Archive for September, 2014

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

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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?


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.







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







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






Their passage afforded novel views and perspectives.








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.












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

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.

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