Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Another Baby!

Another of Avi's cousins has had a baby boy, and naturally I whipped out the knitting needles and created something for the new arrival. Little Natanel arrived a couple of weeks early, so he is pretty tiny, though perfectly healthy. I think (hope!) this little sunsuit and the booties will fit him, for a while, anyway. I'm not going to share pattern links because I was not happy with either pattern (doesn't the top of the sunsuit look awfully small in relation to the bottom?).

Working on this little set meant that many other things were put on the back burner. I did manage to finish Liat's first ankle sock, and start the second one. But Barbie hasn't gotten any attention since I tried dyeing her hair with ink. I think it is probably dry by now, so with any luck I will be able to add more color and embellishments soon.

I've talked to more people about ancestors, and done a little checking here and there, but haven't learned much that is new.

Someone (I forget who, sorry!) asked in the comments about the color of Cherry Tree Hill yarn I used for my sister's socks. It's from their Potluck collection, I believe. They dye a whole bunch of yarn from one batch, and the tones can vary from quite dark to paler versions of the same colorway. So while the yarn I used is labelled Blue/Green (or perhaps Green/Blue - the label is upstairs, and I'm not), I happen to have another skein with the same colorway on the label, but the colors are much darker. In order to avoid disappointment, I plan to only buy this type of yarn in person, and not over the Internet. I was badly upset last year when the silk yarn I ordered, thinking it was various shades of blue, ended up being purple, teal and black, with tiny flecks of blue. The yarn is very pretty, but it's not what I wanted and not what I thought I was getting. So. Just sayin'. I am going to try very hard not to order handdyed yarn over the Internet any more, unless I order it from Allison at Simply Socks Yarn Co. She goes above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to finding just the right color, and I trust her to accurately describe to me the color she plans to send. No affiliation, just a very happy customer.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Updating you on my doings, or lack thereof. No progress on Meital's scrapbook today, but I have hopes for tomorrow. I could go on, but the list of things I *haven't* done is far longer than the list of things I have done. My To Do list for tomorrow is fairly long, so I hope I will have more interesting things to tell you about in my next post.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Doesn't Everyone?

Usually my hobbies are pretty mainstream; the kind of acceptable, sometimes even trendy, pasttimes enjoyed by thousands, if not millions, of people around the world. Take scrapbooking. I did this even as a kid, back in the 1970s. I discovered "modern" scrapbooking, with all of its acid- and lignin-free, lightfast and fadeproof supplies, and had a great time putting together album after album of adorable layouts of my kids. Then suddenly, somehow, scrapping went from popular to Ultra-In, and I lost interest. I have fallen years behind in the scrapbooks I started keeping for my girls, and the guilt was gnawing away at me. This week, I finally cleared off my messy stamping/art table and got out my scrapping supplies. This is Meital's album. As you can see, I am working on her third grade year. She will be finishing up fifth grade in about a month. (Liat's book is even farther behind. Don't ask).

Then there's knitting. Knitting is a warm, fuzzy hobby that some enlightened folk out there are beginning to realize is not restricted to doting grandmas. It's about as normal a hobby as anyone could have (Well, we won't talk about the folks who knit sweaters for trees and park benches, or capes for statues of Revolutionary War heroes. May the Force be with them; because I won't). This, by the way, is the first cotton ankle sock for Liat, done in Sockotta.

Every once in a while, though, I get a wild hair. After all, doesn't everyone? I suddenly decide to try something that is, for me, a complete departure from my usual creative efforts. This morning I started thinking of the box of rather disreputable toys Meital has given me permission to discard. Originally, the plan was to donate them to the community center. But I've put it off for many months, because frankly, I don't feel right about giving away dolls that are in such poor condition. So...

Yep. I'm altering a Barbie. Even my normally-unflappable Liat looked askance at this latest scheme. Barbie is hanging like that because it was the only way I could think of to let the paint dry without any smearing or smudges (though I suppose those could have been rather intriguing design features, now that I think about it...). This particular Barbie had frizzy, uncontrollable hair, chewed hands, and twisted ankles. We'll see what a little paint and a few other things can do for her.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Full Disclosure

Well, almost. I don't have any pictures of my washcloth-in-progress or the ankle socks I started yesterday for Liat, but other than that, you got it:

First and foremost, finished socks! Yes, the Cascading Leaves socks for my sister are finally finished. Not only that, they are packed up and ready to go to the post office. Unfortunately, they will have to wait until Sunday to begin their journey.

The pattern is free from the Townsend Socks KAL Yahoo Group. The yarn is by Cherry Tree Hill. I really love these socks. If I didn't really, REALLY love my sister, she and her feet would never see hide nor hair of these beauties.

May I present the "Club Posh Haunted House"? Yes, I have finally finished one side of my infamous milk carton project. The cat stamp is by Third Coast, the rest are all Posh Impressions. I only have an idea for one more side, and I suspect it may come to pass that this one side will end up being the sum total of my efforts as regards this project. As you have been reading here lately, I have other fish to fry, as it were...

Here are some lovely flowers from our garden.

My friend Nancy always posts the most gorgeous photos, so I am trying to follow her most excellent example. I stand behind our flowers 100%, but I have a way to go on my photography skills.

Some of you remember that a while ago, a brief mention was made here of a gift for a friend. Well, my dear friend Joan has received her gift, and I am now free to share a photo with you. She has a sheep collection, so I thought I would contribute to the flock. The pattern is by Jean Greenhowe. But you already knew that.

I also sent a rather paltry contribution to Joan's sock yarn wall hanging project. I wanted to send more, but those leftover balls of sock yarn just refused to be herded into the box! Actually, I love knitting up teeny, tiny socks from leftover yarn...

(rememeber last summer?) and I just couldn't bear to part with much.

See? Full disclosure.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


"To beam-with-immense-pride-and-pleasure, most commonly over an achievement of a child or grandchild..."
~ Leo Rosten, The Joys of Yiddish

We learned a few weeks ago that Liat (on the left), her good friend and partner in this project Eden (center), and their classmate and friend Kfir (on the right) had all been awarded prizes in the Name Your Hero Youth Competition, which is part of the distinguished Dan David Prize. Tonight, we attended the awards ceremony, which was held at Tel Aviv University. The kids were three of only twelve students in the country to win the prize. The high school they attend also won a prize.

From the left are the Vice Principal and Principal of the school, which is actually a combined junior-senior high school, then Liat, Eden and Kfir.

Mr. Dan David not only funds the Name Your Hero Youth Competition (each student received 2,500 New Israeli Sheckels, except for Liat and Eden, who split the prize because they worked together), but the Young Researchers Scholarship as well. In addition, he awards cash prizes to select individuals each year. The details are on the website linked above.

The certificates were handed out to the students by Yuli Tamir, the Minister of Education. Her bodyguard didn't hand out anything.

Something I find especially wonderful is that Liat and Eden

and Liat and Kfir have been friends since they were in preschool together starting at age 3.

Oh, and by the way, along with a few professors...

there were a couple of other

prize laureates there this evening.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Sample

I'm still obsessing over genealogy stuff, so I thought I'd share a little. This lovely woman was my paternal grandmother's sister. Her name was Celia Colvin, but I always knew her as Aunt Ciel. She was a generous, fiesty, sentimental, determined, and fiercely independent woman. I have yet to investigate precisely when this photo was taken at the Paley Studios in New York City, but I will do my best to get all the details. One interesting note. Can you see the bracelet on her right arm?

It's mine now. When my father first passed it on to me, after Aunt Ciel died, I wore it every day. Eventually I noticed that the "CC" etched into the gold was starting to fade, so I took it off. But I love to take it out of my jewelry box now and again and look at it, run my fingers over the raised design, and think of my Aunt Ciel.

There *has* been knitting! I finished the first mitten of the latest pair for the Cheyenne River Reservation, and started the second. Unfortunately, my sister's sock didn't get any attention today. However. The day is not yet over!

Tomorrow, I hope to be able to share some very special news with you. So stay tuned.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Back to School

Whenever one of our girls has a major school project due, it becomes a project for the whole family. Today, Meital turned in a report and model about the wave of illegal immigration of Jews to what was then Palestine, in the late 1930s and 1940s.

Meital worked very hard on her report and the model. She spent more than a week on them, which is (so far as I know) the longest she has worked on a daily basis to complete a project for school. I hope she is proud of herself, because we are proud of her!

Yesterday I got quite a bit done on my sister's sock, but I did not manage to finish it today as I had hoped. Instead, I worked a bit on our current translation project and once again immersed myself in the past while searching for more information on my ancestors. I learned a lot of fascinating general information today, which as background will no doubt be very helpful. Maybe tomorrow I'll uncover some more facts that relate directly to my family.

And now, I think I will go and knit for awhile.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Too Much Fun

I am truly having a blast with this whole genealogy thing! I got a lot of fabulous information from one of my father's first cousins today. And in addition to that, he sent me the e-mail addresses of many family members, and also wrote to them himself, asking them to contribute any information they may have. The family tree I am creating over at My Heritage keeps on growing. I think soon I will have all the vital statistics I have been hoping for. Maybe I will get lucky and begin to gather anecdotes and family stories, too.

As Sue pointed out, I have been slacking on the sock knitting! Today whatever knitting I managed to get done was on my sister's sock. And tomorrow we're going to Jerusalem, so of course that means plenty of sock knitting in the car. We'll see if I can finally get this sock done and get the pair in the mail to my sister. Then I will need to psyche myself up for those toe up knee socks. Egad.

With all the family research I have been doing, I've had a certain song stuck in my mind. I first heard it many years ago (in the mid 1980s) at the Sebastopol (California) Apple Blossom Festival (and by the way, what a charming and delightful experience that was! If you've never been to a local festival featuring a particular flower, fruit or vegetable, I highly recommend it. The Gilroy Garlic Festival is also wonderful - as long as you love garlic. Be sure to check out that website, and tell me if you agree it looks like those ladies are knitting with garlic - or if maybe I've become delusional). But I digress. Here are the lyrics I can't get out of my mind. I think they are marvelously appropriate:

I'm My Own Grandpa
Lyrics: Dwight Latham, Moe Jaffe
Music: Dwight Latham, Moe Jaffe

Played by Jerry Garcia with David Grisman

Oh, many, many years ago
When I was twenty-three
I was married to a widow
Who was pretty as can be
This widow had a grown-up daughter
Who had hair of red
My father fell in love with her
And soon the two were wed

This made my dad my son-in-law
And changed my very life
For my daughter was my mother
'Cause she was my father's wife
To complicate the matter
Though it really brought me joy
I soon became the father
Of a bouncing baby boy

This little baby then became
A brother-in-law to Dad
And so became my uncle
Though it made me very sad
For if he was my uncle
Then that also made him brother
Of the widow's grown-up daughter
Who of course is my step-mother

I'm my own grandpa
I'm my own grandpa
It sounds funny I know
But it really is so
Oh, I'm my own grandpa

My father's wife then had a son
Who kept them on the run
And he became my grandchild
For he was my daughter's son
My wife is now my mother's mother
And it makes me blue
Because although she is my wife
She's my grandmother too

Now if my wife is my grandmother
Then I'm her grandchild
And every time I think of it
It nearly drives me wild
For now I have become
The strangest case you ever saw
As husband of my grandma
I am my own grandpa


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Better Brownies*

Liat asked me to make something chocolately for her for tomorrow. She and her friends are taking a very important test in mathematics, and she felt in need of a little pampering. So today I tried out another brownie recipe. A quick glance at the ingredients is enough to make you wonder if a better name for these would be Death by Brownies or something, but they are called Kitchen Sink Brownies. They are definitely intense, rich and delicious. Be sure you have people to give some away to, because the recipe makes a 9 x 13" pan.

I have spent much of the day on my latest hobby, genealogy. I am putting together an online family tree, which I look forward to sharing with other members of the clan. I also met (via e-mail) a cousin today. He told me there are members of the extended family living in Sweden! I can't wait to learn more.

We also got a new job today. This one needs to be translated from Hebrew into English, and is on the subject of glaucoma. It's fascinating, and I'm learning a lot.

* This title makes me think of that tongue twister about the bitter butter:

Betty Botter bought some butter,
"But," she said, "this butter's bitter.
If I bake this bitter butter,
It will make my batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter -
That would make my batter better."
So she bought a bit of butter,
Better than her bitter butter,
And she baked it in her batter,
And the batter was not bitter.
So 'twas better Betty Botter
Bought a bit of better butter.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Eagle Has Landed

Okay, so it's not exactly an eagle. But you know what I mean. My niece Christine will be graduating from high school on May 22nd. The infamous Top Secret Gift for Someone Very Special just happened to be this little fellow, who just flew into Denver (and boy are his wings tired). My sister let me know that he had arrived, so I figured it was time for the big reveal. Naturally, the pattern is by Jean Greenhowe.

Sorry I've stayed away so long. No real reason, I was just spending a lot of time reading (my sister-in-law loaned me a couple of great books, and after the Big Project, I was ready for a little escapism).

There hasn't been much else going on, but there has been knitting. These are pairs #5 and #6 for the Mittnz 2008 challenge.

Here is the start of mitten #1 for pair #7. This photo is from a few days ago. I am just finishing up the decreases on the hand portion now. Naturally, I just noticed a teeny, tiny little problem and will need to tink (un-knit) back until I get things straightened out. That's what I'll be doing while Meital and I watch the game tonight. The yarn is something Knit Picks sent, only one skein instead of the two I'd ordered for making socks. I figured I could easily get a pair of mittens out of one 50 gram ball. Maybe more.

I also got these washcloths done over the last couple of days. The green/blue one is for Liat, and the orange/pink/lime one is for Meital.

The only other thing I need to tell you right now is that I am becoming sucked into the seductive world of genealogy. I've been reading the materials I have available, compiled by people in my extended family on both sides. And you know I spent most of today on the Internet, trolling all the genealogy sites. Found some interesting stuff, including a relative in the UK. I hope I'll hear from her! I have a great deal more to learn. In fact, I think I'll go call my dad and ask him a few questions...

It's not like I have enough hobbies already, or anything. Right?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Independence Day

This photo of my girls was taken nine years ago. It's one of my all-time favorites, so I am posting it today. It is also the photo that accompanies my article about Independence Day on my website about life in Israel.

As for today's Independence Day, I've spent most of it napping, trying to escape from yet another nasty headache. It's now after 7 p.m. and I'm starting to feel better. Avi and Meital are off to a basketball game (even though the Euroleague season is over, there is still the Israeli league to finish up). Liat and I will hang loose at home, and watch the game on television.

Last night I decided to try out another recipe. This one is called Mexican Chocolate Crunch Brownies and is a Pillsbury Bake-Off entry from 2008. These sorts of recipes tend to rely heavily on brand name products with, naturally, the name being Pillsbury (or as Israelis say for some reason: Fillsbury). We didn't have the proper brand name breakfast cereal, but wonder of wonders, our local supermarket had the exact brownie mix!

These look lucious and inviting, but unfortunately, they do not live up to their promise. We were all disappointed by the taste of these brownies. The cereal crust was too crunchy and stuck to our teeth, and brownie mix just doesn't compare to home-made. I do think the idea is a good one, and it could be that with some tweaking this could be very yummy. But as for this batch, much of it will be off to school in the morning, to be distributed to hungry and unsuspecting children. Bwah-hahahaha!

Bobbi asked about the surprise gift for a friend. I am happy to report that said gift is finished, wrapped and ready to go to the post office tomorrow to begin its journey to.... oops! That would be telling, now wouldn't it? Once the gift has been received, I will share a photo.

I also made this easy-peasy garter stitch scarf over the last two days. The yarn, Lion Brand Fun Fur, was a gift from my wonderful and generous friend Lorraine. It was actually a gift to Liat, but while she knows how to knit, Liat doesn't enjoy it. She offered the yarn to me, and she is very happy with what I've decided to do with it. This scarf is going to be a gift for the sister of a friend of mine.

I have also been working on my sister's second Cascading Leaves sock. I'm about one round away from starting the heel flap. And I'm nearly done with the second wristwarmer of a pair, for the Mittnz 2008 challenge.

And finally, I have just about made my decision as two which of these rainbow striping yarns I will use to make socks for my niece (I included a sock I made for Meital awhile ago with the same Opal yarn. The two skeins of Regia are indeed the same colorway, just showing different colors). She wants knee socks, and the pattern I think looks the best calls for the socks to be knitted from the toe up. I have never tried this before, and have gotten a lot of very helpful advice from many wonderful knitting folks about how I can accomplish this feat (feet?) of engineering. Knowing me, it would be better if I wait to finish my sister's sock before starting to play with these, because I have a feeling once I start the knee socks, I won't get much else done, at least until I feel comfortable with what I'm doing. But it's hard to wait!

And that's about all that's new from here. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Memorial Day

I have another one of my nasty headaches today. It started last night, while I was watching the Memorial Day ceremony held every year at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Every year, after the ceremony, there are programs that feature a number of different soldiers and victims of terror, complete with interviews with family members and friends. By the time the program was over, I had cried so much that my headache had already entrenched itself.

So, rather than write about Yom Ha'Zikaron (as it is called here), I will refer you once again to my website, to an article I wrote several years ago.

As I type this entry, Yom Ha'Zikaron has ended, and Independence Day (Yom Ha'Atzmaut) has officially begun. The transition between these two days is made by the raising of the flag from half staff to the top of the flag pole, at the end of the concluding ceremony for Memorial Day. The ceremony marking the start of Independence Day begins immediately thereafter. As I said yesterday, it's a bit schizophrenic, but somehow it seems to work for us here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Is this thing on?

Hello? Hello? Is anyone still out there?

Sorry I've been posting so infrequently, but frankly, with the Big Project hanging overhead, I didn't have much to talk about, anyway. But tonight I am delighted to report that my part of the BP is done! Now it's up to Liat (our fabulous typist) and Avi (champion proofreader in Hebrew) to tidy up all the details and "put this thing to bed" as I believe they used to say in the newspaper business.

I have eked out a little knitting time here and there, and I am currently working on the second of a pair of adult-sized wristwarmers for Mittnz 2008. I've managed to get a bit more done on my sister's second sock, too. And the surprise for a friend is coming along nicely as well. I hope to have photos to share with you soon.

In other news, I am saddened to have to tell you that our favorite basketball team, Maccabi Tel Aviv, did not win the championship game of the Euroleague on Sunday night. Still, after the year they've had (don't ask: it included such things as firing a coach and bringing in a new one, the season-ending injury of a key player, and a minor scandal involving my favorite player on the team...) I think it is fabulous that they managed to finish second in the Euroleague.

This week, we are coming up on a particularly schizophrenic period in the Israeli calendar. Tonight* will mark the beginning of the national Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror. I will tell you more about that tomorrow. The observance will last until tomorrow night, at which point we will immediately begin celebrating our Independence Day. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Jewish state.

* Many of you are probably familiar with the words of Genesis 1:5 "And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day." Here's how it looks in my Bible (remember, you read from right to left):

ויקרא אלוהים לאור יום ולחושך קרא לילה.ויהי ערב ויהי בוקר יום אחד

The verse sounds like this: "Ve'yeekrah elohim l'or yom, ve'l'hoshech karah lielah. Ve'yeeheeyeh erev ve'yeeheeyeh boker yom ehad."

This verse is why Jewish holidays, even secular ones like Memorial Day and Independence Day, begin at night, as soon as the sun has set.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Whoo Hoo!!!

Photo Copyright YNet

Our basketball team, Maccabi Tel Aviv, will be in the finals of the Euroleague Championship this Sunday! (Unfortunately, the English version of the team's website has not been updated yet, but if you're interested you can read about it on the Euroleague site).

Lots of translating, and a little bit of knitting, have also been going on.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Jewel for Adi

Today was Holocaust Remembrance Day, and Avi and I went to see Meital in her school play. The fifth graders performed a stage version of a book called העדי של עדי. The title has been translated into A Jewel for Adi in English. I don't think the whole book has been translated, though. Meital had a small but key role; she plays a Polish woman who saves the life of a young Jewish girl named Rosa by arranging to have her hidden at a local nunnery. The Adi of the title is the granddaughter of Rosa, who learns her grandmother's story when Rosa gives the young girl her treasured locket, which had been given to Rosa by her own grandmother shortly before the Nazis rounded up the Jews.

The photo is not very good, but Meital did a wonderful job. After hearing her practicing her lines up in her room over the last few weeks, and listening to her express how nervous she was, it was so rewarding to see how well she did. In addition to the play, there were songs and dances suited to the occasion, and an art exhibit also on the subject of the Holocaust. The art of every type was performed and/or created by the fifth graders.

The children performed the show twice, once for the first through third graders, and the second time for the fourth through sixth graders. The Holocaust is part of the curriculum from preschool through twelfth grade here in Israel, though of course the content is geared toward the age level. There is an interesting article on the Yad V'Shem website (that's the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem) about teaching such a subject to children, if you are interested.

At the high school, the ceremony was organized by the twelfth graders. Liat told us that one of the students read something she had written after her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor, died just a few months ago.

Avi and I didn't get much done today. It was hard to concentrate after the emotional morning spent at the school.