Thursday, September 30, 2010

Squirrel Stuff I Made: Amigurumi Squirrel

I finished this little guy last Sunday.

He didn't turn out quite how I wanted. I'm really terrible at sewing body parts together, mostly because I have no patience for it, not because I lack sewing skills (remind me to post sometime about how I had to take sewing classes when I was a kid and I made a really ugly vest).

Anyway, he's still pretty cute.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Calvary Cemetery

B and I took a walk many weeks ago to Calvary Cemetery. Actually, Old Calvary Cemetery. The one nearer our house is the New Calvary Cemetery, annexed by the church when they realized that they needed more space.

The Old Calvary Cemetery is really nice, really quiet and calm and there was a nice breeze the day we were there.

New Calvary is pretty terrible. Two highways (the BQE and LIE) intersect New Calvary, and as a result it's just constantly roaring with traffic. It's also on a long piece of flat land, so doesn't have much character. Old Calvary has much more character and is placed on some nice rolling hills.

And of course there is fantastic sculpture, as always. I do enjoy cemeteries, even if that makes me weird.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Squirrel Stuff I Own: Holographic Squirrel Bookmark

I received a new squirrel item from my mother last week and it is VERY exciting.

Now, to you the picture above may seem blurry, but to me it seems awesome. Do you know why? Because not only is this a squirrel bookmark, it is a HOLOGRAPHIC squirrel bookmark! (I'm assuming that that is why the picture is blurry, and not because my ability to take pictures of bookmarks is substandard. I've never tried to take a picture of a holographic thing before so I didn't really know what to expect.)

This bookmark is so cool. If you angle it upward, the squirrel appears to be munching on the nut. But if you angle it down...

Well then it looks like the squirrel is checking out his surroundings! I'm sorry these pictures are a little lame, but trust me, the bookmark is awesome. I even brought it to work the day after I received it so I could show it to all my coworkers. (They were probably less impressed than I was, but they're nice enough that they put up with antics and told me it was a very cool bookmark.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

City Hall Ghost Station

It was B's birthday not too long ago. He's a difficult man to buy for, largely because despite his many interests and hobbies he isn't a big fan of acquiring "stuff." I often try to find activities for us to do together for his birthday. (One year I got him a large stack of back massage "coupons" that were good for a year, but boy did that almost destroy our marriage. A wife can only give so many back massages in a week before she starts to wish that her husband would just start a damn extramarital affair with a Swedish masseuse to take the pressure off.)

But I digress. This year, I think I came up with a pretty fantastic outing for the two of us, a tour of the abandoned City Hall subway station in Manhattan!

New York City is home to many "ghost stations." Many of the stations closed down when they lengthened the trains back in the day, making the spacing between some subway stops untenable. The City Hall station was closed for this and many other reasons (you can visit Wikipedia article if you're interested in the full history). This station is special in particular because it's quite grand. It was meant to be the "jewel in the crown" of the New York City subway (although I question the sanity of the person who referred to the hot, crowded, and often vomit-filled NYC subway system as a crown). The Transit Museum does tours every couple months, so I signed us up in honor of B's many years on this earth and last Saturday we went!

We arrived early, of course, because I'm insane, and ended up meandering through the parks around City Hall. Turned out to be an excellent place for squirrel watching, and there are even some black squirrels to be seen! More on that in another post, perhaps. I haven't spent much time in that part of town, but I am always surprised at how nice it is when I'm down there.

After killing some time, we descended into the Brooklyn Bridge subway station, where we were checked in by a Transit Museum employee and ushered onto a waiting 6 train. Here's the thing about this City Hall station, it's built as a loop, and while the station itself is abandoned, the loop is still used by the 6 train to turn around and head uptown again. Apparently this is the easiest way to access the station.

It is rather dark down in the station, so I had a lot of trouble getting a good picture of the whole thing. This one is probably the best.

You can see that unlike the rest of the New York City subway system, this station has some beautiful arches throughout. And those lights that didn't come out very well in the photo are actually chandeliers. Chandeliers! In a subway station! The insanity!

One of the most beautiful things about the station was the skylights. This oculus was on the mezzanine level, where one would have paid their fare back in the day.

And down on the actual platform they had three sets of arched skylights as well.

It was really cool. The station itself is really pretty small, and there isn't a whole lot to see down there, but we did manage to spend a good hour down there as a tour group. They had an historian around to talk to us about the history of the station, and he had some interesting things to say. It was definitely a great little foray into New York City transit history, and I think B was pretty happy about his little birthday activity.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Riding A Storm Across the Mountains

Recently, I've been thinking a lot about where I was exactly a year ago. A year ago, I was on my honeymoon with B, covering many thousands of miles in this, the world's coolest vehicle.

That's a 1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia, for those of you who don't know (affectionately referred to as "Westy" by those of us who do know). The top pops up to create sleeping space, and this genius little vehicle has a stove, refrigerator, and all sorts of random storage space.

But a day ago yesterday, we were not in this vehicle at all. And in fact we were using our own legs to propel us up a mountain and to one of the quickly disappearing glaciers in Glacier National Park in Montana.

I recommend that you click on that picture above to see the enlarged version, if you can. It's absolutely stunning. Montana is stunning. When I was in college I took the train home from Saint Paul, and I still treasure the memory of seeing the Rocky Mountains rising out from the flat fields of wheat... it was one of those moments that reminds you just how incredibly small you are in the grand scheme of things. What forces could possibly have lifted so much rock from the prairie?

But let's talk about feeling small... the hike to Grinnell Glacier made me feel so small. The picture below was taken from our lunch site at the glacier.

We had started our hike at the far end of the second lake you can see. I don't remember how far it was to reach the glacier, but I do remember thinking that at least one of us was not going to survive the trip back down. It was a long hike.

But what an amazing journey. Maybe I'll post about our honeymoon in further detail this month. It's certainly been on my mind a lot. Our lives have changed quite a bit in the past year, since we're now happily ensconced in Queens and are both gainfully employed. Of course, I miss the mountains, as always. This is the curse of having grown up in the West.