March 30, 2012

snippits of the week

Nana is in town (which explains why I've been a little, ahem, MIA) so we've been having lots of fun cruising town, checking out the pigs feet.
It's been an excellent week for signs. This one being, I think, the best, blurry from a quick phone/subway shot but still the best. Ram Goat Flavor. Yum?
And also I need some of this. Just because.
Evelyn has decided that stepping on lines or cracks is off limits. At least when we walk home from school. Because it makes things more interesting.
Also, she has a new favorite song.
I wish I could spend days wandering the Lower East Side. Eating. We accidentally found an amazing market while we were looking for a Pizza place that was, as it turned out, the opposite direction from the one we were heading in. Good thing too or we would have missed out on a grilled ricotta and honey sandwich on sliced brioche. Heavenly.
Truffle popcorn!
Harry Potter is getting interesting. We're halfway through the sixth book and flying. I wonder if, when he gets to the end, he'll want to just start the series over again (like his mama).

Spotted this book, Yiddish with Dick and Jane at the tenement museum, this was my favorite page.

Have a great weekend!

March 27, 2012


First, thanks for the suggestions yesterday, and I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who gets the book lump! I'm well dug into the first Mrs. Tim book and I love it! It reminds me of Henrietta's War (and has an almost identical cover to it, I had to check twice that it wasn't the same author) and is just what I needed. D.E. Stevenson! Where have you been all my life!
In other news, we have some new friends visiting at our house. Five new caterpillar friends who arrived last Monday as teeny tiny little just hatched things and have been steadily growing ever since. I used to have a book of children's poetry (which must be in storage because I can't find it anywhere and I doubt I would have gotten rid of it) that had a poem where the caterpillar started out small and then ate and ate and became a fatterpiller, which is just what ours have done.
It was supposed to be Briton's new science project and he has dutifully collected new leaves and measured them daily like a good little scientist. Evelyn, however, is in love. She rushes in to see them when she gets home from school, writes them notes, colors pictures of them and spends a good amount of her afternoon cooing to them. They are pretty darn cute, I must admit.
I imagine the chrysalis building is about to begin, they seem to be practicing hanging from the roof of the butterfly cage quite a bit today, looking like little "J's" with wiggly arms. Fingers crossed they all make it to butterflyhood.

March 26, 2012

book lump

After I finish a book, I almost always spend a few hours mourning the fact that it's done. I rush to the end, impatient to find out what has happened, and then when I get there I wish that I'd slowed down, savored it a bit more. It doesn't keep me from slowing down the next time, of course, but I wish it nevertheless. Sometimes it lasts a few minutes, sometimes hours, and rarely, it goes on for days. I call it my book lump. When no book seems to satisfy, and all I can do is grumble about having finished what before I was so eager to get through.
The longer books lumps don't happen often, and thank goodness, because they always leave me a little grumpy. And there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to what kind of book puts me out of reading commission for a more extended period. The Help did it. Emily of New Moon and the two sequels did it as well. But so did the Hunger Games. And now Major Pettigrew has me lumping. It's not that I don't have enough books to choose from. I have books. Many, many books. Books I really want to read. Just not right now. Because they aren't the right book.

I think the problem is that I try to find similar books when I'm done. I get on Amazon and see what pops up in the "Others who bought this looked at" lists and I try one of those. Inevitably that fails and I mope around for a few days until I can get over it and move onto something new. I finished Major Pettigrew on Saturday morning and spent the rest of a long, chilly, perfect for staying in and reading kind of weekend trying out, and discarding, three different books from the library and four more that I have waiting on my shelves. All failed. At least I had my knitting to keep me busy.

Do you get the book lumps? Read anything fabulous lately that might snap me out of it? I finally latched onto Bossypants late last night and I think it might just hold. It's about as opposite as you can get from Major Pettigrew which might just be the ticket. We shall see I suppose.

March 23, 2012

snippits of the week

It's been a nice old week, light on the sit at the table kind of school work but heavy on the go out and see things and have fun kind. I may have allowed Evelyn to play hooky today, and Briton too. Because sometimes you just need a day off for no good reason and today was that kind of day. But don't tell.
We spent an afternoon on the Intrepid which was chock full of moms and their sons. Some of the schools here are on spring break so that was part of it, but there were also lots of moms with toddler boys who obviously came regularly to look at the planes and push buttons in the Gemini pod and test out the aerofoils on the wind machine.
I have a feeling that if we had lived here when Briton was two we would have been regulars instead of spending our days riding train after train after train in Dublin. But then again, there are plenty of trains here, so maybe he would still have been a train boy.
I should probably tell you that I only haul these out for St. Patrick's Day, but the truth is that they are my favorite socks and I wear them all the time.
Although they aren't quite as flashy as the pompoms.
We had a mid week haircut here. Briton thinks it's way too short. I think that it will be longer before I have to cut it again. And I think it's cute. Not that I would tell him that. Cute is off limits it seems.
Briton and I tried out one of the kids art talks at the Met which I'm afraid I found more interesting than he did.
More captivating than the talk, though, were the artists dotted through the galleries. I never quite get over seeing all those paintings that I grew up looking at in books hanging on the walls of the museums here. I wonder if the artists and art students that always seem to haunt the Met feel like that or if it's just part of life for them.
Almost done with my latest spinning project. It is, by far, the largest amount of fiber and the thinnest finished project that I've done so far and it's coming out nicely. I had a plan to use it in this pattern but it ended up not being a good match color wise to the other yarn I have for the project, so it will have to live in my stash for a little while until I decide what to do with it.

I picked up Major Pettigrew's Last Stand at the library this week. It's not at all what I thought it would be, although I'm not sure what I really thought it was about, I only put it on my hold list because it kept coming up in my "you might enjoy" lists. It's a very calm book. Beautiful. Almost short on words, but in a good way. It makes me want to curl up all day in my rocking chair. Which I might just do.

Anyone read a good book lately? Once I finish this one I'll need some more, so I'm open for suggestions!

March 22, 2012

settled in

There's a funny thing about moving. No matter how quickly you dig yourself into your new life, how fast you unpack, how soon you hang up the art, it still really takes about a year to settle in.
I have moved an almost obscene amount of times in my life. I haven't had enough coffee yet today to do a proper count of it but I'm guessing it's around 15, not counting moving houses in the same city. Averaged out that means that I've moved cities (and sometimes countries) ever 2 plus a few months years of my life. It also means that I'm pretty good at it.

I know that having, say, a pumpkin carving party in your yard a few months after moving in is a great way to meet anyone with kids in your neighborhood. I know that hanging pictures on the walls right away, even if it means moving them later, makes a place feel more like home. I know about choosing furniture that will fit in different styles and sizes of houses (sectional couches are not good for serial movers, as we learned during the Dallas to Oregon Move of '93)

I'm ballsy about asking around about pediatricians and hair salons and I can force my way through my shyness to go out and meet people. I'm good at moving. There was a time that I loved moving. New place, new house, new friends, new things to do. I still don't hate it, even though each move means more people left behind to miss. But even after all those moves, it's still true that it takes almost that whole year to really feel like you have moved.

Just about one year ago, we came up to New York to check it out. We already knew we were moving, some of us (me) more reluctant than others about it, but that was the first test. We stayed in a studio apartment, not too far from where we live now. We figured out where grocery stores were and which parks were close by, what exorbitant price was being charged for a box of graham crackers. Will went off to a day of lectures and tours at Columbia and I wandered around the city with the kids, trying to decide if I could really do this.
So it shouldn't be that surprising that in the past few weeks I finally feel settled. I wouldn't choose to stay longer, I am still ready to move on from this exciting but stressful experience we've had here, but I can see that a second year would be easier than the first. Now that we have routines and friends and can walk up out of a subway station and generally (not always, but most of the time) know which was is uptown and which way is downtown. We have seen all the seasons here now. I know that winter is grey grey grey. That spring is slightly less grey and then suddenly pink and yellow around the edges where trees and flowers bloom in the medians and in little pockets of garden. I know that in summer the sidewalks have to be hosed down so that they don't stink in the heat, that the pavement has a way of raising the temperature like you wouldn't believe, that there are so many things to do every sunny, hot, day that you could never fit them in in a lifetime of living here. And fall, long and lovely fall, is the nicest season of all, as it is everywhere really.
I feel settled. And it's almost time to go. And then I will have to start again, somewhere else. A year from now I'll feel settled there.

Spending just a year anywhere is like that I think. For the first ten months, you're just on a long vacation. You are a visitor. And then suddenly you aren't. You yell at a cab and bang your hand on the hood when they pull out into the crosswalk, or people walking around with maps in their hand recognize you as someone they can ask for directions, and surprisingly, you can give it. Suddenly you aren't a visitor. It's a strange thing. And it's almost time to start it all over again.

March 20, 2012

enter spring

You know, in some places the first day of spring would be met with a carpet of crocus springing up in the grass, or even just grass springing up in the grass. Right about now in Charlottesville, my old cherry tree has bust into flower, soft and pink and fluffy.
This morning, as I walked Evie to school on the first day of spring, I was met with a peeing fire hydrant.

Ok, I've been seeing this for a few weeks, and I really have no idea if it has anything to do with spring, and it's only this one fire hydrant. But almost every time I walk by it, water is either gushing, trickling or, really is there anything else I could call this, peeing, out the side. And up until now, every time I stop to take a picture, the water stops. No joke. I kinda suspect a hidden camera at work here. But today I snapped a picture as I walked (tricky, eh) and kept going. And so I'm going to pretend it's some kind of rite of spring. Flushing the fire hydrants in preparation for summer, when they might be called into use as a neighborhood sprinkler.

Happy spring, everyone. We are off to the Intrepid today, it's a two field trip week this week. I've started to compare the list of places to go to the number of weeks remaining so there may be more than one two field trip (or been three field trip) weeks in our end of the school year sprint.

Off we go. Enjoy the sun!

March 19, 2012

were you wearing green

Briton shrugged when I reminded him to wear green. "My coat is green mom. I'm a duck, I always have green on. I'm good." Evelyn, however, went through her drawers looking for everything that has any green in it and put together a, shall we say, colorful, outfit. Complete with pom poms. Because it's not St. Patrick's Day without pom poms.
The parade was different than I expected. Having witnessed two different St. Patrick's Day parades in Dublin, which were just about the weirdest public events I've ever been too, barring only the Oregon Country Fair, this was a bit more sedate. The Dublin celebrations actually have a lot in common with the Country Fair. If you've been, you know what I mean. If you haven't, well, I'm not sure I could adequately explain it to you.

Honestly, the New York version felt more like a celebration of being Irish. The Irish version was a little like someone from Rio did the planning. For example. Most of the parade here in New York consisted of either pipers, high school bands, high school bands of pipers, and people in uniform. Like this guy.
Both Dublin parades featured things like this.
It may have changed in the five years since we've been. But I never really figured out what a crazy spider thing had to do with St. Patrick's Day.

The Dublin version of the celebration as a whole, though, was more fun. A week of activities - music, treasures hunts, giant inflatable grown up bouncy castles down by the river (with psychedelic colors and music inside). Where as here it was clear that the main objective of most revelers was to get sloshed on as much beer as possible. And not even good beer. Putting Bud Light in a green bottle does not make it Irish. Belch.

My favorite moment of the day (other than getting to go watch Alan Rickman be brilliantly lecherous and having my first Irish Coffee, of course) had to be when a woman came tearing through the crowd demanding to be allowed to cross the street to her apartment on the other side of 5th Avenue. "What is this?" she kept asking (not nicely). I felt like a real New Yorker as I joined in with my parade watching neighbors in yelling "Get outta here!" Because hello? It's St. Patrick's Day. Largest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the world? Been marching down 5th avenue for 150 years? "Why is there a Parade today?" is probably not the best thing to be screaming while trying to get people dressed in green (and probably a little drunk already) to let you through to your swanky apartment. Am I right or am I right?

March 16, 2012

snippits of the week

We've had what you might call a full we around here. Lots of doings and goings and playings and learning's.

Most of the day Saturday was taken up by a long and leisurely walk/heely/scooter ride across the Brooklyn Bridge. It's a beautiful walk, probably my favorite in the city. It's the polar opposite of a walk in the woods. Where that would have trees and soft earth under foot and quiet, the bridge is man made and hard and loud, so loud. But nonetheless, breathtaking.
On the other side we waited in a long line to try out the new and improved Grimaldi's Pizza. It was still delicious, but probably not delicious enough to justify the further wait while they cleaned out the ovens. By the time our pizza got to the table we were almost too hungry to eat at all. But we had fun waiting and ended up with a rare shot of Will and I together. Fuzzy, but in the same photo at the same time. I should probably hand off the camera, or camera phone, more often so I can be in more pictures.
I remember that in our first weeks here I was enchanted with how you can just happen upon things in this city. Head out for a simple walk and end up with a spectacular memory. Sunday was sunny and beautiful and begged for another walk, so to Riverside Park we went and found some kind of circus party happening at the Hudson Beach Rings. The kids tried out unicycles, hula hoops, shied away from the tightrope walking, gave the rings a run for their money and then fell in love with pogo sticks.
There was a lot of bouncing.
Humm, what's my next move here.
Scrabble. It's like spelling and math all rolled into one.
"I've got this" is Evelyn's new phrase. When I try to help her with her homework, or read part of a book to her, or carry her awesome report card cake home from the store.

"I've got this mom."

Sob sob.
Yesterday we took what has to have been the coolest field trip of the year, spending the afternoon with my friend Valerie at her microbiology lab at Manhattan College. Briton had a fantastic time learning about bacteria and cells and how to heat set them onto slides. Now, of course, he's begging for a microscope. And a lab coat. He really really wants a lab coat. He also got to meet a real paleontologist, which is basically nine year old boy heaven.

Tomorrow we are heading to The St. Patrick's Day Parade, have to do a little comparison to the one in Dublin. I'm sure the New York version will be bigger and much less...odd. And then Will and I are going to see Seminar with Alan Rickman. Squeeee!!

What a week!

March 15, 2012

the tale of the steek

On a very cold day last week, I held my breath and cut into the sweater that I've been knitting for almost five months. I'd been psyching myself up for it for a few days (ok, weeks) and had a sort of early labor breathing action going on in the moments before. Snip. Snip. Snip. I cut a steek.
This sweater has taken me forever. It was supposed to be Will's Christmas sweater. And then it was going to be a Ducks go to the Rose Bowl sweater. And then it was going to be a Valentine's Day sweater. It was actually 99% done by Valentine's day. But I kept stalling because of that steek.

It just seems, counter, I guess, to the idea of knitting. Whipping out the scissors and cutting into what you just put together. I thought about putting the zipper in another way or just telling Will to suck it and deal with a crew neck (I wouldn't really have used those terms. Probably.) but after getting a pep talk from one of the goddesses of knitting at Vogue in January, I was determined. So I knit in the extra stitches where I would cut and fold back and then...I stalled, and stalled. I finished one sweater and started another, put two shawls on my list and cast on one of them. And then on that really cold night, I decided to just finish the thing.
This year, if I finish the latest sweater I have on the needles within the next month or so, I will have knit six sweaters. One for Will, one for Briton, one for Evie and three for me (Hey! I'm the one doing the knitting here!) More than any other type of project, I feel like I learn the most with sweaters. Because I'm a combination knitter I almost always have to decipher patterns and adjust the types of stitches so that they work for me. Is that K2tog (knit to together) going to be a SSK (slip, slip, knit) for me here or is it still a K2tog. It's because of a sweater that I found out I was a combination knitter. And it was because of a sweater (several sweaters) that I figured out how I like to decrease for a raglan sleeve, or increase, depending on how the sweater is constructed. The project I'm working on now has welts, which I hadn't heard of in knitting before, but now I can do a pretty bad ass knitted welt. And with Will's sweater? The steek was a pretty big hurdle for me, but the whole design was something new. A challenge. And I like a challenge in knitting. Obviously, otherwise I wouldn't knit six sweaters in twelve months. But back to the tale of the steek.
I didn't even take pictures, mostly because I was so paranoid that the whole thing would dissolve into a pile of little bits of green yarn that I immediately sewed the hem down to contain the cut stitches. I read through about thirty steeking tutorials, all of which said about the same thing but, again, I was stalling. This one was, I thought, especially good.

In the end it really wasn't so bad. Not, I'll do it with every sweater now easy, but not something that I'll avoid, necessarily. And the sweater itself? It fits! Really making a sweater big enough for Will was pretty nerve wracking from beginning to end. I dyed WAY too much yarn because I didn't want to run out. I re-knit the collar twice to make sure it was long enough and until the whole thing was blocked I wasn't sure it was going to be wearable, the saddle shoulders seemed so wonky. But after blocking and steeking and sewing in the zipper and blocking again, it fit. IT FIT.

And the next day is was 70 degrees out.
Of course.

March 14, 2012

more fun with porcelain pens

These pens a a little bit addictive. Several times this weeks I've caught myself looking at my perfectly good and pre-patterned dishes thinking "I could add a little something something to this." Mostly I've resisted, other than finishing off my white mug project.
Yesterday I hit up the HomeGoods store in search of more mugs (see, addictive) and wound up instead with a plain white cake stand from the clearance rack that was just begging to be doodled on.
A cake stand has been on my when we have a house again list - along with chickens and a spinning wheel - ever since I broke mine before Christmas. I know a lot of people would call them a waste of space but I've found that even a plain, unfrosted cake seems fancy and special if you put it on a cake stand, so I've been missing mine and this one was too good, and too cheap, to pass up. So home it came and while Briton worked on an adventure story about Egyptian Gods in red disco suits, I doodle a doily on my cake stand.
As I said before, I'm a terrible artist, and I do not have much of a steady hand, but this style lends itself well to that. It's easy to cover up any mistakes with more swirls, bumps and lines. See this ugly wobbly line?

Looks fine now, right?
I think the key here is to start from the middle, work around on that level, and then add a new circle.
I used a roll of tape and two plates to make the ever larger circles and then just added little details to each as I worked my way to the outside edge.
Then if there are spaces that look blank, you can add in more once the work you have done is dry to the touch. I had planned to continue but Briton looked up and said "You know mom, the key to art is knowing when to stop." So I took his very good advice and stopped, and really, I love it.
Now I just need to bake a cake to put on the doodled doily.
Or I could just run down to the bakery and buy one. There was an awesome report card in the house today. I think we deserve cake!