Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Pink and Black Flamingos

I'm back! I spent the past few days in Toronto. While I was up, enjoying the amazing weather, tending to family biz and seeing friends, I got back into my winter sock knitting mode. This is my latest creation. I call it, "Pink and Black Flamingos." They were inspired by my best friend's daughter, who asked me to make her a pair of house sox. Within 24 hours (with time in between to socialize, eat, sleep, get to the airport, commute from Toronto to Newark, make it to the house and do some grocery shopping), they were complete.

In case you're interested, it's a Sherman toe-up pattern which is so easy to do and so mindless that you can actually watch TV and yell at the kids at the same time. I made them up on bamboo double pointed needles (size U.S. 2) using my favorite sock yarn, Red Heart Lustre Sheen in flamingo and black colours. The trim is done by mixing Lustre Sheen black with Bernat Envy. If you want the pattern, get in touch. :)

On Halloween, the night before I left for TO, I took a run with Miriam down to Staten Island where we cavorted with guitar god John Castellano and his family. His son Richie, who is also an incredible guitarist, is the bass player for Blue Oyster Cult. We had been invited to see Richie's own band this night. The costumes were a riot and it was great to get my kid into a club where great music played by gifted musicians is appreciated. Here's a pic of Mir with Richie. Two chips off the ol' blox.

TO notes: I took Dad to see our cousin Brenda and her family. She is a great pianist whose son is also a great pianist. We are a very musical bunch on all sides! At the lunch table Dad started singing an old song that he and Brenda's mother used to sing in the old country when they were little children, before the Nazis. He started to cry. This is the second time in my life I've ever seen Dad break down. I guess this is what happens when you are 91 years old and memories of a world lost come swelling up.

It was Holocaust Education Week in Toronto and there were many programmes taking place most days and evenings. My mother had to cancel her appearance at last year's event due to her illness. It was hauntingly empty to be here during this week and not have her around. I found myself seeking her out, wanting to tell her what I saw or heard. A very, very raw nerve.

Our other cousin, Larry Anklewicz, is the programming coordinator of Toronto's Jewish Film Festival. We bacame very close this past year. As a sort of welcome to TO, Larry took me to a special screening of The Protocols of Zion with director Marc Levin in a Q&A afterward.

It's more heartening than it sounds, although I'm sure you're getting shades of Woody Allen taking his date to see The Sorrow and the Pity in the movie Annie Hall. This is the kind of thing that children of Holocaust survivors do for one another as a friendly gesture -- they take you to programmes that address anti-semitism and the Holocaust.

(To wit: Later in the week my girlfriend would take me to see Helen Epstein who gave a very creative and informative how-to presentation on collecting family memoirs. Helen wrote the landmark book about people like us called Children of the Holocaust. She did much of her research in Toronto, where a critical mass of survivors and their families came to live.)

After the screening of Protocols, on the way home, Larry informed me that his son Mike, who is also a great musician, has just completed a project called The Golem of Bathurst Manor. He gave me a copy and what can I say? It's killer avante garde jazz klezmer, and should be on your compulsory listening list! Having just written a song about Bathurst Manor called "Manor Girl," I was astounded by Mike's choice of title. Back in The Day, the Manor was a Holocaust survivor enclave. But when we were growing up, who knew?

Also while I was in TO, the Hadassah Bazaar was on. It's been called the world's largest one-day flea market, although it's mostly new items for very cheap. My mother was a perennial president of the Masada chapter. Every year, the night before the Bazaar, Mum and I would go down to the Automotive Building at the Exhibition grounds to take the last-minute donations in. You needed special ID to get in that night. We were special! We would also get to shop around to see what everyone else was selling. Sometimes they would sell stuff to each other. That was the best part. Masada was the largest chapter and rented three booths. I always got interesting and fun stuff there. In fact, I still have a pair of leather and down ski mitts that I bought for a buck years ago.

All that aside, let's face it: I was the child of a celebrity -- a chapter President! -- and I went down cruising for my mother's friends. I was not successful -- although I did manage to buy a few lovely things for the girls. While waiting at the streetcar, I bumped into Mrs. Kurtz, a fellow chapter member and old friend of my mother's who had met my folks before I was born. We rode together all the way back up north. She told me stories about my parents and about their friends. Then she reached into one of the immense shopping bags, which were filled with things for her grandchildren, and handed me a bag of cookies for my girls. She gave me a big hug and kiss before she got off at her stop. That was worth the whole trip.

The rest of my trip was spent in the joyous, uplifting labour of planning Yona's bat mitzvah and the less joyous also equally spiritual purchase of my mother's headstone and planning of her unveiling. These events will take place on the same weekend in June, and the following week the girls will be off to camp, if all goes according to the plan.

Of course, there's also Mamapalooza news. But more on that later.

Back to the grind.

No comments: