Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When This Becomes That

Two-ply, lace weight, merino/silk.  I have not counted the yardage yet, but I think it is up there.  Handpainted fleece from Widdershin Woolworks (who else?).

Monday, November 28, 2011

On the Hunt

May I divert your attention to one of my new favorite blogs, Be the BQE.  The creative force behind it, the mysterious Yariski, has started a new series Who Killed Cardvark?  Daring to engage in a topic that others have scorned, or perhaps simply overlooked as unimportant, Yariski delves into the sudden and complete disappearance of one of the MTA's stupidest attempts at making a public relations campaign.

If you read only one blog about a New York City roadway that also devotes its energies to other, slightly absurd topics, let it be this one!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Age Appropriate

What have we here?  Some kind of New York Times-based medical waste?  The collection of an overeager early morning dog walker?


Looks like Mom finally made her kids some play dough.**

Although Finn claims to remember that I made play dough at least once before, what I suspect he is remembering were gifts of homemade play dough given to us from more enterprising mothers.  For me, the recipe always got a little too bogged down when it came to needing cream of tartar, which is neither cream nor tartar (discuss).  Now that I am of a natural dyeing persuasion, I have a big bag of the stuff but at that time, it was a mystery to me.

As I was making the play dough, Finn and Lucy couldn't resist joining in and we had ourselves a great time, so there may be benefits to waiting until your kids are teens to make play dough.  We were laughing and reminiscing, when Lucy recalled Roz Chast's cartoon, Bad Mom Trading Cards.

Click to make larger so you can read it.

Deborah Z. and I have lots to talk about.

** Truth be told, I wasn't making it for Finn and Lucy.  But I promised to bring back whatever was left over.  The other nice thing about waiting until your children are teens to make play dough is that they can actually understand that explanation and will wait patiently for it to happen.  Why does anyone ever make play dough for little kids??  It clearly makes the most sense to wait until they are good and ready.***

***  Note to self:  homemade play dough may be a good going-away present when they leave for college.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Reclaiming Humanity

Those in the know, know that today is Buy Nothing Day.  A day created in response to the Black Friday phenomena where people run out and shop the day after Thanksgiving. Not being the shop-til-you-drop kind of person, it never really captured my imagination any day of the year, let alone this particular Friday. Plus, one of life's greatest pleasures is making things. Making things with my own hands.

Let's do that, shall we?

A top secret project using some handspun yarn from Widdershin Woolworks.  

Lucy's own top secret project using some Koigu that she scored out of my stash.

We are people. We are very, very clever. So go on and make your damn presents already!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Two Kinds of Pie

Headed for the interior of pie #1

Although it has been something of a wild ride of a year, I find myself feeling extra grateful this year as we enter into Gratitude Season.  It was tempting to create some kind of a list but when I tried, I found myself getting rather bogged down in various explanations.  No need for such things really.  And I am sure you are feeling a bit of gratitude for that right there!

There is one thing that I do want to acknowledge, in part because I think it might be useful for others to know if simply as an example of what is possible.  

I feel grateful that Dan and I had the guts to do what needed to be done, and then to do it in a way that didn't include lawyers but does include having Thanksgiving dinner together with Finn and Lucy at Dan's new place this year.   By paying rather scrupulous attention to our intentions and goals for how we want to move forward, we managed to create our separation agreement with, well, agreement.  Breaking up may be hard to do but it doesn't have to mean that you have to hate each other before its over.  

It hasn't been a cakewalk and there have been some pretty low moments but, looking back over the past seven months, I can say for certain that I do not regret a single time when I chose to feel my sadness over my anger, to aim at long-term forgiveness over a moment of revenge.

As a family we are all still getting used to our new relationship with each other.  I think this will continue, perhaps less dramatically or drastically, for the foreseeable future.  Isn't this true no matter what the case?

I believe that none of us would be in this place of general good cheer were it not for the support that I have received from my friends, family and my teacher.  Actually, my many teachers, not the least being Dan, himself.

Thank you to everyone - and if you think I might be speaking directly to you, it is because I am.

PS.  The second kind of pie is less picturesque, coming as it does, from a can.  But it is still pretty darn yummy.  Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shop Local

When I left you last week, you had kitten shots but no flower shots.  My apologies for the oversight.  To rectify that situation...

It happens that we find ourselves in the tiny scrap of what used to be Manhattan's flower district each Monday.  There are still a few remaining wholesalers of fresh flowers; a handful will sell retail too.  Far too many of the small number of shops sell silk flowers, which miss the point entirely if you ask me.  They must pay the rent better than fresh ones because about half are dedicated to only silk these days.

The first time I went into one of the fresh flower retail shops, I was picking up irises for the ikebana workshop that sparked my new passion.  I was happily surprised to discover that, for once, Manhattan was cheaper than the outer boroughs.  Fresh cut flowers are significantly less expensive in the flower district than at my local corner shop with an outdoor flower seller.  And fresher and have a much better variety.

I realized it would be the work of an instant to pop in each week and buy the flowers for the Temple in Brooklyn and thereby save them some money.  How I do love a bargain.  Plus there is the added benefit that I can pick up a few stems for myself to make an ikebana arrangement.  

It is all so completely and utterly pointless, if you don't count the pure pleasure of every single aspect of it.  But I do.

Monday, November 14, 2011

NSFW - Way Too Cute!

 Look!  Liberated from the Hungry Ghost realm - the lace cowl is finished.  There remains one place where I made a mistake but I am counting on people not noticing.  Can you see it?

Ok, before you try too hard, I will tell you that you can't see it because it is on the other side that I didn't photograph.

When I finished up that one, I immediately cast on for another one.  This time I used a bulky cashmere yarn that I bought on a cone ages ago at School Products.  This one will be a gift.  I soaked it for a good long while in hot water to get rid of the coating that was put on it so it would work on a knitting machine (all coned yarns have this) but it still isn't giving me the cashmere love I know it has in its power.  Any suggestions?  Will wear cause it to fluff up more?

Meanwhile, I will be back in a week - I am off to sesshin up at ZMM.  

Here is a cute kittie picture to soften the blow.


And another one:

Look at Olive's belly!  I'm melting....

Saturday, November 12, 2011

On Being Zen

Recently, photographer Viviana Peretti came to the Zen Center of New York City to shoot some pictures as part of a larger series she is creating about religious life in New York. Over the course of several days, she discreetly captured the life of the Temple, including a jukai ceremony (when a student receives the precepts and the teacher gives them a "dharma name").

I think of that place as so full of life, so I was a little surprised to see that everyone looks quite dour in a lot of the photographs. But then I remembered that the inwardness and silence during sitting and service are what makes the liveliness of the rest of the time possible.

Here is it: On Being Zen by Viviana Peretti. I invite you to have a look at her other series as well - it is very strong.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Love Letter

In stillness, mind and object merge in realization and go beyond enlightenment.  Nevertheless, in the state of receptive samadhi, without disturbing its quality or moving a single particle you engage the vast buddha activity, the extremely profound and subtle buddha transformation. 

Eihei Dogen, Bendowa (The Wholehearted Way), 1231AD

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Stories of Leaving

Artist, Tara Bursey, has a new project.  It is called Newfoundland Stories of Leaving.  Check it out and ask her about how you can contribute.

I snagged this photo from her site - it is her father and a friend c.1970s in Clarenville, Newfoundland.

Go take a look.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Perfectly 13

Last week. Lucy received her very own cellphone.  It seemed to make sense that she have her own phone since she and Finn (they had been sharing one) now are frequently off doing their own thing separately.  She was very happy about it.  At one point, she had a kitten in one hand and her cellphone in the other and she said, "I have two kittens AND my very own cellphone!  Now I have everything I have ever wanted!"

And she meant it.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

A Slippery Slope

In my Mysore practice, the instructors recently added garbha pindasana.  It comes after supta kurmasana and is considered one of the core poses to the Ashtanga primary series.  I had been doing a modified version for a couple of years when I do my home practice.  In the modified version, instead of putting your arms through padmasana, you reach around, bind your hands and just hold your legs.  Same with the roll backs.  Instead of kukkutasana at the end, you do utpluthi.  It is easier but still challenging enough (or so I thought).

As I said, I have done this quite happily for a couple of years but the Mysore instructors will have none of that.  It is arms through or nothing at all.  Yesterday morning, I was really struggling, thinking to myself, "I've pushed babies out easier than getting my arms through here!"  Finally, when one of the instructors looked over at my mess, I asked, "what, exactly, is the benefit of this asana?"

She took another look at me and said, "it is very humbling."


I was excited to stumble across this video which gives an great tip for getting the arms through in a way that doesn't cause flashbacks to the second stage of labour.

Enjoy and may your arms slip through with ease!

Brace Yourself

Too cool to smile for the camera.

Unless I sing a silly song...

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


All Hallow's Eve was as spooky as it has ever been, despite my best efforts to ignore it completely.

Webster and the neighboring cat had a tense stand-off.  They stared at each other for a good twenty minutes.

Finn created his annual "dead trick or treater" in our front yard.  He has become so accomplished at this that many small children were too scared to come up and ring our bell.  Then Finn got angry about why everyone was just walking past without stopping.  Um, dude?  Could it be the bloody corpse in the way?

And finally after much drama and completely trashing my closet in her search for a costume, Lucy came up with Lady MacBeth.  You see, Lucy and Finn (but especially Lucy) have something of a local reputation for very imaginative costumes and there are neighbors who specifically wait to see what they will be each year.  Such pressure can be a bit paralyzing, if you know what I mean.  She was quite pleased in the end.  Finn, who seems to be nearing the end of his trick or treating days, dithered for weeks, right up to the last minute.  He finally took the easy way out: zombie.  

Now the scariest part of all - what to do with all that disgusting candy that they collected.