Best breakfast in the world ever: rice krispies with chocolate cake crumbs scraped out of the tin (waste not, want not) and raspberries and tea. Cool scented breeze from the park, tweety birds, puppy curled at feet, etc.

Raspberries from the late-night fruit stand near Lincoln Center, purchased after seeing Giselle yesterday. Manhattan life does have its good sides, and being able to buy cheap, delicious summer fruit in the middle of the night after going to the ballet and before an easy subway ride home is definitely one of them.

I find ballet (and gymnastics, and one or two similar things) awfully compelling - something about having tremendous control over your body such that you can do beautiful things and make it look easy. I can do that a bit with calligraphy, but that's scarcely a whole-body enterprise. It's also just nice watching people who are really good at what they do; Xiomara Reyes wasn't, I think, the best Giselle ever (but terribly impressive nonetheless, obviously), and Angel Corella was rather splendid.

Also yesterday, the groundsmen were in, so the gates to the flowerbeds and lawns were unlocked (they keep them locked away behind iron fences lest anybody do something as inconsiderate as, you know, lie on the grass, or sit under the trees). So I went in and dead-headed the roses and pulled some of the bindweed off the honeysuckle (discovered a patch of mint in the process).

Living half in the fantasy world wherein I have a garden, I let the dog off the lead while I was pottering about; she sprawled in the sunshine and rolled happily in my weed pile. I was very proud of her: when she wanted to have a poo, she went out and did it on the path where it's easy to pick up, instead of doing it on the grass. And then she came back to the weed pile like a good dog.

Now she's curled up on the towel I carelessly dropped on the floor, I'm about to work on a ketubah (up to my ears in ketubot this season, thankfully), and all is well.

(Edited to add: later, she took her chewy into her crate, and dropped off to sleep whilst chewing it, so when I look into the crate I see one flippy-flappy ear flopped over a chewed chewy, and a curled-up sleeping dog. It's impossible to get any work done around here, I tell you.)
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Nov. 21st, 2010 03:46 pm)
That was one cultured week, my goodness.

On Monday, I went to a concert at Carnegie Hall - "Jack Gibbons Plays Chopin." Jack Gibbons gave a sort of expanded program-notes on each piece as part of his performance, sharing a bit about the music and about his relationship to it before also sharing his interpretation and performance of it. That was very interesting and splendid. He also played some of his own compositions by way of encore, and I liked them very much too.

I went to this concert with my Mum, incidentally. She came over from England for it. Ain't that something?

On Tuesday, I taught my scribes. This isn't exactly The Arts, but it's Proto-Arts, so it counts as culture.

On Wednesday, I took Mum to the Three Faiths exhibition at the New York Public Library, so that she could kvell over her daughter's sixteen seconds of video fame in the scriptorium exhibit.

On Thursday, I went to see some Yiddish theatre. Folksbiene were doing A Celebration Of I.L.Peretz - interpretations of two of his pieces using dance, music, video, and theatre. It was surprisingly satisfactory.

On Friday, there was, as there always is, the male-voice choir at Breuer's. That's just background culture, but it totally counts. Not many shuls have a choir like that - it's like a little free concert every week just for going to shul.

On Saturday, I went to a chamber music concert at my old shul, Adath Israel of Riverdale. One of its members is one of those world-class violinists who happen to live in New York City, and she's arranged a series of chamber music concerts at the shul two years in a row now. Kind of like the Carnegie Hall concert, only I knew half the audience by name and it was just at shul.

And on Sunday, I was sitting in the park when some people turned up and started taking portfolio photos of a dancer, all pretty in the afternoon sun against the trees.

So that was nice.
hatam_soferet: (toothpaste)
( Nov. 23rd, 2009 11:50 pm)
Getting into crochet had an unexpected side-effect. The crochet edging round the neck of a certain top was unravelling blithely and tangling itself round everything else in the drier, and apparently I've now done enough crochet that I could reconstruct the pattern from the intact part and put the stitches back in. Good as new. Really very pleasing indeed.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Oct. 14th, 2009 09:06 pm)






Well, I've been in England for a while; Torah is extremely portable, so it's jolly easy to pack up a supply of parchment and a change of clothes and have a Working Holiday.

This means I write my Torah quota each day, and then instead of spending evenings and weekends in New York's social delights, I spend them with my family. Oldest Niece has just got a bunch of GCSEs...I remember when she was learning to count, cor gosh. Youngest Sister has bought a house. Parental Unit has a most fruitful garden. And so on. Bits of my family are so cute you can't quite believe they're true, it's like they're something off the TV. Mind you I suppose my life looks like that too, slightly unreal in a New Yorky sort of way.

'Cept I spent the last week or so mostly in Cambridge (Cambs, not MA) with lovely friends. Lovely friends have lovely friends, also, so that was jolly jolly nice.

Round here at this time of year one goes blackberry-picking. Done that twice now - once along Southampton Water, and once in some fields outside Cambridge - and have eaten MUCH blackberry-and-apple crumble (4 parts flour to 3 sugar and 2 hard fat, bake over fruit at 180C for about half an hour), sometimes with custard.
In Southampton, all in one piece, all well, lovely weather, wish you were here, writing a lot of Torah and ketubot (offically I wasn't doing any ketubot this summer but I'm too much of a softy so when people get all cute I give in).

Further letter to landlord: dog plz. Landlord responds: this is a no-dogs building. Facts on the ground: loads of people in the building have dogs. Am I being dense? Is the custom just to get a dog and keep quiet about it? I suppose I shall check in with one or two long-time dog owners in the building and see. Can't do that till I'm back in transpondia though, so feedback from teh magik internets welcome in the interim.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Apr. 20th, 2009 11:08 pm)
Bought sweater in spring sales (purple, fluffy). Set out for home. Heavens open. Rain, wind, brrr, freeze freeze not dressed for this it was nice when I left this morning brrrr. But lo! have just bought A SWEATER cheers cheers. Such circumstances make me happy.
* Anyone make chuppahs? Anyone know anyone who makes chuppahs? I mean the kind with lots of sewing, not the kind where you tie a tallis to poles. This is a practical question, as in, I've met someone who needs it done and I don't have any recommendations.

* You know when your neighbour is cleaning, because all their roaches come running into your apartment.

* I am so happy that I have a hand-held suckything that sucks up roaches, and then you slap a lid on them so they can't get out.

* Angela at Rumors Hair Salon in Riverdale is made of cookies.

* There was the most glorious rain on Friday; the whole surface of the road was swimming with the sort of flow you usually see in the gutter, but not running down the gutter, running down the camber. So much that the raindrops were throwing up lots of water on landing, as they would when falling onto a river. Very pretty to watch - at least if you were standing a sensible distance from the gutters, which were full enough that zooming cabs sent water six feet onto the pavement.

* Writing on Nice Klaf is so very different from writing on Nasty Klaf.

* Reading Etz Hayim on Tazria - on the bit about new mothers. Etz Hayim confidently asserts that the related impurities and required sacrifices are all theoretical, and that childbirth is not meant to be negative or any kind of punishment. One wonders if the author had read, oh, you know, the bit where God says that childbirth is going to suck because of Eve having screwed up? They possibly should have expressed their point with a little more care.

* Have never noticed before that Adam does not name Eve until *after* all the unfortunate business with the serpent. God says "I'm going to kick you out of the garden and you are going to have to work hard and it's going to suck and serve you right," and *then* Adam names the woman Eve, or Hava, which is a Life kind of word. Now perhaps that was because God invented childbirth on the spur of the moment and before that, calling her Lifey would have been silly, but still. He could have named her Holey or Faithless or Thanks A Lot, so calling her Lifey was quite a good deal really. And further, at that point Adam is actually still only generic, he is HaAdam and doesn't really have a name at all. This is sort of interesting.

* I probably ought to post that post about how I've started writing a new Torah :) You might have guessed from me talking about klaf and the early Genesis stories...
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Apr. 1st, 2009 01:21 am)
After years of letting people use my laptop and asking them politely please NOT to beat the living daylights out of my mouse buttons, and after the most recent assault, the poor things seem to have more or less given up entirely. I don't let other people use my pens or my paintbrushes for similar reasons; it looks like I might have to extend to computers. Yes, obviously I will buy it some sort of plugin, but feh.

On the plus side, I have freesia. I do love freesia. But can anyone tell me why freesia makes Edward want to nom on Bella? Freesia is one of the least nommy smells out there. If she smelled like, say, pizza, I could understand it. But who noms freesia?

Epic teabag fail today: go to make tea, pour in water, teabag explodes, leaves everywhere. Drink tea anyway thinking better luck next time. Time for more tea. Go to make tea. Pour in water, teabag explodes, leaves everywhere. Pretty sure it's not actually meant to work like that. Perhaps the Curse of the Teabags is descending?
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Oct. 27th, 2008 06:46 am)
Me, 6.40am: *lurches into kitchen to put kettle on*

Night: *waves* Still here!

Beautiful tiny weeny crescent moon: *shine shine*

Me: Ooh, pretty!

Me, 1/2 second later: Oh hell, tiny moon, Rosh Chodesh, I'm not supposed to be leyning that this morning am I?

Calendar: Chill, not until tomorrow Wednesday.

Tea: *waves*

Throat: Ahem, hi, I'm going to be annoying and coughy

Cough syrup: *tastes vile, but works a treat*

Monday: *looms* You cannot avoid me by playing on the internets all morning. Get thee to minyan, o lazy ass.

Sunrise: *is pretty*
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Sep. 1st, 2008 04:47 pm)
a) I love charity shops; loads of lovely practically-new clothes for peanuts, and the peanuts go straight to charity.

b) John Wyndham's books have been reprinted! They were issued in 1960 and 1963, and again this year. After 35 years! I love John Wyndham.

c) I had [ profile] neonchameleon to myself for a whole afternoon :) Amongst his other sterling qualities, [ profile] neonchameleon is one of the few people who can and does lift me two feet off the ground in a hug.

d) Starbucks in Oxford serves tea in lovely chunky mugs, if you're going to stay and drink it there obviously. That's very nice indeed. But on the other hand they close at 6.30, which is a bit of a culture shock when you're used to the Manhattan ones which are still open at bedtime. On the other hand here you can decamp to a pub and have another cup of tea there, and they're all non-smoking these days, so it's just as good really.

e) On a packed train, I claimed the seat I'd booked. This amounts to a social whoopsie on a grand scale, but I was buggered if I was going to stand all the way to Southampton on this ankle. I've never done that before, would you believe, but aside from a few dirty looks from other people it was no problem, and it was jolly nice to have a seat.
hatam_soferet: (toothpaste)
( Jul. 9th, 2008 10:51 pm)
Two new sections at, both mostly Hatam Soferet posts which I think deserve to be fished out of blog archive obscurity.

Divrei Torah, or at any rate Torah-themed thoughts, and,

Craft projects, including the memorable Chocolate Omer Counter.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Jul. 1st, 2008 08:46 am)
[ profile] yvesilena wins today's internets for doing a post about procrastinating. This badger's done the research, srsly. Go read.
heart in cup

Look at the bubbles thrown up by the heart in the bottom of the cup. Isn't that awesome?

Paint fractalsPink paint in purple paint.

bronx moonSometimes I see excellent moonrises from my window. This moon was really pink, but I'm not a good enough photographer to catch that. But still, pretty fine.

hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Mar. 25th, 2008 09:57 am)
This is nice; I'm at home writing, and it's a lovely sunny day so I've got the windows open, and I can hear someone practising the French horn. They're doing some rather complicated arpeggio exercises. Sounds lovely.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Feb. 21st, 2008 09:27 am)
Oh, my. I bought a mini-kettle, so as to be able to boil water for tea whilst at Drisha. Hitherto I've been boiling water in the microwave; they have a hot-water machine, but it's not hot. And the microwave somehow imparts a funny tinny taste to the tea.

And the kettle? Makes tea. And the tea?


My building has this spontaneous thing where people leave books they don't want any more in the laundry room. I adore that every time I do laundry, I get a couple of decent novels. Recycling, communal spirit, and incidental pleasure, as well as having clean clothes. Marvellous.

And a lesson in going with the flow: on Friday, buying ice cream for shabbat, the supermarket didn't have any Dublin Mudslide, so I went for the Chunky Monkey, and only noticed at the checkout that I'd actually picked up Fossil Fuel by accident - thought about leaving the line to change it, but didn't, and am glad now, because it is very nice, although the chocolate dinosaurs don't look much like dinosaurs bc they are so small.

Sometimes it's the little things.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Oct. 18th, 2007 01:52 pm)
Drisha asked me to teach a class in some way related to What I Do next semester! What an honour.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Oct. 10th, 2007 05:34 pm)
Nice day messing with a chunk of the Jerusalem Talmud. The chunk, as is so often the case in the J.T., is rather obscure, and the two major commentaries have rather different, and also obscure, ways of interpreting it. So, today: combing out all the strands and working out what commentator 1 thinks the chunk means, and what commentator 2 ditto.

That sort of gratuitous exercise in tidying things up is one of the things I enjoy about both Talmud and mathematics. You have some information; you work out how it all fits together; you fill in the steps in between, and end up with a nice set of steps leading from one place to another.

Both come with the smug academic satisfaction of knowing that you've solved a problem, and the secure academic calm of knowing that it in and of itself is not going to change anything at all. The difference is that Talmud has the advantage that at some point that exercise might form a building block in how I understand my life (or be useful to someone else, even), and I was never going to be that good a mathematician. Which is why I am a scribe and Pharisee, and not a mathematician.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Oct. 9th, 2007 10:48 pm)
Today: Sofrut III started. We did some quill work, and then some halakha. We did the first chapter of the Keset ha-Sofer, where the message, more or less, is: This is serious stuff. Don't mess with it. Lay tefillin. Those who couldn't make it: I will (iy"H) send you the sources and summarise by email.

Next week, the laws of How to Write the Letters.

On the way home, realised with horror that I'd left my keys in the city. Went to neighbour to request couch space; incredibly, she had a spare set of my keys, left there by W ages ago. Such relief, goodness. Literally weak at the knees. People: deposit keys with your neighbours, because being locked out is really horrid.