Monday, September 29, 2008

Blessing for a New Year

The Woman's Prayer

With these candles
We pray to God
The God of our fathers
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
To grant us good life and health
To all my dear ones
And the whole world

With these candles
We pray to God
The God of our mothers
Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel
To grant us good life and health
To all my dear ones and the whole world

May we all have a sweet year, full of peace and blessings!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Rainy Night in Late September

2:12 a.m. and I cannot sleep, just can't. Partly it's my brain on overdrive from the late-night cup of coffee that I swore wouldn't keep me awake...but partly it's the rain drumming on the skylight and occasionally dropping down the chimney into the fireplace. I love rain, and I don't want to miss it. Dinner is covered and put away, the dishes washed, everyone else in the house tucked in safe for the night, and it's cozy here on my couch, in the low lamplight, the dog beside me. The noise of the expressway is just a distant rumble, but the rain is really here, bringing finally a fresh scent of fall.

I know I'm going to regret this in the morning, when Hedgie wakes me at 7 a.m. with a demand for waffles! But right now, I just can't bring myself to say goodnight...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Won a Contest, and What a Contest it Was

Thrilled I am to tell you that I, Leah, have won a contest over at MJ's. You can find details and the link over at Just a Housewife.

Here's my prize:

Make of it what you will.

Monday, September 22, 2008


I got a haircut today, and you know how that can make you feel like you're starting over...along with my overlong "flowing" tresses went some of my cares...right onto the East Village salon floor, swept away like crumbs on the High Holidays...

I look pretty serious here in my Ph.D./birth control glasses, but really I'm full of glee and light as air. Just trying to keep the buzz going a little longer...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Beautiful Day

Did you ever have a day so perfect and lovely that by the end of it you felt as if you'd drunk several glasses of good champagne? That was today.

We had made plans with Hedgehog's special friend, and his parents, to take the children to the Museum of Modern Art. Hedgie had never been to the MOMA before, and it is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth, so I was very excited to introduce her to it. Now, all parents know that often when you're excited about doing something with your child, and perhaps have a lot invested in the event, plans can go wretchedly awry--your kid is cranky, she ends up hating it, it's worse than no fun in the end--but this was a remarkable confluence of really good elements: I adore her little friend, he's just as bright and eccentric and kind as Hedgehog, and they really understand each other, you can see it in the way they hold hands and whisper and discuss books they love and concoct peculiar word games. Even better, his parents are two of my favorite people in the world, a rare couple who are capable of more than just staring at their child and discussing, ad nauseam, his habits...or worse yet, god forbid, real estate...or their jobs...(lord knows I can be as guilty of that)...they are so funny, so acerbic, so worldly without being pretentious, so much more than the sum of their child, their apartment, and their career...

And if I sound like I just came back from a really awesome date, well I did...the museum was splendid, we ate lunch first in the cafe (parents, a visit to the art museum should always begin with lunch or a snack to fortify oneself), roamed around and looked at the Pop Art soup cans and the giant matchbook, and marveled over the Jasper Johns and Seurat, and the strange Louise Bourgeois skinny vagina sculptures, and the children were spell-bound by Rousseau's "Sleeping Gypsy," and asked each other, was the gypsy dreaming of the lion, or was the lion dreaming of the gypsy? Were the lion's eyes gentle or fierce?

and the grown-ups laughed over how much Gaugin liked those native much better than hanging around in Van Gogh's ascetic narrow little bedroom...

And there was more food in the dappled sculpture garden, by the soft noise of the fountains, and so much laughter over the kids' heads...and the kids were tired but full of food and saturated paint colors and the movement of the sculpture...

And the subway ride home was crowded and peaceful, and Hedgehog leaned against me and closed her eyes, and murmured that the rocking was putting her to sleep.

I feel now as if I'd spent a day outside in the sunshine, I'm warm and there's a stillness inside me which is very rare indeed...

It was a beautiful day.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We Have Two Winners! Just because I couldn't stop at one...

The first soon-to-be proud owner of a pair of handknit socks in Koigu premium merino is...


Congratulations Kristen!

Details for Kristen: Now go to the previous post and then to the link to Koigu. You'll see all the gazillions of colors there--choose a first and second choice, and then please email me at, letting me know your color choices, as well as your foot length in inches. Oh, and don't forget your address, so that this can get to you!

Edit: Simply because I couldn't stand to not spread the sock love a little more, and because I LOVE to knit socks, I have to choose a second winner to receive a pair of sock. So I put my names back into the random list generator, and the name that randomly came up first was, fittingly,


Well, Random, same deal for you...go to the previous post, pick your top two colors, and shoot me an email with your choices, foot length, and address! Sock love will be yours!

Thanks so much to all who posted the wonderful descriptions of favorite childhood toys. I had such a good time reading them. Stop by anytime

And I must say, contests are fun! I'm brainstorming my next one, perhaps sooner than the 300-post mark.

Friday, September 12, 2008

200th Post and Sock Contest II

Well, it's officially the 200th time I've given myself license to maunder and meander on, covering any and all topics of greater and lesser import. Ah, blogging...

So, going along with tradition, and because I had such a good time knitting the last pair for the very sweet and talented Miss Kim (you can check out the socks here), I'm again holding an Every Hundredth Post Sock Contest. The winner will, as last time, receive a pair of socks knit by me, in the color of their choice, of Koigu Premium Merino.

May I say, as I did last time, that hand-knit socks are really quite a divine experience, if you've never received a pair. If you have, you know what I'm talking about. You just can't beat the spongy comfort and cuddly feeling.

What do you have to do to win these socks? Simply post a comment here, before midnight of Tuesday September 16th, telling us about your favorite childhood toy. I will have a random drawing on September 17th and let you know then who the winner is.

Everyone's welcome to post a comment, don't be shy!

And if you like, check out my other blog, Just a Housewife for another contest...

Thursday, September 11, 2008


"If they are rebuilt, I will dance across again. I will dance across and people will look at the sky and they will believe again that mountains can move. They can move, you know. I have seen it."

--Philippe Petit

Edited: I tried so hard to be minimalist here, but I think simple eloquence will after all elude me. It's a sad day here in Brooklyn, NY. Still there's a visceral memory of fear and pain. I feel that anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach, that one does on the anniversary of something terrible. It was such an awful day, and now seven years later it's just a fragmented jumble--we didn't know then what was happening, or what was going to happen--my sister, at work near the Twin Towers, saw it happen from a window of her classroom--there was a confused cell phone call, in which I advised her to "catch a cab" home, not really understanding--instead she made it to the Williamsburg Bridge just ahead of the debris cloud, and ran across it--I remember our relief when the first military fighter jets flew over Manhattan--and that day and the next days I was home alone with baby Hedgie while Sarge worked round the clock, napping on cots when he could--and that night I camped out on the living room floor and listened to the unearthly quiet outside, like the whole world had died--later, walking in the city with my friend, the heart-stopping sight of the hundreds of missing persons fliers posted outside the New York Armory by family and friends, looking for lost loved ones who were by then all, every single one of them, ghosts...

Dear New York City, I'm still so sorry--dear secretaries and kitchen workers and lawyers and flight attendants--

and dear front line workers and soldiers, those in some cases unwilling and unwitting heroes:

Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth's foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling,
And took their wages, and are dead.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.

A.E. Housman

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The First Day of Second Grade

Today after school I interviewed my little girl about her first day back. Here's what she said*:

Hedgehog, how did you feel about your long vacation? A bit too long. I really was happy to get back to school.

Did you plan a special outfit for the first day of school? Yes, my blue dress with a butterfly on the corner, a v-neck, and a thing that looks like you have a shirt under it.

Did you go for comfort or style? Both.

What was your first impression of the classroom when the door opened? New, different, good, looked like some good board games and stuff. Really just a lot of things entwined.

What was your first impression of your teachers? The younger one, Ann, was pretty stylish, pretty kind-looking, and Clarissa looked as she is--older, still very stylish, and just like the way most people look.

What did they do to welcome you to the classroom? As everyday, we had free choice for about forty minutes, and that was good, enough time to meet some people, though I only did half group the first day.

What did you do during free choice? Well, I fumbled around with the rubber band peg board, something I really had missed from first grade, with Opal.

You had a new lunchtime this year, right? Yes, it's at noon instead of 11, but today they had it at one o'clock because they had so many things to do, though me and Chloe weren't too happy about that.

Why not? Because our stomachs were not thanking us. How do you feel overall about the change of lunchtime? Good, though it'll be kind of hard to adjust--by 12 o'clock we will be kind of queasy because we'll be so hungry.

What are some of your favorite things about this year? I guess the major one is just being in second grade. How does that make you feel? Good, well this morning when you were walking me to school, I felt a little bit older, and by the end of the day, I felt much older like a full-fledged second-grader.

What do you think about having homework this year? I really can't wait for it! What makes it so exciting? I need some hard math and stuff for me to work on--it'll be something to do--and besides, hearing that I have homework makes me feel older.

So, what did you have for lunch today? Chicken teriyaki and rice, they also had spinach, which I like but I decided not to get know, at the salad bar.

You introduced a classmate to some new food today, right? Yeah, I introduced Sarah, who I was sitting next to and seemed like such a picky eater. I was eating the chicken teriyaki and the rice, and I was saying how good it was, and she decided to get it. Then I was raving about the rice, she got that. What was she eating to begin with? Not really anything.

Were there any boys at your table? Were they being gross? That was one thing I love about this year, and not about last year. The boys are not gross. Do you think it's cause they're older? I think it's cause they REALLY won't allow it in second grade...remember the time that Charles painted his tongue with marker? Was that in first grade? Yes, remember he painted it with a blue streak? They say non-toxic, but they don't mean it in your mouth.

What's the grossest thing a boy did at table last year? I think occasionally...I can't really remember, but I think it was something horrid. Did it involve ketchup? Yes, Achilles liked ketchup on everything. On rice, on pasta, I think he might even have liked it on bagel. When I was a little girl, there was a boy who liked to mix mustard and milk and drink it...wait, for some reason it sounds strangely familiar...from your own life? Yes...

So, did anyone get reprimanded today? Well, today, Chloe, who definitely isn't my type, when they turn off the lights and clap, you're supposed to come over to the rug and sit down, but I think she didn't go over to the rug and sit down, and they finally got her to the rug, they reprimanded her: "you are in second grade. you don't do it in first grade, so you really don't do it in second grade." It was a fairly long speech, and that was the basic premise of it. Did you feel embarassed? Well, I think I felt in my heart a teensy bit of glee.

Which teacher does the reprimanding? It was Clarissa who did the reprimanding, because she is the older. You know how there's one person who's the head teacher and one who is the assistant. Clarissa is the main, so Clarissa's going to do the reprimanding. Believe me, I know.

Are they going to have a time-out chair? No, because on the first day only one person needed to get reprimanded. That is a world record. So they might not even need it. But I still say I like how they had steps in first grade: first the chair, then the outside, then Rose's office. There was one time when four boys were in chairs!

Why do you think you feel a bit gleeful when kids get reprimanded? I guess part of it is I'm glad it's not me, but I guess I don't really like these characters, so I don't care how they get reprimanded. Are you glad that they're getting reprimanded? Sometimes. Have you ever been? No, not once in my lifetime. You do have a reputation as a very well-behaved student! I try. Hey, I try.

Do you tend to be friends more w/ well-behaved kids? Yeah, if there's a not well-behaved kid, he or she is not going to earn my trust. Well, she might, but it'll be pretty hard.

What's your favorite plaything in the classroom? Hard to say, because there's a lot of games, puzzles, decks of cards. But I guess one of them is just how they have so much clean white paper and so many crayons, colored pencils, markers thin and thick, oh it's wonderful--they have the best coloring supplies. They've got two big jars of pencils, two big jars of colored pencils, a small crate of crayons, and a whole rack of white paper. And then they've also got a bin full of scraps of cloth for collages, but that's for a big project with the whole class. But it's still just comforting to look at, you know? Oh I do. Occasionally when I'm by it, I use my side vision and look inside. And there's especially a nice piece of leopard skin. And then you haven't heard all of it. There's a big bookshelf full of books, and two racks of picture books, and a white painted bench as well as a big polished crate full of multi-colored puffy pillows, so you can pick up a book, pick a pillow, find a comfy place to read and boy is it comfortable!

Are you going to have free reading? Yes, we have independent reading or partner reading. I found a nice chapter book that I spied in the chapter book bin and Ann told me one of her students before had highly liked it. That begs the question, what's the book? I think it's called "The Tiger Rising." But anyway, it's kind of good. Do you have to write about it? No, we write about things we're reading at home. At home I'm reading "The Fellowship of the Rings" and I'm going to write about that.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell about? No, that's it!

*Names have been changed to protect both innocent and guilty parties.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Two Blogs I Love

Well this bonbon

came my way via Muralimanohar, who herself has a lovely blog, always full of interesting links and ideas and photos.

I'm passing this along to two other blog proprietresses, Mistress MJ (Warning: quite quite dirty) and Miss Faycat.

The rather mysterious and quite hilarious MJ doesn't strike me as an award-y sort of blogger, but still her surreal place, Infomaniac, is a favorite. I've analyzed it, and I've decided that her genius lies in her ability to be both filthy and dignified at the same time. If you haven't already, I recommend The Infomaniac highly. Don't open it up on Fridays at the office if anyone happens to be in the vicinity, and don't blame me if you're not tough enough to take it, LOL.

On a totally different note*, Faycat has a beautiful, inspiring food blog full of gorgeous mouth-watering pictures, and unusual recipes to go with. She likes to make use of seasonal ingredients, and always does a lovely take on comfort food. Check her out if you need an idea for dinner, or just want to ogle food.

There you have it, ladies, I love your blogs!

*Although the bangers in today's post might look a bit, er, suggestive depending on your mindset. Just teasing you Faycat!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

That Mama

I found this the other day when I was sorting random papers, an odd relic from last summer. Well, all I can say is that my family is nothing if not eccentric. I'm not sure which is funnier--Hedgie's use of the antique term "courting," the seeming acceptance of the tedious fact that mama has a crush on a fictional character, or that she wrote it down on paper. To whom is it addressed? Is she trying to warn Sarge of the competition?

We're an odd bunch over here.