January 28, 2014



Knitting has taken over my mind. It began this past summer while in the States where a dear friend was hosting a beautiful dinner party by her new pool. After we were all tucked in sipping cocktails and catching up, another friend arrived, sat down, and pulled out her knitting. She might as well have pulled out her toothbrush. “You brought your knitting?”  the battle cry sounded round the pool. Somehow it seemed an offense, a predetermination that the guests were not going to be interesting enough and alternative forms of entertainment were required.

As I watched her knit and chat and chat and knit I remembered how I taught  myself to knit and crochet in 7th grade out of Women’s Day Magazine.  I recalled knitting and crocheting my way through my teens then completely dropping it in college never to be thought of again – till now.

The next day I went to the local yarn shop to have a sniff around. In need of a creative project I was completely done in by the gorgeous colors and textures. The last yarn purchased had been at either Marshall Field’s or the 5 and Dime, but it was all the same. Acrylic and kind of plasticy in uninspiring colors. This knitting explosion of the past decade had mined amazing artisans who handcraft the most yummy textures and changing the dynamic. Todays knitting is colorful, creative, immediate and cool baby.

We knitted the summer away, as I inspired my 12 year old daughter to take up the cause as well as my mother, and anyone else who didn’t run. Upon returning to England my mission (well, one of them) was to source every great yarn shop in London. Favorites so far are:

At one of the shops I came across a card for the London Knitting and Stitching Show. Be still my heart. Stockists from all over the world under one roof to peruse at my leisure. Are you kidding?

Outside The Knitting & Stitching Show London

Outside The Knitting & Stitching Show London


Queue of yarn enthusiasts to enter show at Alexandra Palace London

Queue of yarn enthusiasts to enter show at Alexandra Palace London

Color and texture

Color and texture

So the knitting continues. When I am tired and want to relax but still be productive nothing suits the bill better. Out comes the yarn down goes the stress. I understand why our friend was so mystified by the reaction of all the non knitters at the party. What better way to make the evening perfect?

February 20, 2013

2013-06-07 09.15.17
Keeping in mind that England invented train travel, it is a country that knows how to take a train. My children’s favorite character for years was Thomas the Tank Engine, heralding from England. We loved Thomas so much that he played a key role in three different birthday parties. Thomas the Tank come to our house and drove countless cheering children around the neighborhood. We also have in storage possibly every Thomas the Tank Engine toy ever made. So it is with amusement and curiosity that we revel in the amazing English train system. The Rev. Wilbert Awdry, creator of the original four Thomas the Tank Engine books opened each book with a letter to his son Christopher:

“Dear Christopher,
Here is your friend, Thomas The Tank Engine.
He wanted to come out of his station yard and see the world.
These stories tell you how he did it.
I hope you will like them because you helped me to make them.

Some days people watching on the train is better than others. Recently my mother and I were traveling on an unusually crowded morning. Sitting in a “sixer” with three seats facing three seats is a cozy situation in which to be confronted by strangers, but if it’s a seat you take what you can. Sitting across from us was a lovely lady and gentleman who did not appear to know each other. Next to me was a girl deeply immersed in her Filofax and ipod. Together we happily sat ,like chickens in a coop, quietly awaiting our destinations.

Halfway into our journey a passenger pushed through to the one remaining seat in our “sixer”. She was of an indeterminate age, jet black hair (the term jet black coming from the black stone in Yorkshire – just sayin) save a few grays sprouting up front. She carried several new plastic bags filled with goods, clobbering us all with them while getting to her seat. The lady was very petite, wearing a vintage white Chanel jacket, and fatigued with her journey. She opened one of her bags and took out the tiniest diary I have ever seen in use, and checked her details with a teeny, tiny pencil. As my mother and I chatted I noticed the diary was gone , but had been replaced with face toner and a cotton pad. While swabbing her face I sensed a toilette about to begin. “Oh my God” my mother stated as our neighbor pulled out tinted moisturizer , pumping it into her hands and spreading it (quite evenly) all over her face. Now we are both watching as the blush and mascara come out, along with an enormous club sandwich the size of her head which is heartily and loudly eaten. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she pulled out a shower” states my mother in a stage whisper. Not so quietly that our neighbor across the way doesn’t hear her. She looks up, we all lock eyes and it’s over. Non-stop, uncontrollable giggling. Oh sure, we looked out the windows, at the ceiling , on the floor to divert our attention but nothing helped.

Then out came the popcorn.

Never has popcorn been eaten with such gusto, every kernel sucked through and macerated into oblivion.

Cue commencement of the teeth picking.

My mother, myself and our neighbor convulsed in laughter, tears pouring down our faces, not able to catch a breath. Half the train started giggling. Now, my mother and I have been known to giggle uncontrollably at inappropriate times. I’m not sure this was one of them. As for our source of amusement, she was completely oblivious – to any of it.

Ah, train travel.

January 10, 2013

We live in an area where every house has a gate.

It is unusual in the U.S. but very common in England. I think it goes back to a moat mentality, fearing conquerors in knight dressage leaping onto ones property at any given moment. So now we all have gates. They are old and creaky and not reliable. I told this to my “letting” agent upon signing our lease but he did not agree. Fast forward to an icy, cold London morning with a sick child at home.

It was one of those mornings where everything was off. My daughter woke up ill with the virus that was flying through her school. After racing out the door, late for other two’s school run, I realized that I did not have my phone. Is there any panic like not having your phone, lifeline to the universe? Normally I would have enjoyed the break but with my daughter home, alone, and feeling awful I felt full on panic. Additionally, I had to pick up a package at school and tick tock it was taking FOREVER. Finally back on the road – about a 20 minute drive in moving traffic, screech into the driveway, push the button – and gates do not open. What the %^&$ ? Why won’t the gates open??? I get out to call on the intercom and it is silent. Now I am truly hyperventilating. Child inside, can’t get in – only one possible solution – climb over the gate.

No problem, I can push myself over.

After five heave-hos I am riding the the ice covered brick part of the gate bare back holding onto that mare for dear life. Now what? I could stay, frozen till help arrives (possibly never) with my ailing child inside the house or I could roll myself off the gate with the grace of a hippopotamus and go splat on the other side. I voted for the roll. Slowly, slowly, eeeerrrrgghhhhhhhhhhh, got it. Success. Run inside the house to find said daughter relaxing in front of the TV. “You forgot your phone”.

I know.

September 12, 2010

I sat with a learned man recently who told me the story of the frog in boiling water. Evidently frogs are very thick skinned and possibly not particularly smart. So, say a frog is put in a pot of water at room temperature and is  happily swimming around. As the temperature of the water is turned up the frog continues to swim unaware of the increasing heat because it adapts to the temperature. It adapts and adapts and adapts and then BOOM – dead.

Eww. Not a good story. But as I overcame the utter gruesomeness of it , I thought it actually is quite a brilliant analogy. Think of mothers. All the mothers of young and growing children that I know knock themselves out on a daily basis. They are exhausted and harried, constantly trying to catch up. It doesn't start out that way. Originally, as motherhood descends, the woman's life is still as she has known it for probably all of adulthood. But things happen. Children have needs and the needs of a baby doesn't come close to foreshadowing the needs of the bigger ones. Then, often, there is more than one. Or two. It's not like they have less needs just because there is more of 'em. But there is still only one mother. Ah, that's the rub. We don't multiply in ratio to the size of our growing families. So we adapt and we adapt and we adapt and then BOOM – we no longer remember who we were to begin with.

If every day we start to recover a small piece of our authentic selves, and nurture it with a modicum of  care, perhaps we can create a truly satisfying balance of past and present.

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