Tuesday, December 31, 2002

I love South Orange

I love New Jersey. I love my neighborhood, I love my friends - I love the people I do and don't know on my street and I love my little village. I love walking around on sidewalks under trees to our little downtown area where I can shop, have a cup of coffee, get videos, prescriptions, take out a book, visit friends, or catch a train to New York City.

I love the fact that my kids can run out in the backyard to play and friends will spontaneously generate - one from next door, two from up the street, one from down the block. I love seeing the older kids on the block biking and skateboarding up and down the street -

I love the duck pond, I love the parks in our area - I love that we're blocks away from the South Mountain Reservation with a view of Manhattan that cannot be beat. I love that South Orange draws such a diverse and exciting range of folks here to make their lives, raise their families. I love the funny and clever conversations I have with strangers when I'm out walking my dog. I love my dog.

I hate the taxes, I can't lie about that, but I love what the taxes buy me - a great school system for my kids, a wonderful recreation center with programs for the kids in ballet, karate and a summer day camp that they pine for all winter! I love the kids in this town - thoughtful, excited, lively and energized - and brilliant.

It takes a trip to a place with no sidewalks, few libraries, no zoning laws, few trees and neighbors who can barely see each other over their stockade fences - let alone become friends - to help me articulate exactly what I love about my town. I lived in Brooklyn for a long, long time and I loved it (I still do!) Where I live now is as close as I can get to that same feeling I had in Brooklyn, but with a bit of breathing space and lots of friends for my kids to run around with.

Now if only we had a yarn store I could walk to...
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Sunday, December 29, 2002

We're HOME!

There truly is no place like home! We're so glad to be back - although we had a great time, we were anxious to be back in our own little beds. The trip back was pretty uneventful, minimal bickering between the kids, the doggie was a dream and our overnight stay in Knoxville was pleasant (we drove from Dallas to Knoxville on Thursday, Knoxville to South Orange on Friday. DEFINITELY a trip to remember! ) With the exception of three hours outside of Knoxville, Gerry drove the entire trip and he is my hero!

I think the kids will most fondly recall making the truckers blow their horns every time we passed them on the highway - a tradition has been passed down... We noticed that there seem to be a LOT more trucks on the road in the South than in the North - I wonder why this is? Are there more shipping train lines up north?

We arrived home to find our happy home and happy cat just waiting for us! I cannot thank Deb, Nicole and Holly enough for all of their help in taking care of our little kitty, Butkis. He looks fat, happy and I think he really liked the break from Atticus.

We had a happy surprise when we returned the car - the rental was actually less than we had anticipated! We returned the van a day early, so the total damage was a little over $350/week including taxes, refuling fee, etc. Qute a bargain for a 7 seater minivan! I highly reccommend a Ford Windstar for anyone who's looking - we were SO happy with our choice throughout the entire trip, it really was our 'home away from home.'

I also urge any parent contemplating a trip of more than 4 hours with a few kids to get one of the small TV/VCR combos that can be plugged into a cigarette lighter in a car. Ours was about $100 at Odd Lot and increased the pleasure of the trip amazingly! The kids didn't watch TV all the time, as a matter of fact they watched much less than I figured they would, but it was nice to have it as a tension and boredom breaker!

During my break I got so LITTLE knitting done that I am snowed under now! I have sketches to finish for some submissions, several sweaters to knit, another heavily intarsia cardigan to pattern out and chart - plus I need to put together a few articles that I've promised to several publications. As I've always said, I'd rather be busy than bored! I have come down with a pretty bad cold, but this is good news as I'm able to knit and sit and (hopefully) be left alone to my own knitting devices this week.

I also need to prepare for my new knitting class that's starting on 1/6 at the Baird Center in South Orange. I'm really excited about this one as it will include begining AND intermediate knitters - I intend to lead it more as a workshop where everyone can progress at their own pace on their own projects. I'm not a big fan of synchronized knitting.
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Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Great Date!

Gerry and I had a TERRIFIC date on Monday Night at the Greenville Bar & Grill ( 2821 Greenville Ave./ Dallas, Tx / 214-823-6691) The food was terrific (Salmon for G, Chicken Fried Steak for me) great beer, good coffee and they gave us a wonderful dessert to help us celebrate. If you live near Dallas VISIT this place, especially on a Monday or Tuesday night because they're having a special right now and many of the entries are half price. The total damage for our evening (did I mention the two bowls of Shrimp Bisque that we had?) was $39.00. This was NOT a disappointment, not at all!

Yesterday my SIL and I visited a few stores in the area - my favorite type of shopping - Yarn and Secondhand Clothes!! We got some AMAZING bargains for the kids - beautiful stuff and everything was discounted 40%!! We also visited The Woolie Ewe in Plano for some delicious yarn shopping! I got a gift certificate for her for Christmas, so we were pre-shopping before their big sale on Saturday!!! She bought me a few lovely balls of yarn and got a few for herself (I'm going to get her started on a pillow - her scarf was so wonderful!)

Last night was Christmas Eve - we all piled into the mini van we've rented (our mileage is up to 2700 - thank heaven for unlimited mileage - thank you Hertz!) and drove 50 miles over to Arlington for the Interlochen Christmas Lights They were nice - very lovely, but to be honest the hype was a bit much and the LONG, LONG line of bumper to bumper traffic (did I mention I was driving?) really diminished the excitement. On the way home we drove through Highland Park on Mockingbird Lane and looked at those lovely lights, too. It occurred to me as I was sitting in the heavy traffic surrounded by SUV's that there probably couldn't be a greater mass demonstration of conspicuous consumption of fossil fuels anywhere in the world. The residents who decorated, the viewers sitting in the gas guzzling boxes - it was a festival of exhaust (and the best christmas ever...)
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Monday, December 23, 2002

Dallas is odd

I lived here for a year in the mid-80's - it's still as odd as ever. I should say at this point that I'm the flaming liberal in my family, moved to NYC, married a Jew - all the things my family never intended for me. Ironically, it is because I was transferred from NYC to Dallas in the early 80's by my job that my brother and my mother moved here - now they've been here almost 20 years. Ain't life a hoot.

Anyway - this place is just odd. So many fences; large, stockade type fences that surround each home creating a little mini-enclave, a tiny republic - closed yards and closed minds. Is that unfair? Maybe. Too much homogeneity scares me (a NEW kind of homo-phobia...) As our neighbor who used to live in Big D says so eloquently, "Dallas, always a disappointment..."

We went to Old City Park in downtown Dallas (just blocks from the site of Kennedy's assassination) - what an odd experience THAT was. Most towns are pretty proud of their history - they'll have historic buildings, walking tours, plaques - parks were you can visit restored homes - but here in Dallas if you want to experience any of this you have to PAY $7.00 per person ($4.00 for kids) to walk around this park with re-created homes. The park itself is just a few blocks large - quite expensive when you figure the admission fee by square feet. Don't get me wrong - I believe in supporting historic renovation - but this would be like charging someone huge money to walk through any of the historic parks in New Jersey or New York. I know that places like Sturbridge Village and the Shaker Village charge - and they're worth it. This place was DEAD - No ONE was there - and when we decided that we couldn't swing $62 for our group to walk around the park we were followed back to our car to make sure we didn't snap any surreptitious photos on the way out. They may be friendly here, but they're not real nice.

Then we went to the "restored" West End - our family assured us that since they'd kicked the homeless out it was a much nicer place to visit. Well, there was an arcade, I remember that - and there were SO MANY RESTAURANTS and a LOT of expensive parking. One or two restaurants is a good thing, but 20 on one street - all of them pretty much the same? One standout was Atomic Sushi. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around that - wrong on SO many levels...

Tonight G & I are going to try to get away to a cozy restaurant type of place - our main criteria is that it be a place that is NOT a chain, NOT mass produced and has great atmosphere. Any suggestions??
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Friday, December 20, 2002


I am a slug. Slug, slug, slug. Just kind of sitting around doing not much. I should have been working on some designs, I should have been swatching - I did at least chart an intarsia pattern yesterday, but being out of my own environment makes me - well - sluggish!

We moved to a new motel today. Nothing wrong with the old one - your basic Days Inn -but the new one has an indoor pool and a refrigerator/microwave. We could stay with my brother and his wife and my mom at their house, but I think it would be a VERY full house - and it's good for everyone for us to have a bit of a refuge!

This evening the kids are going to a gymnastic place to play (their cousin Alex is quite a gymnast, from what we've heard...) and while they're occupied the adults will go out to dinner (or just drinks and appetizers) Also, for the next week the kids will be staying here at Uncle Jim's most of the nights - woo hoo!

Gerry is dealing well with the family - only slightly overwhelmed. The 23rd is the 10th anniversary of our first date. We want to do something special!
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Thursday, December 19, 2002

BIG D little a, double l a s

We're here!!! After driving for three days, here we are at last!

First of all, if you're thinking of visiting Unclaimed Baggage in Scottsboro, AL... DON'T BOTHER! The stuff was thrift store quality at mall prices - a total letdown! To be honest, I wasn't expecting new stuff, but I also wan't expecting prices at 50% - 80% of retail - insane! We did get a few books for the kids, a backpack for Hannah and a few jackets for Gerry (he NEEDS some lightweight jackets)

So after we WASTED a good deal of time getting to Unclaimed Baggage we were so far behind that we changed our route and didn't stop in Little Rock (no Heifer Ranch, boo hoo!) Instead we headed for what we thought would be a good direct route to Dallas - Jacksonville to Shreveport to Dallas - via the Nachez Trace Parkway. It was obviously our day to be hoodwinked because the parkway was actually a very SCENIC route, slow, 50 MPH and NOT a great place to try to make up some time. Our mistake!

We were driving along, obeying all of the traffic rules, and a truck pulled in front of us and was doing about 45. It was interminable. So Gerry passed it. We figured it was the end of the story, but about a mile down the road a police officer pulled us over - we had apparently passed the truck during the only section of solid yellow no-passing line on the ENTIRE TRACE PARKWAY! The cop was actually really nice, and let us go with a warning - but we knew it was time to get OFF that road. So we took a less direct but faster route to Jackson, then to Vicksburg where we stayed at a nice, clean motel 6. Showers all around, re-grouping and we ordered pizza - what a night!

The next day the drive was easy and delightful - at one point we pulled over for the ubiquitous bathroom and water break and while we were waiting for dad to fill the car the kids and I wandered over to a trailer full of bulls and met 4 year old Tommy Taylor, a real cowboy! The kids were very impressed, and Tommy liked Atticus - we had a nice visit and then continued on to Grandma's house.

The bond between Alex and Hannah was strong and immediate - both have the same kind of energy (which we hope they will use for good) and both of them are VERY dramatic. Future home of the Modesitt Summer Stock. Max was - as always - Max. Easy going, not quite in your face, but amazingly lovable and sweet, sweet, sweet! Starting on Friday (when Alex is out of school for the Christmas break) the kids will be staying here - probably camped out in Alex's bedroom in their sleeping bags!

The kids are so thrilled to be in ONE PLACE for more than a day - Atticus is in HEAVEN here romping with his fellow doggies Rex (a white Standard Poodle ) and Nessie (a butterscotch Scotty) The big excitement today will be a bath in Aunt Karen's Jacuzzi!
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Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Just Peachy

We knew we were getting close to Atlanta when we saw a giant peach watertower - the kids were thrilled and insist that James is living in it (Did I mention that last Halloween Max was James and Hannah was Miss Spider from James and the Giant Peach?

Gerry 's in love with my family - he can't believe how nice everyone is - obviously we're on our best behavior, but I do have a pretty nice family, that's for sure! The trip has been a pleasure - the little RCA TV we bought is the best addition to a backseat that we could have made! The kids watch a little TV with their headphones on, look out the window, draw (thanks Nicole for the wonderful traveling art set!) and the bickering has been minimal! Atticus continues to travel better than we ever expected (and we expected a great deal!) and worms his way into everyone's heart as soon as they meet him!

Last night at my cousin Deb's was wonderful - her two daughters made such a fuss over the kids, Hannah and Max are totally won over by them! I can't believe how grown up her son is (he's 23 - I remember when he was born!) and her husband, Peter, is a gem! He and Gerry are very similar, and that makes me and Deb very lucky women!

Our plans today include a stop at a WAFFLE HOUSE (which Hannah can spell and read - thank you very much) and then on to Unclaimed Baggage! After that we'll hit Little Rock and stay overnight and finish our trip to Dallas tomorrow. In the morning before we leave Little Rock we want to stop at the Heifer Organization's ranch and let the kids see some of the animals - our kids are nuts about livestock, go figure...
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Sunday, December 15, 2002

Greetings from Parkersburg!

A nice day of driving - we were able to fit EVERYTHING we need in the van, and still have some extra room! Quite a trick when you consider that we have a dog and an EXTRA LARGE dog kennel in the car, too!

Atticus traveled so well - just lay down and snoozed, or sat up and watched the scenery. Sat patiently when we had lunch and wasted no time (if you know what I mean) when we went for a little walk. We arrived in Parkersburg at 7:00 pm and dropped him off with my cousin, Jan (she has 3 standard poodles - Atticus was in heaven, it only took about 2 minutes for him to bond with Jan AND her dogs) It's so kind of her to keep him overnight - just wonderful!

Then the human portion of our caravan continued to my cousin Julie's house - my kids immediately fell in love with her two teenaged daughters (especially Britney) and had a BLAST with them all evening. Of course, it's possible to have TOO MUCH of a good thing and Hannah awoke at 11:30 with a stomach ache and was pretty sick. We're crossing our fingers that it was the three slices of garlic bread (which she's never had before) and the pumpkin cake (also a new item for her) and that she's NOT coming down with a stomach flu.

She doesn't seem to have a fever, and she's resting upstairs well - if she IS sick we'll put off our visit to my cousin Deb in Atlanta until our return trip and stay at motels until we get to Dallas - best to be safe and not infect anyone! We'll bide our time and see how she does tonight. Max is - well - Max! He's got a runny nose, but otherwise he's sunny and feeling fine!
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Queen of the Road

The mini van is packed up, we're ready to roll - all we have left to do is throw in the daily stuff (toiletries, etc.) and pack in the doggie! Friends have been contacted about caring for our kitten (THANKS Holly, Deb & Nicole!) and we've got the TV set up for the kids to watch.

Gerry's been wanting to be on the road for days now - me, not so much. I love to travel, and heaven knows I'll get a lot of knitting done, but I'm a worrier!

I was able to pack all of my trip yarn into one huge bag - pretty amazing for me (considering the amount of projects I need to finish in the next 2 weeks) Oh - that doesn't include my separate little suitcase for my wire and bead jewelry making stuff. The dog's huge carrier takes up about 40% of our packing space, but it's going to be a joy to have him with us! I hope he likes traveling!
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Friday, December 13, 2002

Trip Fever

We're all rarin' to go - we have TRIP FEVER! We want to be ON THE ROAD. Road trip with the kids, too fun (I'm delusional.)

I have a bunch of fun car knitting to take with me, plus we got a very small TV at the Odd Lot Store for $100 - it's an RCA and has a VCR and plugs into the car so the kids can watch videos on the trip - early Christmas present! And the best news is that after the trip it goes in my office so I can watch documentaries and Judge Judy until my eyes fall out!

I intended to make socks for everyone, but I've been very busy just getting my designing stuff finished - so, it will be socks for the guys, bracelets and necklaces for the women. I just made about half a dozen for Hannah's teachers at school (gym teacher, art teacher, librarian, reading teacher, computer teacher - and, of course, her own Mrs. Garrigan and the teacher's aide!) Wait - that's seven. Oh, well, I guess I missed someone...

Speaking of socks - this guy won't need any in a little while - this is TOO weird.
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Wednesday, December 11, 2002

... oh, and in honor of amy's new server...

Check THIS out! Sent to me by my Rabbi, no less...
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Busy End of Year

It's better to be busy than to be bored.

I have several projects that are due either the first of second week of Jan, and the ubiquitous submissions for various 'zines and publications sprinkled throughout the holiday week. I'm getting excited about our trip, and at the same time dreading the inevitable packing nightmare, travel stress, family tensions, deadline fever and general exhaustion. Life out of balance? Naaaaah.

About my mysterious post earlier - this has been a year of doors closing and window opening (or vice versa) - I'm not sure EXACTLY what I meant by it, except that perhaps breaks with some folks / entities are for the best because they open new opportunities for new associations. Or maybe I'm just vamping.

One door that's closed and locked and will never open is the baby door. Or, rather, the giving birth door. I found myself getting absolutely misty about seeing a friend's feminine hygiene products in her shopping bag the other day - is that sick or what? I know this isn't about knitting per se (but isn't EVERYTHING about knittingż) but a chapter of my life is definitely over - for better and for worse - odd that it's taken 6 months for this reality to sink in, huh?

Oy - rainy, sleety day and I'm being terribly self obsessed. Let me tell you what fun I had yesterday... I visited with a magnificent friend and we did some finishing work (she makes me laugh - she's 4 years younger than my mom - I'd love to get the two of them together!) THEN I took the train into the city and knit, a pleasure to knit on a train. THEN I went to Habu Textiles in the city and bought some fun stuff - Bamboo, Pine and Paper yarn & fine silver wire. THEN I went to ALLCRAFT (same building as Habu, 4th floor) and bought some heavy and thin gaugecopper wire for gift jewelry) THEN I walked down to 17th street and stopped at an interesting shop called Beads of Paradise - what a great selection! - and bought some terrific Peridot and Blue Topaz - hey - who knew it was the Texas State Gem??

Finally I reached my destination - Java & Jazz for a NYC Stitch & Bitch Session. I haven't been since my birthday (Sept 3) and it was nice to just sit and knit with hip chicks. Oy - I'm so unhip.
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Monday, December 09, 2002

Doors and windows

One has opened, one has closed.
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Saturday, December 07, 2002

Screw up!

Everyone is human - I love my human-ness. Until I screw up. And it is inevitably a stupid thing - and, of course, always comes at a bad time.

Recently I sent a few sweaters into a mag - I had been given about a month to do two of them. Although I didn't feel rushed, apparently I wasn't as careful as I should have been.

A stripe motif on the left front is one row shorter than the right front - and I never even caught it! - what am I, blind? I had this thing sitting on my mannequin for a week while I worked on the other sweater; I did finishing work on it; I petted it everytime I walked past it and had a friend who's a good fit model size try it on - and never noticed!

Friday I got an email from the editor apraising me of this unhappy fact - they're not very happy with me - they'll probably cancel running the sweater and heaven knows what else Editor emailed photos, which was good because it's such a stupid mistake I probably wouldn't have believed I'd made it without the proof.

I asked if I could get the item back, make the correction and return it overnight - still waiting to hear if that's an option.

I hate it when I screw up. Blech. It sits in my stomach for days like a lump of oatmeal.

On the up side, finished a birthday sweater for a little friend and didn't have any buttons to match the sweater - so I pulled out my sculpy and made a few - here they are!

Some of the edges browned a bit,
but I think that adds to the "realness" of the look!

Oh, and I dropped off my jewelry and bowls to the

December 12-15, Noon-8pm daily - Admission FREE
Preview Reception: December 11, 7-9pm

I'll be there for the opening on Wed, 12/11, if anyone else wants to come by!
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Thursday, December 05, 2002

Sad news

I just got a call from my cousin that her brother, my cousin who was so suddenly ill with cancer, has passed away today. I don't think I can get back down to WV for the funeral - especially with the terrible snowstorm that's hit all of NJ all the way down into PA/MD/WV. I also don't think I could take the drive again - I was wiped out for a week after my last trip. His name was Otho Wade, but we called him Tommy (everyone in our wacky Appalachian family has a 'real' name and a nickname - just like Checkov - yeah, right...)

We will miss him. He was a terrific person, gentle, kind, and really funny. The world would be a lot better if more folks were like him.
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Wednesday, December 04, 2002

That Damned Staples Ad

So much has been said about the actual ad that I don't want to beat a dead horse. Obnoxious woman showing obnoxious knitted gifts she gave to (probably) obnoxious relatives who all look really unhappy to get them.

Knitters spend a lot of time (and money) gearing up for the holiday season. They start planning their projects a year in advance and pour much love into them. To many knitters, this ad is tantamount to hearing someone say, "You're giving a hand knit gift? How can you be so stupid/rude/out of touch?" On the surface this seems like a silly issue.

But it speaks volumes about our changing attitude toward gift giving. Are we really SUCH a mercenary society that we can stomach ads like these that reduce gift giving to a measure of who can give the largest merchandise certificate?

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm sick to death of the JC Penney ads demanding that we stuff our giant SUV so full of purchased items that we can't fit our kids inside (what a message THAT is!)

Or the Sears ad where a couple shops for each other, but they really end up buying something for themself. As they walk out of the store each tells their partner what they'll be "giving" themselves for Christmas. Oh for pity's sake, why not just wait until January and get it on sale? These cynical ads seem to say, "We all KNOW it's really about the presents (wink, wink) so why not just make the holiday as merry as possible by spending as much as possible?"

I do understand that this year it's supposed to be patriotic to spend, spend, spend. But let's be sensible- wouldn't it be better to build our economy on something more solid than the last month of holiday shopping before Christmas? At its best it's sad, at its worst this cynicism just plain disgusting - greedy, selfish - all things I try to teach my children NOT to be.

Maybe if we were nicer, more generous, we'd get more from Santa and wouldn't have to buy so much for ourselves? Maybe (gasp) we'd feel so good about making a gift for a loved one we wouldn't care if we didn't get a 2nd DVD player or an SUV full of gifts.

Maybe when we learn it's not all about US we'll find some true holiday cheer?

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Monday, December 02, 2002




I am so excited - at 4:30 I walked into the testing center, at 6:30 I walked out $60 poorer, but with my RE License in hand!! I cannot BEGIN to tell you all how relieved I am to have passed. And it's also hard to express how much this means because I feel like I've lost so much of my ability for the ol' cognitive thought process since May!

Gerry was waiting at home for me with Hanukkah Gelt and Champaign - we're going to indulge after the kiddies are in bed!

Tomorrow - the WORLD!
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Sunday, December 01, 2002

First Sox

Okay, not actually my FIRST sox, but my second pair! Woohoo! Here are the little sockies I've made for my litle girlie. We are planning a LONG car trip to Dallas in Dec for Christmas, and my plan is to knit sox for the family on the drive down (sil, brother, dh, son, nephew, cousin, sil's aunt and felted booties for my mom!) Obviously I'm not driving!

This was scanned before I finished the 2nd heel, but trust me, they're DONE now!
They just fit - she'll get them in her wink wink stocking!

Also, I've posted some of my wire jewelry for your perusal. I'm trying to figure out the best way to go about this - should I market them? Should I sell kits with the wire and beads to make them? Both? Via the internet or via shops? What kind? Ah, so many questions! Check them out and let me know what you think!

Pssst - Look what you get when you do a search for "prison" at Martha's site...
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Alison's Scarf
Link to pdf file of cable/trellis lace scarf

Hannah's Poncho
Link to pdf file of multi-sized poncho


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