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!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mount Washington

Saturday morning was a perfect day for hiking. We got a bit of a late start, having accidentally taken a small detour into Maine. We got on the trail around 9am. The hike is supposed to take around 4 hours up, 2-3 back down, so there wasn't a moment to spare.

At the beginning, we were so happy and naive:
We hiked the Tuckerman's Ravine trail, which is the standard trail that offers the best views. It followed a riverbed up most of the mountain, so there were a lot of rocks to climb over, and there was none of that "nice walk through the woods" that usually accompanies the start of New England hikes. We certainly walked through the woods, but it was steep most of the way. This was the longest flat section and boy, were we glad to see it.
About two hours in, we reached the Hermit Lake Huts, where Matt discovered that his hiking boots were in trouble. The sole of one boot had come almost completely off. He tried to duct tape it together, but he didn't deem it safe enough to continue up. Matt definitely wins the Sportsmanship award, because I probably would have said, "oh well" and continued up. But he definitely made the right choice, as we found out later. He headed back down with the car keys, thinking that if he could buy a new pair of boots in town, he'd drive up the auto road and hike down with me and Jay, and Candice and Peter could take the car down.

The four of us set off from the huts, having voted the strongest hiker off the island, so to speak. From the huts, the trail got serious fast. We saw this view from the huts and thought, "wait. We have to climb up that? Where's the escalator?"
The next two hours were rough, but had the most beautiful views. The best part of the hike was near the top of the ravine, where the trail followed a stream that cascaded down dramatic cliffs. It was incredibly steep but rewarding.
The view down the mountain from the same spot:
To be continued..... (dun dun dahhh!!)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Last weekend, Jay and I loaded up the car and met Peter, Candice, and Matt in the good old White Mountains for a few days of camping. Matt and I had talked about climbing Mount Washington a while back, and though we didn't get a chance to do many "conditioning hikes" in advance, we decided to bite the bullet and do the Mt. Washington hike anyway. I figured this was the make-or-break point in my mountaineering career--if I couldn't do this, I suppose I'd never make it to Everest. (Don't worry Mom, I'm not thinking about going to Everest. Not much, at least.)

We went to Moose Brook State Park in Gorham, which was a great place. Peter went a little crazy in the Bass Pro Shop and bought a machete for the low, low price of 19.99. It was ever-so-useful for hacking our way through the knotted underbrush and menacing neighbors.
Jay had a psychotic break when the machete came into his hands:
If there's anything that can distract a man from weapons, it's fire:
Jay also made us S'mores using his special technique. He assembles the cold ingredients, wraps them in tinfoil, and puts the foil packet in the fire. I even broke my vegetarianism for a night to have them.
Tomorrow: the hike.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Dissertation Update

Chapter 1: Half finished
Chapter 2: Drafted, edited, revised
Chapter 3: Drafted, edited
Chapter 4: Drafted, edited
Chapter 5: Drafted and on its way to adviser
Chapter 6: In progress
Chapter 7: Not started

Chapter 5--on its way!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


While Mom and Dad Provost are visiting Grandma and Grandad, Jay and I are taking care of one of their cats. Meet Beezie:
Beezie has a thyroid problem, and she eats and eats and eats but never feels full. Somehow, she's also thin as a rail. She needs medicine twice a day, which is why she's currently situated in our spare room. And because she's hungry all the time, she meows. And meows. And meows some more. Every time she hears me in the kitchen, she meows. When I'm in bed, I occasionally hear a yowling to beat all other yowling. If I say, "hi, Beezie," from another room, she answers with a barrage of meows.

I feel bad that the poor cat is locked in a room by herself all day, but the two-cat one-Sarah issue is a problem. The cats hiss and spit whenever they meet, so we can't let Beezie out (plus she'd probably eat everything in sight). When I sit with Beezie, Dinah gets intense pangs of jealousy and scratches at the door and squeaks her pathetic little meow (we were originally hoping that Beezie would teach Dinah proper meowing, but now I'm not so sure that would be a good thing).

Dinah is simultaneously terrified and intrigued by Beezie. She parks herself outside the door and stares at it:
Sorry Beezie! I know Dinah looks like a delicious mouthful, but you can't have her!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Blog wars

In attempting to emulate my brilliance, both my Dad and my brother have started blogs. Okay, cool. However, now we have an all-out blog war here. First, my friend emails me to let me know that although my blog makes her laugh, my Dad's blog makes her laugh and cry. Alright, so Dad's got a bigger range of emotions than I do.

However, Josh has really upped the ante with his heart-wrenching account of how he sponsors a poor wayward child from Zambia. That is hitting below the belt. How am I supposed to compete with that? This is complicated by the fact that when approached on the street by the Childrens International people, I heartlessly told them that I don't give wantonly give out my credit card information to people on the street, no matter how philanthropic the cause. Yes, I denied a child a future because I was afraid of getting bad credit. I just hope my saintly brother doesn't shun me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Elegant Universe

Sometimes the internet leads you to weird places. Last weekend I was taking a short break from dissertation writing when I found a video that explained the tenth dimension. Intrigued, I googled for more information, and my searching led me to Nova, one of my favorite programs. Now, I usually willfully ignore science and math. I like Nova for the adventure programs. They've done several programs each on Everest and Denali. But this Nova program was different. First of all, it was long--three hours. Secondly, it was on physics. Physics?? I dumped science in high school before I got to physics, and I never felt even the smallest pang of regret. And now, ten years later, I'm watching a program on physics.

Anyway, the program was called The Elegant Universe. Starting way back with Isaac Newton, it detailed the search for a "theory of everything," which naturally led to eleven dimensions, complete with parallel universes and time travel. This theory of everything is called "string theory," or "M-theory," the M standing for many things, one of which being "meaningless."

It was confusing, since, as I've noted, I ran screaming from science and math when I was 17. It boggles my mind a little bit that someone can do a bunch of math and come to the conclusion that "Ah! This means there are jillions of parallel universes, all just a hop, skip, and a dimension away!" But it was strangely fascinating. The program originated from a book with the same title, which I've checked out from the library. Either I'll read it, become obsessed, and decide that I need to become a string theorist, or forget about it after one chapter and never read another page about string theory again. Jay is probably banking on the latter, as I don't think he's prepared to support me through another 11 years of college.

Here is the program, all of it viewable in 6-8 minute chunks, perfect for a little break after writing a page of a dissertation.

And here is someone else who also enjoys string:

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Puzzle

Our trip to the Cape is the only time of year that I feel the need to do puzzles. Normally, the thought wouldn't even enter my mind. But at the Cape, sometimes it comes down to a choice: read, do puzzles, or actually have to take the initiative to plan something. Seeing as I spent 17 of my 18 waking hours reading, and the best part of vacation is not having to make decisions, I sometimes choose to do puzzles.

This year, Memere sent me with a challenge. Someone had given her a puzzle; let's call the puzzle, "Do This If You Hate Yourself." It was a puzzle featuring flying pigs. Sounds cute, huh? Well, it had a jillion similar-looking pigs flying in a nondescript sky. It also had no edges, five extra pieces, and the picture on the box didn't match the finished puzzle. But only 750 pieces (755 if you count the five that don't actually go anywhere). Memere, in her infinite wisdom, told me that she'd only try it if I tried it first. Sure, send the young one into the flames.

Of course I tried the puzzle. Several others entered the fray with me, at various points. Dave separated all of the pig legs for me, and even put some pieces together, and even got them in the right spots. My mother "helped" by shoving pieces together and pretending they fit. Everyone else heckled.

By the last day of vacation, you can see how far I'd gotten:

Fortunately, I'd gotten not-far-enough that it still was possible to pack up what I'd done and take it home. And, miracle of miracles, several days later, I'd finished! Here is the completed puzzle in all its piggy glory:

You may notice that there is a piece missing. I'm pretty sure it's in one of two places:
1. On the floor at the Cape house. I think I remember a piece falling and making a mental note to pick it up. Like most mental notes, it was useless.
2. To be found floating in the cat's water dish sometime in the next three weeks. She took a great interest in the puzzle-making once it was back home, and may have absconded with the poor pig's leg.

Now I will be giving the puzzle back to Memere, who is probably smart enough to dump the evil thing and never look back.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Butterfly Friend

Look at me! I'm a beautiful butterfly!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Peter and Emily's Birthday

Saturday, Steve and Jessica had a birthday party for Peter, who was turning 4, and Emily, who'd turned 2. Peter loves cars more than any kid I've ever seen, and can wax poetic about the Audi 86 and many other cars (don't ask me what other cars. I can't tell a Mustang from a Porsche. I'm pretty sure I could identify a Delorean, though). I'm not sure who got him the big rig, but that person gets Peter. He didn't really care about any of the other gifts after he opened it. Emily didn't care so much about the actual gifts as much as she cared about ripping open the packaging.
Just to prove that Josh isn't the only weird one in the family, here's Steve:
And Mom, who was reliving her childhood with the ViewMaster, but hilariously, she didn't take it out of the package before doing so.
Peter got a real bike, with real shocks! and a real mud flap! (This one lured him away from the big rig.)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Cape: Silliness

I wish I'd inherited my mom's smile.
I don't know whose smile Josh inherited. Neither Mom nor Dad admit to knowledge of this relative.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Cape: Kayaking

One of the things on my to-do list this year was sea kayaking. Tuesday, Mom, Kelly, Jay and I set out for a morning on the high seas. I was a little freaked out at first--I'm not the biggest fan of deep water. I don't like to think about all of the stuff that's swimming under me that I can't see. I got over it fast and could even appreciate the giant crab that we saw.

We kayaked over to a lighthouse and a beach over on the very tip of the Cape, where we ate lunch.

Before heading back, us girls went for a swim. Why don't boys swim? Jay went in the water when we started dating, but stopped after a while. Maybe he was just trying to look cool. At least he admitted this time that he's just a big baby about the water. Anyway, I'd worn my flip-flops in the water, because I didn't feel like stepping on seaweed and crabs. When I was walking back, I stepped into a soft spot and sank up to my ankle in sand. The ocean stole my flip-flop! We searched for a while, but it was gone. In true manly fashion, Jay didn't help look for it, but stayed on the beach and took pictures of the ridiculous scene.

In the end, I gave up the flip-flop as a sacrifice to the ocean gods. As punishment for my reluctance to sacrifice the shoe, the ocean spit up algae all over me, which colored my legs green and wouldn't come off. I felt so attractive coming off of the kayak back in P-town, covered in algae and wearing one shoe. We still had fun though, and it was nice to get a little exercise in midst of all the eating and napping.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Cape 2008

We're back from another wonderful trip to the Cape. On Friday, I dropped Jay off at work at 5:30 AM (do I win the Wife of the Year award yet?) and headed down to the Cape, successfully missing all of the traffic. Seeing as I couldn't get into the house until 2, I had some time to kill. Fortunately, Memere and Auntie Sue were renting a place in Falmouth, so I stopped in for a surprise visit. At 8am I knocked on their door. Poor Memere was so sleepy and my visit was so out-of-context, she didn't recognize me. Once she realized who was standing outside her door, she shrieked, "Oh my goodness! It's Sarah! I can't believe it!" It was a nice welcome. The three of us went for a walk on a little seaside path and saw this nifty ship:

Memere also uttered the most amazing quote. We drove by a kid of about sixteen and a couple who looked like the kid's parents. The kid was smoking, which was obviously so outrageous that we had to discuss it for a good ten minutes. At one point, Memere said, "well, maybe it was marijuana." "Does that make it better?" I asked. Her response: "Well, if you're going to smoke, you might as well do it right!" NICE! I think Memere has some stories she hasn't told me...

After lunch and a stop for some fudge (why do all seaside towns have an abundance of fudge? What about the ocean makes people think, "MUST EAT FUDGE"?), I set off for North Truro. This year, Fran and Dave stayed the weekend, which made for good times as usual. There was a rousing game of poker:

and several games of Catchphrase, which is always extra exciting when half of the players are partially blind and your own father thinks that a pirate wears a do-rag.

The rest of the week was spent on the beach and in Provincetown. Jay and I made it back to the vineyards for a wine tasting:

Last year, I didn't like wine, so I didn't participate. This year we both joined in. We got to taste every wine they made. Jay liked the dry reds, but I was taken with the sweeter wines (big surprise there). We bought a bottle of blush, which we drank with dinner, and a Maritime Red for Jay and a Cranberry wine for me. I'm not sure I'll be able to save my wine until Thanksgiving this year, seeing as I don't want to share!

And of course, we saw some spectacular sunsets.
Kayaking picture and some silly family shots to come later this week.