Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Current View

Suck it, New York City.

Squirrel Stuff I Don't Own: Stuffed Minnesota Squirrel

I told you a love of squirrels runs in the family. How many plush squirrels can one family own?

But wow, let's pause for a second and note just how adorable this picture is. He looks alive! And check out that cute little cream-colored belly!

Anyway, I'm actually pretty sure that my mother bought this guy at the Minneapolis airport a few years ago, when I was still in college, I think. My brother brought it to college with him two years ago, but has since returned him to the household. He sits on the mantle of our downstairs fireplace, next to our collection of black cat paraphenelia (another family obsession). I suppose he'll go back to college someday, but until then he keeps my mother company and mocks the cat.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Squirrel Stuff I Don't Own: Decorative Squirrel Plaque

So my grandparents have a lot of interesting stuff at their place. They have interesting books and an extensive collection of Reader's Digest abridged novels. And they have a button collection and lots of farming implements and about a thousand copies of Country magazine. But the coolest thing they own is something that hangs on the wall.

I guess you would call it a plaque of some sort? This actually hangs on one wall with a set of family photos. What does that say about my family? They've had this thing forever, but I think I only noticed it about two Christmases ago. The nut in the knot is not actually glued down, and I suspect my grandmother just placed it in there to make it more whimsical. Or something. Not sure. Either way, I'm totally in love with this. I haven't told B yet, but this will be hanging in our house someday, probably near our family photos. Or in place of our family photos. Depends on how cute our kids are.

A love of rodents runs in the family, so stay tuned for more squirrel stuff I don't own...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Country Roads, Take Me Home

So I left Minnesota on Friday morning to head back west for a family reunion. Whenever I fly into Seattle I always pick a window seat on the left side of the airplane. This is why:

That is Mount Rainier, Washington's most impressive volcano. I happened to be sitting next to a couple from Detroit who had never even heard of Mount Rainier and they were very excited about the cool view.

I had quite a long layover in Seattle, but it's a really nice airport so I didn't mind. They renovated the airport a few years ago and created this beautiful open shopping area full of nice markets and tasty restaurants. It's impossible to get a good picture of the huge windows and beautiful view, but I tried.

After a short flight full of turbulence over the Cascade Mountains, I got in a car with my family and drove to my mother's hometown, where my grandparents still reside for a quick visit. It's a cute little farming community and actually quite beautiful this time of year.

I'm back in my own hometown now, and back in my childhood room which is always a little strange. I did discover the sunglasses I misplaced last year, so that was a pleasant surprise, and today I'm thinking about getting my favorite pizza. I made the mistake of feeding the cat some nachos last night and now she thinks I'm her best friend. She snuggled up with me in bed all night and then demanded to be fed at 5:30 AM (seriously, she kept meowing at me and wouldn't let me sleep). Then she followed me around all morning. She's getting quite eccentric in her old age, but I guess we all are.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I'm A Wiener

The other day B and I went out to try Cici's Pizza. In case you haven't heard of it, it's an all-you-can-eat pizza/pasta/salad/dessert buffet. B's parents warned us that it wasn't very good, and it's true that it wasn't great. The most exciting part was the macaroni & cheese pizza they serve there. I know, I thought it sounded weird too, but it was actually really tasty.

Anyway, it's quite a family place and they have an arcade section with lots of games. B had a good time shooting terrorists with a machine gun for about $2. I spent my $2 playing this special claw vending machine stocked entirely with rubber duckies.

And I WON! I have never successfully grabbed a prize with the claw before, but I won a little orange duckie! I was hoping for a pirate duckie, but I got this guy instead. It's okay, I was pretty thrilled anyway.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Honeymoon Planning

As many of you may or may not recall, B and I got married last September. We didn't really have a chance to take a honeymoon at the time, so we put it off and promised each other that we would take our honeymoon within a year.

Happily, it looks like our honeymoon will be coinciding with our first anniversary. We've decided to take a tour of the national parks in the West and Southwest!

My mother is letting us borrow her sweet VW camper van, the same one my grandparents used to travel all around the country not too long ago. We're planning on hitting some of the major sites, like the Grand Canyon, and other less-known but highly-recommended sites like Zion in Utah. Despite growing up out in the beautiful American West, I have been to very few of the national parks out there. We did a lot of camping as children but generally stayed closer to home and stayed in the smaller wilderness areas that weren't so crowded.

I haven't gone camping in years so I'm excited to get back into the swing of it. I'm particularly excited because I suck at starting fires but B is really good at starting fires so that can be his job. My job will be drinking beer in a camp chair and watching the stars come out every night above our VW camper van.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Wedding Extravaganza 2009, Part I

We're attending a lot of weddings this summer. B is attending all six weddings and I am only going to five, but still... that's a lot of weddings! Luckily, we really enjoy going to weddings so we're excited about it, but man... I don't think we could handle another wedding this summer.

The first of six weddings was last Saturday. The ceremony happened to take place in the church attached to the Catholic school B attended as a child. It was nice to experience a little piece of his childhood. Also, the church is gorgeous. Of course it's difficult for us mere mortals to get good pictures of it, but we tried.

It was a nice, simple Catholic ceremony, minus the Eucharist, which is nice because as a dirty Lutheran I'm not allowed to participate in Catholic communion. The music was lovely.

The reception took place a bit outside of the Cities at this cute old farmhouse. It was really a lovely site! They set up a big tent and we all ate outside and walked along the river and even played in the playground at one point. And they were serving my favorite beer, Summit!

I really should've gotten a picture of my plate of food. They had Buca di Beppo do the catering and it was amazing. Definitely the best food I've ever had at a wedding. I was very, very happy.

And then we danced into the night! They decorated a nearby gazebo and put the DJ in there and that was really nice. I wish had taken a better photograph of it, but by the time it was dark I had been enjoying my Summit beer for about six hours so... yeah... the last set of pictures on my camera are not so good.

All in all, it was a wonderful wedding! We took the opportunity to have a night alone together and stayed at the nearby hotel that evening. It was a really nice night, and a great way to kick off our wedding season!

B is headed to another wedding next weekend, but I'm heading back home to the Inland Empire for a family reunion and then a quick trip to San Francisco to torment my sister some more. I'm really looking forward to it, although I'll miss B. Hopefully I'll get some good blog posts out of my adventures out west, so you can look forward to those!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Suburban Life: Parking Lots

Just a quick post to note how interesting parking lots are to me now. I do spend a lot of time on foot in the suburbs these days, and it's interesting how parking lots really impact the walkability of a place. The parking lot is such a vast expanse of space that the pedestrian has to cross in order to reach the store. Also, the entrances to stores here tend to not be right on the road. They're set back, due to the presence of the parking lot. It really adds a lot of distance for me to cross when I'm trying to go somewhere.

But wow, parking lots. You know that these parking lots are FREE, right? Also, there is always a parking spot readily available. You know how in New York City you have to spend hours looking for a spot? Or pay $15/hour to park in a cramped parking garage? Shit like that doesn't happen out here. You get in your car, you drive, you park. That's it. None of that crazy monkey business.

Of course, driving is a whole different issue. Have I mentioned that up until last week I hadn't driven since Christmas?

Monday, June 15, 2009


Well I was away from the Internet for a bit and haven't had a chance to post in a few days. We went to B's family cabin in Wisconsin for the weekend. We haven't been there in about three years (basically since we moved to New York City) and I was very, very excited to get back to nature a bit.

The cabin is on a very nice wooded lake with tons of squirrels and birds and rabbits and deer. We spent some time on the beach, and I even got a little sun. There are all sorts of interesting little shells on their beach.

There are also frogs and toads in the area who like to hang out under the docks. At one point we (the kids and I) managed to catch a toad. He was very cute.

And B and I took a long walk in the woods on Sunday. It's amazing how many little cabins are up there and so many little dirt driveways. I suspect that many of these families have owned land in this area for a couple generations or more.

Also while we were up there I took advantage of the time to put my coloring skills back into action. One of the nieces has these awesome new twistable crayola crayons which basically prevent you from breaking the crayons or from having that stupid crayon label paper all over the place. I found some squirrel pictures and colored them and put them on our bedroom door. Then I told the nieces that our room was the squirrel room and only squirrels were allowed in there. One of them really got into it and announced to almost everyone who entered the cabin that that room was a squirrel room only for squirrels. It was cute.

Of course one of the things I'm learning about kids this summer is that if you are involved in some sort of project they are going to want to be involved in that same project too. So the coloring and the decorating of the squirrel room door quickly got out of control.

B and I ended up staying an extra day without the family, which was really, really nice. We went out to the beach at sunset and set up our camp chairs and had a drink while we watched the sun set. At one point a pontoon boat floated by with a guy playing accordion! It was really funny, and we clapped for him when he finished a song.
It was great to get out in the middle of nowhere for a bit and enjoy some quiet and some nature, even if I did find a tick crawling on my leg last night. Eww.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Walk Through Nature

B and I went for a little walk today in a sculpture garden in our suburb. It was wonderful! There were bunny tracks and deer tracks and all sorts of moss everywhere. Seriously, people, I am so enthralled by nature these days it's just ridiculous. Every little bug that lands on our window, every little animal that waddles by... I'm entranced. You can tell I've really been deprived of nature for the past three years.

So this sculpture garden was very interesting. There were lots of stone and concrete sculptures. This one of a rodent family was one of my favorites.

There was also a nice view of the Minneapolis skyline. It seems so small, doesn't it? And look at all those trees in between us and the city... sigh... how nice. You could also see the dome of the Cathedral of Saint Paul, but I think I neglected to include it in this shot.

Suburban Life: Mailboxes

So I'm going to try to do a series of posts contrasting suburban life with our usual New York City life. I've already done a couple posts along these lines, and that does seem to be the theme of the summer. I'll be heading back to my rural hometown in a few weeks so in theory I will be able to compare the joys of urban, suburban, and rural life in this blog over the next few months. It will probably only be interesting to me and my mother, but that's okay.

Today's post is about mailboxes, in particular, mailboxes which take outgoing mail.

Oh outgoing mail... how you torment me in New York City. You see, in our apartment building we had a little mailbox for incoming mail, but we absolutely could not place outgoing mail in that box. Outgoing mail had to go in the blue postboxes, of which there are approximately three in all of Manhattan. Okay, that's a lie, but seriously, sometimes you could walk half a mile and not see a postbox and that was very frustrating.

I am thrilled at how easy it is to mail things in the suburbs. Just ten minutes ago I found a Netflix movie that needed to be mailed. I sealed it up, walked out the door and about twenty feet down the driveway, placed it in the box, put up the little flag, and walked back inside. I didn't even have to put on shoes! And, best of all, no homeless people asked me for money during this entire procedure!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Rambling Post About Rain

Well it's been raining here for about four days straight. It's very difficult for me to wake up completely when it's so grey outside. Our bedroom here is in the basement but has a big window out to the pond and gets really great light in the morning. In some ways I hate it because it makes it impossible to sleep in on the weekends. But I'm also enjoying feeling a little bit like a morning person and actually getting up before 9 on the weekends. We even made it to church last Sunday!

But as I said, that doesn't really work when it's so grey out. But the rain out here is nice. In New York City when it rains it just smells like wet garbage and sewage overflow. Seriously, rain in New York does NOT smell good, nor does it seem to clean the city up at all. But rain in the suburbs smells so happy and clean! And it seems to clear up some of the algae in the lakes around here. The pond out back is much cleaner now than when we fell in a week ago.

Also, I've noticed that the water animals like to stay closer to land when it rains, and this little mallard has been hanging out on our dock pretty consistently. I love ducks. When I was little my dream was to be reincarnated as a duck because they could swim, walk, and fly. What could be better than having all three modes of transportation available to you? Anyway, it makes me a little sad that this guy doesn't seem to have a mate. Is he a jerk duck? Just unlucky in love? Recently dumped and nursing his emotional wounds? I wish we knew, but he sure looks forlorn out there, doesn't he? Poor little guy.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Life in the Suburbs!

So B and I have been living in New York City for almost three years now. As I've mentioned before, living in New York City is a very particular experience, very different from living anywhere else in the country. One of the things we've finally grown accustomed to is that many stores and restaurants, large and small, do not accept credit or debit cards, only cash. So we use our cards when we can, but cash has become a large part of our lives.

But we're in the suburbs now, and things are different (better). We were thrilled to discover that in the suburbs you can even use your credit card at the vending machine!

Isn't it amazing! Sadly, when we tried to use it it wouldn't work. But B was so excited. I even got a picture of his face and he looks like he just won the lottery. It was really disappointing when we had to use cash after all (what is this, New York?!?!), but still...

I should probably be doing more posts about how incredibly different it is to finally live outside of Manhattan. I'm sure things like this will come up more frequently. But it's really funny how almost every night B and I have long discussions about how wide the grocery store aisles are, how fresh the air is, and how inexpensive everything is. This is a totally crazy world.

Friday, June 5, 2009


We went to the local showcase last night. B was incredibly excited to see all the firetrucks, police cars, and city maintenance vehicles, although he maintains that he went "for the kids." I'm pretty sure that this was the high point of his year so far.

Anyway, on our way out of the showcase a woman from the city approached us and asked what our favorite thing was. I told her my favorite part was the child-sized roundabout they had set up to illustrate the correct use of a roundabout.

This city just put in a new roundabout, so I guess they're trying to teach the community how to use it properly. Anyway, turns out the lady who asked me about my favorite part was a city engineer, and her face lit up when she heard that the roundabout was my favorite part. Cute. Maybe it's time my hometown got a roundabout?

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Last week B took me on the scenic route home from the library. There are a ton of tiny public parks and public lakes/ponds in Minnesota, and we walked by a very nice one that happened to have lilypads.
I realize that lilypads are not really a big deal for most of you. But I grew up in a semi-arid region, and most of our vacations as children involved camping in that same semi-arid region. I had never seen a lilypad, and had only read about them in books, so as a child I was pretty sure that lilypads were an imaginary thing. And I never really reevaluated that thought as I grew older. Imagine my surprise a few years ago when I finally saw a lilypad in real life!

So I still get excited every time I see a lilypad. I know, it's weird, but I do. So I had to take a picture and share with y'all my excitement that I now live in a place where there are lilypads just up the road!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Canoe Incident of 2009

So on Sunday, after dinner, B and I decided to go for a little adventure in the canoe. This house is on a body of water and Minnesotans apparently call it a lake, but I think it qualifies as more of a pond. Either way, it's a really fun place to paddle around for a few hours on a sunny afternoon. So we put on our lifejackets, grabbed some oars, and got in the canoe.

Now, I don't have a ton of experience with canoes, and neither does B. I decided to be in the back this time which made me in charge of steering. B was in front, and because he has better upper body strength I had to work really hard to keep us from going in circles. Anyway, I haven't quite mastered the art of the C-stroke or J-stroke yet (or whatever) and we were a little unstable and then all of a sudden... we were dumped into the water.

Now, that picture I posted a few days ago of the pond/lake looked really nice, right? But that was a wide view. Let me show you what that water looks like up close.

Yuck. Isn't that gross? The pond/lake is certainly a very... uhhh... natural body of water. People don't seem to swim in it very frequently, and certainly our family doesn't. The whole thing is overgrown with some sort of water weed.

It's disgusting. And I had to swim through that shit and drag the canoe to shore. Luckily, the pond/lake doesn't get very deep, and was probably only five feet deep where we tipped over. I chose to swim to shore becaues I did not want my feet touching the muckiness of the bottom. B was braver and walked to shore. The family had a really good laugh, I think. I was too grumpy by the time we got back on land to wait and pose for pictures, but I suspect this is not the last time we'll tip the canoe this summer so there may be another photo opportunity. We showered right away and managed to go through a whole bar of soap between the two of us, and managed to prevent "the itch" or any sort of rash.
So yeah, life in the suburbs... bucolic, yet dangerous!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Squirrel Stuff I Don't Own: Squirrel Welcome Mat

Well guys, despite all the changes happening in our life, we're still finding squirrels everywhere!

This awesome welcome mat sits in front of B's parents' house in Minnesota. I had totally forgotten that they have this thing, but I immediately felt at home when I saw it again. Even more exciting, when I went for my run this morning in the park I saw the cutest little striped chipmunk! In fact, I saw him during two of my four laps which I think is a sign that he wants to be my friend. Chances are that I'm going to head over there again this afternoon with chipmunk snacks in my pocket for him...