Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Weekend Getaway

This past weekend we took the train down to New York City, for no special reason, except that there are a lot of things we enjoy about visiting the city.   There's the walking around and checking out the scenery, such as City Hall Park.

There's the food.  Traditional NYC deli food at the Second St. Deli.

There's the bookstore (best slogan seen there;  "Make America Read Again!"), and the more food.  In this case, really excellent meatballs.

There are the really gorgeous buildings. 

And, of course, museums.   Saturday was pretty nice for February- dry and about 45°F (7.2°C for my Canadian friends).  But there was still a lot of slush on the streets, and we had planned for more indoor pastimes than outdoor.   We went to see an exhibit on the history of zoning in the city at the Museum of the City of New York.  Much of it was a lesson in unintended consequences and misplaced incentives.  Such as efforts to get builders to include public space in their planning which resulted in dozens of giant towers sitting in the middle of ugly bare plazas. 

We went to see the Cuba exhibition at the Museum of Natural History, and while we were there also took in the disturbing but inspiring exhibit Countdown to Zero, talking about the efforts to eradicate various diseases.  The Cuba exhibition was split between a rather superficial look at the people and history- the oppressive nature of the government there was soft-pedaled considerably- and a rather more interesting look at the native flora and fauna, including many species that are found only on Cuba.  I highly recommend it.  

Sunday it was colder and we dodged ice pellets in the morning, which turned to rain and finally drizzle as the day wore on. 

At the Met, we went to see the exhibit on Picturing Math, which featured a number of drawings and prints from the Met's collections.  We found it a bit uneven- many of the older prints were gorgeous.   Some of the modern pieces were interesting, others would not be out of place in a high-schooler's geometry homework (one who wasn't necessarily passing).  One of the more intriguing was a series of equations that were done as a collection by asking scientists and mathematicians to show the artist what they thought was the most beautiful equation.   That exhibit would have been better, I thought, if there had been some effort to explain the equations or represent them visually.   As an engineer, I recognized many of the equations, but didn't have the gut level understanding to appreciate their artistic qualities.   From the math exhibit, we just wandered- there was a spectacular photographic exhibit.  We lost ourselves in French 19th century paintings for a bit while tracking down the finished version of a sketch we'd seen in drawings exhibit. 

It was after that, we went to lunch, and to see the Skyscraper Museum, which is small but interesting to us geeky engineer types.  And then we finished up with a visit to Fraunces Tavern (where George Washington and his officers drank during the American Revolution), and a short visit to the NYC branch of the Museum of the American Indian.   We hadn't expecially planned that last, but it proved another interesting stop.   The building alone was worth the price of admission:
It's located in the Alexander Hamilton Customs House.  And we spent a pleasant hour in the Central American section before the museum closed and we headed off to our last dinner in the city.  After a certain amount of dithering, we decided on more deli food, and went to Katz's, and then waddled off to Penn Station in a stuffed condition. 

Somewhat to our relief, the train was on time, and we got back to Boston to find freezing rain in the city and snow-covered roads outside it.  So our weekend finished up at 1:30 AM Monday morning with us shoveling out a huge snowbank in front of the driveway so we could get the car into the driveway.   But it was a terrific weekend, and entirely worth it!  (There was lots of train knitting, so progress was made but nothing finished.)

And, the slideshow:

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Sound of Snowplows

There are many sensory associations I have with winter- the sound of the wind, the sharp cold scent of the air, that translucent shade of pale, pale, blue in the sky that you only seem to get on a clear winter day.  But one of the most evocative sounds is the sound of snowplows, scraping and clunking away outside in the dark, while I'm cozy indoors.

I'm not sure there's anyone on the eastern seaboard who hasn't heard about the snow today in the northeast.   It was only the third time in eleven years that my work has closed early due to weather.  It was a slow drive home- windy and snowy with poor visibility, but not otherwise notable.  It did mean that I got to work at home in the afternoon with Biscuit on my lap.  At least until he got annoyed that I kept tapping on the keyboard instead of paying attention to him.   Then he bit me.  I yelled at him and summarily dumped him off.

He grumped away in a dudgeon, and although he did eventually come back and settle next to me on the couch, I think he's still a little miffed.

It's been a pleasant quiet evening.  We had waffles for dinner, and I finally got around to blocking the hat, scarf and socks, as well as washing the blue skein of sock yarn from last week.   Here's an FO shot of the scarf:

Really, rather a lot like the last picture, but longer and without the knitting needles.   But the real charm of this yarn is only evident when you look more closely.   The cottony poofs are super soft, and the rayon twined around them has a subtle shine.
It's still not really my thing, but it has its own charm, and hopefully will provide comfort and pleasure to whomever winds up with it.

In addition to the sock, I've started to do some work on a baby afghan.  Inexplicably, I appear not to have shown it to you before. It was a WIP that arrived on my doorstep some years back, along with the blue sock-yarn sweater.  And I'd always meant to do something with it.  It's a series of strips, and while there's no instruction on how they're meant to be joined, I have a  plan.
Or at least I did until I laid them out side by side, and remembered why I hadn't just sewn them together ages ago.  The problem is, there aren't enough of them.  I have five, and a fair bit of yarn.  But it's going to need at least another four or perhaps six to make it a reasonable size for a blanket.  It did have the pattern with it, however, handwritten in pencil.  So I cast on a new strip, quickly realized that my gauge is way different, went down a needle size to get gauge, and am finding the pattern rather charming, not to mention that the narrow width gives you a nice sense of progress, as the piece lengthens very quickly.
We'll see how it goes.  This is going to be a test of my finishing skills, as putting these strips together is going to need some care to do neatly.

And last but not least, a new pair of mittens.  I'm eager to finish off this brown variegated yarn.  Together with the scarf/hat set, finishing this yarn will use up a whole bag from the stash.  A small bag, only five skeins, but certainly welcome.

And with all this snow?  Someone is going to need them!