of searching backpacks tomorrow morning.

While maintaining a stance as a "rhymes with witch" at school regarding Halloween frivolity, I do have some fun with it. Orange nails. Orange silk shirt, black slacks and my rat race scarf. Pumpkin earrings and matching hair sticks.

I try.

Now to master tying a bow tie by trick-or-treating time. This year was a unique, no-sew Halloween. The only two items to be made utilized hot glue and an iron. Yes, I promise pictures.

Happy Halloween!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Marathon Closures

Consider this a PSA for Central Park users:

The New York City Road Runners organization has closed a section of the Central Park Drive to pretty much all serious users except, of course, runners. They can use the foot path. Those of us who ride or skate, however, are out of luck. As of this evening one could not ride in the roadway between 72nd Street and 59th Street. It will be interesting to see if I can even get into the park at 59th Street tomorrow morning.

Please note that I noticed this today. It may have started yesterday but I would not know because it rained and I drove to work.

This closure is so they can put up all of the gimmickry that they use in the marathon. They started building the grandstands late last week -- those block part of the pedestrian path, so everyone is being put out, not just those of us on wheels.

If, in the next few days, I am hit by a car on a section of street that is bypassing the closed section of the park, I will hold the Road Runners responsible. I'm that angry.

Forget that NYC, and particularly Manhattan, will be impossible to navigate on Sunday. They are already making life difficult for the rest of the park-using public.

How dare they!

Biking events in NYC shut down streets for a limited (as in maybe a few hours) period of time. But to shut down a significant part of Manhattan for days???

This is why Mike will not run in the marathon. Consider it a personal boycott.

Oh, and it really messes with our plans to circumnavigate the borough on Sunday. Or, frankly, do any sizable ride that does not involve New Jersey.

Rant over. Back to your regularly scheduled, happy go lucky blog.

Warm Hands!

This morning I tricked my bike out with these babies. Moose Mitts!

The temperature outside was 41 degrees (Farenheit, if you care) but the wind chill brought it to about 25. On my legs I wore regular biking tights and wind pants (with handknit wool socks, of course). On top, a long sleeve base layer, a sweat shirt and a midweight bike jacket. On my head, a fleece balaclava (and helmet!) and on my hands, a pair of full-fingered bike gloves that are really the liners for a heavier glove.

As I pedaled up town, I immediately felt the difference. The wind was fairly strong but my hands were not feeling it at all. By the time I left Central Park, I had to remove the gloves and ride bare handed in the mitts.

I'm in love! I want to get them for all the bikes now so we can all ride in comfort.

The worst part of cold weather riding for me is the cold hands and cold ears. The balaclava solves the ears -- though I have a new set of ear muffs to try -- and now the Moose Mitts really solve the hands.

I can see needing a bit more coverage once the temps drop lower but the glove liners should do me to the low 30s or even lower.

Yup. I'm really in love here. Welcome to my wonderful world!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Prettiful Blanket

Need I say more?

(Yarn: Cascade 220, In progress for roughly 6 months.)

The Next Generation ...

"I have five pencils and two erasers. Is that enough?"

"Add a couple of pens."

"We're not allowed to use pens."

"Add a couple of pens."

"We're not allowed to use pens."

"Add a couple of pens."

Yup. She's nervous. If you are feeling generous, send lots of warm thoughts to all of the young people who will be standing outside in the cold and damp waiting to take the SHSAT today. Over the next few weekends, close to 40,000 8th graders will test for roughly 4,000 spots. Gulp!

That's what Squidette is up to today, accompanied by Papa Squid.

Little Squid and I are heading up to my school where he will audition for the borough-wide band (really just for his placement, he's guaranteed a spot) and I will clean a book room and my office.

Off to start the day!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tour de ???

(On the left, Yankee Stadium. On the right, Yankee Stadium.)
(Left - Old, Right - New)

We were supposed to ride the Tour de Bronx today. We even started it. After waiting for 2 hours in the cold. Then, after a slow start, the Tour paused again. For at least 15 minutes.
(Waiting in the cold)

We looked at each other, shivering and shaking, and started to back track to the porta-potties we'd spied a quarter mile back . Shortly before reaching what turned out to be really disgusting porta potties (don't ask!) we discovered friends sitting, injured, on the ground. One was o.k., the other had been rear-ended and had chipped a tooth and injured her wrist. They arranged for transport, we waited on line for the above mentioned facilities and then did not use them (yeah, immagine the worst you can and then add excrement). Then we consulted a map and our GPS and made our way home after only 2.5 miles of the tour. It wasn't fun and it was not worth being unhappy.

We had a lovely ride home over the Third Avenue Bridge and across town on 125th Street and the kids agreed that they could indeed do a long ride in these temperatures provided that standing around for 2 hours and stop and go riding was not in the mix.
(Riding bundled up. It really was a glorious day to ride.)

After examining the situation -- when we were riding, Little Squid was leading our pack and quickly making his way to the front of the ride -- we have decided to forgo future rides like this, save perhaps the Tour de Brooklyn.

Our family pace is a bit faster then this kind of ride is geared for but still too slow for the longer ride that went with it (and started at the same time and hence subject to the same delays). There was nothing wrong with this ride, per se, except for the long delay in the start which leaving us shivering in the cold (The ride started almost an hour after scheduled). It just was not what we wanted today.

The ride home, in the glorious sunshine with no stops from 125th Street to 27th Street, was lovely and we were dressed quite appropriately for riding in temperatures in the high 40s. We all had balaclavas (nicknamed Baclavas) and the kids wore jackets purchased for me (over their fleeces). (Squidette wore my brand new riding jacket, Little Squid wore a rain jacket that turned out to be too short in sleeve for me but was never returned, I wore an old biking jacket of Mike's and Mike wore his own stuff.) We were all layered and everyone was shedding a layer or gloves or something before we reached home. Except for me. I'm always cold.

We are planning a ride for two weeks from today. Just us and some friends. If we can figure out a way to avoid the Marathon ...

Next weekend? The Specialized High School Admissions Test, Borough-wide band auditions and ... Apple Picking!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tipping the Balance

When Mike was about to celebrate his twenty-first birthday, he stated, unequivocally that the probability of him remaining "under 20" was far greater then the probability of him being older then 21.

Well the birthday came and went and, indeed, he was older then 20. He continued to maintain his stance on this, well ... until right now.

Here we are, a scant 20 years later and the balance is about to tip the other way. Having just asked him about this, I can honestly say that he is no longer in denial.

I have to tell you, this insistence on taking a stance and sticking to it is one of the traits that (now) endears him to me.

Long time readers know just how much I love my husband. Just thinking about him brings a tear to my eye and a smile to my face. Even when I'm irked with him.

On his birthday we will "celebrate" by riding the Tour de Bronx.

So, if you happen to come across a large group of bikers tomorrow (in the Bronx, of course) shout out a Happy Birthday to Papa Squid. And say hi to the rest of us!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Shameless Begging

As you know, I recently started at a new (to me) school. This is a school with a whole lot of potential and ... no knitting club.

A few of the girls are knitting -- one of the nearby after school programs is teaching it -- which has set the stage. More want to learn. One of our teachers approached me about starting up a knitting club and I'm all ready to jump right in. Except ...

When I left my old school, I donated all of the supplies to the middle school in the same building. I had no place to store them over the summer and it was the only solution at the time. And it was a good one since I had no way to know where I would wind up and, if I would be able to start another club. The school that receive the supplies had an active knitting club and will use the materials well.

Well, here I am in a new place and the need for this kind of club is acute. The kids want a creative outlet and we can provide it -- it a little bit of help.

I plan on doing some shopping this weekend -- inexpensive needles and the cheapest yarn I can find. The teacher who approached me is doing some corporate level begging while I am doing it the "old fashioned" way. Reaching out to you, my readers.

If you have yarn that is looking for a new home or needles that you have set aside in favor of flashier ones ... we can provide a good place for them.

If you can help, please contact me via the email address in the sidebar and I will provide mailing information.

For all of your help in the past, and for anything that comes in now, I thank you!


As a general rule, I try to keep work out of the blog. Since this is not an anonymous endeavor, I have to be careful. My identity is out there -- as is the identity of my new school and the old one. There will be no stories of the kids -- I can't go there -- except to share things that make the news anyway (and only in a positive way).

Monday, October 13, 2008

You Know They are Growing ...

... when you actually have to think about if the jeans you just took from the dryer are hers ... or yours.

Makes sorting the laundry a tad more difficult. But not too much.

We have had a nice, quiet, 3 day weekend here in NYC. The first two days were sunny and warm and we did ... nothing. Barely even got out except to run some errands.

Except for Squidette. She had a mock test in preparation for the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT if you care). The test is in less then two weeks. Gulp! Lot of pressure when both of your parents and 5 of your 6 aunts and uncles and one grandparent went to specialized high schools (two schools between the 7 of us).

She also had an annoying project that required hourly recording over an entire day. We helped. I have no problem helping if I feel the project is unreasonable in its expectations and this one expected a 13 year old to be out doors for 8 hours recording the position of the sun using a homemade sundial. In New York City. Where you can't just leave the sundial and return every hour.

We fudged it -- used a windowsill on the east side of the apartment and the balcony on the west side. The teacher did say they could use a window if they absolutely had to.

This leads us to today where I declared "we are going for a ride!"

And we did.

It was so quiet on the paths and, even on the streets, that you almost forgot you were in New York.

We rode up to the Intrepid and then down and around the tip of the island, cutting across (from East to West) via the Greenmarket where we scored some leeks for tonight's dinner.

Pastries were also made but I misplaced my camera after documenting them. Oh well, blog fodder for tomorrow.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Projects, Projects, Projects

I've been a busy girl this week.

I finally procured the yarn that I need to finish the work on Squidette's blanket ... and am actually working on it.

I added a few inches to the fabric on the loom ...

And I did some dying.I was trying to go for a gradient from violet to burgundy with some black dyed for contrast but did not really succeed. Now I'm thinking that the burgundy and the black will make for a nice log cabin weave pattern ... after I finish all the merino pieces I have planed for the loom.

And there you have it. I do still knit and weave ... and duplicate stitch.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Synagogue Shuffle

Last night I persuaded my kids to join me for the Kol Nidre service (the service that starts Yom Kippor). It has been a few years since I last attended the evening service and I thought the kids might appreciate it now -- if not from a religious stand point then from a musical one.

This particular service is one of the most moving and most beautiful of the year and the melody to the Kol Nidre prayer is simply breathtaking when done well.

Fast forward to the end of the service, yes they appreciated it, particularly the parts played by the cellist. Yes, part of Kol Nidre was perfomed on the cello. Obviously we are not orthodox.

Between the start of the service and the Kol Nidre prayer, we were approached by the head usher who asked if Squidette or I could help out in the balcony* for 20 minutes or so -- they were short ushers. As we had Little Squid with us, Squidette agreed to go while I stayed in the sanctuary with Little Squid.

Squidette did not return. At some point I was informed that my daughter had opted to continue with her ushering duties upstairs so I sat back and let myself get into the rest of the service.

When the service ended, Little Squid and I waited for Squidette to come downstairs and, after waiting quite a while, we finally went upstairs to help her clean up and reshelve the prayer books.

As we finally made to leave I offered our services for the following morning (Squidette and I had ushered for Rosh Hashanah services both this year and last year) and our offer was enthusiastically accepted as they were not quite sure of the reliability of some of the volunteers. When we arrived this morning, the head usher decided that the three of us (Little Squid was along for the ride) would have the balcony all to ourselves. And so we did. With hundreds of congregants.

At one point this morning, Little Squid commented "It's like a real life Diner Dash," refering to how quickly we were finding seats for people (it was 45 minutes into the service and people kept coming) and handing out the prayer books.

What I discovered today is that my son is just like me. He thrives on this kind of thing. Even without breakfast.

Once again my kids made me proud. Squidette seated people on her own (it involved asking others to make way and asking if seats were occupied by people in the bathroom) and she held her own even though those she was working with out aged her by at least 20 years on average. One congregant came right up to me and praised her. Little Squid held his own when people tried to push past him when they should have stayed in the back (during certain parts of the service we do not seat people). Me? Well I showed how graceful I am when I missed two steps at the bottom of the balcony and took a magnificent spill, catching myself against the metal railing. I will have some nice bruises on my arm and side tomorrow and my foot is a bit stiff from the turn. But I'm o.k., really!

It was a good day and my caffine / no food headache is just about gone. That said, I will not fall asleep tonight because of the naps and late consumption of caffine.

* Our synogue used to be a movie theater and the seats in the balcony are still movie theater seats on steps (hence my ability to miss the two narrow ones at the bottom). For large services like on the high holy days congregants sit in the main sanctuary, the balcony and the auditorium adjacent to the sanctuary where the portable wall opens up so that people can see and hear. There are also services for newer members in the basement and the clergy moves between the services. Then there is the fact that we run early and late services that are identical. There are that many congregants and they are all "high holy day" Jews.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Battle to the Death

We recently restocked the apartment with the important things in life. Meat, milk, pasta, apples and M&Ms.

As I was happily scarfing down a handful, my ever knowledgeable husband steered me to this article.

Which led my children to do this ...

No, we're not weird ... really!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Empty Needles

See those shiny things on top of the big yellow blob?

Yup, empty needles on top of completed knitting.

What? You want to see the knitting?

Be patient. There are still many ends to hide and much highlighting to be done.

Give me another month or so!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

She's Back!!!

As I rode downtown today I passed the usual sights -- Tavern on the Green, Metropolitan Hospital and the new sanitation facility. Then, as I cleared the cruise ship terminal, I saw it. And I cheered. Loudly. And pumped my arm in the air. And cheered again, and again!

The Intrepid is back after over a year's absence and we are happy. Mike saw it coming from the harbor -- his classroom has a good view of the lower river. Apparently he actually stopped his lesson so they could watch the Intrepid come home.

So, if you saw any of the news reports and saw a strange biker in the background in a bright yellow jacket fighting the wind and shouting. Yeah, that was me. I'm very happy that the Intrepid is back. The hole in my cityscape has been refilled.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Three Bears ...

When the kids were young, we spent hours and hours at the various playgrounds around town. My mother-in-law was a firm believer in getting out and about with the kids starting from infancy. Since she was our child care -- and frankly spent as much or even more time with them then we did -- what she said went (within reason -- but I never found anything out of reason).

One of her favorite spots to take them was the Three Bears Playground in Central Park. When they were tiny she'd sit on a bench and read while they people watched or slept and later, she would follow them around as they navigated the bears and other equipment on toddling legs. Later on, she would sit reading a book while they bounced around on their own.

Yesterday, after services and lunch with friends, we decided to walk across Central Park. As we entered at 79th Street we greeted our friends, The Three Bears. And then the kids decided that they needed to get more intimate with them.

The following pictures just make me smile. I hope they do the same for you. (And I have no idea who the other kid is -- she was just enjoying the bears.)