Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Eve--Pie and Rock Band

Christmas Eve we continued our annual Caissie-Provost combo gathering. This year, Dave and Amy stopped by too. We started off the night with a pie extravaganza, provided by Jay and me. We made a french meat pie, which no one can stop talking about, two chicken pot pies, and a veggie shepherd's pie, which was mostly consumed by me but was delicious. The pielicious spread is seen above. The rest of the family were in the picture too, but I cropped them out because, well, they looked like mutants.

After dinner, we played Rock Band and some of us drank too much. To protect the guilty, we won't say who "some of us" are. This year, Jay and Josh had made avatars for everyone and gave them all funny names. Mom Caissie was "Antsy Metzy", the nickname bestowed on her by a pronounciation-impaired little Emily.

Sarah Casavant was "RedHotSarahPepper" due to her excessive use of the Red Hot Chili Peppers as a vehicle for her vocal prowess. Other name highlights were "Rubber Band Denis", whose catchphrase is certainly, "Just like a rubber band!" His avatar was designed to look like he wasn't wearing pants, the reasons for which were unknown to all except the creators. Uncle Dave was "Ticketless Dave" because of his unfortunate timing in giving up his Red Sox season tickets. And Dad Provost was "Dennis Pukevost" as a tribute to last year's Rock Band night.
I'm not sure what Jay is doing in this picture, but it amuses me.
Josh looks very serious in this one.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


At Christmas, we went to NH for a few days. Here is my gingerbread house version of the Caissie abode.
More Christmas pictures on the way.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ready to blow

Lately, things have been insane. I have a huge stack of papers to grade, tests to give, gigs to play/sing/dance, holiday stuff to do, and a dissertation to revise (which I haven't even looked at in two weeks). The only reason I have a moment to type this is because I'm giving a final as we speak. It's a little sad when the only time you have to yourself is when you're at work.

I'm not really complaining. Things could be much worse, of course, in the grand scheme of things. However, I do feel the need to apologize to anyone who I've threatened to kick, punch, verbally abuse, or otherwise offend in the past week or so. Really, things will be better next week and I won't be on a murderous rampage. Special apologies to the cat, who is on her "pre-holiday diet," also known as "I keep forgetting to feed her."

You may have noticed a distinct lack of photos on our previously photo-rich blog. That's because our digital camera is possessed. Sometimes it turns on but won't take pictures. Sometimes it turns on but spouts random words, like "Memory card full!" when there isn't even a memory card in it. Sometimes it just doesn't turn on at all. In other words, it's broken. So if you get a new camera for Christmas and you're looking to unload your old one for an inconceivably low price, we're your customers.

We did manage to get our tree up on Wednesday night (we started at 10:30 at take the time you can, right?), which looks great. It took the cat a whole ten seconds to obliterate our Gary the Snail ornament. I would post a picture of the tree, know...

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Two more additions to the Dad list, courtesy of the family at dinner last night:

5. When I was in high school, the infamous inbreeding episode premiered on X-files. You know the one I'm talking about. It's the one where they keep the deformed, limbless mother on a roller under the bed. I watched it and was completely freaked out. Anyone who knows me well knows that I can't watch scary movies or shows. I have a very active imagination, and I stay awake all night imagining whatever zombie or alien I'd just seen on TV is in my room, waiting to attack. Apparently this time, Dad forgot about my delicate consistency. After the show, I was in my parents' bedroom talking with my mother, sitting on their bed. Dad decided it would be a great idea to roll out from underneath the bed to scare me. Well, this seventeen-year-old immediately burst into tears. He says he still feels bad about that.

6. One from the "That Just Happened" files: apparently Dad was transporting a crock pot full of clam chowder to an event a few weeks ago when the whole thing spilled into the front seat of his truck. That's bad enough, but he didn't clean it for a week. Then, when he finally deigned to get off his butt and drive to get some products with which to clean the festering mess, the truck died and he had to subject a poor, defenseless mechanic to the smell of rotting clams and cream.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

For Dad

He said he couldn't think of anything weird, so for today's show, we have: Weird Things Dad Has Said or Done.

1. There is the ubiquitous Dad quote, "just like a rubber band!" The story: he snapped his Achilles' tendon in an ill-fated Christmas Day football game and his telling of the story always included that fateful phrase, which is how he described the feeling of the tendon snapping.

2. We also can't forget the "six-foot tall deer" he saw in the neighbor's yard one day. (He is slightly prone to exaggeration, if you haven't guessed.)

3. One of my favorite stories from childhood: once I was riding with him in the car when the song "Oh Won't You Stay Just a Little Bit Longer" came on the radio. The man sings very high in one of the verses, so I asked, "Dad, how can that guy sing so high?" Dad's response: "He had an operation." For years I thought he meant that he actually had an operation on his vocal cords...sometime in high school or college it occurred to me that it was an entirely different type of operation Dad was alluding to.

4. Another one from the childhood vault: Josh and I were eating watermelons one day when Josh swallowed a seed. Panicking, he ran in to ask Dad what would happen, and Dad told him that a watermelon would grow in his stomach. After assuring Josh that he was kidding, Josh appeared to forget about it--until the next day when Dad took Josh to the supermarket. As luck would have it, the headline on the National Enquirer was "Boy Grows Tree Out of Stomach," which featured an accompanying photo. I think Josh may still be scarred from that one.

Any others from the peanut gallery?

High Five!

A friend gave me some photos from Jay's party and this series caught my eye. The scene plays out in the background of a conversation between me and Kristin. In the first picture, Josh is giving a rather unenthusiastic high five to no one:
In the next, he rachets up the enthusiasm, but alas, no one responds:
Finally, a victorious high five!
The high-fiving actually continues for several more pictures before it descends into some sort of weird high-foreheading:
It also looks a little like I have Josh's head coming out of my cup in the last one, which delights me.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Oh Lordy, Who Started This?

1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog. Alex at Celexo's Rite to Write tagged me.

2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog - some random, some weird.

1) My hidden talent: I can whistle songs with my hands. I learned it from a Klutz book called "How to annoy your parents" when I was twelve. It impresses small children and drunk people to no end.

2) I am absolutely obsessed with mountaineering books. I can list the seven summits and all fourteen 8,000 meter peaks. I can also detail several routes up Everest. So if you're on Everest and you get lost, give me a call. I might not be able to help you much, but I'll be so excited to talk to someone on Everest, even if he's in his final hours.

3) I once got pulled over by a policeman who asked (without even bothering to leave his car) if I'd "had a brain fart." (My answer: a teary "yeeeess!")

4) My favorite TV show is America's Funniest Home Videos. Because an dose of "grannies getting hit in the head with giant lawn toys" cures all ills.

5) I'm a vegetarian, but I don't really like salad. I only eat it if I've done something stupid earlier in the day, like eat Snickers for breakfast. Not that I do that...often.

6) I have a really cool idea for a pre-teen novel and someday I'm going to put it on paper. But! I'm not telling you my idea! It's a secret!

7) I sing to my cat constantly. Sometimes she gets recitative, sometimes she gets an aria. Most often she gets a variation on "Clementine" or "O Tannenbaum."

3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
I'm changing the rules here because I'm anti-chain; if you're reading this and you have a blog, consider yourself tagged. (That's you, Dad and Josh.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Jay's Birthday Party

Saturday night was Jay's 30th birthday party. It was a rousing success. You know you've thrown a good party when you were having too much fun to take pictures. I managed to snap exactly one:
This is a prime example of why you should never indulge in rum-induced photography. Note that no one's entire head is visible and the focus of the picture seems to be the floor.

Jen managed a few more than I did, including these two pictures of the parents playing Rock Band:
Mom Caissie was a hit on the drums (oh no, she didn't just make that pun!). People kept coming up to me, saying, "your mom rocks at drums!" As you can see in the above photo, rocking at drums takes a lot of concentration. Sadly, only one photo of Jay from his own party has turned up so far, and in it, he is displaying some inappropriately doctored cupcakes, so you won't be seeing that photo here.

The cat made a spectacular appearance late in the evening. Anyone who has ever caught a glimpse of our cat knows that she is extremely skittish around strangers and prefers to hide under the bed rather than socialize. Well, apparently she was behind the couch when guests started arriving, and must have sat there paralyzed with fear for many hours. Around midnight she decided to make a break for it and took off at a full run through the living room and dining room towards the bedroom. Once she hit the linoleum in the kitchen, it was all over. She careened into several cabinets and, in a blind panic, ineffectively pumped her legs like she was on a treadmill gone haywire. That was the last we saw of her that night.

It was a fun time. Lots of people came and we managed to wipe out over a hundred bottles of beer and several bottles each of rum and whiskey. There were many fights over the musical worthiness of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and an embarassing photo of Jay as a child surfaced. Thanks to everyone for coming!

Friday, November 21, 2008


This article caught my eye--I see a lot of babies in strollers at work (usually expensive "travel systems"), but I found myself appalled for the wrong reasons. Please take a long, hard look at the photo in the article. Why is anyone worrying about the stroller when it is plain to see that the child has a mohawk? If you want to developmentally delay your child, screw the stroller, give him an unfortunate haircut. But that is nothing compared with the horrors of the parent--what on earth are those pants? Is that some kind of wonky zebra pattern? Could they really be MC Hammer pants? And the big question--why is he out in public wearing them, never mind allowing journalists to photograph him in them?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Wish List

I was recently asked what I'd like for Christmas, so here's my wish list for the year.

An Irish penny whistle:

Then I can frolic like a leprechaun. Won't that be fun!

Music books: The Real Book (Hal Leonard publishing) in C, Jamey Aebersold Play-Along books in C (any except Maiden Voyage, I have that one already)

A new music stand. A nice one. Mine is sad. I have one that won't go higher than waist level and one that slowly slides down when I use it.

Rock climbing stuff: a headlamp is at the top of my list. Or a Boston Rock Gym gift card or membership.

Cute dresses: Everyday dresses or teaching-worthy dresses (nothing evening). Size small (4 is safe). I'm girly, I like shoes and bags too (though preferably not leather).

Jewelry: cheap Art Deco costume jewelry from the antique store are my favorites. I have a few marcasite (faceted metal) pieces that I really love that look similar to this:

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sign of the Approaching Apocalypse

Oldies 103 has started playing Christmas music allllll day. On November 6th! Excuse me while I attempt to ward off a psychotic break.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Election ruminations

For the first time in my life, I've voted for a winning presidential candidate. Not only did I vote for the winning candidate, everything and everyone I voted for won. Even though I'm completely ecstatic, I feel a little nervous, because if things go wrong, it'll be partially my fault. That's a sobering thought, and one I've never really had to deal with.

Even so, I feel a great joy that I hope even people who voted for McCain or someone else can feel some measure of. About electing a black president, my Memere said it best: "I can't believe I lived long enough to see that!" What I really feel proud about is that he wasn't voted in because he's black; in fact, his multiethnic background was a source of fear for many (uninformed, I believe) people. He was elected because he spread a message of positivity in a time when a lot of the US was disillusioned. The most encouraging news, to me, was the response of the rest of the world: this Amanpour article talks about the renewed hopes for peace and cooperation that are quickly spreading across the world. I can remember being in England in 2002 and constantly being treated with disdain simply because I came from the country where Bush was president (I kept reminding people--more than half of us voted for Gore), and that was even before the invasion of Iraq. Willingness for international cooperation on the part of the rest of the world alone is worth the price we might pay because of Obama's lack of experience.

Hopefully--and it seems like he will--Obama will make good on his promises of bipartisanship and re-unify the country. Many McCain supporters have valid concerns and hopefully Obama and his adminstration will find ways to address those. Even if he does, I believe in the capacity of some Americans to make life infinitely more difficult for themselves through fear and ignorance. The Secret Service must absolutely be wetting themselves thinking of the task ahead, considering there's already been an assassination plan foiled. Here's hoping for a quiet four years for them.

Even though I'd really hoped we'd be welcoming the first female president right now, I feel really happy about Obama's election. I feel even more happy to live in Massachusetts, a state where my ideals line up so nicely with most other people's. It reinforces my reluctance to move elsewhere (even California--boo on Prop 8!).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Friday night we went to the Halloween dance at Boston Swing Central. Our costumes were both hits. Jay was teaching Thriller at the lesson (which turned out really great), so he was obligated to dress as a zombie. He was a very convincing professor zombie, which almost scared me into finishing my dissertation right then and there. Here he is preparing his next meal:

I went as the old game Operation. I stuck cutouts ("broken heart," "water on the knee," etc.) on some flesh-colored clothing with velcro, attached a pair of tweezers and string to my shorts, and wore a blinky red nose. I kept catching people staring at me, then a look of excitement would cross their faces as they figured out what I was. Here is the zombie playing Operation:

Monday, November 3, 2008


For our anniversary, we went to Ten Tables in JP for dinner. I'd been wanted to try it for a long time and our two-year seemed like a perfect excuse. They have a vegetarian tasting menu every night, plus they serve homemade smoked meats and sausages and all the meat is from humanely treated animals. Tuesday is wine tasting night, so they served a pre-fixe menu and paired each of the four courses with half a glass of wine.

Appetizer was a "French take on a Russian salad--" a root vegetable mix (Jay's had tuna) that was wonderful. Soup was butternut squash for me (I keep eating squash soup, because it seems like I should love it, but I'm just not crazy about it. I ate half), spicy lentil with ham for Jay (he loved it). Main course was chicken in tomato sauce with farro (some kind of grain) for Jay and potatoes au gratin with artichokes and bread crumbs for me (amazing). They paired mine with a little arugula salad and I could have eaten two entire plates. The cheese course was the part neither of us were crazy about--it was really strong bleu cheese, which almost activated Jay's gag reflex. There were also candied hazelnuts and pear puree, which redeemed the course. All in all, it was fabulous and we can't wait to go back.

When we got home, we had champagne and took this self-portrait.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Two years ago today...

It was much like today weather-wise, but a wonderful day in spite of the rain.

I can't believe it's been two years already.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jay's New Activity

Check out the budding rock star. Jay bought himself an inexpensive bass last week and today he had his first lesson.
Ask him in a week and maybe he'll play "Money" for you.

In other news, Saturday I went on my second outdoor climb. Dylan and I went to Hammond Pond, which has a bit of top-roping and bouldering on some very interesting rock called Roxbury Puddingstone. The rock has great hand-holds, which made it a lot easier for me. We got in a number of routes and I got up them all!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My first outdoor climb

Yesterday I went on my first outdoor rock climb. I'd saved for weeks to buy rock shoes and finally had enough money last week. With the nice days fading fast, it was definitely time to get out of the gym and onto some real rock.

My climbing friend Dylan and I went to Quincy Quarries, which is an old granite quarry directly off of route 93. It's billed as Boston's premiere urban climbing experience. Apparently, it used to be deep and filled with water at the bottom, but a lot of people died cliff-jumping. Then someone got the brilliant idea to put old street signs and telephone poles at the bottom to discourage people from jumping in, and the death toll multiplied from people jumping in anyway and hitting the poles on the way down. They filled it in with Big Dig dirt about ten years ago and it's become popular among climbers. Now there are anchors all over the tops of the rock to attach top-ropes to.

Dylan set us up a top-rope at an easy-looking corner. Alas, I forgot my camera, which was a crying shame considering the views of Boston and the ocean from the top of one of the rocks. I had to snatch these pictures off of the internet, but you can see our first climb in this one. It's the corner in the middle of the picture, right where the rocks step up a little.
I made Dylan go first. Then it was my turn. I was pretty freaked out going up, and I had a hard time with some of the moves. By the time I got to the top, I thought very clearly, "I'm terrified. This is not fun. I'm never doing this again." Then I had to let go and be lowered, and I froze. I honestly thought I was not going to be able to move off of the rock to get down. Once I touched the ground, my knees were knocking. Then, of course, I went right back up it again. How quickly we forget! It was much easier the second time and my sense of impending doom was squelched.

Next we set up on a slabby wall (I couldn't find a picture of that one). It basically looked like it had no holds whatsoever, plus it had a lot of graffiti that made it slick. I made Dylan go first again. He made it up, but since he climbs several grades higher than me, that was no indication of my success. I couldn't even get three feet off of the ground. I ended up climbing a little off to the side of Dylan's route, but it was really hard, and about 3/4 of the way up, I panicked again. After getting to the bottom I gave it another go and made it up. I was kind of proud of that. I even managed a sort-of mantle (mantling is sort of like the motion you make when you hoist yourself over the side of a pool), which I have yet to pull off in the gym. I scraped up my leg doing it, but I did it!

We set up one more rope on the biggest formation--you can see the spot above along the streak of white. Sadly, we were running out of time, since I had a gig that afternoon, so I let Dylan go up. I didn't get to try this one, but it was probably for the best, since it was the tallest and hardest of anything we'd done. Maybe next time. Hopefully we will get some more climbing in before the weather turns.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dad's Pesto

This week we have been enjoying Dad Caissie's pesto, made from the copious amounts of basil in his garden. Wednesday, Jay made tortellini with onions, peas, green beans, and broccoli and tossed everything with the pesto. It was a really satisfying dinner, particularly since I'd come off of an entire day of giving tests and answering "oh my gosh I'm going to fail help me" questions.

Today I made mozzarella, cucumber, and red onion sandwiches and used the pesto as a spread. I like pesto in pasta but I love it on sandwiches. I served that with leftover vegetable soup from the night before. Thanks for the pesto, Dad. It's delicious.

The vegetable soup was really good this time. My veggie soups are hit or miss, so I'm recording this one for posterity.

Carb-loaded veggie soup

2 medium russet potatoes, diced
1 large carrot, sliced
2 leeks, chopped (white parts only)
large handful of split peas
10 cups veggie broth (I use water and bouillon, it's cheaper)
2 pinches dill weed
1 pinch thyme
3/4 can chickpeas
1 cup alphabet pasta, cooked

Combine everything put the last two ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on high for 5 hours. Add chickpeas, cook 1 more hour. Add pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This makes a really leeky soup, which I love. If you're not a huge fan of leeks, leave one of them out (but that's a mistake if you ask me). Most people might pick potatoes OR pasta, but I say don't skimp on the good stuff. Plus, you can practice your spelling if you use alphabets. The secret of a really good veggie soup, I think, is the handful of split peas. They thicken the soup and give the broth a nice flavor. Normally I might add minced garlic and definitely a chopped celery stalk (I didn't have one). You can also sub cannellini for the chickpeas, or maybe even navy beans, but I think the chickpeas were really good this time, and they hold together better than cannellini.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

For those about to rock...

I salute you.
However, the rockingness of this crew is definitely in question. Apparently the only rock signal known among this crowd is the sign of the devil.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Another link

This is a really fun game. I've been wasting copious amounts of time on it. It's called Fantastic Contraption, and if you play, show me your favorite design. My two crowning achievements are in "Up the Stairs" and "Four Balls" (click to see my designs. Press Play, Continue, then Start).

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I have a funny picture from Josh's Rock Band night to post but I just can't seem to get my act together enough to upload it. So instead, I give you Reasons Why Zombies are Better Than Stupid People. This is from several years ago, but do zombie rants really go out of style? I'm irrationally afraid of zombies but now I'm rethinking my position and instead may start locking my doors against stupid people.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

One of my favorite things about Waltham

Waltham is adamant about the parking orientation of its citizen's cars. These signs are in every city parking lot. I shudder to think of what the penalty may be for the hateful crime of backing in.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

This is either a scene from The Grapes of Wrath

Or it's a picture of our apple-picking trip yesterday.
We went to Honey Pot Hill Orchards in Stow, where we met many a screaming child (apparently apple-picking is a popular field trip destination. Jay expressed dubiousness at the education value of such a trip) and several kinds of apples. We got enough for a couple of baked goods (I'm attempting a pie later this week) and a few weeks of good eating.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Real Room

Since moving into this apartment two years ago, our second bedroom had been a catch-all. I'll bet some of you didn't even know we had a second bedroom. We kept the door shut so as not to let the insanity spill out into the rest of the house. And so we weren't completely shamed when company came over. It was pretty bad. If you compared it to a dump, the dump would look nice.

One of my projects this summer was to clean the room out. I took out at least six trash bags full of stuff. Four other bags went to Goodwill. In the process, I found all kinds of surprises. The best surprise I found in the bottom of a random box--several gift cards from our wedding! So this week, Jay and I got to go spend the last of our wedding money.

This is how the room turned out. We bought the chair and large bookshelf with our Ikea gift cards. As you can see, the cat has claimed the chair. It had cat hair on it quite literally moments after I opened the package. A rug and some art on the walls would complete the room nicely.
For the first time since I was very young, I actually have free space on my bookshelves. Can you imagine? I can buy more books and there will be actual spaces for them. With three bookshelves, I now feel confident in calling this room "the library." Or perhaps "the study." I can't decide which one sounds more professor-ish.

We had a couple of random things that didn't have homes that still ended up in the room. You can see the sewing machine here, and there's a corner with Jay's DJ equipment stacked up. But all in all, it looks at least a jillion times better. Plus, with our air mattress, we now have a place for people to stay.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Why it is so hard to get work done at my desk

Er...could you move a little? I can't quite see my notes.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Nothing New

No news is good news, here. Things are settling down after the start-of-school/car-death business of last week.

The only thing I've really accomplished this week is that I finally finished the Stephanie Meyer Twilight series (major spoilers ahead if you're planning on reading it in the future). I started the series because the book jacket said, "Move over, Harry Potter," which meant I had to read it. The first three books went really fast, and while I had some qualms about the characters (Bella is pretty unremarkable, and Edward's reasons for loving her--her blood smells good?--is unconvincing. Edward himself was much more interesting in the first book when he was mean and confusing to Bella, and he descended into blathering romanticism after that), I enjoyed the books for what they were.

Today I finished the last book, Breaking Dawn. I knew it had gotten poor reviews but I didn't read them in advance. I can definitely see why the reviews were bad now. Some of the book I liked. Vampire baby? Great! Jacob's slightly uninnocent love for said vampire baby? Scandalous but great! However, the end--blah. I got the feeling that things were working up to a big reveal a-la-Harry-at-the-end-of-Potter-7, but the climactic moment was completely unconvincing. The Volturi had a vote? And voted to just go home? Huh?

I also have some ideological issues with Meyer, which I try to squash. First of all, Bella is the antithesis of a feminist. I greatly dislike her need to change to be more like her man. In addition, she feels the need to become forever young and beautiful. Wouldn't it have been more romantic if she'd aged horrifyingly and Edward stood by her? I also don't like the obvious conservative motives behind some of the plot moves. Not only does it just annoy me, but it makes for some predictable moments. I've never been so conscious of an author's political views when reading, and the book suffered for that.

Anyway. Series over and done. The Twilight movie is coming out in November and I'll definitely be seeing it, if only because Cedric Diggory is playing Edward. In other teen lit news, Christopher Paolini's next Eragon book comes out next week, which I'm eagerly awaiting. And J.K. Rowling is releasing The Tales of Beedle the Bard in December, which I need to pre-order ASAP. However, I'm still mad that they moved the Potter 6 movie to next July--I'd just seen the trailer and boy oh boy! It looks great.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Airing Out the Armpits

Lately the car has taken to sitting with her arms stick-straight out in front of her. It's pretty funny. I call it "airing out the armpits." They must get awfully hot under all that fur and no one's invented kitty deodorant yet. This picture is blurry, but it has the benefit of a good angle.

From the front:

Friday, September 5, 2008

Mashed Potato Pizza

Last Saturday Jay and I needed some time to relax together, so we planned Dinner and a Movie at home. I managed to whip together a slightly odd meal with things we had in the house. The result was Mashed Potato Pizza. I'd had a version at a pub before and it was pretty good, and we had potatoes, chives, and cheese from the farmer's market, so I gave it a go.

The idea was very simple. I made a batch of mashed potatoes (which I'd never done before), mixed in some chopped chives, cheese, and a little soy bacon (which had been sitting the fridge waiting for me to get up the nerve to try it). I spread the potatoes on the rolled-out dough, topped with cheese, and baked.

It was pretty good. A little heavy for a summer night, but good. Jay said that if I ran a pizza place, this one would be a fan favorite. The best part was the wine--Smoking Loon Merlot. When I popped the cork, it had words on it. It said, "Whooh. Whooh. Whooh. Whooh. Cough. Whooh. Whooh." It took me a minute to get it.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Unforseen Purchase

Despite the fact that I pleaded with it to last *one* more year, my Nissan kicked the bucket this week. Last week, it started shaking when starting, and when I brought it in this Tuesday, the mechanic gave me the, "well, it's not good news. I don't know what you want to do..." You know when the mechanic, who sees every kind of car mess possible, mentions the possibility of sending the car to the Great Parking Lot in the Sky, it's bad.

Of course the stupid thing picked just about the worst moment to die. Now I'm convinced that cars can hear you when you talk about how much money is in your bank account, and act accordingly. They'd never die when you had oodles of cash floating around. Ah well. It was obvious that we'd need another car very quickly, so I went off to the Toyota dealership.

How'd I pick Toyota? Well, it's not too noble. I was picking between Nissan, our old friend, and Toyota, who showed up a lot on "dependability" and "best gas mileage" lists. I called Nissan first. The operator acted like I'd peed in her Cheerios or something. First she told me that she didn't know if they had any Sentras on the lot, and said I'd have to come down and see. I said, "well, I'm not going to come down if you don't have the car I want." Then she got all flustered and said, "of course we have Sentras, why wouldn't we have Sentras?" Yeah...did she not just tell me that she didn't know if they had Sentras? So, that was out. Then I discovered that I wouldn't even have to get on the highway to get to the Toyota dealership, which really cinched the deal, considering that my Sentra was quite obviously on its last legs.

Anyway. Long story short. I ended up picking a used '08 Corolla with 5000 miles on it. I saved a couple thousand by buying the used one. There was a used Mini Cooper that was pretty tempting, but I was feeling sensible. Here's the new ride:
They took a couple thousand for my trade-in, which was a surprise to me, considering it needed serious engine work, the back bumper was falling off, there's a dent in the front fender that I don't remember getting, the radio was cracked from my big accident in college, there was a rusty scrape on the side, the AC didn't work, and the upholstery was shot from me spilling, among other things, hot glue in the backseat. The funniest part was that the salesguy said that I obviously took good care of it. I wonder which car he was looking at. I had to pick up the new car on Thursday and I slept fitfully thinking that they were going to figure out that they gave me too much for the trade-in and change their minds.

So, goodbye Sentra. Goodbye power windows and doors and pretty blue color. Hello no more worrying about breaking down and no more repairs every three months. And hello to one more bill to add to the pile...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Random shots

Here are a couple more random shots from camping. This was a spiderweb at our campsite that looked perfect:Before heading home on Sunday, we stopped at the Flume. Here, Peter and Candice experience the joys of nature discovery! Quite, someone use this picture to apply for a grant.
Jay took this one of me. I like it because it looks like I've been photoshopped in. All it needs now is a giant kitten terrorizing the scene.
OMG bears!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mount Washington II

We got to the top of the ravine around four hours after setting out. We figured, the end must be near! Alas, it was a mirage. After the lovely but steep and tiring ravine was another forty-five minutes up a hill of semi-loose rock with little vegetation and no real trail. It was just, go up until you can't go up any more, and don't fall off the mountain. This is Peter's picture of that section:
I'd held up remarkably well until about twenty minutes from the end, when I started sagging a little. Jay caught a second wind and breezed up the last hill. Peter and Candice may have contemplated throwing us off the mountain for ever having thought up the whole hiking scheme. Finally, Jay turned around and said, "I see a car!" I thought he was kidding until someone hiking down informed me that he wasn't just joshing, the top was up ahead.

Topping out to a parking lot was a little weird, but no one really cared at that point. The actual summit was up a staircase, and we had to wait in line to stand on it. A nice lady took this picture of us.
We found Matt at the top. Since his feet are size 15, he couldn't find hiking boots to fit. He ended up with a pair of super sexy imitation Crocs (later, he noted that the Crocs "really are pretty comfy!" So cliche, Matt!). He wasn't quite gutsy enough to wear his new shoes around all the hard-core hikers though, and saved them for the privacy of our campsite.
Because of the Crocs, he wasn't able to hike down. Peter and Candice weren't up for it, Jay's knee was bothering him, and I didn't want to hike alone, so I couldn't hike down either. I would have liked to, but it was okay--we did the hard part, anyway. We ate a slice of pizza each--it tasted much better than it should have, by the looks of it--and hung out on the observation deck for a while.
I wasn't sure about my poor little car making it down the mountain holding all of us without spontaneously combusting, so Peter and Candice kindly took a hiker's shuttle back to the bottom. My car's brakes thank them. Matt, Jay and I got into the car for the trip down, which was much more harrowing than the hike up. The road was narrow and the drop-offs were steep. We had to pull over a couple of times when the brakes started to smell like burning. But we made it down okay.

Now we can say, we did it! We climbed the highest mountain in the northeast. Where to next? Rainier? Denali? Get your crampons ready!