So, I haven’t blogged in…how long? Almost six weeks? What’s that about?

Okay, so here’s what happened: The last few weeks of school were crazy with assignments I didn’t want to do and books I didn’t want to read and papers I didn’t want to write and exams I didn’t want to take and classes I didn’t want to attend. But I did, because I’m a role model. Note to self: ideally, you only do college once, so stop taking classes that suck. Bitchfest, over.

Anyway, before school was technically even wrapped up, I was whisked away on a big family vacation. Israel, then Jordan, then Egypt. It is epic. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’re probably already privy to these developments. If you don’t, shame on you.

Photos of my apartment keep mocking me, waiting desperately to be spun like gold from straw into glimmering new blog posts—but shit, I’m tired. I think I walked somewhere between 2 and 47 miles today and my weary bones just don’t want to write about my bathroom. Soon, you gorgeous impatient thing. Soon. I finally took the pictures and everything.

Israel was totally beautiful and amazing and full of hot Jews who know their way around a hummus recipe. That leg of the trip was full of boatloads of incredible history and impossibly heavy and very old stones. I dug up really old pottery shards and floated around in some super salty water and slathered mud all over my semi-naked flesh.

Also, saw a skinny Santa Claus parading around some foxy lady in blue who I can only assume is his mistress. Slut.

Israel has a lot going for it, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t put the discovery of my new favorite animal/future pet high on the list: the rock rabbit, also known as the Hyrax. Bear in mind that this is a real thing that exists in nature but is also a stuffed animal of my dreams, come to life in the form of fuzzy round cuteness. Get a load of this thing:


Oh right. The trip has also been full of family—my dad, mom, brother, and sister, along with four cousins, two aunts, and two uncles.

All of the cousins are younger and cuter than we are, and suddenly I am feeling very old. Nothing like explaining how a film camera works or what Tower Records used to sell to make your 22 years feel more like 23 and a half. The agony.

You know what helps with that? HYRAX.

Look at that majestic motherfucker. Look at that nose and the little rounded ears and the fluffy blonde fur and those crazy little pudgy toes.

Fun fact about the Hyrax: it’s not a rodent.
Funner fact about the Hyrax: it’s more closely related to the rhinoceros. Oh, scientists, you crazy fuckers.


My second-oldest cousin Reese even got Bat Mitzvah’d in Israel! AT THE WESTERN WALL. Yeah, we’re not messing around. She did a beautiful job, by the way.

And lest you doubted our piety as Jews, we also made sure to get Chinese food on Christmas in Tiberias, a task that was neither easy nor terribly appetizing, to be honest. But important all the same.

So I guess you’re wondering: if Jews eat Chinese food, what do Hyrax eat?

Looks like leaves? I’m going with leaves. Who cares! Look at that little round furry nugget nomming away! The snaggleteeth! The wide suspicious eyes! The crooked mouth!

Ugh, it kills me. Kills me dead.

So Israel was amazing. I had a great time and already want to go back and do totally different things and see more and stuff my face with falafel even more than I did. Someday.

I know I kind of missed the whole holiday train, but if you did Christmas or you’re wrapping up Chanukah or you’re celebrating something else altogether, I hope it was/is great.

And in case I don’t chime in before the New Year: 2011 was an amazing year for a lot of reasons, but if you’re reading this blog, then one of those reasons was you. I can’t offer money or gold or the elixir of youth, so as a token of my gratitude, please accept this Hyrax butt instead.

About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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  1. 12.27.11
    Leah said:

    How did you keep yourself from capturing that incredible creature? I want one.

  2. 12.27.11
    Gosia said:

    You’ve made my day with Hyrax ;)

  3. 12.27.11
    Monica said:

    So, not only did you get to go to Petra (that is way beyond awesome), but you saw cute furry cuteness. Too much really. Anyway, I gladly accept the hyrax butt.

  4. 12.27.11
    Jenn said:

    Well,well, well. Look who’s blogging! I was going to give you a ton of shit for being gone so long but this post got you back into my good graces. Welcome home, Mazal and Shalom ;)

  5. 12.27.11
    Milly said:

    Yay! I loved reading this. And in that picture with the little boy (your cousin?) is he getting disciplined? It reminded me of the face I would make after being hand slapped for touching precious items!

    • 12.27.11
      Daniel said:

      Oh gosh, no!! He was just lending his arms to a demonstration about geology or something when we went to an archeological dig. (and yes, that’s my cousin Nate! He’s 6!)

    • 3.6.12
      Marina said:

      Hi, Daniel,

      We have something in common: love for Hyraxes. There is a family of them living close to my house in Haifa and they come to me and even sit on my lap. If you wish, I can send you some funny photos of them.


  6. 12.27.11
    Lena said:

    since i am not american (and not jewish) i only know about the chinese take-out tradition because i read it several times on the internet, but i just read that a few days ago and found it so cute, so i thought i should share it with some american jews and since i don’t personally know one (i do know non-american jews of course) you have to do! :
    (A few years ago, around noon on Christmas day, several dozen Chinese people walked in to our Kosher deli style restaurant, apparently in a group. One walked up to the front desk.)
    Man: *softly* “Is it okay if we’re here?”
    Hostess: “Yes, we serve everyone, but are you sure you’re in the right place?”
    Man: “This is [restaurant], right?”
    Hostess: “Yes sir, it is.”
    Man: “Well, we figured since you Jews are all coming to our restaurants tonight, we’d return the favor.”
    Hostess: *slightly shocked* “Thanks. Right this way”¦we’ll seat you!”
    (”¦and they’ve been back every year since!)

    by the way, can you speak yiddish? I just recently found out that I actually understand yiddish pretty well.

    • 12.28.11
      Daniel said:

      It’s very uncommon for American jews to really speak Yiddish, particularly reform Jews, but I do use several words and phrases just by habit! I think I even say them sometimes on the blog!

  7. 12.27.11
    Maggie said:

    Merry Hyrax Butt to you too. You are so right right about those pudgy little toes, they are hilarious/awesome! Like the Hyrax, you kill me, dead.

  8. 12.27.11
    Shilo said:

    I’m with Maggie, let’s make this a thing.
    Happy Hyrax butt Daniel! May the coming year be snacking on leaves and fuzzy bellied.

  9. 12.27.11
    Deb said:

    The Hyrax Butt was the best present I received this year. (I live in Indiana) Thank you.

    • 12.29.11
      Dusa said:

      I agree! Hyrax Butt is the best present. EVER!
      Glad to know you are alive, well, and taking pictures of the bathroom. Looking forward to it (and the Hallway of Discombobulation) in 2012!

  10. 12.27.11
    max in canada said:

    so glad for the post. keep writing, its amazing! wish i knew you! xoxo

  11. 12.27.11
    JennyO said:

    No need to feel guilty about not posting about your apartment – I just love clicking on your blog and seeing something, anything, new from you!

  12. 12.27.11
    Christina said:

    I’m so glad you wrote! I was thinking of starting a support group for your blog followers.

  13. 12.27.11
    Jessica said:

    I just discovered your blog recently. And I happened on tonight after an hour spent dealing with family agita (of the Jewish-family kind, of which you may know there is likely no substitute, tho the fact that yours can travel together in Israel sounds promising). Anyway, suddenly I realized the grimace on my face had come unstuck and turned into a s***-eating grin. In a word: Hyrax. And a Hyrax in *your* words, even better! I’d keep blathering on, but I have to go back and look at the pictures again.

  14. 12.28.11
    Annapolitan said:

    Hey, you know who else was a fan of hyraxes? Joy Adamson, who wrote “Born Free.” She had a rock hyrax named Pati-Pati, which she kept as a pet.

    • 12.28.11
      Daniel said:

      Yes! I devoured those books when I was a kid, and loved Pati of course! Somehow I kind of forgot about hyraxes though!

  15. 12.28.11
    Emily said:

    Oh! so much love. I started reading your site a couple months ago, and although I am so, so, SO much older than you, I have had a fantastic time. Thank you so much. And happy hydrax butt!

  16. 12.28.11
    Sana said:

    you’re so funny and great and pretty and smart and your adventures are so exciting and we can always count on you to show us something like hyrax butt. <3

  17. 12.28.11
    Gracie said:

    The toes! There’s so much love in these comments, ah it’s so nice!

  18. 12.28.11
    Erin said:

    I’m not sure if you’re eligible now that you’ve already been, but Birth Right offers free trips to Israel if you’re a) Jewish and b) under 26. I fit both of those requirements but cannot muster the cajones to go. My best friend went and said it was life-changing. It’s like 2 weeks of adult summer camp, but in Israel.

    • 12.28.11
      YUWaiting? said:

      No brainer. Go. Cajones will be mustered during trip.

    • 12.29.11
      Daniel said:

      Yes, you should go! I haven’t done the birth right trip, but I’ve always heard wonderful things about it. I’ve been to Israel twice now (first trip was a bit shorter and just with my dad), and it’s really incredible. If you’re worried about safety or anything, DON’T. It’s really very, very safe there—plus great food and friendly people and all that. Feel free to email me if you want to talk about it!

    • 2.9.12
      Erin said:

      I did email you! I think 1+ month ago. No response :( It’s okay, I know you’re busy being a DIY wizard and raising an (adorable) pup!

  19. 12.28.11
    Chris said:

    I cannot TELL you how happy it made me to log on today and find a new post from you! AND it’s quality stuff as usual. Love.

  20. 12.28.11
    Katerina said:

    Couldn’t resist to throw a little bit of unnecessary cultural trivia your way. Ok, that foxy lady in blue you saw with Santa Claus in Israel? You’re not going to believe this but she’s supposed to be his granddaughter. Yeah, I know. :) There is quite a lot of Jews from Russia in Israel and I think that tradition “travelled” with them: in Russia they have a Ded Moroz (Father Frost) instead of Santa Claus, and he has a granddaughter Snegurochka (Snowgirl). She is always depicted dressed in a blue costume much like the one you saw (although usually it is much longer :) Not even Russians believe this “grandfather-granddaughter” relationship, so yeah, I bet she’s a slut. :) Daniel, your blog is amazing, please keep it up and please-please-please don’t disappear for so long! Not even hyrax is going to make it up to me the next time you decide (I hope not!) to take a break like this… :):):) I wish you all the best in 2012 (and always)!

    • 12.28.11
      Daniel said:

      Thank you!!! Haha! I love that. All versions of Christmas are so bizarre and hilarious, I knew there must be some whacky explanation.

  21. 12.28.11
    Ani said:

    Looks like an awesome trip! I have an explanation for the sexy girl in blue with Santa. She’s his granddaughter, the Snow Maiden –
    Though Russian Grandfather Frost does not wear the all-red get up, and his coat should be floor length. Since so many of the peoples of Israel are from Russia, I am sure they felt the need to cater to the gentiles in this season of joy :)

  22. 12.28.11
    Pam said:

    I will take a Hyrax butt over gold any day. Adorable. (although that elixir would be useful right now) What a full trip. I hope your New Year is equally filled with good things.

  23. 12.28.11
    cottageofstone said:

    that creature is just too cute… do want!!!

  24. 12.28.11
    Marjorie said:

    This post was still rather educational… Santa sluts, holidays, culture, and Hyrax butt all in one post? I wouldnt have thought it was possible. Stumbled across your blog about a week ago. You’re posts are well written, hilarious, and resourceful. Hope there’s more to come soon!

    • 12.28.11
      Marjorie said:

      “You’re posts are well written, hilarious, and resourceful.”

      Yikes, sorry to anyone who reads that. I hope there’s some humor in it.

  25. 12.28.11
    jbhat said:

    Way to ring out 2011…almost, that is. I’m glad you had some grand adventures to share…and weren’t just, you know, sitting there not blogging all this time. : )


  26. 12.28.11
    misa said:

    this blog post is the best. you are so cute, i just want to eat up your little face!

  27. 12.28.11
    Joy said:

    Hyrax butt! Totally worth waiting for :-)

  28. 12.29.11
    runswithscissors said:

    So glad you’re back and full of falafel!
    I want to share your blog with daughter but afraid to now. She fell in love with a little furry exotic once, a Patagonian Cavy, which is actually some sort of rodent and which she kept in her small apartment. I fear she would fall harder for the Hyrax and its sweet feet and smooshy butt.
    The Cavy literally ate the walls (I know how fond you are of your walls). Who knows what havoc a small rhinoceros would wreck!

    • 12.29.11
      runswithscissors said:

      PS. Can’t wait to see the bathroom. I know you used BM “Raccoon Fur” in the last one, will we be seeing “Hyrax Butt” as a paint selection soon?

    • 1.1.12
      Daniel said:

      I don’t know…since hyraxes aren’t rodents, I doubt they’re big chewers. I’m just wondering if mine could be litter-trained!

      I can’t believe she had a Cavy for a pet! That’s pretty amazing.

  29. 12.29.11
    Diane said:

    No one has ever given me a hyrax butt before. Swoooon. Happy New Year to you.

  30. 12.29.11
    Quinn said:

    Thank god you’re back! I’ve been so long without a Manhattan Nest post, with only the Bloggess to tide me over. Happy New Year!

  31. 12.29.11
    Miranda @boucksy said:

    Given the fact this post is lathered with Hyrax, all is forgiven for not updating in six weeks. All of it.

  32. 12.30.11
    Naomi said:

    You were here?! I knew there was something in the air, something different…
    Can’t believe you ate at the Pagoda. I found a giant squashed dragonfly in my food there once and they were like “Yeah, that happens”. Put me off that food for life.

    • 1.1.12
      Daniel said:

      Ha! Oh god, we didn’t have any dragonflies, thankfully! Just some funky duck.

  33. 12.31.11
    BMAC said:

    Wow. We did the EXACT same trip in reverse before the “Arab Spring”. Did you do the Dead Sea on the Jordan side and/or Israeli side? We did both, and Jordan wins. And did you hike up Masada or go lazy? And we did the dig, too! BTW, did you have an awesome guide named David in Israel? It was my first trip but I can’t wait to go back. For those who are thinking it is scary, it feels so incredibly safe in Israel. The military attitude is a bit extreme, but it is reassuring if you are worried about safety. As for the birthright trips, it is hard to be around those groups of pretty obnoxious travelers, but I appreciate the fact that it is an international phenomenon and what it is about. Guess that I will have to finally get going with twitter because I might actually follow you. Great to finally get a post from you.

    • 1.1.12
      Daniel said:

      We did Dead Sea on the Israeli side…very cool, but very commercial. We were lazy at Masada and did the gondola. I would have liked to hike, but I guess it takes a while and we had 13 people at that point and everyone didn’t want to do it, so it was nixed! Our guide was named Lauren!

      And yes! Israel feels very safe. There’s definitely a certain security presence, but it’s not off-putting or anything, it’s just how they do things.

  34. 12.31.11
    nicolezh said:

    This sounds like an amazig trip, I would love to see more pics and hear more stories. I was in Israel in 2008 and was blown away by its beauty. I will never forget the moment at the airport when I glazend trough the big windows and saw the palm trees. Amazing country, I am sure to come back soon, maybe in May 2012 with my sister. Any ideas what we should’nt miss besides the usuall suspects (Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Dead Sea, Massada, Lake Kinnereth)?

    • 1.1.12
      Daniel said:

      You basically just described our trip! Apparently the flea market in Tel Aviv is wonderful, but I didn’t have time to go…on my list for the next trip.

  35. 1.2.12
    Louise said:

    Lucky ^^ A warm temperature vacation sounds so much better than a Canadian winter >_<

  36. 1.2.12
    kmkat said:

    Love this! You are such an entertaining writer.

  37. 1.3.12
    peggy said:

    Hi Daniel, Happy New Year! I love your blog, you always make me laugh. You’re right the Hyrax is the cutest damn thing I’ve ever seen. Shit now I’m obsessed. I thought it was bad enough that I’ve recently become obsesses with polydactal kittens (see my brother’s ball of wonderous here:

    What am I to do? I can’t have two pets, I just can’t take the poop. Maybe there is a variety of Hyrax that is also a polydactal.

  38. 1.5.12
    Airi said:

    Just fell upon your blog and just LOVE!! I would LOVE to do Isreal but my husband is not yet an avid fan (boo). Do you think it’s safe even if we don’t have family there? I’m so intrigued by the country. We just got back from S. Africa and the travel bug is upon me again. I know you’re inundated with comments but if you have any suggestions on planning, would really appreciate it…

    • 1.8.12
      Daniel said:

      Yes, it’s very safe—so much security anyway, but my understanding is that the real conflicts occur in areas that really don’t cater to tourists. I don’t have family there either!

  39. 1.5.12
    Meg said:

    Welcome Back!
    You made me laugh out loud. I would be obsessed with these furry friends as well. Squee!
    Amazing trip indeed!

  40. 1.6.12
    Terri said:

    Oh I love your Hyrax pics, but I have to correct you, their closest relative is the elephant not the rhinocerous and like the elephant, they supposedly have very good memories! We call them Dassies (pronounced ‘dussies’) in South Africa, they’re all over Table Mountain in Cape Town.

  41. 1.6.12
    Giuliana said:

    I never follow or even comment any blogs, but this is too good to be missed! Already added to my Igoogle page.

  42. 1.8.12
    Ali said:

    LOVE your writing. Just recently discovered this blog and have been impatiently waiting for the next post!

  43. 1.8.12
    Sarah said:

    The Hyrax is clearly the new Honey Badger. Love that cute little fucker!

  44. 1.8.12

    LOL I just loved how you infused that Hyrax creature in with your travel tails! That beast is totes the new Honey Badger! Welcome home! Mamma and the Biscuits have always wanted to travel to Israel but honestly, the closest we’ve gotten to the Holy Land is watching Michael Lucas’ Men of Israel in high definition (note to all those HOT men of Israel) again, welcome back, that was one adventurous trip you’ve taken but take us to your bathroom soon, passport not required! Mamma Biscuit is sending you pug hugs and kisses!

    BTW, why aren’t our Santas as skinny as the one you’ve photographed overseas? We need to put these Santas ringing their bells on every corner here in NYC on cocaine to get them back to their goal weight of 103.5……KTU

  45. 1.9.12
    Ruth said:

    I love your blog, and I love that you graced us with a visit. To bad I didn’t run into you, thought I probably wouldn’t have recognized you. Doing things like eating kosher Chinese food in Tiberius is a no no. I wouldn’t eat anything there except fish.
    The Hyrax loves you too!

  46. 1.9.12
    Sonchia said:

    Hi. I follow you on Instagram (and obvs read your blog too). Absolutely amazing photos. I never wanted your vacation to end.

  47. 1.12.12
    Ming said:

    the photo of your cousin Reese is lovely–did you take it?

    • 1.12.12
      Daniel said:

      Yep! I take all the photos on my blog, unless otherwise noted. Thank you Ming!

  48. 1.19.12
    threadbndr said:

    Welcome home! And tell your cousin Resse congratulations from all of us on her coming of age!

    I love the Hyrax toes…. They do look like they are related to elephants and rhinos – those stubby hoof like nails. So cute.

  49. 3.9.12
    Brianna said:

    Oh scientists… you crazy fuckers. I literally am laughing out loud to all your writing. Especially the great back and forth from your fuzzy friend – are you sure he’s not also closely related to the infamous, although more temperamental honey badger?