Thursday, April 30, 2009

Squirrel Stuff I Own: Porcelain Squirrel Figurine

This little guy is such a treasure! I received him as a gift from my roommate during my first year of college. He was a part of her grandmother's figurine collection but, as you can see, is missing an ear and so was downgraded to live in my little collection of squirrel stuff.

This particular squirrel friend was made by the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory, a well-known and well-regarded producer of fine ceramic products and figurines. Founded in Russia in the 1700s, they are still in business producing ceramic goods. They make all sorts of animal figurines, so those of you out there who may be obsessed with turtles or goats or parrots, check them out! I see a lot of their stuff on eBay (which is how I discovered this little dude's genealogy).

This squirrel sits on my bookshelf hanging out with the aforementioned squirrel ornament. They seem to be getting along well. But this guy is tiny and easy to miss and visitors often don't notice him. It's too bad really, he's just so charming, even with his missing ear.

You can purchase your very own matching squirrel figurine on eBay for only $10! I also discovered that this grey squirrel has a red squirrel figurine cousin for only $8... B, don't we have an anniversary or something coming up?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Patience is a virtue.

I want to clarify that I never promised to update this blog every day. And in fact I haven't been updating it every day, but for some strange reason I feel guilty for not presenting you, my faithless readers, with a funny story for the day.

Sadly, I have no funny stories from the day. We have actually been quite busy doing New York City sorts of things and forgetting to bring our camera to said New York City sorts of things. On Monday night we had a little Macalester get-together with pre-show drinks and then an evening of music from the 1950s and 1960s. We saw The Marvelous Wonderettes, a musical about a group of high school girls performing at their senior prom. It was actually really good. B knew all but three of the songs, and I knew... ummm... about three total! This is what happens when you spend your formative years listening to Willie Nelson instead of the classic rock radio stations.

And then last night I went to a poetry reading! I know, crazy, huh? ME at a poetry reading? Adrienne Rich was there, and she read both from her poetry and prose. And a wonderful poet named Antjie Krog from South Africa also read, in English and Afrikaans. It was quite nice. I will just go ahead and admit right now: I had no idea who Adrienne Rich was until last night. There, I said it. I'm a bad feminist.

Well now I better go an objectify some women, so I'll leave you with this picture I took in Riverside Park the other day. I do love art inspired by Greek grave stelae, yes I do!

A post of real substance should be coming soon. Maybe.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Okay, so as you've already read, we took a little walk through Riverside Park last weekend. Some of you may recall that Riverside Park was the scene of a famous accident I had last summer. I broke my ankle while jogging through the park. It was at about 107th Street, and we walked by there this weekend for the first time since that horrible morning.

Yup, that's where it happened. I remember the place exactly. That first bench in the picture is where I sat for about five minutes after screaming the F-word over and over again as loudly as possible. There was a homeless man sleeping on the bench across from me and my horrific cries didn't seem to wake him up at all. He was probably drunk at 6:30 AM, lucky thing.

There was a little old lady out walking her tiny dogs and standing just a couple yards away from me when I fell. She was quite helpful. She walked over and said, "Oh dear, I would help you but I don't have a cell phone." And then she walked away. Thanks, lady. Of course, at that point I thought it was just a bad sprain. I had sprained my ankle before and was pretty sure I could get home on my own.

After sitting and taking stock for a few minutes (and wiping the pebbles out of my bloodied knee - I still have that scar, too), I started hobbling home. I had no cell phone and no money. Just my keys in my pocket. But hey, it was only nine short blocks and two long blocks home... how bad could that be?

I did not make it home on my own. I made it to 110th and Broadway and was almost in tears from the pain. Thank God, I managed to hobble to the M4 bus stop, pleaded with the driver to let me on without paying, and he brought me up to 116th. That walk across campus was THE MOST PAINFUL THING I HAVE EVER DONE. And I have titanium screws in my skull, so that's saying something.

I made my way to our apartment, where B was showering, and burst into the bathroom screaming, "HELP!!!! I NEED HELP!!! THE PAIN!!!!" He was suitably disturbed.

I'm already bored with this post, so I'll lay out the rest of the day quickly:
7:oo AM - B goes to store to buy ace bandages. Casey writhes in pain on the floor crying while he is gone.
7:30 AM - B returns and tells Casey he will carry her to the emergency room. Casey, through tears, tells him it's just a sprain and there is no reason to go to the ER.
7:45 AM - Casey calls her work and tells them, "I think I sprained my ankle. It's pretty sore. I'm going to come in a little late, but I'll definitely be in by noon."
8:00 AM - B leaves for work.
8:01 AM - Casey debates going to the emergency room.
9:00 AM - Casey tries to walk to the bathroom. Casey ends up crawling to the bathroom.
9:20 AM - Casey calls work. "Yeah, I'm not coming in."
10:45 AM - Casey still debates going to the ER. It's only three short blocks away... yet the blocks seem so long.
11:35 AM - Casey realizes she can probably get some narcotics for all this pain she's in if she goes to the ER.
11:36 AM - Casey starts hobbling to the ER.
3:30 PM - Casey leaves the ER with a diagnosis (broken ankle and a horrible sprain), and a prescription for narcotic pain killers. Casey hobbles to the pharmacy to obtain her narcotics.
3:40 PM - Casey remembers that they already gave her narcotics at the hospital. Is suddenly very happy.

And that's pretty much all I remember from that day. I did get B to take this picture of my ankle later that night.
Oh yeah, that's awesome. Believe me, my ankles and feet are NOT that fat normally! It was much cooler about two days later when all the blood had pooled in my foot and the whole thing was black. In fact I remember showing my coworkers later that week and saying, "See! It's like I have a giant hobbit foot!" (I was excited; I had narcotics. They weren't as enthused.) It took almost a month for all the bruising to go away, and much, much longer for all the swelling to go down. In fact, my right ankle is still a little bigger than my left and I'm starting to wonder if it's just going to stay that way.

So that is my great health tragedy from the summer of 2008. Someday I will tell you all the tale of my role in the great whooping cough pandemic of 2007, and how B proposed to me even after I gave him whooping cough!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The pigs are after us!

So I imagine some of you have heard about the swine influenza sweeping the nation, in particular our New York City? Yes, it's true. I always knew those dirty pigs were after us. Luckily for me, squirrels can't acquire the swine flu so... wait, what's that, B? I'm not actually a squirrel? Oh. Right. Well then...

Where was I? Yes, swine flu. I am strangely unworried about this possible swine flu pandemic, although perhaps I should be. I am quite the hypochondriac, but for some reason pandemics don't particularly scare me. Maybe because my natural hermit inclinations make it unlikely that I will actually come in contact with another human being who could be carrying this disease.

That, and I stay well-hydrated.

B isn't too worried either. He went to do a little grocery shopping today and discovered a street fair on Broadway. Nice. Street fairs are, of course, the only place where we can get fried Oreos... so you know... that's kind of important.

And yes, he brought home more groceries than just the fried Oreos!

Anyway, I have two important announcements to make regarding this blog:
1. I've changed some settings and now anyone can comment without logging into their Google account. It would be nice if y'all signed your names, though, so I know who you are and whether or not I owe you money or cheese.
2. We're going to be having a very exciting double post sometime this week (I hope) and there will be a... wait for it... A SUPER SECRET GUEST BLOGGER! So keep coming back to look for it!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A post about New York City!

So some of you are probably wondering why a person who professes to be a New York City squirrel doesn't actually post anything about New York City. In fact, you're probably starting to suspect that I'm a 40-something man with high cholestrol from eating eggs all the time who lives in Arizona and collects squirrel trinkets. Not so, my friends, not so. And I shall prove it to you now.

Yesterday was a beautiful day in New York City. These don't happen often at all. In fact I would venture that there are about 8 days each year on either end of summer when it is not too warm, not too humid, and not too windy. Yesterday was one of those days. In celebration (and because we had been inside all day pretending to do homework), B and I decided to take a walk through Riverside Park.

As you can see, it is a really beautiful park, particularly on a day like that. The park is made of a few levels: an upper level which is right on Riverside Drive and faces some beautiful mansions and fancy apartment buildings, the middle level seen here, and the lower level which is right on the Hudson River. We walked southward along the middle level for about a mile and a half. There were tons of people out, and a few squirrels. Despite my best efforts, I couldn't get a decent squirrel picture to save my life. I know, I'm disappointed to.

I very much enjoyed the walk, as did B. There were some fragrant flowering trees, and as always I enjoyed watching the cute dogs go on their walks and play in the dog run. Of course, we're in New York City so there are some pretty awesome monuments and mansions along the way. This is the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument at about 89th Street and Riverside Avenue.

The light was fantastic, and although I used to go running by this particular monument all the time I hadn't ever actually stopped to look at it so we decided to head to the upper level and get a closer look.

The city recently renovated the plaza around the monument, and it's much nicer than when we moved here (it was filled with gravel for years). We went as close as possible to read the plaque. When we got close enough I noticed that some parts of the marble were painted. Now, I know that the Ancient Greeks and Romans liked to paint their marble sculpture, but I didn't know that it was still in vogue in the 21st century. Upon closer inspection, we realized the paint covered up large swaths of graffiti on the marble surface.

It's difficult to discern, but here you should be able to see the chunks of paint peeling away from the marble to reveal scars of graffiti underneath. Isn't it horrible? Apparently even this monument wasn't immune from the graffiti problem of the 70s and 80s in NYC. And either the properties of marble make it difficult to remove the graffiti, or it simply isn't in the budget to use expensive removal techniques.
So that was kind of disheartening. Across the street from that monument, though, was this cute little mansion.

Which is, according to the sign outside, now a yeshiva. As I mentioned before, Riverside Drive has some beautiful old mansions and apartment buildings on it, but even those fancy mansions are usually pushed right up against the mansions next door. So I found it odd that this little building had A FRONT YARD and didn't touch any of its neighbors. Oh how I would love to live here!
With the sun setting, and me getting hungrier and grumpier with every minute, we started to head home. On the way, we ran into a smiling baby and his brother BA who had both been flattened on the sidewalk. Perhaps they didn't get out of the way of the garbage truck quickly enough?

It's always very strange to me that children in New York City have to do all their sidewalk chalk art on a public sidewalk in a park. But it is always interesting to run into it. There are children on our block who sometimes do this. Just a few weeks ago I noticed that they had created an elaborate series of hopscotch squares with multiple levels and some complicated shapes. It was actually pretty cool.
So that was our little New York City afternoon. Although I do hate how the nice weather seems to bring everyone outside, it really was a beautiful day. Perhaps next time I'll write a post about Central Park. Or not. That might involve going outside and seeing people. Seems more likely that the next post will be about squirrels or food.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Casey's Foods: Egg

One of my favorite things about my morning routine is my daily consumption of one boiled egg.

To be fair, there are a lot of things I enjoy about the morning. Coffee ranks pretty highly up there, and getting back from the gym and feeling completely disgusting and then jumping in the shower and feeling very very clean. Oh, and cereal! I love my cereal. But the most recent addition to my morning routine is, as I noted above, the consumption of one boiled egg.

I have actually hated boiled eggs for most of my life. This all changed when I went to Greece for the first time in 2004. The Greeks don't really believe in breakfast. They keep a more Mediterranean eating schedule which means that they don't start dinner until about 9 PM and don't finish dinner until around midnight. So the fact that a roomful of hungry archaeology students had to be fed at 6:30 AM was a bit mystifying to them. A staple of our meals in Greece was a basketful of boiled eggs. And as I have mentioned before, I hated boiled eggs. But working in the field moving large amounts of dirt every day meant that we needed energy, and the boiled egg was generally the only protein option on the table. Thus began my love affair with the boiled egg.

My boiled egg consumption was mostly confined to Greece until earlier this year when I read an interesting health and fitness report that said that people who consume one egg as part of their morning meal actually eat fewer calories at the end of the day than people who eat only carbs or sweets for breakfast. I was quite intrigued by this and have since added the egg to my daily routine.

I don't know if I'm actually consuming fewer calories throughout the day now, but I do know that I feel full longer after breakfast and that is certainly useful. (As much as I love my Multigrain Cheerios, my body burns through it really fast and I'm usually hungry just an hour later.)
I also know that my eggs have brought me great joy. Boiled eggs are so fun! They're cute and little and you can buy them in different colors! And then after you boil them you get to PEEL them, which I really shouldn't enjoy as much as I do. Then you get to eat them, and nibble your way down to the yolk and try to get bites with the right balance of whites and yolk. Mmmmm... I'm already fantasizing about tomorrow's egg.
I think the only way to wrap up this post is to direct you to this awesome video about eggs and why they should be loved. It's amazing.
See, I'm not the only egg-lover out there!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy little gems from the library!

Old books are one of my life's small pleasures. Since I do a lot of reading in Latin and Greek, I tend to check out old books because, hey, the text really hasn't changed that much since these books were published! Today I was paging through my copy of Cicero's Phillipics when I came across this...

Now, I don't write in library books. EVER. I write in my own textbooks, yes, in pencil. Library books, no. But thank God that some people do write in their library books because I just love coming across little notes like this one.
This one says "probably the earliest instance in literature **** of the title divus, later to become the official imperial designation." It's in a very thick black pen, and in cursive, which I think is a sign it was written before 1990. This particular copy of this book was published in 1951, so it's actually not that old at all. And really, even if this was just written last year I still find it intriguing. Was this mysterious Columbia scholar writing a paper on the term divus? Were they just particularly interested in it? Why was it SO important that they felt they should nicely write this in the margins of a library book? Did a graduate student doing thesis work on this very topic and feeling loopy after a long night in the library sleepily write this? Is this person still at Columbia?
I still haven't managed to convince myself that writing in library books is not a sin, but, if anyone ever finds a strange little squirrel drawing in the margins of a dorky library book... you'll know it was your favorite New York City Squirrel!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The New York Times

Back when B and I first became engaged, I thought it would be nice if our wedding announcement made it in The New York Times. I didn't realize what a big deal it was to get into The New York Times Weddings/Celebrations section. Where I'm from, the paper is so desperate to fill their pages with something resembling real news they practically pay residents to get married and file a report about it.* I had no idea the high income and family name standards required to earn a mention in The New York Times, but, probably needless to say, we didn't actually get in.

However, my tiny tourist town in Washington did make it in The New York Times!

So you're probably all thinking, "Ah, how nice! The New York Times must be doing a series on nice places to travel within the United States. Casey often also tells me that her town is situated on the third deepest lake in the nation - now that surely makes for an interesting article!" No no, it's actually better than that! The City of Chelan was profiled in The New York Times because we are one of a few cities around the nation that still has wooden water pipes supplying water to our residents!

I actually had no idea that we still had wooden water pipes running through our town! The reporter came out a few weeks ago and spoke extensively with my mother's boss Dwayne, who is the man in the picture above standing with the pipes. The article was published on Sunday, and I spent a large part of that morning running around like a crazy person looking to buy five copies of The New York Times. (Hint: it turns out they sell them at the newstand. Yeah.)

Actually, the section about our pipes in Chelan is pretty small, and is really just used to introduce and conclude the article. The meat of the article is really about how infrastructure in America is aging rapidly and the funds to replace old pipes and the like must come from somewhere but taxpayers can never agree to tax hikes for these sorts of things. I mostly just skimmed that part... although as with most things tax-related I noticed that the comments were filled with nasty attacks on both political parties and both liberals and conservatives were being blamed for this problem and accused of having no brains. Of course.

Anyway, it's pretty exciting that my mother's boss was in a half-page color photograph and quoted in The New York Times! Who says that small towns don't generate any real news or excitement? Clearly ours does!

Oh, and here's the link to the article if you, you know, actually want to read it:

*This is an exaggeration.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Squirrel Stuff I Own: Squirrel Ornament!

I was actually going to save this particular squirrel item for last, as it may very well the cutest squirrel item in my not-so-vast collection. This lovely little dude came from a friend named S* who picked it up for me during a trip to San Francisco.

Now, your first thought upon seeing this delightful little fellow is probably, "Wow, I will never have children as cute as this squirrel ornament." I know that was my first impression. Upon further inspection you might realize that truly no human or animal in the history of the Earth has ever been as adorable as this creature. I swear, if this thing were alive I would've built a cult to him already and would be burning tiny offerings of nuts and stale french fries as part of an elaborate scheme of worship. Luckily, he's just a bunch of twigs stuffed together and spray-painted brown in order to evoke that elusive concept of squirrelness.

*Typically when I abbreviate names in this blog it is to protect the privacy of my friends. In this case, it is to protect my friend's dignity, as she maintains that my squirrel obsession is "weird" and that squirrels are "kind of gross, Casey." I am glad she was able to set aside her own issues in order to provide me with new squirrel joy.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Squirrel Stuff I Own: Strange Japanese Embroidered Squirrel... Thing?

It dawned on me recently that this blog hasn't been very focused on New York City in my most recent posts. I wish I could promise that there will be more New York City stories soon, but in fact this New York City Squirrel is going to be spending most of her summer in the Midwest and the West, and hopefully on a Caribbean cruise, but we'll see about that. So I can't promise much more in the city department until approximately September, when we move back to the city and I can start complaining about the smell of wet garbage again.

In the meantime, I thought it might be nice to create a series on certain squirrel items around our apartment. We'll be packing everything up soon and placing it in storage for the summer, so this seems like an excellent time to get started on this particular cataloguing project.

Up first, I have no idea what you would call this thing. It's some sort of embroidered decorative... wall hanging? It looks like a pillow in this picture, but I assure you that it is actually flat, with cardboard backing. The scenery is all embroidered, and the squirrel itself is actually fuzzy.

I received this as a gift from my good friend E and her family. Apparently they found it when they were cleaning out closets at her grandparent's old house, and they suspect that their grandmother received it as a gift on a trip to Japan. B and I currently display it from the top of one of our bookshelves, although I've noticed that B likes to lay it flat when we have guests coming over as a way of hiding it. If it were up to me we would have this thing framed and mounted above our bed like some sort of strange talisman of squirrel fecundity. Despite B's efforts at hiding it when we have guests, I do frequently bring it out to show to our friends, usually after they've had a few drinks. (Consider yourselves warned.)

This is probably one of my favorite squirrel items in my possession.* It is both very cute and very strange, and in that way kind of reminds me of myself. I look forward to many happy years admiring this strange squirrel... thing... thanks E and Family!

*I will probably say this about all of them.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Casey's Stories: Encounters At the End of the World

Wow, this was a great movie. Ostensibly about the continent of Antarctica, it really turns out to be a close study of the people who live and work in Antarctica. Most of them are scientists, who all seemed very interesting, but some of the best characters were the workers at McMurdo Station, many of whom were probably slightly crazy. Quite a few people who seemed to just never settle down, and ended up working in Antarctica as part of their travels.

One of my favorite parts was when the filmmaker interviewed the penguin specialist. This guy has been living down in Antarctica with penguins for twenty years, and is, and I quote, "a taciturn man, who in his solitude was not much for conversation with humans anymore." Let's just take a moment to recognize that this guy is pretty much living my dream of being a hermit (except in my dream I am studying squirrels instead of penguins). He was suitably awkward, and never even looked straight into the camera, always keeping his head slightly turned away.

The best part was when the filmmaker, struggling to get this scientist to speak further on penguins, says, "Dr. Ainley, I read somewhere that there are gay penguins. What are your observations?" Dr. Ainley then went on to talk about penguin threesomes that he has observed in the field, and also the fact that there are penguin prostitutes. (Did you know that there were penguin prostitutes? I sure didn't.)
But the underwater scenes were particularly spectactular. I don't know about the rest of you, but I always kind of assume that life only exists within a narrow section of our temperature scale, and am always surprised when living creatures make their homes in very hot or very cold places. The temperature in the waters around Antarctica is about -2 celsius, so it's pretty cold.* But the creatures down there are out of this world. I actually gasped out loud a few times during the underwater scenes.

Wouldn't you gasp too? Those things are just creepy! One of the scientists who studies the underwater life was a big science fiction nerd, and he noted that while the creatures we can see are quite strange, the microscopic creatures are even crazier and said it would be a terrifying place to be if one were the size of a microbe. Wow.

Perhaps one of the reasons I so enjoyed this movie is that I've always dreamed of working down at the McMurdo Station. I remember reading about it in National Geographic back when I was younger and thinking about how awesome it would be to work in Antarctica for a while. Of course, it's highly unlikely I'll ever get there, and I'm okay with that. But maybe I can convince Brandon that instead of doing Peace Corps when we retire we can move to Antarctica and help our scientist friends learn more about penguin threesomes.

*Yes, I realize that water shouldn't still be liquid at -2 degrees celsius, but this is what the diving scientist dude told me. He seemed to know what he was talking about.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Casey's Foods: Pesto Pasta

I love pesto. I love pesto on sandwiches, on pizza, on crackers, in my pasta, and mixed with all manner of dairy product. Here's some pesto porn:

Yup, that was dinner tonight. I boiled some whole wheat spaghetti noodles, tossed some pesto on it and I was in heaven. Of course I'm kind of a heathen in that I don't make my own pesto like the rest of the world. It's just that somehow fitting a food processor into my tiny, tiny kitchen doesn't really make much sense to me. Maybe next year I'll grow basil on our balcony (if we have one) and get a food processor (if we have space). Until then, I am single-handedly supporting the pre-made pesto industry.

I used to think that pesto was healthy. Then I looked at the nutrition facts and almost had a heart attack (mostly from all the fats I was consuming). It makes me sad that this perfect pasta topping is so fatty, but it makes sense because pretty much everything I love in life is either filled with or fried in fat. So, like an annoyingly clingy friend, I try to avoid pesto most of the time and generally walk by the pesto section of the grocery store without making eye contact with it or acknowledging its existence. But I am proud to say that this is a pesto week around here and damnit I'm enjoying this shit out of my pesto.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday

Well, it's finally spring in New York City! Columbia University put in all their new spring plantings over the weekend, so our block is looking a little greener than before. Everything is so grey in this city to begin with, so every little bit of flora makes a big difference. There are lots of things I miss about not living in a big city (dark nights, quiet, stars, fresh air, etc.) and one of the major things is nature. Not that I want to roll around in the dirt for hours on end, but I miss being able to walk directly outside on grass. Somehow cement and asphalt just don't make me as happy as fresh green grass (even if I have to mow it) and nice flowers. Anyway, here's the view from the corner of 116th and Morningside Drive - this building is lucky to have a "front lawn" of sorts and it is quite nice!
But as I mentioned, today is Easter Sunday. Having now spent many, many years living away from home I've come to conclude that religious holidays are mostly for:
1. People who have family nearby
2. People who have kids
3. People who attend church regularly

Brandon and I fall into none of those categories, sadly. Of course we don't have any kids, so there is no real reason to dye a ton of eggs, and it would be kind of weird for us to hide eggs from each other. Both of our families are thousands of miles away, so we don't have an option of attending brunch with them or eating an Easter ham. Could we go to Easter brunch on our own or make an Easter ham on our own? Of course we could. But those sorts of things are really about sharing the time with your extended family. Not that Brandon and I can't share in the time together too, but seriously... we have no kids, no full-time jobs, and we live in a 400 square foot apartment. We spend plenty of quality time together on a regular basis.

We also don't attend church regularly, and while I was tempted to attend some sort of service this morning, it just didn't feel right. I spent a lot of my childhood secretly loathing the people who came to church just on Easter and Christmas Eve. Plus Brandon and I have never really found a church we liked in New York City (although admittedly we haven't tried that hard). The churches here are a little strange to me. There isn't a Lutheran church in walking distance, and a few of the churches I've tried are influenced by the Baptist tradition which means there is lots of clapping and yelling during the sermon and my proper Calvinist genes can't handle that kind of stuff. Of course there is the beautiful cathedral down the street from us, but it's almost impossible to hear the sermon or to sing together in that large space, and I find it strange that tourists wander about inside during the service. Lastly, there is a cute little Catholic church down the street from us, the Church of Notre Dame.
Yeah, it doesn't really look like a church, does it? More like a government building. And the interior is very interesting. It's made to look like the grotto where somebody saw a vision of Mary or something like that. We've also been to this church, and the priest is from... ummm... somewhere in Europe, maybe Eastern Europe. He's very difficult to understand. Also because I'm not Catholic but the Catholic liturgy is very similar to the ELCA Lutheran liturgy, I tend to get quite confused when we're there and say all the wrong things at the wrong time and cross myself when I don't need to. Also... the kneeling! What's up with the kneeling?!?! And how in the world am I supposed to know when to kneel and how long to kneel? And where do you LOOK when you kneel? It really adds another layer of confusion.
And so Easter Sunday is just another Sunday in April for us. Does it make me sad that we let so many holidays pass by us without even a glance in their direction? Yes. Not because I care particularly about the holidays themselves, but because I know it's largely a product of us being so far from home and lacking the impetus to celebrate these things ourselves. Of course, in fifteen years when I'm sick to death of family brunches and don't want to deal with Brandon Junior getting egg dye all over his sister the day before Easter I'm sure I'll look back on these days with great fondness and think to myself, "If only I could spend Easter Sunday in bed watching Meerkat Manor and eating chocolate." And that's probably what I'm going to do right now. Future Casey approves.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lovin' the trash can.

So I suppose I should explain this blog, and consider its purpose.

On Tuesday of this week, B accepted an offer at a law firm here in Manhattan. When we moved here, exactly two years and nine months ago for B to attend law school, the plan was to stay for exactly as long as it took him to get his Juris Doctor degree, and from there we would likely return to Minnesota or move elsewhere, preferably away from the East Coast.

Well plans change. And on Tuesday I had to accept that we would be staying in New York City for the forseeable future, and that I would have to learn to enjoy my new home and probably stop complaining about it so much because, well, that's just not healthy.

So thought to myself a bit about the squirrels I see here in New York City. Squirrels were not made to live in cities. They were made to hop about in the forested hills, in a charmingly bucolic setting reminiscent of my childhood spent far from the steaming dung heap that is Manhattan... oh, wait, I said I was going to stop with the complaining, didn't I? Despite being far from where they should, and perhaps want, to live, the squirrels here in New York City have done quite well for themselves. They've discovered the many joys of trash cans. They've sought out the few places where there are trees well-suited for building nests, and they've settled into their prime little chunks of real estate. They've learned to use their cuteness to charm small children into dumping their ziploc baggies full of goldfish crackers right into their grubby little paws. In short, the squirrels here in New York City are fat, happy, and flourishing.
If they can flourish, then I can flourish. And so I have decided to channel my inner New York City squirrel (I call him Fred) and learn, like our friends the squirrels, to adapt to my surroundings, no matter how unnatural they may be.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Casey Approves: Passover Soda!

Yesterday marked the beginning of Passover here in New York City. Well, not just in New York City, but around the world.

Having originally come from a small town, I didn't personally know any practicing Jews. Pretty much everything I know about Judaism came from Chaim Potok's The Chosen, which I read in the eighth grade. (It's a great book, by the way, even for a Dutch girl from the Northwest.) One of the most interesting things about moving to New York City has been the incredibly Jewish presence here. Working for a private school for my first two years here certainly helped to increase my knowledge too (although I suspect the students may have taken some advantage of my ignorance... "But Magistra, we can't have a quiz on Thursday because it's Purim!" "Wasn't Purim last week?" "Purim lasts for two weeks, Magistra! Don't you know that?" "Oh well of course..."

Note: I just checked Wikipedia, and Purim does indeed last for only one day. Sneaky.

My point - I have learned an incredible amount about the relative importance of Jewish holidays, how they are celebrated, how long they last, and which ones are the fun ones (answer: not Yom Kippur).

So for Passover (which actually does last longer than one day), Ashkenazi Jews are not allowed to eat any sort of grain product, nor any sort of corn or rice product for the entire seven days. As a result, soda made with corn syrup is not kosher for Passover. The nice bottlers of the Northeast know this, so in order to keep their Jewish customers buying soda for a week, they make a special Kosher for passover variety of their products made with real sugar instead of the usual corn syrup. I was intrigued by this idea of soda made with sucrose rather than fructose so last night I insisted that B acquire this delightful treat for us, preferably in the form of Sprite.

The best part about it - Hebrew on the cap!

B and I agree that the soda tastes quite different. He wasn't a fan, noting that it was "very bland" and I can see why he would say that. The sugary taste is certainly less severe, and I actually like that. I'm not a big soda fan in general. I abhor that nasty feeling/taste that you get in your mouth after drinking just a few sips. This Passover soda doesn't do that, and I am appreciative.
It's good stuff, although I just don't know if I'll be able to get through this giant bottle of it before it goes flat. Perhaps it will last me until the next Passover?