I made him a bog coat of tulle. Patterns don’t get much more
basic than a bog coat. The tulle, to my surprise, behaved nicely.
Is it a good project
for a beginner? The pattern is great. Tulle is hard to hold in place, but
it hides mistakes nicely.
14, Eustace Tilley.
I went as a New Yorker. Loops decided to be the Princess of
I wasn't planning to make Persimmon a costume – time was at a
premium. Too bad, I said, because it would be too perfect if the child of a
newspaper and a New Yorker went as The New Yorker. But I simply do not
have time to make her a Eustace Tilley costume.
And then it occurred to me that we could even put the pacifier
on a string instead of a monocle – and suddenly it was just too too perfect
and I had to make it.
Image forthcoming if I ever get the camera to behave.
Color – maroon for the coat, turquoise for the vest,
white for the collar: all cotton or polycotton scraps left over from former
projects. As much as I loathe artifice in dress, I sewed them all together and
it was a one-piece garment.
Pattern – I slapped a pair of her pajamas on the
dining room table and traced them. I am chuffed that it looks and functions
like a garment, though it pulls in the wrong places when the occupant wiggles.
I did not plan the construction at all – just worked blindly.
'Oh, I need a collar this shape – I guess I'll cut here and see if that
works. Oh, it didn't, so what if I cut here?' I topstitched everything
to save time and occasionally resorted to ladder-stitching (what you use to
close up a stuffed animal after it's been stuffed, since you can't get to the
wrong side anymore) because, not having the mind of an engineer, I see
ladder-stitching as the answer to all problems.
Is it a good project for a beginner? No. I should
really learn to drape and draft. But a baby costume is a great project for a
beginner, because no one, least of all the intended victim, will ever notice
Path is an ideal
textbook. But our school doesn't have it, so I made my own.
Some sources I
liked, some of which I shared with the girls:
Islamic architecture from this place and time. Walking through one of those
buildings with all the arches is like turning a kaleidoscope. I have seen the
architecture of the Alhambra occasionally attributed to Shmuel haNaggid; at any
rate, he seems to have been responsible for the building or restoration of much
-There is a nice painting which imagines the court of Abd ar-Rahman III.
between Chisdai ibn Shaprut and the King of Kuzar. I made a mini-unit on Jews
in out-of-the-way places – Yemen, India, China, Kurdistan, Kuzar – which I'm
not sure I would do again. Most people just stick Kuzar into the unit on Spain,
although Chisdai ibn Shaprut accomplished a great many more important things
than this correspondence.
Kuzari coin found in Viking plunder. (If you search for "Khazar coin" you can find a clearer picture.) I saw this in the Viking museum in Stockholm. Coins
from Islamic lands have printed on them, in Arabic, the Islamic declaration of
faith; this one, which was minted or re-minted in the kingdom of Kuzar, has one
word different, so it says, “There is no god but G-d, and Moses is His
-Shemuel HaNaggid by R' Asher Lehmann is a fun
introduction to this era. I used the chapter entitled Cordoba.
-There is a wonderful
handout floating around Neve that shows the seven “binyanim” of Hebrew grammar
as seven multi-story buildings on a street, with good examples.
-Zemiros – Dror Yikra is by Dunash ibn Labrat; Ki Eshmera Shabbos, Tzam'a l'cha Nafshi,
and that one with all the “kor”s in it for Shabbos Chanuka are by R' Avraham
Ibn Ezra; Yom Shabbason (yona matza) is by R' Yehuda haLevi.
-Other poems by R'
Shmuel HaNaggid, R' Yehuda haLevi, R' Shlomo ibn Gvirol, R' Moshe ibn Ezra (Nafshi
ivisicha balaila). They can't go through life without having read Tzion halo tishali, which is kinna #36 on Tisha b'Av. (They said one of their
previous teachers had them recite it every day.) The general favorite of the
piyutim I gave them was Shachar avakeshchaby R' Shlomo ibn Gvirol.
They also liked Elokai mishknosecha and Shalom l'cha yom hashevi'i by
R' Yehuda haLevi. I had them pick some to write pastiches. I thought they would
appreciate a piece of R' Shlomo ibn Gvirol's Ani ha'ish, which I
remember liking as a high schooler; but it didn't grab them as it did me.
-Abu Ishaq's poetic attack on R'
Shmuel haNaggid. Do I want to link to this? It's extremely nasty and does not deserve to be linked to. Here it is.
-Doubles: Poem in
praise of R' Shmuel haNaggid by R' Yehuda haLevi. Part of a poem to R' Moshe ibn Ezra by
R' Yehuda haLevi. Poetic correspondence between R' Avraham ibn Ezra and
-The Ibn Ezra also has
a poem about chess.
-The Kuzari, by R'
Yehuda haLevi – paragraphs 11-43 in the first section. Before I gave it to them I asked them to answer, in writing, “What is Judaism?” – the Chaver's answer is very interesting (he comes from a completely different
angle than the Emunos veDeos).
-Rif and Rabbeinu
Chananel – I couldn't find what I really wanted, but there are lots of mussary
Rabbeinu Chananels. (Also, somewhere he discusses a recent invention called a
-Ri Migash – according
to Rabbi Geometry, the most famous Ri Migash is on Bava Basra 45a.
-Chovos HaLevavos – I couldn't pick just one piece to give them :) Rabbi Geometry says
that the most famous perek is Shaar HaBechina, and that people don't learn the first one.
If I had a different
sort of class I would have taped arches all over the walls and had them come in
costume one day and recline around* eating oranges and reciting piyutim, both
original and from the sourcebook. I didn't think it would fly with this group.
*actually, I am not
sure what people, let alone the Jews, sat on in Islamic Spain.
What follows is based on a single biographer's account, not
Florence Nightingale was a fascinating lady: intensely
depressed; she heard voices; she hallucinated; she determined that she had a
calling in life but it took her a number of years to decide that that was
nursing (which at the time was unheard of for an aristocratic lady, and for
good reasons) and every time she determined to leave home to attend the nursing
school in Germany, members of her family said, “Oh, how can you leave us! Bring
me my smelling salts – I shall faint!” and she relented and stayed.
Meanwhile, she wrote to hospitals around Europe requesting
information on medical care, and stored the papers in her room in her parents'
house, taking particular delight in the statistics.
The man she wanted to marry proposed to her; but she turned
him down in the idea that he would interfere with her nursing work. This at a
time when she had neither received training in nursing nor done any.
She was miserable and kept hallucinating because she felt
that she ought to be nursing but could not bring herself to do it.
Finally, when she was thirty,
she took the initiative to leave home and go to nursing school.
When she came home from the school, she took charge of a
London hospital; then the government heard about her expertise and sent her to
the Crimea organize the military hospitals there.
When the Crimean War ended she came back to England and spent
the rest of her life organizing British, Canadian, and American hospitals. She
is evidently responsible for modern medical care as we know it.
Cecil Woodham-Smith says (in a different biography) that the
Crimean War produced two geniuses: the engineer who designed the Russian
defenses at Sebastopol, and Florence Nightingale.
I thought that was a very impressive story.
I think it's fascinating that she carried her life in a box
for thirty years before finally taking the lid off, and then turned out to be a
The moral I take out of the story of Florence Nightingale is:
if you know what you should be doing, do it; don't wait thirty years...!