Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

New York World's Fair

I may have mentioned that we're now living in Queens rather than Manhattan. It's very different out here, and so far we're enjoying it.

We decided to get to know our new borough a little better and rode the 7 out to Flushing Meadows, the site of the two World's Fairs held in New York City (although the second fair was apparently unsanctioned).

Having come from Washington, I am very familiar with vestigial buildings of the Seattle World's Fair held in 1962. The Space Needle, the monorail, and much of the Pacific Science Center is leftover from that particular event. Most of those things are still in decent condition (even though the monorail keeps breaking down... but we don't talk about that in my household). New York City seems to have not cared for its World's Fair souvenirs quite as well. For instance, there is supposed to be a Fountain of the Planets, and I was very excited about this because I love the planets. But it turned out to be a big pond with an ugly square building in the center.

Probably one of the better-known examples of neglected World's Fair buildings is this one, the New York State Pavilion.

It's in almost total ruin, kind of sad to see. That ceiling apparently used to be stained glass, but they destroyed it a long time ago and in the process mutilated what was apparently a beautiful map of New York City on the floor of this building. I'm told that the remains of this map are currently in a museum, but they're not in good shape.

They do have some statues still in good shape, like this one, which I first thought was Apollo but I'm really not sure what he is supposed to be. And of course the Unisphere, of which I took many pictures but I did not post here as those are posted all over the place. (When I got home I even realized that our Queens phonebook has the Unisphere on the cover.)

What is particularly strange to me is that the Mets play right nextdoor to this park, and the US Open is held here every year. So it's not like the area is dead, yet we have these rotting buildings right next door. It's strange to me, but I do understand there are better things to spend the budget on than refurbishing an almost-fifty-year-old building.
And, just to keep us on topic here, here's a decent picture of a squirrel I got while out at Flushing Meadows. The squirrels out there were looking pretty fat and healthy; must be all those baseball hotdogs?

Monday, November 23, 2009

NOT a squirrel

I just wanted to take a moment to discuss a ridiculous creature, the banana slug.

This thing is clearly not a squirrel, not even a mammal. And it's a ridiculous bright yellow which makes no sense to me. It also seems to be the mascot California's state parks, but I'm not sure about that so don't quote me.

We saw not one squirrel in the redwoods, but we saw a banana slug.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Squirrel Sightings 6

Our last squirrel sighting came in Portland, Oregon. We stayed there overnight near the end of our trip. It was actually my first time in downtown Portland, although I lived on the West Coast for almost eighteen years.

We had wandered around for a bit and I actually had to use the facilities very badly. We ran into the local public library and thought it would be a good place for a pit stop. The public library in downtown Portland is surprisingly ornate, but maybe I just say that because I'm used to the crazy Seattle Public Library. While waiting for B, I looked down and saw that I was standing on top of a squirrel!

It was a beautiful moment, and had B been standing there with me I probably would have kissed him. But instead I spent the next five minutes looking like an idiot trying to take a picture of the shiny floor. Still, what a find!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Squirrel Sightings 5

People, there is nothing creepier than a stuffed squirrel. What was cute, charming, and sometimes vicious while alive simply becomes ridiculous when stuffed in death. And yet, when some squirrels go to the big Acorn Tree in the Sky, people sometimes want them stuffed and mounted for, I don't know, scientific purposes.

Take this marmot for instance (yes, a marmot is a type of squirrel... look it up, damnit!). I found this guy in Glacier National Park at the visitor center at Logan Pass. In life, he was probably a little fat, probably waddled a bit, and the tourists all had a good giggle at the round little marmot. He just looks like an idiot now, buck teeth all over the place and kind of unnaturally hunched over. Of course this didn't stop me from taking a picture of him, but I collect these sorts of things so I kind of have to. I have fans with expectations, you know.

These little ground squirrels actually turned out okay. They were kind of cute, still a little fat, and the taxidermist captured their beady little black eyes brilliantly. Still creepy, in my opinion.

I love squirrels, but I would never allow a dead squirrel into my house and I would certainly never use it as decoration. Live squirrels are a totally different story. Someday B is going to return from work and discover the apartment in total disarray, scratch marks all over the walls, and me in the corner clutching a terrified squirrel. It isn't going to be pretty, but it will be a whole lot prettier than these poor dead squirrels from Montana!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Squirrel Sightings 4

This picture is from the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park. B snuck in to have a look around and took this photo of the wallpaper.

Of course it was I who spotted the squirrel after uploading the pictures onto my computer.

Can you see him? He's quite small.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Squirrel Sightings 3

Wow, what a great picture of a chipmunk, Casey! And you say you're terrible at taking squirrel pictures! This one is really good! And you got so close!
Yeah, he's plastic. I found him in the Yosemite National Park Visitor Center and took this picture on the sly. I've had a few people start to compliment me on the excellent squirrel photo before they realize that there is something not quite squirrely about him. He was actually in a display with a selection of other adorable rodents, but I'll spare you the joy of those photos.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Squirrel Sightings 2

Found this little guy at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. B saw me taking a picture of the wall and somehow didn't notice its inherent squirreliness. I had to point it out to him.

The funny thing is that I don't think we saw even one squirrel the whole time we were at the Grand Canyon. Sure, we were only there for about 24 hours, but still. It was probably the least squirrely part of our trip (well, Vegas and Death Valley were pretty low on squirrels, too). Anyway, I'm glad the interior designer of the visitor center had the good sense to put our favorite rodent on the wall.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Squirrel Sightings!

So I know I actually haven't posted much about our honeymoon. I had some difficulty even posting those few pictures I managed to put up. We were outside of any cell phone service for large chunks of the trip, and a data connection was even more difficult to find! Suffice to say, we had an excellent time and our marriage survived our confinement in a 1987 Volkswagen Vanagon.

We saw a lot of squirrels on our honeymoon. Lots of squirrels. In fact, I have a large selection of squirrel photos from our trip, but nearly every one is just a blurry bit of gray fuzz surrounded by grass. Those little suckers move too quickly!

I had a much easier time getting squirrel pictures of the inanimate sort. And yes, there are other lovers of all things squirrel out there. This picture is from Yellowstone National Park. It decorates the porch of what seemed like ranger housing. We ran into this after our hike to the Beaver Ponds, a hike during which we saw exactly zero beavers. So this was a welcome little surprise back at the trailhead.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Squirrely Activities

Well I know it has been a little quiet over here in New York City Squirrel land, and I apologize for that. We completed our honeymoon on October 15, and spent the next two weeks living in my mother's basement and desperately trying to secure an apartment in New York City. We ended up getting lucky and finding a really good deal out in Queens. (Does this make us bridge and tunnel people?) We're settling into our new apartment now and I just haven't had the time to focus on my love of squirrels. Also I've only seen two squirrels since we moved out here, and that's a little depressing.

I did want to write a little about some cookies I made while we were still at home, squirrel cookies.

Oh yes, you read that correctly. I went shopping with my grandmother one day in October and we ended up at a little kitchen store that sells a wide variety of cookie cutters. And they had a squirrel cookie cutter! I do have a policy of not buying squirrel stuff for myself (mostly because that would get out of control really fast), but I made an exception and bought it.

What a great purchase! I rolled out some delicious squirrel cookies that very evening using my family's recipe for Best Butter Cookies. They were both delicious and adorable.

We decorated them with frosting and they were gone within about two days. I've got the squirrel cookie cutter here in New York now and I surely do intend to use it again. I suspect that future guests at our apartment will be welcomed with a warm plate of squirrel cookies! Lucky guests!