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).