Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fabulous Fourteen!

Happy Birthday, Little Squid! May all your math classes be sensible!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Eighteen pairs of socks: pair number 5 ... and another shawl

This is the busy season here ... concerts, proms, awards ... and, of course, knitting.

Saturday night Mike is taking me to his high school prom. My own was this past Friday and I am still recovering from the really late night followed by three early days. My body is no longer designed to gracefully handle a day on just 4 hours of sleep.

That said, the kids were wonderful, looked beautiful and handsome and acted like proper young adults. They made us proud to be their teachers.

On to the knitting ...

Butterfly Garden socks
Yarn: Knitpicks Stroll in Springtime Tonal
Intended recipient ... it's a secret!

Also finished, Annis.
Yarn: my own handspun cotton which ranged between cobweb and lace weight in thickness.
Spun on a Bosworth book-size charka
Detail shot

Those nupps were rather annoying ...

On the needles: sock pair 6 and pair 7 and the Lazy Kate shawl in cobweb weight, handspun silk.

Tomorrow is the Arista induction at Little Squid's school so pair 6 just might get finished.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

100 Miles of Nowhere Somewhere

Consider this an early entry into Fat Cyclist's 100 Miles of Nowhere

East Harlem High School Division

I work in a true inner-city high school. One that, in a few short years, will cease to exist and will remain only in the memories of the staff and students who came through its doors.

Most of our students come from less than ideal, one might even say, crummy, circumstances. Many of them have only one parent at home. Others have none. Too many of my students need a hug when they come in each day, a pat on the back, a kind word. Too many of them start off life at a disadvantage and, by the time they reach us, catching up is hard to do.

I’ve heard people say that the students in my school can’t do it. That they can’t come back from years and years of lost time. That my students are going Nowhere.

This is what I pondered as I debated whether or not to take part in this year’s 100 Miles of Nowhere. I know that the main purpose of the ride is to raise funds and awareness for cancer research but the idea of going Nowhere just resonated with me as a metaphor for what people say about the students I love.

Too many of my students have been told, repeatedly, that they are going Nowhere. That school is pointless because they are going Nowhere and that they should just give up. And too many of them do give up. Those that don’t, however … they wind up Somewhere. And their kids get a better chance in life.

It is tough working against so much ingrained negativity. But sometimes we get through to them. And when we get through, and the kid that was told they’d go Nowhere winds up Somewhere … well that’s when we realize that all the work was worth it. When the kid you were sure would drop out gives you a hug at graduation … well then you just have to wipe away the tears.

So, in the spirit of getting Somewhere while staying in the same place, I am dedicating my morning commute to my students. For 5.25 miles a day, most week days and a few Saturdays, from now until June 30th I promise to keep my mind on my kids (and a small part of it on the traffic around me) and do my best to figure out how to get them Somewhere. Because everyone deserves to be given the chance to go Somewhere.

Monday, May 16, 2011


"It was only a matter of time before I got doored."

I'd thought that only a day or two earlier.

Dooring, the act of a cyclist being hit by an opening car door, is a not unusual occurrence. Riding in and with traffic, an urban cyclist winds up passing hundreds of parked cars every day, thousands over the course of a year. Add to that all of the taxis that pull up into bike lanes or up near curbs to discharge passengers and it is kind of surprising that dooring does not happen more often.

Which is why I was not really surprised when it finally happened to me.

Riding home on Friday, I was negotiating my way south on a traffic-packed Ninth Avenue, picking my way between the cars and the left-hand curb (riding on the left is legal in NYC if the street is wider than 90 feet). This is my standard evening commute and I've done it probably close to a hundred times this academic year.

Somewhere around 45th Street (I really was not paying attention but I know I was south of 47th and north of 42nd) I slowly pedaled past a taxi at the corner of whatever street and Ninth Avenue. As traffic was crawling, I did not realize that the taxi was pulling over to discharge a passenger, as the curb lane is open to traffic at that time of day I thought that it was just another cab caught in traffic.

And then it happened.

The passenger opened her door without looking and caught the back of my bike.

In slow motion (or so it seemed), I fought to keep my balance and failed, falling with my bike toward the curb.

The passenger, it must be said, was apologetic and offered to help me up, staying a moment to make sure I was o.k. (I was).

Hauling myself and my bike onto the sidewalk, I rolled up my bike tights and checked the scrapes that I could feel starting to sting. Just a skinned knee and some really, really minor skin loss on my other shin. But boy they stung!

Nothing else appeared to be injured on my body though I knew that I'd caught myself with my left hand, so I expected a bruise or worse when I got back on the bike. Fortunately I was wrong.

Examining my trusty bicycle, I found the handlebars twisted this way and that and skewed on the stem. A quick application of my multi-tool put everything right and gave me a few moments to collect myself before reboarding and completing my commute.

Once at home I did a more through self-examination and put a couple of band-aids on my scrapes so they wouldn't rub against my jeans. No real damage done, though I could feel a nice bruise on my thigh and, just this morning, realized the my upper arm soreness was actually due to a handlebar shaped bruise.

Frankly, if I had to get doored, I'm glad that this is how it happened.

I was back on my bike the next day and even commuted in the rain today.

Didn't even lose my back blinky!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Eighteen pairs of socks: pair number 4 ... and a shawl

Dee commented (via facebook) that I had not blogged in a while. She was / is quite right and I have been selfish. You see ... pair number 4 of the eighteen pairs of socks was actually finished back in April while I was out of town. (Visiting is great for getting knitting done.)

So here you go ...

Eyelet Rib in Knitpicks Stroll Peapod. Sized for Youngest Sib's feet ... which mean they are sized for my feet. Yo Sis, you better come in and get them because I found them so cozy while doing the photo shoot that I'm tempted to keep them!

Also finished in April, the Pinkerton Shawl from the Spring 2011 Interweave Knits.

Modeled by Squidette but made for moi. It used about 600 yards of handspun two ply which came in between sock and sport weight.

On the wheel, a bump of Still River Mills wool meant for an interesting shawl that my Aunt found on Ravelry.
On the needles, another of the eighteen pair of socks intended for a friend and the Prairie Rain scarf from the Spring Interweave Knits out of my handspun Guanaco. This yarn has been aging in the stash for a few years.
Next on the needles, sock pair number 6 and either Annis (knitty via Cookie) or the shawl that my Aunt found (the name eludes me right now and I'm too lazy to pull up the PDF).
It's been a busy year both at work and at home and things will only get more hectic as we head into the last 7 weeks of school. Next week: presentations for a program Squidette is finishing, and concerts for both kids and Mitzvah Sunday. The following week: Squidette takes her first Advanced Placement exam. And, in the not too distant future: Little Squid's school concert (this week is Boro-wide), Little Squid's Arista Induction, an awards ceremony for Little Squid (we assume) and the same child's eighth grade graduation. Also, my school prom, Squidette's birthday (sweet sixteen -- no party), and possibly Mike's school prom. And who knows what else.
I'll try to post more often ... but really, I'm trying to live a bit more
in the moment, hence the drop off in posting.

Happy mother's day to my Mom and everyone else's mom!
Mom (holding Youngest Nephew) and Lil' Sis (holding Louis the Cat)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Eighteen pairs of socks: pair number three and three a

The sock knitting continues and, during my recent trip to San Francisco, I managed to finish two pair of socks.

O.k, I actually pretty much started and finished two individual socks but each individual completed a pair.

First up, from the Eighteen Pair of Socks splurge, Beaded rib in Knit Picks Stroll, color Dusk. Made for sibling the eldest and a Squidette size foot. (Women's socks in this house get made in 2 sizes, Squidette size (woman's medium) and Mama Squid size (woman's large). If I ever knit for my aunt, I'll have to make them a bit larger.

And second, pair 3A. The pattern is Snowflake from the Knit Picks Into the Woods sampler knit in a yummy alpaca, mohair, romeldale blend that I picked up from Still River Mill. The label says "local harvest" but I don't think that that is a color name. I think it means that the fibers were all local. ( I know the picture is awful. The socks just don't seem to lend themselves to my limited photography skills. They seem to absorb all the light.) Intended feet: Squidette. These are meant to be a little felted to keep her toes warm while rowing in cold weather. I still have to do the fulling.
Pair four is now on the needles. Color is Peapod, pattern is Eyelet Rib. Intended feet: Sibling the youngest. (Yo brothers mine, if you want socks, speak up before all the manly colors are gone!)

Pair 5 goes on the needles this evening. Color is Springtime Tonal, pattern is Butterfly Garden. Intended feet: secret.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Home spun and home grown

At this year's New York State Sheep and Wool Festival I encouraged the kids to choose fiber for new sweaters. Squidette chose a really pretty blue-purplish fluff from Blackberry Mills. After it was spun up, we calculated, roughly, how many yards there were and went pattern searching.

The winner? Flame from Runway Knits. Modified. A lot. Shorter ribbing all around, by Squidette's request and other mods made necessary by the limited amount of yarn.

As I knit the sweater, I quickly realized that the cables were using a lot more yardage than I expected (I think the original yarn is a bit thicker than my homespun even though I was able to get gauge).

So I pondered . . . and modified the twists by adding 2 rows between each one. This stretched the yarn a bit and I was actually happier with the hand of the fabric.

The I started the sleeves. And quickly realized that, as written, even with my already imposed modifications (shorter ribbing and the extended cables) I was going to run short of yarn. So I reknit the first sleeve 5 times, narrowing it each time (making sure it would still fit after each modification). And then I knit the second sleeve -- even narrower. And reknit the first sleeve one last time.

I sewed the shoulders together with regular sewing thread and then knit the neck (again, much shorter than the pattern called for, by request) and then finished sewing up the seams, again, with regular sewing thread ... because I had far too little yarn left. Yarn left over -- about 2 yards. Phew!

And there you have it. Flame, knit from my own triple ply homespun on my own home grown Squidette. Aren't they lovely!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Twenty Years

Twenty years ago I said,

I do.

But my heart was given

long before.

As fireworks rose,

long years ago,

Two became one,

never to part.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Squid on Wheels: So Smart ... Yet so Dumb!

A couple of months ago I bragged about how good I was getting at layering up for cold weather riding.

Well today I got dumb.

Early in the day I went for a walk with Little Squid. We wore our winter jackets and, without a hat and mittens, I was o.k., even a little warm.

But just a little.

A few hours later, Squidette walks in the door, returning from Sing! rehearsal.

"It's beautiful out, I have to go for a ride! Anyone coming with me?"

Without really thinking about it, Little Squid and I quickly agreed. (Mike was already out for a run.)

Squidette donned capris, a t-shirt and sweatshirt.

I looked at her. "That's all?"

"Yeah, it's nice out."

So, instead of checking temperatures for myself, I put on regular riding tights (not my uber warm Col d'Lizard tights), a regular short sleeved jersey and my Col d'Lizard fleece. I also wore full fingered gloves.

Little Squid wore jeans, a t-shirt and his new, green, fleece jacket.

Off we went with an agreement to meet up at the turn-around point.

Squidette quickly out paced Little Squid and I and, when we reconvened, 6.25 miles later, she was trying to warm up her hands. My ear was aching and I was getting a cold-weather induced headache because I had forgone an ear band.

The kids went into Fairway to warm up (and do some grocery shopping) and I stayed outside, watching the bikes and playing Angry Birds.

For the return trip, Little Squid took possession of my gloves. (Hey, isn't that what moms are supposed to do?).

By the time we got home my hands were so cold that I could not undo my helmet clasp.

I think I've finally warmed up but I am now so tired that staying awake until bedtime is almost unthinkable.

That said, it was a very nice ride.

Miles for the day: 12.5 miles
Squid on Wheels 2011: 12.5 miles.

Pilates Day 3

Yes, we seem to have gained a day in the space-time continuum ...

Squidette joined me for the third morning in a row as we went in search of stronger abs and such. We were, briefly, watched by Little Squid who, deciding that this was not as amusing as he'd been led to believe, retreated into his lair for the duration.

Lessons learned thus far:

1. My legs really needed a shave
2. As did other body parts
3. Rolling back and forth on ones spine can cause "rug" burn.
4. My daughter and I are equally inflexible. And neither of us can touch our toes.
5. It is much more fun to exercise with a partner.

That is all.

We are on a pilates hiatus until next Saturday or Sunday due to a completely mad schedule this week for Squidette and only a little less so for me.

Knitting? You came here for knitting? Ha!

Actually, there has been quite a bit of knitting, ripping, reknitting, reripping, rereknitting on Squidettes new sweater ... you'll see it if it is ever actually finished.

There has also been some weaving and spinning. Maybe I'll put the weaving up later if I get a chance to wash it and press it.

*** And for Dee ... NO pilates pictures! ;-)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Exercise. Blah!

I hate to exercise.

What! you say? The woman who crabs when she can't ride her bike to work -- she hates to exercise?

You bet. It's boring.

That said, I do it because, as with many things that I do, it's the right thing to do.

Yesterday, however, the fates were out to have fun with me.

After downing my morning tea, I donned bike gear and got ready to put in some time on the trainer.

But I couldn't find my bike shoes.

This is a Big Deal as the trainer (and my bike) is equipped with special pedals which require special shoes.

I search, half-heartedly, knowing that I'll have to find them eventually if only to ride to work next week (something that already seems destined not to happen).

I think about throwing in the towel (figuratively, I hadn't taken it out yet) when suddenly yoga seems like a good idea.

This leads to the tossing of the DVD / games cabinet. And the discovery that the DVD I want is missing from its case.

Stuck down on the floor, I continue tossing the cabinet in search of something, anything. Game pieces fly, Trivial Pursuit card sets get ejected and the children cringe in fright. (O.k., they were actually laughing at me.)

Aha! I proclaim, holding aloft a DVD. Pilates! Want to join me?

Squidette is game but Little Squid decides that a haircut will be more fun and hustles out of the apartment.

The games are scooped back into the cabinet, accompanied by mild cussing as I realized that the huge set of Mozart CDs still has to go back.

Everything back in its place (with the exception of those Trivial Pursuit cards ... I have plans for them) I start moving the coffee table off to the side to make room.

Uggh! Our coffee table rests too low to the rug to vacuum under -- use your imagination.

Out comes the vacuum and then, finally, down go the yoga mats.

Half an hour or so of hilarity ensues as Squidette and I try to get our bodies to perform as those on the screen.

We finish up and vow to do it again. Then I go in search of my bike shoes. (I found them)

Today, we did it again. We might even get good at this if we keep it up.

*No Squid were seriously harmed in the writing of this post though a couple of us have some aching muscles.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Eighteen pairs of socks: pair number two

Knitpicks Stroll, color: agate heather
Pattern: Gingham
Knit for: Little Squid

Now on the needles, a "purse knitting" pair in blue for one of my siblings and a more complicated pair for Squidette. For my other siblings ... you didn't ask! If you ask, you'll go into the queue. :-)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Clean Sweep!

The New York City high school application process is fraught with stress.

First there are months of test preparation for those who want to try for the prestigious specialized high schools. (Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech and their newer, smaller, somewhat lesser brethren.)

Then you have to take the test.

Weeks of tours and open houses follow. You wait on long lines in the cold and sit in hot, overcrowded classrooms rooms, trying to catch the flavor of the schools. Interviews, in-house tests and auditions stretch over months and, finally, the students and their parents spend hours putting the contenders into just the right order on the application.

Finally, just as one has almost forgotten the pain of the process, comes the count down to The Day.

The Day is differs, depending on whether one applied to a specialized school or not. For those who took the test and, or auditioned for LaGuardia High School of the Arts (Performing Arts of Fame! fame), The Day is today. For everyone else ... it's another month or so away.

And so, it is with a mother's deepest pride that I must present for your admiration, Little Squid.

Class of 2015 -- either LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts (accepted in both vocal and instrumental studios), Stuyvesant High School (alma mater of Mama Squid, Papa Squid and all sorts of Squid aunts and uncles and, current home school of Squidette) or Eleanor Roosevelt High School.

Way to go kid!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pie ... followup

The pie was a big success. The kids were surprised that I actually brought in pie. I think, however, that it was not a huge hit for the young person who had never had pie before. It was far too sweet.

I did make sure that he knew that not all pies were quiet as sweet as these were.

They might even be disappointed that I am not their computer lab supervisor for next semester.

Classes end for the term on Monday and State exams start on Tuesday. I have lots and lots of student programming to do, much of it dependent on the outcome of next Friday's exam. This means that most of what I do from now until the 31st is a guess and a prayer and it also means that I'm practically sleeping in school on the 31st because the new term officially starts the next day and the kids need their programs. Sigh.

I think I'm going to do some knitting ...

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Tomorrow is not pi day but rather the next to last day of the term. And I have pie. 2 of them, actually. Why? Because a couple of students in my class let it be known that they'd never eaten pie. Since part my job as an educator is to expand my students' horizons and provide them with new experiences, I bought pie.

No, I did not bake, nor did I make Mike or Squidette bake. Instead I am providing pie a la Costco. (And not a la mode -- no way to store ice cream.)

(No, I am not actually teaching this term. Rather, I have two computer lab sections that alternate with each other. Monday's section is getting cookies. The pies won't last over the weekend and I am not making a second trip to Costco.)

Oh, and I fixed my son's oboe.

Super Mommy strikes again!

(No more finished socks, I've been side-lined by a bug and by Squidette's new scarf.)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Eighteen pairs of socks: pair number one

The first completed pair, meant to adorn my own feet. Knit in Knit Picks Stroll, color: golden glow tonal. Busy Bees pattern from the Into the Woods sock sampler.

They feel very soft and cozy and I look forward to wearing them to work next week.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Eighteen Pairs of Socks

Over the break I had some major nesting issues. I was like a squirrel who needed to stock up on all sorts of stuff for the winter. I placed a huge Col d'Lizard order and a less expensive but even larger Knitpicks order.

I do not usually order yarn on line. I only do it if there is something very specific I need for a project and can't easily get locally. When I knit Squidette's last blanket, I special ordered the yarn from one of my LYS's and paid a premium for it instead of going for the cheaper option on line. I'd really rather support my local businesses but ...

I'd been "window" shopping at Knitpicks a few weeks ago and saw a couple of sock kits that were calling out to me. All of the patterns looked really nice and I'd heard good things about the yarns. I put them in a shopping cart and let them sit there until the urge passed.

Then I got the email.

Two of the kits were now on sale.

I went to the site and discovered that all of the kits I'd picked out were still in my shopping cart. (yea cookies?!)

At that point I decided it was meant to be and hit "complete purchase."

I am now the proud owner of enough yarn to make 18 pairs of socks (not counting the couple of skeins I already had in my possession).

I immediately picked a pair for myself and let each kid pick a pair (Mike has more hand knit socks then the rest of us combined).

On the needles is my pair and Little Squid's pair. Mine has cables so it is an "at home" project and his is a "purse" project. Squidette's pair is the next in line.

One sock (mine) is finished.

Only 35 more to go!

Monday, January 03, 2011

Riding Through the Slush

Did you know that a "dry" slush (more ice than water) and dry pavement look a lot alike from a distance of 6 feet or more?

That was news to me.

As I rode home tonight I spied a large patch of "slush" as I turned on to Fifth Avenue. Being the smart rider that I am, I switched sides of the street and kept my eyes peeled for other patches. I rode on the left of Fifth Avenue for 10 or so blocks before I realized that most of the "slush" patches I was seeing on the right side of the street were ... wait for it ... dry pavement. D'oh!

There were no incidents on my ride home and only one small skid on some slush on the way uptown this morning.

Why did I ride, knowing that there was still icy stuff on the streets?

Because it makes me feel good.

It's kind of like a drug addiction.

But good for me.

As long as I don't fall. (and I didn't)

I find that on the days that I drive I tend to be grumpier and more tired and less productive and on the days that I ride I am generally a nicer, more tolerant person.

That said, given a repeat of today's road conditions and my need to ride at dawn and dusk, I will probably go for the car from now on. It was a bit scary and I'd rather be grumpy then scared.

(And if anyone is looking for FABULOUS, really warm athletic gear run, don't walk, to Col d'Lizard. I'm still trying to figure out how little of it I can wear and not overheat. I've already lost two layers on top and really seem to only need one on my legs. Basically, I am comfy and a lot less bulky than last year. No affiliation, I just LOVE their stuff and have ordered for the entire family!)