A Star(lab) for the teacher

This is one of those rare, it-only-happens-to-other-people kind of stories, a story that whether you are a family member, a friend, or a person of the human race would appreciate. But, in this case, it didn’t happen to a stranger, it happened to my Dad!  So, I must capture the beauty of it so I can spread the word that values of appreciation, kindness, and gratitude are still evident in our world today.  Passionate in every way, here is how a lifelong interest of one inspired another not only through the years of direct instruction but also motivated her esteemed career in the field of science.  And how ultimately, over 50 years later, that student came back to this Buffalo area to thank him.

That teacher is my dad, Richard Zygmunt. Growing up, his enthusiasm for astronomy filled our backyard with his homemade telescopes, filled our Saturdays with lessons taught at the Buffalo Museum of Science, and filled our summers with the lessons he taught about the celestial skies from the little observatory he built on the hill of a local summer camp.

Through the years, he would study the sky either on his own or in groups with fellow astronomers. Telescopes were built by them and used for study. Here, a star-gazing group has convened.

As any astronomy-enthusiast would, he and others attended the very recent re-opening of Buffalo Museum of Science’s Kellogg Observatory.  After checking out the new telescopic equipment,  well, they posed.

It was in early August of 2018 when my Dad received this letter.

“Thank you for attending the grand opening celebration for the Kellogg Observatory.  With the re-opening of the Kellogg Observatory, the Buffalo Museum of Science cotinues its transformation, our reverence for our past informing ambitions for the future.
As an educator, you shaped Museum experiences and crafted memories your students cherish to this day.  You instilled a love of learning and an appreciation for the boundless possibilities space holds.  I am honored to inform you that your legacy of inspiration will continue to touch generations of Museum goers for years to come.
With this letter, the Buffalo Museum of Science formally acknowledges that your former student, Dr. Cora Musial has gifted a digital planetarium in your honor.  You taught Cora when she was a Museum Kid, and took her on her first visits to the Kellogg Observatory.  Cora explained that your astronomy classes “Stars and Constellations” and “The Sun and Its Family” inspired her and instilled in her a lifelong love of all things celestial.  To this day, she still has the notebooks from your classes.  
In the Richard Zygmunt Planetarium, the Buffalo Museum of Science will continue your work of capturing the imagination and fostering a new generation of star-gazers.  We are honored.” Sincerely, Marisa Wigglesworth, President & CEO
December 12, 2018

Family and friends gathered and celebrated. Here we are listening to the plan for the evening which included a demo of the digital planetarium’s possibilities for education and party sleep-overs.

We gathered outside the starlab, first, for a family photo and then, inside the structure to more fully understand the power of this high-tech learning tool.

Below, is a close-up of the plaque printed right on the digital starlab’s fabric.  No question about this dedication, a truly heartfelt thank you from student to teacher.

Cora, as you can see, was a museum kid turned Dr. Cora Musial, Infectious Disease Specialist.  Check out to what extent she shared his passion. Below, she is showing her former teacher the notebook that she still has with the notes she took from his classes.

Check out the date.  If you’re wondering, yes, she took her notes in handwriting during class, then re-typed them at home!  I heard it being discussed that these notebooks will be placed into the archives of the Buffalo Museum of Science.

May the minds of young ones be filled with the knowledge, interest, and wonderment of the skies above with help from the Richard Zygmunt Planetarium for years to come. And, not so bad that my Dad was given this recognition and appreciated for his fine teachings in this field.

Leg-o-Mutton ‘THEN’

I think it is interesting to hear of what inspires each of us.  For my inspiration, I can’t think of a time when I reached for any Vogue Knitting publication that I didn’t end up wanting to make at least one item from it.  Oftentimes, more.  This has remained true for over 40 years.  Now, currently on Ravelry, such magazines, publications, designers of well-known fame as well as fledglings have ‘groups’ one can follow.  From there one can drill down and find things like KALs (knit alongs) and surprise KALs (just that, clues per week to lead to a surprise garment in the end).  These things are found in ‘forums’.  These niceties  are all meant to inspire or motivate the knitter in us.  Well, the Vogue Knitting Group is no exception.  It offers challenges, and I am right in line to accept them.

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The Poncho Wrap

Is it a poncho?  Is it a wrap?  The designer, Vladimir Teriohkin names his design Helio Poncho, which means combining form.  Whatever you call it, it could not be easier to knit and exceedingly fun to wear.  Think, a few inches of ribbing, followed by a rectangle in straight stitch with a hole in it towards one end, and ending with the same number of inches in ribbing.  When complete,  pick up stitches around that hole for a nice 8 inch cowl.  It is as simple as that.  Knitted in Homespun from Lion Brand, a chunky, curly yarn, it knits up quickly and is impressively soft..  Wear it casual with moto joggers for Christmas tree shopping or fancy it up with more formal wear for an evening out,  The photographer snapped these photos while I was adjusting the multitude of ways of wearing.  We are at a Buffalo-famed ice cream shop, Anderson’s who rents out their lot to a Christmas tree farm every holiday season.  Paul Bunyan has stood proudly for years positioned along a main drag to announce the farm’s return to the local community.  So, here we are starting out where I’ve slipped this rectangle over my head, short length in front.

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Me-ssoni for Tech Geeks

I am talking about a recently finished garment, my first of 2018.  First due to the nature of my newly single life (adjusting/managing/accepting) but also first due to the intricacies of what was on my needles.  In all fairness to the publisher of Vogue Knitting, the pattern was marked as ‘expert’ which means a high level of difficulty to knit, so I guess I was warned.

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Detroit, Anyone? I did not take my knitting . . .

Yes, we chose Detroit for a little R & R.  Why, you might ask?  Here are a few reasons.

“One of the most beautiful homes on Airbnb. This is a 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom historic home in one of the most beautiful, one of a kind neighborhood of Detroit. Woodbridge is in Midtown, and a mile from most of Detroit’s finest sights, art, and stadiums. My wife and I are in Greece for at least six months helping refugees and your stay is our only revenue keeping us there. Thank you!”

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Reader-Inspired

I decided to take the time this evening to see why your blogs seemed to stop. I enjoyed them so very much. I sent you a note for information on the Tom Scott piece and you kindly answered so knitting that now. I have been taking care of things here as my 30-ish son had a heart transplant and thus lives here now with me forever. I have not had time for much else. I am heart broken because I now know why you have not done your fine blog now.I am so very sorry for your loss and hope you have managed to find a life without him.

What a kind message I received and what a motivation to get back to writing!

I have been struggling getting thought into words.  This is the longest I have gone without a blog post since beginning my website some 5 – 6 years, ago.  I don’t think it is necessarily that I am busier than I have ever been as I’m a girl who has always had a full plate.  I don’t think it is all the extra tasks I’ve had to take on running a household as one.  And, I have had knitting in my hands which typically inspires my writing.  I think it is just that thing they call writer’s block.  I’ll attempt getting back into blogosphere by sharing some recent goings-on.  In no particular order:

An impromptu presentation at the Buffalo Knitting Guild with my projects made from remnant stash

Habitat for Humanity activities and purchase (to support the cause)

Habitat for Humanity celebrates its 300 house at in the city of Buffalo at 42 Wende St., as well as welcome the Hissu family to their brand new, four-bedroom home, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. New owner, Awal Hissu is on the front steps of his home. He’ll be moving in with his five-year-old daughter Sumyen Ominew, videotapes all those at the ceremony. He put in 450 hours of labor on other habitat houses and then 50 hours on his own. This is part of the agreement for habitat home owners. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

I joined a running club

participated in activities with family

was shown fishing from boat side

took a trip or two to NYC for training with the Rochester cohort (6 week employment gig)

went to see Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin at the Blanton Museum with family

hung out with some pretty terrific neighbors

and got a hair cut.

Then there was this little house project.

Knitting, you might be wondering?  This Missoni, I call it Me-ssoni is beginning to take shape!

Kick in the butt

This post nor this project is either big, nor fancy, but writing it is meant as a personal kick in the butt or more politely said, motivation to get MOVING with this adorable project. The always alluring patterns from Tiny Owl Knits are just that, alluring, worked up or just admired on the printed page, the forest themed animals always call to me. This is my very first shawl (and likely last) but that owl . . . could not resist her and will be a lovely addition to the set of forest creatures growing in my hand knits . . . bear (yes, I made two), fawn, and snake (look for cabling around the hem).

Now, to get GOING!!!  Look at how adorable!

Gift yarn to boot!

21 feathers, I need 44.

and, body is coming along. . .

Let’s see if writing about this project is the kick I need to finish it!

A Valentine for Late Hubby

Roses are red
Violets blue
Your loved ones
Are remembering
The day I married you!

Roses are Red
Violets blue
now collected in my heart
are memories of you

Roses are red
Violets indeed are blue
I will stop by
and blow a kiss to you

Life does go on
whether we like it or not, tis true
I can no longer say
Happy Anniversary to you

It is a constant that roses are red
and violets blue
As with things tangible
we can count on remain true

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Life is now offering
A new point of view.

 

Full-on Indulgence including Runway Revisit, 2018

If you are a follower of VKL (Vogue Knitting Live), you may be aware that this event in NYC is historically held in January.  After travel debacle of December, I was fully aware January could prove the same.  JetBlue, however served its travelers well, weather cooperated, and I found myself at VKL NYC 2018 in good form.

Having attended the event before, I knew what to expect but wanting to make something new of the occasion, I chose to volunteer at the event.  That immediately changed the dates of travel due to a volunteer meeting held on the Wednesday evening before.  It also meant two glorious extra days in the city and lots of decision-making on how to spend that time. When the weekend was all said and done, as in all travel, there were certain moments, expected and otherwise, that stand out, so with this post, those are the moments I will highlight.

Wednesday ~ easy travel.  With room readily available and map in hand, I settled in for my stay and planned where I was going to ‘tour’.  It was a simple choice.  Mood, of course followed by Bryant Park.  Why?  I am a huge fan of Project Runway and wanted to see (and possibly shop) the fabric store where PR contestants make their purchases in the competition and Bryant Park hosts the final fashion show.  So, off I went with my poor sense of direction but great determination.

I found this (admittedly after 2 mile jaunt in the wrong direction) :

So excited, I walked in.  As a tourist does, I snapped these.

Bolts and bolts of fabric miles long and miles high.  A few floors just like this.  Then, I asked where Swatch was.  (Swatch, to you unknowns of the reality show is the visiting pooch of Mood.)  And, I was told I was in the upholstery section of Mood NOT the fashion section where Swatch typically hangs out!  WHAT??  Never suspecting and already in heaven she pointed to the door.  I was to take the Olmstead (a familiar name) elevator to the third floor.

WOW.  I immediately recognized THIS as what I was seeking . . .

Black in EVERY fiber!

And . . . where fabric gets bolted, cutting boards, patterns, and classrooms!

Of course, I asked about Swatch again.  He was not there that day, but I did spot this which filled my heart.

On leaving Mood, I was quite satisfied having found it that I wasn’t too disappointed having not purchased anything.

My next desire was to find Bryant Park.  Back to scouting my map and asking an occasional passer-by, it was in no time I was there.  On this weekend, it was set up as a lovely winter wonderland.

The volunteer meeting was Wednesday night, a welcome time to sit at the end of a tourist’s day.

Here are some jobs you can sign up for in volunteering.

Thursday ~ Knowing I was to be in NYC, I signed up for the MoMA tour as offered by VKL.  Scouting out the location of the Museum of Modern Art, which was basically in the opposite direction of the day’s before outing, provided all kinds of new stimulation, it was easy to find.  The tour called, “Is Fashion Modern?”  had an excellent docent who took us to task with asking ourselves that very question.  I thought it pretty cool that Lululemon’s original pant made it into the display.  The little black dress and orange piece are pieces I loved.  So, if these were examples of what was in the exhibit, you could ask yourself, Is fashion modern?

I visited the gift shop and found this great cross-over bag.  A picture of my MoMA keepsakes . . .

One must visit Central Park when in the city.

And, of course one must take in a show on Broadway.  A chance friend and I chose Amy Schumer in Meteor Shower as our pick.  The ticket taker, Georgie, was especially personable and left this sweet note for us when we went back to pick up our tickets.

Friday – Sunday ~ Days to volunteer, window shop, and take in classes/lectures.  I built my class schedule for all three days around the theme of designing.  Each teacher had her own take on the topic and it was interesting to hear of the process from different points of view.  The lectures I sighed up for were inspiration filled.  My favorite class was on sketching.  Deborah Newton could not be more enthusiastic about her designing and that enthusiasm was not only palpable but contagious.  Here, we are studying sketches.

Her tip is seen on the right, my practice, on the left.

I did indeed make one purchase during my stay.  Could this book be any more beautiful and so aptly named.  Glamourie, indeed!  Now, THAT is knitting!

I thought the main highlight would be the Readers’ Runway Fashion Show.  As delightful as it was, it was the second time I’ve entered and somehow, the second time is never as exciting as the first.  My favorite part was meeting someone AND her husband who I have talked to on Ravelry and BOTH walked the runway, as well.  Also, the young girl captured my attention who was with her Mother.  How special for these pair to do this fun thing together.

The fair isle coat earned this award.

Here is a candid pic of the group who walked the runway this year.

The most meaningful highlight was however my daughter and her friend meeting up with me in the evenings.  Whether ordering room service or having a delicious meal at a lovely Irish eatery, talking about nothing of consequence and laughing really put the weekend into perspective of what matters most and certainly added to what truly was a full-on indulgence weekend for me.  A goofy selfie ~

We said good-bye Sunday night to each other and to this great city.  Until next time . . .

Highlights, Yes, there were some

The ending to this year was no different than the personal devastation I endured throughout this horrific year of 2017.  Bitter cold temperatures and wind prohibited the otherwise planned trip to be with family this holiday season.

aborted plane after waiting 2 days due to cancellation of original flight

It was to be that I was to spend this holiday alone.  As we all know, holidays are designed for family.  Period.  When you find yourself alone, you realize that more than ever (and a lesson to keep in your heart to help others who you realize are alone during a holiday season).  However, with a bit of perseverance (because I’m that way), do-over planning, and creative thinking, I have come to realize there were actually some highlights to this holiday season of which I am most appreciative.  Here are a few and may help you if ever . . .

Childhood ornaments ~ I did put up a Christmas tree.  Full size from floor to ceiling.  Preferring a real tree but knowing the handling aspects, the artificial had to suffice.  Having long passed along our family’s handmade ornaments, in conversation with my Mother, she offered the myriad of boxes of ornaments she had stashed in her attic, literally a plethora of vintage glass adornments from my childhood.  Boxes and boxes found themselves in my hand and eventually on my tree. This season, when I looked at the beautiful lit tree, Christmas memories of my childhood surfaced rather than the loneliness I was feeling.

Christmas cookie baking ~ Simply said, I made sure to participate in the annual Christmas cookie baking I had set up years, ago with family.  Even though I didn’t feel the spirit, something about the act of kneading dough is quite therapeutic.  The cookies turned out great and it was satisfying seeing the very happy faces of the others.

Volunteer Appreciation Dinner ~ Traveling with the crew of ladies I work with at Habitat for Humanity, dressing up so the men could see we do indeed clean up nicely, it was a lovely evening getting to know more personally those who are teaching me ‘construction’.

Birthday Dinner ~ Temperatures frigid, a beautiful winter scene, I was treated to a birthday dinner from Mom.  With lovely seating and a beautiful view, it was nice to return to a restaurant of ‘yesteryear’ (neither one of us had been there in years) and to a dinner that was warm to the heart and tasty to the tummy.

Dog Walking/Activities with Neighbor(s) ~ Every day walking the dog, taking in the fresh air is a pick me up no med could provide.  And, to be escorted by the neighbor who is just that kind of nice person is a special treat of comfort, kindness, and companionship.

shoveling snow into the air. Why? ’cause the dogs loved it.

Back on Treadmill/Orangetheory ~ Back on the treadmill, again of course, I will need time to rebuild the endurance and training I have lost, but how happy it feels to also be back in class at the local fitness studio (and please, no one look at my data).  I felt bonds of friendship I did not even realize were there until the warm welcome I received upon my return.

Race ~ Well, let’s just say, it was on my radar that day.  Wind chill in the negatives did indeed scare me away.

A Few Finished Garments ~ Believe it or not, even knitting requires endurance. I have turned (temporarily) to smaller projects, pictured here, again hoping to build my endurance of concentration and focus to the longer, more tedious projects I am used to.   I don’t have photos yet of the easy, fashion garments recently finished, but they are beautiful and ready for the wear whenever I am ready to wear them.

for charity

crocheted basket for projects

New Furniture ~ Yep, a fresh start needs a pick-me-up in the furniture department.  Mostly, the living room and bedrooms received the new pieces (area rug not in, yet).  Modern looks, clean lines, and neutral colors fill spaces otherwise filled with memories of recent loss of life.

Fix-its ~ Mostly, learning how.  Keeping water level where it needs to be for proper steam to warm the house, sump pump adjustments, endless plumbing understandings, door(s) removal, paint and staining here and there, becoming familiar with garage and its advantages, ~ all in a home owner’s day in a life.  But, it is feeling very different with the responsibility falling solely on me.

Making New Friends ~ Here is my new mantra.  It’s ok to make new friends.  Female and male.  Purposely going out even when it is dark and cold, signing up for activities never done before, getting together with friends of the past  and friends just met, finding and going to new places to dine trying out new foods (Octopus salad for me the other night), allowing myself to feel the companionship, warmth, and life of another is ok.

Was it a great holiday season?  No, not by a long shot.  Do I have living alone all figured out?  Hardly.  Do I feel guilty about simple pleasures, smiling, and enjoying life, again?  You betcha.  In reflection, these activities and purposeful moves helped me to cope with this holiday season.  I know I have a long road of recovery ahead of me.  I figure with healthy, intentional steps with awareness of the positives, this is an avenue that can lead me back into the game of life.