Sunday, April 25, 2010

Squirrel Stuff I Own: Squirrel Ephemera

Just wanted to note that I've received multiple squirrel cards in the mail so far in 2010. This first one came from my friend A, along with that awesome pair of squirrel earrings.

He looks a little drunk, doesn't he? Like he hollowed out that nut to hold his Nutty Brown Ale.

The second card is actually a postcard, and comes from my friend M of the swings blog fame.

Dear Lord, that is a fat squirrel! I don't think I've ever seen a squirrel so obese in the real world! If I did I would undoubtedly try to catch it and make it my friend.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Casey's Stories: Yellowstone

So I watched the great BBC documentary about Yellowstone National Park the other day. I'll admit that I wasn't a huge fan of Yellowstone when we visited. It was huge, and we spent tons of time driving, and even though we were there in September it was still terribly crowded. The terrain reminded me of where I grew up, so I wasn't overly-impressed with it. All in all, I would say it was one of my least favorite national parks.

Well it's much better in HD on Netflix Watch Instantly!

This documentary was great, focusing on the difficulties most animals experience in trying to survive Yellowstone's cold, cold winters. The cinematography was truly stunning, too. The park looked way better than I remember.

Of course there were rodents to be found all over this three-part series! This little guy, the pine squirrel, had a short story arc concerning his attempts to store pine nuts for the winter despite the fact that the bears keep coming and digging up his nut stash and taking it for themselves. Poor little guy. You could see the frustration in his beady little eyes as he watched the bears break into his cupboard.

The movie also had a short bit on the pika, a noble North American creature who lives at high altitudes and spends the summer gathering and drying grass for its winter stores.

Now, I love rodents, and am always excited to learn about a new rodent to love. So imagine my suprise when Wikipedia informed me that the pika is actually part of the Lagomorpha order (rabbits are in this order)! Not Rodentia! "But... but... he's so cute," I thought to myself. "He can't possible be related to the rabbits. How could this guy NOT be a rodent?!?" But who am I to question the work of scientists? (Note: In my next life I intend to be a rodent biologist.)

The moral of this story is that not everything I love is a rodent (and in fact, it turns out that B is not a rodent either), but it's okay to love animals that are from other orders. But only a little.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Squirrel Stuff I Don't Own: Awesome Squirrel Bag

So I have a friend R who lives here in the city, and it turns out that she has a special gift. The gift of attracting squirrel lovers to her! Not only am I friends with her, it turns out she has another friend, L, who also loves squirrels and collects squirrel items!

Hi, L! We should be friends!

Anyway, R emailed the other day to tell me about this friend, and she attached a wonderous picture of a wonderous object owned by L, a squirrel bag!

Now THAT, my friends, is a bushy tail done right! I love the styling of this squirrel, he's very slightly anime, and almost cat-like. And how often do you see squirrel objects with a bounding squirrel? Not frequently! The vast majority of my squirrel stuff is a squirrel sitting on its haunches eating a nut. Which makes a wonderful profile, for sure, but this squirrel bag really captures the essence of squirrel, the crazy energy and cuteness that makes me love them so.

Addendum: L wanted me to mention that this bag is made by Bolsa Bonita. I just went to their website and they have a whole variety of these squirrel bags in different colors! Aaaahh! I may have to get one of my own!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Found Squirrels: The Last Unicorn

So while I'm busy being nostalgic for my childhood (see earlier post regarding Chip and Dale), I wanted to mention another place in my childhood entertainment where I've found a squirrel.

This screen shot is from the opening credits of what was probably my favorite childhood movie, The Last Unicorn.

Did anyone else watch this movie? My sister and I LOVED it and watched it whenever we could cajole our parents into renting it for us. A few years ago I rewatched the whole thing, and the movie itself was very familiar, yet very unfamiliar. I knew the cadence of the words spoken by the characters, but not the words themselves, and I always knew what sort of scene was coming up next (happy, sad, scary, etc.) but wasn't quite sure what would happen in that scene. Something in this movie deeply imprinted itself on my brain, and yet if you had asked me just five years ago, I could not really have explained the plot to you.

What one thing have I always remembered from the plot? The skeleton guy, who drinks a whole bottle of wine and the wine just runs through him. That dude used to show up in my scary dreams as a child a lot. In fact, he still does sometimes, although I am less terrified of him than I was previously.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Found Squirrels: Playground Squirrels

So my friend M has a blog all about swingsets in the greater Seattle area. I'll admit I thought it was strange at first, and then I remembered that I have a whole damn blog about one type of rodent so I'm not really one to judge. Also his blog turns out to be kind of cool.

Anyway, in doing research for his own blog, M came across some fodder for my blog!

Behold! Some sort of crazy squirrel-themed playground item! I don't even really understand what this is, or what one is supposed to do with it, but it's awesome. The squirrel outlines are quite well-done; the one on the right even looks like he's about to hug me! And the one on the left is delightfully fat!

All in all, an excellent bit of playground equipment. I wish more playground designers would realize what a great theme squirrels make for a playground (not to mention a blog!).

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Weekend

Well, I think it was around this time last year that I started this terrific little blog. It seems to me my first post was about kosher soda and my second post was about Easter and how it's a real non-holiday for us non-family-oriented non-churchgoing types.

It makes me wonder, are holidays pretty much just for kids? If all of a sudden the human race lost the ability to reproduce would we cease celebrating holidays once there was nobody under the age of 20 left?

But I digress. I wanted to post about our little trip out to Forest Hills Gardens in Queens. I was still recovering from whatever cold/flu took me down last week and B was already getting sick so we weren't really up for a big, exciting Saturday.

We rode the bus out to Forest Hills Gardens, which is a nice little "cottage community" in Queens. It was really, really hard to believe that we were still in New York City. Does this look like New York City to you?

No, no it does not. This looks like a quiet little street in Saint Paul, Minnesota! We thought it was just crazy. We walked around for a long time, just generally exploring, and staring in wonderment at all the single family detached housing! And the yards! And green grass!

They also had this cool relief sculpture erected in honor of men who had lost their lives in World War I. I'm a sucker for relief sculpture, so here it is.

And of course we saw tons of squirrels, but most of them were way too quick for me to take a good picture. We did run across one little guy in front of the local library who was chowing down on a nice cache of nuts somebody had left for him. So I finally got a decent picture of a squirrel.

Although as far as squirrels go, he's not the cutest speciment. You know how the judges in the dog shows have to judge the dogs based on their ear length and their gait and all sorts of other things? Well I feel like I'm becoming an expert in judging squirrels and I have my own set of criteria regarding fatness and bushiness of tails that has to be met before a squirrel can be deemed highly cute. Somebody please sign me up to be a judge at the next American Rodent Club competitions.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Folks all say we are the cutest two!

I want to blog today about the very first squirrels I ever loved, a pair of chipmunks called Chip and Dale. You may be familiar with them as rescue rangers, but my sister and I came to know them first as just simple chipmunks whose only goal in life was to store up enough nuts for the winter and annoy Donald Duck as much as possible while doing so.

We watched a lot of Chip and Dale as kids. I think we had a copy of one of Disney's Chip and Dale collections so we were very familiar with several of their shorts, almost all of which involved poor Donald Duck. I've never seen anyone else so tortured by squirrels!

One of my favorites was the one in which Chip and Dale live in Donald Duck's chimney and they come down into the house to steal pancakes from him. The episode ends with the assistance of a rubber cement pancake, some well-placed butter, and a not-very-politically-correct depiction of Donald Duck as a person of Chinese descent.

Another one of my favorites is Out of Scale, wherein Donald Duck is building a large village for his toy trains in his backyard. Everything has to be "to scale" and he removes Chip and Dale's tree because it's "out of scale." They take up residence in one of the tiny model homes and Donald decides that they are "just right" to live in the house.

I really got a kick out of Chip and Dale living in that tiny house and eating tiny sandwiches. I still get a kick out of it, actually. Quite a few of these shorts are on now, which has allowed me to revisit my youth in a pretty great way. I've even discovered some Chip and Dale shorts that I hadn't seen before!

Is this where my deep love of/appreciation for squirrels comes from? Or was this just my first outlet for my love of rodents in general? I'm not sure, but I do know that if anyone feels the need to buy me some Chip and Dale-themed items they should feel free to indulge said need.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Your Favorite Book Undoubtedly Didn't Make The List

WARNING: There will be no mention of squirrels in this particular post. Please check back in the future for more squirrelly goodness.

So I recently found out from a fellow blogger about a little game being played in the blogosphere wherein one lists the ten books that have "most strongly influenced their world views." I've looked at a few of these lists on other blogs, assuming that I would see a lot of Thomas Friedman on there. But no, oh no. These are true literary people; people I would not even dare to engage with in conversation at the bar. I didn't even recognize 75% of the books on their lists!

So I'm making my own list, but with a few changes. I'm not quite sure how to interpret "world view" and to me the phrase conotes some understanding of politics, and I am so not interested in politics. So I'm going to list the books that have just influenced me in whatever way. Also, I'm only listing seven, because that's all that came to mind. It's my blog.

Books That Have Most Influenced Me (in chronological order, as in, the order in which I read them):

1. What Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry
There is one section in this book where they build a house and I spent hours staring at it trying to figure out how the hot water and cold water pipes related to each other. There was a some sort of goat who was Farmer Alfalfa, and I pictured him as my grandfather, and I remember there was a cat in a hardhat sitting in a bulldozer on one page and that was my mother, in my mind (she's an engineer). As a small child, I definitely came up with ways to relate everything in my life to what I had seen in this book.

2. The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Did I mention that I have an active imagination? I'm pretty sure that from the age of about 7 to the age of 12 I pictured myself as a pioneer girl just like Laura. If I was walking to school then I was walking through the winter blizzard of 1878 to the one-room schoolhouse. If I was baking a cake then I was baking with Ma in her kitchen. If we were driving to Seattle in the Subaru station wagon, then I was Laura in the back of a covered wagon making my way to a new homestead. I'm not sure if this book influenced me more because I grew up in the West and so felt like I was a real pioneer (nevermind that my relatives arrived in Washington via train, not covered wagon).

3. The Source by James Michener
This was the first book that showed me what I refer to as "the long view" and gave me a deeper understanding of how incredibly small each one of us is when you examine the entire history of humanity. Man's relationship with God is also examined closely in this book, and although it's fiction it certainly influenced the way I think about the history of religion.

4. The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan
I went through an Amy Tan phase and read pretty much everything that she wrote before 2000. This, I think, is actually her best book, better than Joy Luck Club, but doesn't lend itself well to movie-making. This book makes the list not because it's great (I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't call it great literature), but because of the reincarnation theme that becomes apparent about halfway through. I had always believed in reinarnation, and I remember this book being one of the first I had read to address the issue and make it a major plot point. Basically, this book told me, "Hey, you know that crazy thing you think about people being reborn when they die? Well other people might believe it too, and they might even write books about it! How about that?"

5. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
I would say this book was influential in my life because of the writing. I will admit right now that I read this book when I was way too young and because of that I really didn't totally "get" the story. What I love about this book, and what makes it important to me, is the writing. I would say this is the first time I had read a book and was really blown away by the writing. Arundhati's prose is just gorgeous, and I was stunned. Later I would discover Jhumpa Lahiri and would be even more astounded, but Arundhati Roy will always be the first author whose writing really meant something to me as an art.

6. Some Random Book About Religion That I Came Across In The School Library
I wish I remembered the title of this book. It had a section on each major world religion, and I remember this was my first real taste of Judaism. I reached the section on Buddhism and was really impressed with the tenets of Buddhism. I liked it and decided maybe I should be Buddhist. And then I read the part about how Buddhism is basically an atheist religion. And I was shocked and said to myself, "But I can't NOT believe in God!" And then I realized I could. And thus began what was probably about seven years of atheism for me. I no longer consider myself an atheist, but I think those seven years or so of atheism were really important for me spiritually. Having grown up in a church I always just believed what they told me to believe and I think it was really important for me to walk away from God for a while, and to have to work through spiritual questions on my own. Ultimately I came back to my belief in God, and I think my relationship with Him is stronger for it.

7. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
I read this last autumn while we were on our honeymoon. When I finished it at Grand Teton National Park I threw the book across the tent, frustrated. All I can say is that this book feels very important when you read it, the ending offers no resolution (some may disagree), and I still feel as if the book has a very important point that I am missing. I often think about this book when I'm on the treadmill or on hold with technical support at work or when I'm hanging out on facebook. I'm still trying to figure it out.

So that's my list. I'm sure later today I'll recall some important book that I neglected to put on my list, but that's okay. These are the first ones that came to mind so they must have some importance.

I promise a return to posts about squirrels in the near future.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Panorama

I've been sick for almost a week now, so we haven't had any outings or squirrel-related adventures in about that long. I have been meaning to write about our little trip to the Queens Museum of Art, which is located on the old World's Fair fairgrounds that I wrote about a while back.

The Queens Museum of Art is small, and doesn't have much of interest to me. It was mostly modern art when we went. The major draw, though, is the giant 3-D map of New York City, which they refer to as "The Panorama."

It's a three dimensional map of New York City, all five boroughs. Some of the buildings are quite detailed, and I believe they try to keep it up-to-date now (except for the WTC Towers you see here; apparently they are keeping those in place until the new structure is completed on that site). This was originally built for the 1964 World's Fair.

It's very cool, and is kept in a large room with a walkway all around so you can get different angles on everything. Unfortunately, our part of Queens is pretty much right in the center of the thing so we couldn't get a close enough view to really pick out our neighborhood.

This was a really cool little exhibit, and I think anyone who has lived in New York City for a decent amount of time would enjoy it. I'm glad we dragged our butts out to Flushing to see it. Now I'm interested to see if my geography nerd friends chime in with interesting facts about this map.