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Random Stuff I’ve Been Meaning To Say If I Ever Got a Word In

Dear Ann,
So, anybody interested in the Perfect, um, Shrug? I know you thought I might, just possibly might, in a sane world, be finished knitting shrugs. Well, yes, I am finished, for the moment. I prefer to think that I have merely pushed the snooze button on the shrug clock radio. But there are shrugs that have been knitted, yet remain undocumented. I need to fix that.
Here is Julia, modelling her shrug in the Standard Pose, which studies have shown is the pose that shows the One Skein Wonder to best advantage and greatest wonderment.
Aaahh. Look at Julia. The very model of American Girlhood. So demure, so exceedingly well-behaved. Here she is, on Rosh Hashana, prim as all get-out in a shrug made of Blue Heron beaded cotton. But wait–there’s more good behavior:
It’s a double dose of primness! Would butter melt in their mouths? We think not.
Wait a minute–what have we here? Is it a….
…of decorum?….
I believe the technical term for this is Whack Rabbit Dancing.
Nova Scotia: Birthplace of Lox and Hooked Rugs
Been meaning to show you this lovely thing:
My sister-in-law, aka Aunt Kathy, bought this last summer in Nova Scotia. Rug hooking was, until quite recently, a subsistence craft there, practiced by men and boys as well as women and girls. This beauty was hooked by a man. He made the ‘patches’ replicate the patterns woven into the cloth he used. The plaids are particularly cool. While in Nova Scotia, Aunt Kathy found a wonderful rug hooking shop in Mahone Bay. You root around in old clothes to pick your fabrics, which the proprietress then turns into balls of strips while you wait.
It’s so easy and satisfying that kids willingly do it. Both Maggie and Paul have projects of their own design on the go. In case anyone is wondering why a boy in the Bronx is dedicating a rug to the glory of David Beckham, here is a glimpse of Paul’s bed. (To our friends in the British Isles: That is the only ‘football’ content you will see here for a good long while.) I love that this rug-hooking skill is so easily picked up, and that even a beginner can design their own project and get such good results. Must take it up in my spare time.
Note: Last paragraph was edited to provide link to Spruce Top, the rug hooking shop in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia where Aunt Kathy got the rug and the makings of Maggie and Paul’s projects. The man who made Aunt Kathy’s rug is Raymond E. McMahon, who happens to be the featured artist on Spruce Top’s website right now. Hey! He’s from Queens, New York! (P.S. For those concerned, Paul does know that Beckham has changed teams. However, Paul’s own soccer coach, who hails from Ireland, has imbued his young charges with great devotion to Manchester United, hence Paul’s decorative, um, flourishes.)
Despite the nonstop drenching rain, we’ve had a wonderful time over the Jewish holidays. Yesterday, on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), I fully enjoyed the 45 minutes I spent in front of the smoked fish counter at Zabar’s. Hemmed in on all sides by people like myself, who had been tasked, while other family members prayed, to get provisions for the ‘Break Fast’ meal (traditionally, a suppertime ‘breakfast’ of bagels and lox), I got to watch New York at its best. People were making nice–aw!–it’s so cute when New Yorkers are nice to each other. Makes you think they’re from out of town.
A dozen expert slicers manned (and I do mean manned) the long cutting board; I heard Russian, Spanish, Chinese and several accents of good old Noo Yawkese spoken while I waited. A Chinese slicer wished a customer ‘Happy New Year’, and he responded, ‘Thanks, and to you, too!’ Another customer, dressed in a dark suit and tie– like someone who might just have come from synagogue? — let several numbers go ahead of him while he waited for his ‘regular’ counterman. When the man was free, the customer ordered his pound of ‘Novie’ (lox lingo for ‘Nova Scotia salmon’). The counterman held out a sliver to taste (this is VIP treatment, lemme tellya–the customer/counterguy bond has to be rock-solid) The customer blushed and said, ‘No taste today.’ Ahem. I guess he was fasting. Anyway, this parade of lovable, appetizing-crazed humanity kept me entertained until it was time to go stand in the rain on the sidewalk in front of H & H Bagels. (C’mon, where else you gonna get your bagels on such an auspicious day? Gristedes? Feh!)
I’m sure you’d prefer that I take this extraneous, neither neck- nor sleeve-related blather to the lounge (I can tell by the way you’re fiddling with your laser-pointer and rolling your eyes). I’m off to Rhinebeck tomorrow for a few glorious hours of mud, muck, and matted sheep! Woo-hoo! Look for me! I’m shy! Yes I am!
Love, Kay



  1. As a Southern Baptist, I know very little about the Jewish holidays but I just love watching them unfold here at MDK. It sounds like a wonderful day. And here in Northern California, I’d give just about anything for a day of good old fashioned soaking rain. The endless clear skies and mild temperatures get boring after a while. I want to stand in the rain for bagels and lox!!!

  2. I want lox now, and I don’t even know what it tastes like.
    Lucky me, we have a Noah’s Bagels around here somewhere that serves that sort of thing. Dang Presbyterians and their boring potlucks…I want some food holidays.

  3. I loved this post,especially your description of your visit to Zabar’s, now on my list of places to visit on the next trip to the city. (I visualized a Maira Kalman-like scene at the counter.)
    The shrugs are darling, but how could they miss on those two cuties?

  4. I hate to break this to Paul, but Beckham’s team is not pronounced “Man-chester united” anymore, but “Ray-al Madrid” 😉
    Amy (who supports Bolton Wanderers), in Manchester.

  5. H & H ships?! You have just saved me from unboiled round bread … here, let me return the favor: http://www.mashtimalone.com, the finest saffron & raosewater icecream LA has to offer.

  6. I was longing for Carrie to drop the drawing room languor and give us some sizzlin’ air guitar. Rock ON!

  7. Wonderful shrugs! Stylish girls, they are. Hope your holidays are just wonderful. xox,

  8. Kay, I have seen the future of Break Fast shopping and it is at the uptown Fairway. At 8:30 in the morning, the place was practically empty. (I wonder if fasting is atonement enough for food shopping on Yom Kippur.) And the Fairway smoked salmon is right up there with Zabar’s, I swear. My Break Fast guests loved it and, given that they hadn’t actually fasted, it wasn’t simply their hunger talking. (I, for one, could have eaten shoe leather and declared it ambrosial.) You may still have to brave the line at H&H but you should know that the bagels at Absolute Bagels on 108th and B’way are pretty great and, again, no lines (at least not at 9:30 in the morning.) Zabar’s/H&H does, of course, offer the more colorful holiday experience–the Upper West Side at its finest. But with the time you’ll save you can make the most awesome noodle pudding known to man/woman/personkind. If you want the recipe, give a shout. There are no nasty raisins, I promise. (Though you can add them if you like.)
    Hope to see you in the muck and mire at Rhinebeck tomorrow.

  9. I’ll see you Zabar’s and raise you Esse-Bagel, at 53rd and 3rd (I think). Same UN approach to staff, but with a crazy old guy who always talks to the ladies and calls my niece “Princess”. We’re in NJ and when we have company, we do the “drive-by”. Leave home at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, go there for breakfast, then Starbuck’s, then a complete loop of the city in the car with an “occasional jump out and take picture” stop. Gets them everytime!

  10. Kay, I loved this post – I wish to add that at my flower shop today I eavesdropped on some cross-cultural Jewish/Muslim fasting talk. I wish so badly I was going to Rhinebeck tomorrow!!! Have a wonderful weekend. A.

  11. The only thing I miss about NYC is the bagels. Thanks for the memory.

  12. So if (heaven forbid) I should ever find myself in NY, I’m coming to you, and we’ll spend days, DAYS, eating. As my brother used to say after grace and before Thanksgiving dinner, “Let the feeding frenzy begin”.

  13. Love the pictures of the girls … they’re cute when demure, but fanTAStic when Whack Rabbit Dancing!
    Hope to see you at Rhinebeck …

  14. I had such a good laugh at this post. I think I’ll need no tourist guide to NYC, just a print-out of your blog.
    Hugs, Thomas

  15. There’s a big deli here in Nashville called . . . Noshville. GET IT? It’s OK not great, but it does have pickles so sour that they turn your head inside out. Noshville will never compare to the beloved Schwartz’s, which became Goldie’s about ten years ago but is still stubbornly referred to as Schwartz’s. A Mrs. B (pastrami/muenster/cole slaw/onion roll) will stay with you for a week, I tell you. I could go for one right this minute.
    The David Beckham tribute is worthy of adoration. So great.
    Is it still raining there? What is with the rain? I can’t wait to see the mucky photos from Rhinebeck. Nothing like a wet sheep, if you ask me!

  16. I…still fail to understand the shrug phenomenon. Perhaps it’s that I’m old (and large) enough that my arms really should show, plus it just seems like it’s only half there. Which I suppose is the point, but I just don’t get it.
    Lord, I’m turning into the crabby lady in the house at the end of the street. :O

  17. OK, first I want everyone to read Ann’s comment carefully. This is archetypal Nashville: Goldie’s is still called Schwartz’s. Nashville directions go something like this: “How do you get to Love Circle?” “You turn right at the corner where Albertine’s house used to be.” Albertine’s house was torn down at least 15 years ago, but IT’S STILL A LANDMARK. How many Nashvillians does it take to change a light bulb? Three! One to change it and two to talk about how good the old one was.
    I used to love Esse Bagels when my buddy Ellen lived around the corner. She, too, left New York and moved back to our beloved hometown. She lives not too far from Ann, of course.
    And finally, my favorite “I moved to New York from the provinces and survived” book title: “Pink Fish on Stale Donuts.”

  18. Those little girls are so cute!!!!!!!

  19. Is that the same rughooking as when I was younger and you get about a million two inch pieces of yarn and make little knots of each one? It looks slightly different to me. Looks like another fun craft though 🙂

  20. Ess-A-Bagel ROCKS! 😉

  21. Kay darling, it was wonderful to meet you in Rhinebeck!! still haven’t thought of the name of that Chevy Chase movie…..

  22. We see now why Kay pretends Judiasm with Hubbo & the kids. Although we don’t see why she shouldn’t shop in advance so she could go to RUSS & DAUGHTERS for the best best best fish in town.
    Happy New Year!

  23. love, love love these pics!!!!! it was already your doing that i got the one skein wonder pattern to make one for cocoa pebbles, but this post is the clincher — i’ve got to start it!
    so sorry that i missed you at rhinebeck!

  24. I’m not sure where I heard this before… but here goes for Paul- “If you’re not a Manc, you’re a Wank!”
    – and I live in Indiana 🙂


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