September 21, 2014

The Return of the MEU

In April Alex was set to return from his deployment. The 13th MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit) would return from their almost nine month’s away. Of course, Alex wasn’t with his MEU for most of that time. He was on a special assignment in Djibouti which is just as well since he had no great desire to spend nine months on shipboard.

Jim and I wanted to be there to welcome Alex and his fellow Marines home from a successful expedition so we planned a holiday designed to get us on the West Coast with flexibility to be at Camp Pendleton when the MEU returned. The target date was April 24th.

The Marine Corps does a pretty darn good job with ceremony. They really like a good ceremony and all that it represents. The night before the ships were due to port, there was a Family Dinner on base. Jim and I arrived just in time for cocktails at the Officers and Enlisted Personnel Recreation Center. The building is perched high on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was a festive gathering of about 300 family members and friends of the returning personnel. Dinner was exceptionally bad chicken with frozen vegetables, but spirits were high. Most of the evening was a briefing from various officers and chaplains. There were video messages from Commanding Officers congratulating the MEU and the Continue reading

September 13, 2014

Up, Up and Away!!

What do you do when you find yourself celebrating a 31st wedding anniversary in the glorious wine country of Napa Valley?

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Cool Napa morning getting ready to soar!

It was still dark and quite cool when we met with the rest of the group for a quick bite to eat and the trip to the balloons. They were just beginning inflation when we arrived.

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The balloons were like colorful giants waking up in the cool morning air. We were not the only voyagers that morning.

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The valley was filled with the silent giants moving swiftly over the land. DSC03910

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Their passage afforded novel views and perspectives.

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Time was as altered as our perspective. We were moving at 13 miles per hour on the current of the air, but it felt like we were standing still. There was no wind and no sound, but the far off barking of a dog and sometimes the roar of the colorful giant.

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The air warmed and all the great balloons came back to earth. They landed with a thud and a rough slide over the earth. The graceful giants folded into the earth.

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September 6, 2014

Elizabeth Zimmerman Lives On!!

 

 

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That’s some pink yarn!! You probably couldn’t recognize this wool as belonging to Logan, my greatly beloved fleece which I washed, carded, spun and now dyed by hand. There is here just over 1400 yards of lace weight yarn which was specifically spun and dyed to make one of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Pi Shawls. I have not yet attempted such an aggressive lace weight project and I have a warm up planned, but this is ready and waiting.

I actually dyed this yarn once and then re-dyed it. Yes, this is a crazy pink, but the first pink was over the top pink. It looked like a Mariachi band on LSD‘s idea of a pink. It had a purple cast to it which was so outrageous, emergency response vehicles flooded our cul de sac. It was simply too much even for me…

I re-dyed it with a simple pink dye which seems to have taken out the screaming meemie purples.

This is a demanding and difficult process for someone dedicated (although never achieving) perfection. My lace weight yarn is not perfect. The color is not perfect. The pattern may not prove to be perfect. Can I handle this amount of imperfection? Can I enjoy working with this yarn which I worked hard to spin and hard to dye and feel ownership of?

That remains to be seen. What I do know is that I have so many knitting projects lined up that it looks like the Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel at rush hour. A spaghetti-like mess of traffic with seemingly no rhyme or reason. But this has a rhyme and a reason. I want to follow in E. Zimmerman’s gifted footsteps and create an amazing lace shawl. It has taken weeks of spinning, some concerted dyeing and the knitting will be lengthy and demanding, but what else is there? We live to succeed in what matters to us. Maybe the concerted effort is as important as the ultimate product?

Nah. NFW. I want a perfect shawl. I will work to make that happen. this could take a couple years. Yee haw! Meaning in life!!

This pattern was designed by Mwaa Knit in honor of EZ’s 100th Anniversary. See more at http://www.ravelry.com/designers/mwaa-knit

September 3, 2014

The First Day of School

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Good looking teacher

September 1, 2014

“Go forth and set the world on fire.”

St. Ignatius School, Bronx NY

It was a match made in heaven. Perhaps quite literally. The small, Jesuit-run Middle School in the South Bronx was looking for an 8th Grade ELA teacher and the incredibly gifted, natural born teacher with a resume 99% of the world would envy was looking for his first classroom. In August they met and this Wednesday will be their first day of school together.

This past month has been incredibly busy, full of excitement and perhaps a soupcon of nervousness for Jim. After two years of subbing and one extended leave replacement, he finally gets his own classroom. The setting seems ideal. St. Ignatius is a small school with 90 students. Supported almost entirely by private donations, they have a new school building (2006) and a dedicated staff. The classes are divided by gender and all of the children wear uniforms. The school is essentially tuition-free, but parents sign a contract requiring attendance and involvement. This is a school for kids from difficult backgrounds who want to succeed academically and head towards college. 97% of the students are Hispanic and the balance are African-American. Facts about Hunts Point, South Bronx and St. Ignatius (SIS):

  • The poorest of the 435 U.S. congressional districts
  • 49% of Hunts Point families live in poverty compared to 23% national average
  • 100% of SIS students graduate high school compared to local rate of 40%
  • 90% of SIS grads enroll in college compared to 37% of their local peers

As you can imagine this is a very mission-driven organization. Continue reading

July 13, 2014

Kicking Back on Vacation!

Doesn’t every vacation begin with a list? Several weeks before our planned ten days in Connecticut, I headed a sheet of paper with the word, “Vacation.” Jim seemed dismayed when I proceeded to add a good list of projects to be undertaken on vacation. 

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By the time we got to CT and began our ten days of bliss on July 3rd, the list was impressive. Jim seemed unhappy at first and then his energy source kicked in and he kicked it…

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Together we washed all the windows in the house. Boy, did they need it. They are kind of low-end windows and they get foggy between the divided lights and the removable inner storm. Sadly, the “removable” part means cleaning each window involves removing the sashes and dis-assembling each window in addition to removing the storms and screens. It takes a while, but the results are outstanding! We washed all the curtains, too. Our bedroom sparkled. 

photo (13)Jim also re-painted the back wall of the house. It was peeling in spots and we knew we could extend the life of our paint job, if we just cleaned it up. 

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Just look at that satisfied painter with his post-painting beer!

Also on the list was trimming the bushes. I just love to trim bushes. I am perhaps a more eager than skilled trimmer. Once again, I managed to trim the power cord. It is really great that that merely shuts the trimmer off rather than cutting off the life of the person trimming. When Jim went to the hardware store to get the thing that repairs the extension cord, the guy at the store said he had done it three times. Well, that  was only my second. Just look at these bushes…

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Next up garage doors which needed a new coat of paint and the garden which needed weeding. 

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While Jim cleaned the garage, top to bottom, I scrubbed and mopped the kitchen floor. 

By the end of the week, we had everything on the list complete. 

Now, you might think we were all work and no fun, but that would be far from the truth. Quitting time was about 5:30 and that meant we hit the showers and it was cocktail time. A nice woosie strength G&T for me and some craft beer for Jim. We got dinner prep under way and then selected from any number of delightful vistas from the gazebo view of the pond to the front porch or the back patio. 

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After dinner, we sat on the front porch and read or sometimes watched something on Netflix. It was a very congenial schedule. With such clean windows, the sun got us up early and the routine continued. Luckily, we had fantastic weather everyday. Of course, all tasks were balanced with copious amounts of knitting, spinning (for me) and reading (both of us). I began a gorgeous sweater designed by Kathryn Alexander which uses 48 different colors of her hand-dyed woolen yarns and I was also spinning lace weight yarn for a Pi Shawl based on a design based on Elizabeth Zimmerman designed by MWaa Knit on Ravelry. I’ll need 1400 yards so I have a bit of spinning to do. I am, of course, using Logan for it. I think I will dye the yarn blue.  

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The big excitement was Saturday morning about 3 am when a big black bear came and attacked the garbage bin. The noise of the falling bin woke us and we peered out as Mr. Bear took first one bad of garbage, abandoned it and took a second bag which we never did find. Wish I had a picture of the big black bear!

Of course all efforts were closely attended by our fellow vacationer. He might not be much for painting, trimming or cleaning, but he sure does enjoy every meal and he is awfully cute. 

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We were very sad to return to reality, but we left a well-tended home and we will enjoy the fruits of our labors in just five days when we head up again. 

June 29, 2014

Frost Family Re-united During Alex’s Leave

Alex was home on leave for almost three weeks and it was the most wonderful time. Luckily, both Peter and Ellie were around for much of his visit and the five of us (plus Dakota) had a great chance to enjoy being a family.

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Dinner at our favorite Le Relais de Venise

We shared good food, family outings and the beautiful June sun and weather.

Alex spent a good portion of his leave making like a couch potato. As they say, you can take the Marine out of the corps, but you can’t take the couch potato out of the Marine. I guess that’s okay because the man did have a long year with much work. He deserved every minute of relaxation.

We celebrated Ellie’s 21st birthday and Alex and Peter took her out for drinks.

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We also visited another favorite restaurant and had an amazing dinner including Red Cat‘s signature tempura green beans. The only mishap of the evening was Alex had to wear his uniform. We had posed for family pictures right before we left and somehow I jammed the dryer shut with Alex’s khaki pants in it. We had to run for the train and there was nothing to be done. He looked fantastic. We got to ride the train for free and many people came up to thank him, but I think he felt pretty much on display all evening. Of course, Jim fixed the dryer in two seconds when we got home…but then it was too late.

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On our way to dinner, we visited Ellie’s apartment in Brooklyn Heights. Yes, the girl is living pretty high this summer with a pad in the Brooklyn and a two stop commute to Deutsche Bank. It was great fun to see her place and I must admit to a bit of envy.

Alex and I did have a chance to enjoy one of our favorite kayak trips down the Farmington River. After a few days of heavy rain, the river was running high and we had quite a trip! There were more rapids than our kayaks were intended to face and both of us ended up in the water, but it was a great three hour trip.

It may have been almost three weeks, but the time flew by. Before we knew it, Jim and I were driving Alex to JFK and Ellie headed to her apartment for her summer of banking. Peter is still home working at Leslie’s Pool Supply and taking Organic Chemistry. But it was a great visit and we will enjoy our memories for a long time.

In the meantime, check out my gorgeous family. I couldn’t be luckier!!

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May 31, 2014

Marine Mom

DSC04020Looking at the back of my classic red truck, it is pretty easy to get the sense that I am a Marine Mom. I am a very excited Marine Mom because Tuesday my most favorite Marine in the whole world is coming home for almost 3 weeks of post-deployment leave! It is a safe bet that I will have spoiled and smothered Corporal Frost to distraction within 24 hours. Semper Fi!

April 5, 2014

New York Botanical Garden 2014 Orchid Show

It is that time of year. Yes, spring and today truly was one of the first warm, sunny days. But, what I am really referring to is the annual New York Botanical Garden Orchid Show! I clipped the ad from the paper and it has been sitting on the counter for over a week. Probably Jim would rather poke hot needles into his eyes, but yesterday when I got home there was the sweetest blooming phal on the kitchen table and Jim gamely, bravely announced he thought we should head to the orchid show by 10.

Jim's warm up gift to me--a tiny sweet phalaenopsis.

Jim’s warm up gift to me–a tiny sweet Phalaenopsis.

The show was good. The theme was Key West, but it was at best a loosely defined theme. The orchids were amazing. I think even Jim was mesmerized by the infinite variety of unbelievable colors, flower and leaf shapes. It was an unworldly array.

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February 23, 2014

Scads of Scones!

I am not much of a baker. Maybe because I am not hugely fond of sweets and cakes and pie, but baking has never been my thing. I do like scones. A few weeks ago the New York Times had a recipe for scones. I clipped it and one Sunday morning when everyone was still asleep, I mixed up a batch of current and pecan scones.

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They were a big hit. Peter, Ellie and Jim came down to a nice Sunday breakfast with fresh baked scones. They seemed to like it.

The recipe was for Currant Cream Scones and I added the pecans on my own.

So, a couple of weeks later, I made another batch, but this time I made a double batch so Peter and Ellie could take some scones back to school. There was general clamor and acclaim.

Now scone frenzy has erupted in the Frost household. Scones are in major demand. Texts arrive on my phone during the week entreating, demanding, reinforcement of scone supplies. Much discussion takes place of alternate recipes. Ginger, blueberry, with nuts, without nuts–this is all the subject of hot debate.

Peter came home this weekend to keep me company while Jim is off visiting his mother in Florida. Scones were, without doubt, a necessity. Remembering his previous request for ginger, I checked out potential recipes. The winner was Ginger Scones as found on Simply Recipes.  

A double batch was whipped up. Scones for Peter to take back to school. Scones for the freezer for Jim when he gets home and Ellie when she next visits. Scones for tea and breakfast. We are scone replete.

Next up: Blueberry with nuts.

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