Monday, June 23, 2008


Back in April I started working on this great top from last summer's Interweave Knits - the Josephine Top. I was so excited to finally have the skills to do it. I started it in Florida, but then took a little break while I tried to figure out how to do short rows for the bust. I was making great progress. While in NJ this weekend, I finished the cap sleeves and seamed up the sides. When I got home, I finished the neckline and tada . . . . I thought it was done except for weaving in the loose ends.

Looks good, doesn't it?

Um, yeah, no. Can you see what's wrong?

No? Look even more closely.

See it now? The short rows I did for the bust were put in the wrong place and make the top pucker. I had such grand dreams of my new ability to do short rows. Too bad I didn't really know where I was supposed to put them. Not only that, I didn't even needed them to begin with b/c of the expanding and accommodating nature of the v-neck. I should have listened when someone suggested that to me.


Guess what I'm doing tonight? I'm ripping out the neck. And the cute cap sleeves. And the front, all the way down to just above the lace pattern and starting over.


I don't plan unseam the sides where the lace pattern is. No need for that. I'm only going to bother w/ the top pattern. Thought I was done w/ it and had planned to show off my finished product on Weds. but no such luck!

I'm mush

Last night, as I am getting ready to leave my folks' house and head back to Philly, my oldest niece Alex jumped into my arms, cuddling me and saying, "I don't want you to leave Aunt Robin. Please don't go." I'm telling you, I was mush. Then, if that wasn't enough, while she's still cuddling me she says, with no prompting, "I love you Aunt Robin" in her sweetest little voice. I was seriously all mush! So. Darn. Cute!

Here she is as she's playing on the couch. She loved diving off the side and then playing tickle torture with us.

Oh, and if that wasn't enough, little Leah was as animated as can be. That girl has got the biggest and cutest smile . . .

How can I resist?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Our very own Monsoon Wedding

I spent the past weekend in the 'burgh at my cousin's wedding. Normally, it's your typical rehearsal dinner, followed by the ceremony/reception the next night, and then a brunch the next morning. Well, this wedding was very different since my cousin's wife (first time I've said/written that one) is Indian. They did do a Jewish ceremony, but that was after the lavish Hindu ceremony earlier in the afternoon.

I only showed up for the festivities on Friday, but in reality they started the celebrations a week earlier with parties almost every night. My Aunt and cousins must've been exhausted by the end of it all b/c I was wiped out after just a few nights!

Friday night started out w/ the rehearsal dinner at the Grand Concourse in Station Square. What a beautiful building. I don't think my pictures really give you an idea of the intricacy of the stained glass windows. Wow! I ended up sitting w/ some of Anjali's cousins and had a great time learning more about Indian customs and just chatting them up. Some had literally just flown in from India 2 days prior! Here's a picture of part of the family w/ the bride and groom to be:

There were ceremonies that took place during the day on Sthat we didn't attend. These were the purity and cleansing ceremonies for the bride. Also at the ceremony she is painted w/ henna. I couldn't get over how beautiful Anj looked when she showed up at the Sangeet that night.

Alex said that Anj looked like the princess Mulan (she's a little obsessed w/ princesses at the moment).

Saturday night we had the Sangeet at the Concordia Club near Pitt's campus in Oakland. This was another beautiful building. It was mostly Anjali's family and you would not believe the saris the women were wearing. They were so beautiful. And the jewelry! The tables were covered with bangle bracelets for folks to put on and bindis (the jewel between the eyebrows). They also had henna artists upstairs so folks could get their hands painted. I got both my hand and my arm painted.

My mom, aunt, grandmother and great-aunt also got their hands painted.

While this was going on, there were several individual dance performances and then everyone got out on the dance floor and danced to Indian music. After a while we got up and started dancing as well. Turns out my hippie/deadhead style of dancing blended in nicely. ;-)

The food was great all weekend. They had Indian buffets which my friend Maria would have been jealous of. My dad, on the other hand, refused to touch the food. He wasn't as adventurous as some. After the Sangeet we ended up stopping at The O, a fixture near the Pitt campus, so he and my mom could get something to eat. I hadn't been there in ages.

The next day was the actual wedding. By then, we felt like we had already had the wedding reception and there was still more to come. As part of the Hindu ceremony, the grooms family walks in a procession to the brides family, with groom following behind on a horse. The bride's family then welcomes the groom's family and brings them inside to the wedding ceremony. So, here we were, a bunch of white, jewish folk that can't dance, following a van pumping Indian music and "dancing" as we are led to the hotel (about a 1/4 mile away). It was actually quite fun. Some members of Anj's family were with us, telling us what to do and, better yet, showing us how to dance to the music. Turn the light bulb, then turn the light bulb with your other hand, then wash yourself with the towel, etc. It actually made sense while you were doing it.

Alex even got into the dancing . . .

Problem was it was a hot, sunny day and there was no shade. By the time we met up w/ the bride's family and danced some more, I was sopping wet and had to go upstairs and dry off. Sigh. As I said before, the ceremony was beautiful and Anj's sari was, well, magnificent.

It was also great to see Michael in a turban, etc. I had never been a Hindu wedding before. I didn't have much of a clue as to what was going on, but it was really neat to watch the different offerings that were made, the chanting, and the family participation. It was also neat to see the similarities between Jewish and Hindu traditions.

The Jewish ceremony was much shorter, but a little emotional when my cousin put on our grandfather's tallis. It was hard not think we wish he had been there for this since he and Michael had a special bond. Alex was the flower girl and did an excellent job!

I must say, although the 2 ceremonies were very different, they blended them nicely so that the rings were not actually exchanged until the very end, even though there was a point in the Hindu ceremony for it to occur.

That night was the reception, and although our family was wearing the same thing, everyone in Anj's family had changed again and were wearing new saris. I was amazed at all of the clothing changes. Again, Anj's sari was beautiful. I had to leave early to fly back to NJ, but not before we danced a bunch on the dance floor.

In all, it was a great time. These pictures really don't do it justice, but are a small glimpse of the festivities.

And, although she was too young to be a part of everything, how can I not include a picture of little Leah who is getting cuter and cuter by the day!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bike race

Every year the the city hosts the Philadelphia International Championship cycling race. I love watching this race every year. It's amazing how fast these guys (and gals) ride, but even more impressive to me is the fact that the men do 10 laps of a 14.4-mile loop. The loop has 17 hills, including the infamous Manayunk Wall which has a 17% incline! And they do it 10 times!!!!! The women also ride up the wall, but they don't do as many miles as the men.

I normally get to see the race from my apartment which is situated right at the finish line. If I walk down to boathouse row, I see them ride up Lemon Hill which is another steep climb. Here's a picture from a few years ago.

This year, I only saw the men and the women pass by on their first lap. I met up w/ the team for our group cycling practice at the Spring Mill SEPTA stop and rode w/ them to Manayunk. It was a short ride, but really tough b/c of the hills. I wasn't used to them. Anyway, we stopped right at the corner of Levering Street where the riders make the sharp turn off Main Street and begin the arduous trek up the wall. Here are 2 pictures I took on my cell phone as the men were coming around the bend.

And as they passed me on the street . . .

What amazes me is how quickly they ride by you. This pack of bikes (no stragglers, I might add) zipped passed us in about 30 seconds! Not only that, but Sunday was clear skies, 98 degrees and a good 80-90% humidity. It felt like 104! And these guys are about to do 10, 14.4 laps and 17 hills!!!! Amazing!

The reason I didn't get to watch more of the race (well I saw some from my window as I was getting ready) was b/c I had to rush home and catch the train to NYC to see August: Osage County w/ my mom. Aside from the fact that it was an extremely long play (3:20 w/ 2 intermissions), it was excellent! It's been a long time since I've been to a show that I've left and raved about it. It's nominated for 7 Tony's, including best play, and I have no doubt that it will win in that category. If you are ever in NYC, I highly recommend it!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Independence Dragon Boat Race

This summer I finally had some free time to join EPA's dragon boat team.

Our first regatta of the year, the Independence Dragon Boat Regatta was held today in Philly along the Schuylkill River. If you are wondering what the heck is a dragon boat, it's a narrow boat that holds 20 people. Each person paddles on a certain side and everyone paddles in sync to the beat of a drum at the front of the boat.

Pictured here are Philly's finest: the police and the firemen. In their "fun" heat, the cops blew the firemen away. Anyway, this picture gives you an idea of what the boats look like and the set up.

At the beginning of the day, all of the teams participated in a series of heats that determined which division they would compete in later in the day in the semi-final and final heats. I think there were 10-12 heats w/ ~4 teams per heat. There were 6 divisions, A being the fastest and F being the slowest. Our boats placed in the semi-finals for the B and C divisions; I was on the boat that placed in the B division. Everyone was impressed that we were fast enough to place that high.

The races take just under 3 minutes and then we were sitting around the rest of the day. Our first race was at 9AM and our next one wasn't until 2:10. I brought some knitting to help me pass the time. Luckily we were in the shade b/c it was up in the 90s today and with the humidity, it felt like over 100. I drank so much, yet b/c I sweat so much I only had to deal w/ the nasty port-o-potties once!

Since we were up and at the race so early (7:45), we were pretty beat by the time the final heats rolled around at 3:30. As you can see, a number of folks took a nice cat nap. :-)

We placed into the grand finale round of our division (B). Everyone was really impressed that we had placed there since we were up against 3 teams, all of whom own their own boats. Um, most of us made it to only 2 or 3 practices before today. In addition, one of the teams was made up of teenagers (they had youth and weight, or lack thereof, on their side) and the other two teams were the competitive women's teams. So, going into our final round, we knew we were at a disadvantage. In the end, we came in fourth, but were really proud of where we placed to begin with. It really was a lot of fun.

The A division, which had the fastest teams was a great race. They were basically neck and neck during the entire course. As you can see, just before the finish, it was any one's race.

Aside from the heat, it really was a great day. As soon as I got home, I immediately changed into my bathing suit and hopped into my pool. I was so hot, I think that was the only thing I could do to bring my temperature down!

Our team only has two events it participates in at the moment: today's event and one in October. I'm bummed b/c I already know I am going to miss the next one. However, I definitely plan to do this again next year.

For now, I leave you all with a picture of the EPA Dragons!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Walk team - past and present

Last night I got together with a bunch of my walk buddies from Team in Training for a mini-send off for my friend Alisa who is moving to Canada. :(

It was great to get together with these guys, some of whom I hadn't seen in a few years. We really shouldn't wait so long for everyone to get together.

On a side note, tomorrow is our dragon boat regatta and the temperatures will get up to the mid-90s. Wish us all luck that we don't suffer heat exhaustion or dehydration from the heat! We'll be out on the Schuylkill all day.