Friday, November 30, 2007

Bottom of the Barrel

Today marks the end of NaBloPoMo 2007 & I'm happy to say that I never got quite this bad. :) This year seemed a little easier than last year. I didn't struggle for topics until Tuesday of this week. I didn't even use the topics that I brainstormed & pre-drafted at the beginning of the month! Go me.

To recap, the main themes this month seemed to be grad school, dating, and my family. That sounds about right. :) Hope those of you who participated this month are taking a moment to look back & breathing a sigh of relief along with me.

OK, now get out & don't come back for a couple of days. I'm officially hanging up the "Gone Fishin" sign for a bit. ;)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Penultimate Day

Yeah, I used "penultimate" instead of second-to-last. What of it, sucka? ;)

Went out with kids from the history graduate department again tonight. This makes three nights this week I've grabbed a beer (or two) with other grad students. This is a good new habit of mine, I think. :) I like going out for a casual drink or two with friends who are just as poor as me.

For example, tonight my first beer was a $4 Unibroue Chambly Noire. It was lovely (malty & chocolatey & not too heavy, despite being a black ale), but my second & third beers were good ol' PBRs, $1 at the Barley Pub on Thursday nights.

Of course, I didn't pay for my second & third beers, so I guess that shoots down my theory a bit. However, it allows me to segue into who did pay for them, so whatevs. ;) At trivia the other night, there was a guy who was pretty cute, who knew some of my history grad buddies. However, we were on different teams for trivia & neither one of us paid much attention to the other.

Tonight, though, I did get to chat with him a fair amount & I think I am interested. :) Luckily, I think he is, too. He, another guy & I were the last ones to leave b/c we were talking so long, he bought me two beers, and he invited me to stop by the wine shop where he works for a wine tasting tomorrow afternoon. More to the point, my part-time job has public offerings of a certain kind and when I was telling him about them, he wanted to know which specific days I would be working them.

All of this is good, yes? Not that I particularly need another man to be thinking about - we're up to four now, by the way. However, I drove home grinning from ear to ear about this one. We'll see how things go . . .

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I make desserts good ;)

Yes, Sarah, my title is a reference to the URL of your wonderful Pink Shoe Cookbook. However, I make desserts much better than I cook dinners, so I'm focusing on the positive tonight. ;)

Last week, my mum asked me to bring dessert for Thanksgiving, as I always bring something & she knows I'm not exactly flush these days (turns out grad school makes you poor. who knew?). So, because we all know I'm a Scotophile, I made a traditional Scottish dessert that I enjoyed on Skye back in March. I modified the recipe, using these two, and it came out really yummy! Let me know if you're interested in giving it a go & I'll try to help.

P.S. If you haven't already clicked on the link to Sarah's cookbook, you really should. She walks you through great recipes with wit & charm. Plus, she includes links to a number of good cooking sites. Jeez, Sarah, I kinda sound like a stalker tonight. ;)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Running out of steam . . .

I am slowly running out of steam for NaBloPoMo, you guys. I'm sure those of you who are doing it are in a similar state at the moment. However, we've just got until Friday to keep blogging, so let's hang in there!

However, since I can't come up with a coherent post, you're getting a few bullet points. Nyah-nyah. ;)
  • As I mentioned last night, I went out with some friends from the history graduate department. I'd been invited to a number of parties & get-togethers with them prior to this, but hadn't been able to make it. We had a great time! We played trivia & my team came in 7th out of 20. Not bad for our first time.
  • I still really like my house, but I am starting to re-think living here for two years. My landlord is a good guy, but he's starting to get on my nerves. Plus, my GSBB might be moving closer to campus for next year & I'd much rather live with her or her & another friend.
  • My sister & her family are home safely from their Thanksgiving trip to L.A. I'll be seeing my parents & nephew tomorrow and the whole gang this weekend to celebrate my sister's birthday. :)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Picture Post #3

I am tired, folks, and a little tipsy. I just got home from being out with friends in the history department. I am having a hard time even typing "history department." I hope you all had a good night & enjoy this photo from a gravestone at a small cemetery in my parent's town.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

1 month 'til Christmas!

You guys, Christmas is my favorite holiday. I'm can't even pretend it's not, since my reaction to Christmas is much like my reaction to snow - pure, giggly joy.

As I mentioned around this time last year, I make a studious attempt to avoid going all Christmas-crazy before Thanksgiving. However, that holiday is over now, so it's on to the decorating & the cards & the lights! :)

P.S. How cute is the photo of Thing 1 above? He could barely walk last Christmas, yet he pulled himself up to gaze at the Christmas tree. :)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

Halloween, Part Deux

A little over three weeks later, here we are! Blame the GSBB (grad-school-bosom-buddy), not me. ;) Don't we look cute?

In a related vein, I watched Lara Croft, Tomb Raider (the second one) the other night. I had never bothered to see either of these movies before, as I figured they were just eye candy for nerdy guys who drooled over Lara the video game character. However, I did not realize that Gerard Butler is her partner. Now, he is some yummy Scottish eye candy for the ladies. :)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanks for the Memories

Because this is the day for such things, I've been reflecting on what I'm grateful for. Here's the short list. ;)
  1. My two nephews: the one currently on this earth & the one to be joining us in February (btw, I've decided to call them Thing 1 & Thing 2, after the mischievous urchins in The Cat in the Hat).
  2. My sister & brother-in-law: I feel very lucky to have two such great people in my life.
  3. My parents: I wrote about my mum yesterday. You can bet my dad is just as great & just as supportive.
  4. My grandparents: They've given me years of wonderful memories, which helped me deal with the loss of my grammy in May.
  5. My friends in myriad places: Even though I spend a silly amount on postage stamps at Christmas, I love staying in touch with my friends across the U.S., in Canada, and in Scotland.
  6. The Red Sox: Two World Series championships in four years? You guys are the best boyfriends ever! ;)
  7. Having the courage to pull up fairly deep stakes & move to Portsmouth alone
  8. and more importantly, having the courage to go back to school to do what I really love.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Birthday, Mum!

Sneaking this one in just before the deadline. Today was my mother's 51st birthday, everyone. It's ok - she won't mind my telling you. She's not nutty about her age like some women. Besides, look at how hip & young she looks on this Vespa. :)

There's pretty much no way to do this without being cheesy, but here goes. Mum, as you very well know, I would be a shadow of myself without you. You have always supported my decisions, even when they were dumb ones. You guys, this is a woman who once left me a note that said: "Good luck with your tattoo this weekend!"

Seriously? That's amazing. Here are a few more in the pantheon of supportive things my mother has said: "You want to us to buy you a beat-up 1965 Mustang & then work on weekends to help you restore it? Sure, no problem!" In college: "You want us to pay rent on a two-bedroom, waterfront cottage for only you, instead of just paying for room & board like your other three years? Great idea!" And more recently, there was: "You want to go to grad school so you can get a master's degree & make the exact same amount of money as you're making now, minus all of your student loans? Go for it!"

Mum - I don't know what to say. Even though you're kind of a dumb ass (inside joke, people), you're the best woman I've ever known. Happy Birthday, from your Stasha!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


My driver's license might say I'm 26, but in reality, I'm this many (holds up 5 fingers).

I know this because my reaction to the snow this morning was to jump out of bed & run to the window, gleefully saying, "It's snowing! It's snowing!" And then I took pictures. ;)

Have a good day everyone & Happy First Snow to you all!

Monday, November 19, 2007

My Boyfriend's Back . . .

(Image from Sitting Still)

and he'll be here for three years now . . . hey yah, hey yah, my boyfriend's back.

Break out the champagne & cigars, kids. I know I'm a bit late with the news, but as my dad, NESN, and Jason told me today, "Mike Lowell has re-signed!" That's right, Lowell has agreed to a 3-year, $37.5 million contract with the Sox.

I have to admit - I didn't pay a ton of attention to Lowell in the '06 season. I'm not sure why, exactly, but I made up for it in '07. I've been consistently impressed with the skill and, more importantly, the good sportsmanship exhibited by Lowell. He's one of those names to which the adjective "classy" is nearly always attached.

Jason, I know you don't like my calling Lowell my boyfriend (since he was yours first), but I'm sorry. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta go. I love the guy. ;) The thought that he'll be playing for us until 2010 (
barring any stupid trades) fills me with joy right now!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Guinea Pig with Pie

In honor of the fact that I'm writing a paper today about the British Empire, I thought I'd share one of my favorite silly images. My friend & former co-worker Jayne (the one who inspired me to start blogging, actually) found this photo of a guinea pig years ago & just loved it. She showed me & I loved it, too.

Just look at the wee guy! He's got his little flat cap on & he's ready to eat his meat pie, drink a few pints, and maybe smoke a fag or two. I love him. :)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Clumsy is as Clumsy does

I am a clumsy person. I've covered this on the blog before, but the past month was particularly bad.
A couple of weeks ago, I bumped into the door jamb of my office door. You know that piece of metal in the door jamb that catches the door latch when you close it? Ripped right out of the wood when I hit it. Admittedly, this part of the house was built in the 1860's, so the wood is almost 150 years old & as rotten as Steinbrenner's soul. But still. The above is the effect the door jamb had on my hip.

(Speaking of rotten wood & my clumsiness, I once broke a post off my friend's dock. To my credit, though, I was trying to avoid being pushed into the water, not just leaning on it with my superhuman strenth.)

Last night, as I was bringing my supper dishes downstairs to the kitchen, I slipped on a top step & fell down the entire flight of stairs! I just remember hurtling down, accompanied by a Sprite bottle, ceramic plate & fork, with no way to stop myself. It was dramatic, you guys. I didn't wake my landlord, but I did wake his cats, who were good for a measure of comfort once I composed myself. And man, it hurt! I scraped my arm (above) & it's already got the makings of a spectacular bruise. My bum is really sore, too.

Sigh - I really am a mess. At least it makes for lots of blogging fodder!

UPDATE: Erin's comment on this post reminded me that you all don't know how very steep my stairs are. Check them out here & cringe for me. ;)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Spring Training Anyone?

Uh-oh, you guys. I just realized that Fort Myers is only 2.5 hours from Miami. I have college friends who live in Miami who have been trying to get me to come down & visit. I have a week off for spring break in March. And the Red Sox would be just 150 minutes away!

Quick - I have to go see how high airline prices will be & try to dissuade myself from planning a trip. ;)

And I'm back. The cheapest round-trip I found was $329, so that helped cool my ardor for now. Hopefully, that number won't start looking better & better as we get closer to Opening Day!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Engagement Ring Envy

Normally, I'm pretty content being single. Well, I'm dating again, as you know, but single as in not married. However, occasionally, I see a married friend & have a slight pang of "when will that happen for me?"

Today, one of the undergrads in one of my classes was sporting a brand-new ring. She's probably around 21, you guys. She's a pretty girl, but not a traffic-stopper. Today, however, she was glowing. And you should have seen the ring! Not huge, but sparkly & bright & glowing right along with her. I had to force myself to stop looking at it & pay attention to the professor.

An engagement ring is so significant. I used to wear rings, but I fell out of the habit a year or two ago. I couldn't help but think about how a ring like that might look on my own hand. Sigh. As I said, I'm very happy being unmarried & accountable to no one else. I can sleep late if I want, stay out all night if I want, hog the covers if I want. Sometimes, though, I get a bit wistful.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Fantasy Football Update

You guys know how much I love the Red Sox, right? I mean, surely I've mentioned that here once or twice. ;)

Yet I am abysmal at fantasy baseball! I played for the first time over the summer & came in 5th out of 10. Not exactly what I was hoping for.

Fantasy football, however? That's my game. :) I play in a Yahoo league with my sister, brother-in-law, two of his brothers, and a bunch of his friends. Last season, I earned third place (in a league of 12). This season,
I'm solidly in third again. My team, the Portsmouth Punks, has gone 7-3, with a .700 winning percentage & 955 points.

I lucked out in the draft & ended up with a couple of standouts. My QB? Only the 7-1, 283.9 yards per game, 23 touchdown Tony Romo. One of my running backs? Only the 7-2, 95 yards per game, 7 touchdown Joseph Addai.

Obviously, these guys are my stars at the moment & not all my other players are as good. However, my back-up QB, Matt Hasselbeck, has been putting on the big boy pants lately, so that bodes well if (knock wood) Romo suffers any later-season injuries.

This week, I play my brother-in-law, who is right behind me at fourth, with a 5-5 record & 910 fantasy points. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Picture Post #2

Isn't this the most amazing thing you've ever seen? I got this $5 bill back in change about a year or two ago & had to take a picture. It's Pirate Lincoln!

We now return to your regularly scheduled lives, where most presidents are just presidents. ;)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veteran's Day

In honor of my grandfather MacLeod, I've always tried to recognize Veteran's Day. He served as a tank corps commander in Italy from 1944-46. Last year, I wrote a little about him. This year, I decided to reprint a poem I wrote in college. It was for a creative writing class & this assignment had to be in "Italian sonnet" form. Hopefully, that explains why some of the rhymes are a tad awkward. ;)

"Wild War"
The pine trees stand silent in the Ardennes,

Twice they encountered death and battle here.

The refugees of Dunkirk's loss are near,

The cliffs of Dover face a beach of men.

The coast of Normandy - it mocks my pen,

Its bloody shores have seen courage and fear.

Pearl Harbor, once victim of a surprise war spear,

In the morning, silent as the Ardennes.

The Meuse runs through hills and woods of Verdun,

Remembering ten months of hell on earth.

In Flanders, the crosses stand row by row.
The Douai plain lies flat beneath the sun,

At Vimy Ridge, it saw a war's rebirth.

In Flanders still, the scarlet poppies blow.

I called it "Wild War" because I wanted to think about some of the natural landscapes of both world wars. That's why I've referenced rivers, forests, coastlines, etc. The eleventh & fourteenth lines echo the famous (& much better) poem by John McCrae, a Canadian doctor who fought in the first world war. To veterans of all wars - thank you for your sacrifices.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

PEM Recap

( Clipper Dreadnought, ca. 1853 (detail). James Edward
Buttersworth (1817-1894). New York, N. Y.. Oil on canvas.)

Good trip to Peabody Essex today. I had initially intended to write a review of their "Sketched at Sea" exhibit. However, when I walked in, their first floor "Maritime Art" gallery was closer, so it's there that I went. (Side note: This turned out to be a good thing. When I went to look for the "Sketched at Sea" exhibit later, I couldn't find it. I'm not kidding, you guys. I'm a smart person with experience in museums, but despite following the signs carefully, that particular exhibit never appeared. Weird.)

Now, I'll admit that I'm a flat-out sucker for anything that has anything to do with the sea. I mentioned this before, when I first moved to Portsmouth.
I think it's mostly from spending all of my childhood summers on Prince Edward Island, but growing up in New England certainly didn't hurt, either. You could take a completely boring item & plop a sailing ship or a lighthouse or a mussel shell on it and I will absolutely buy it from you. ;) My personal checks have maritime scenes on them, for goodness sake!

Despite my appallingly low standards for satisfaction, the Maritime Art exhibit still went above & beyond my expectations. Think of those words: "maritime art." You're probably picturing lots & lots of grand portraits of schooners & clipper ships & brigs, right? Well, they had that in spades, but more that I wasn't expecting. Portraits of Salem sea captains & merchants, intricate scrimshaw, advertising posters for the Cunard line & its ilk, carved figureheads, a huge model of the original Queen Elizabeth, and even a recreation of the interior of a yacht.

If you happen to be in the Salem area, it's definitely worth paying PEM a visit. They have amazing collections of Asian & American art, as well, but the maritime art exhibit alone was worth my $9. :)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dating Again (again)

As I alluded last Sunday, I actually have somewhat of a dating life again. And as Susie shrewdly pointed out, it started with a bang - two dates on one night! I'd like to preface by saying that this was not intentional. ;) I had made dinner plans with one guy I'd met on Then I'd been playing phone tag with another guy I met on Halloween & he invited me to watch Monday Night Football with him & a friend the same night.

The verdicts:

Date #1 was tall, funny, cute, and
respectful. His degree is in history & he served in the army for two years after college. He's a little dorky, but hey, remember me? The graduate student in history? I can't afford to judge. We had a nice time & he's asked me to get together this weekend. I was planning a trip down to the Peabody Essex Museum tomorrow, so I've invited him along. Hopefully, he can make it!

Date #2 was tall, cute, funny, and incredibly cocky. Here's a perfect example: he's a pilot & he was joking around with his friend (a fellow pilot) about the big tips they receive for keeping quiet about male passengers who bring mistresses on board. I expressed some disgust at the practice & his response was, "Well, that money paid for the beer you're drinking now." !!! Thanks, but no thanks, Iceman.

I'll let you know how my date tomorrow goes. Even if it goes poorly, it's at a great museum. As I said to myself after one of the worst first dates ever (at the MFA in '04), at least I got to see some neat old stuff. ;)

UPDATE: The museum date isn't going to work out (he had previous plans with a friend & the timing didn't work out). However, we're going to make plans for later in the week.

Friday, November 09, 2007

I'm Home!

Well, I'm back from Portland! After three days of trying to make a good impression at the conference & sleeping on a friend's futon, I am super glad to be home. :) However, the conference itself was a good learning experience & it was great to see my friends from college (who let me stay with them). Here are the highlights:
  • The president of my institution took us younger employees out to dinner last night.
  • I spent both nights with a yellow lab (Gallatin) at the foot of my bed, a black lab (Kayden) on the doggie bed next to my bed, and a Chesapeake Bay retriever (Spencer) on a couch nearby. Plus, there was a newfie (Porter) living downstairs.
  • Catching up with friends who I haven't seen since way back when.
  • All of the neat stuff that I learned about my new field.
  • The caramel macchiato that my friend made for me, free of charge, at her coffee shop yesterday morning.
  • The peppermint mocha that I got (with a gift card!) at the I-95 rest stop on the way home today.
  • Finally getting to check out Portland. I've been meaning to for years, mostly with ex-boyfriends: was planning to take NY Ex there for Christmas two years ago & was supposed to attend a wedding there with South Boston Ex in June. Cheers to seeing it with friends & on my own!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Thank goodness for the little things

Ugh - today was not a good day, you guys. Woke up late & hungover, missed the bus, slogged through the rain to class, and my take-out dinner order got messed up to boot.

Luckily, when I got home, I noticed my Christmas cactus was budding, I had a nice email from one of my dates last night, and I found the above picture on my friend Shawn's Myspace page. Shawn is a dear old friend & middle school ex-boyfriend. ;) He's lived in Cali since 2000 & the picture is from the summer of '01 or '02. I flew out west to visit both my sister & him. The shot was taken on the pier at Santa Barbara.

I'm in Portland, ME for a conference over the next few days. Therefore, I will continue to suck at NaBloPoMo, since I won't be able to post tomorrow or Thursday. Ah well, as Susie said, at least we're trying!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Picture Post #1

The first of many on Mondays, I would guess. ;)

I've got a ton of reading to do before class, but wanted to post this photo from New York. I was looking through my NYC photos last night & I think this is one of my favorites. My best friend lives in the city, so I get to visit her there a few times a year.

The photo is of St. John the Divine Cathedral & the featured statue in its gardens. It was taken on December 31st of last year. I just love the way the form of the statue complements & contrasts with the structure of the cathedral. Click on it to make it bigger - it helps with the details. :)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

I Suck at NaBloPoMo

I did so much better last year! This year, I signed up (here), panicked because I have a lot of work to do this month, tried to cancel/remove my name from the blogroll, couldn't remember how to, and gave in. ;) I missed the second & third days, so I won't be eligible for any prizes. But hey - I'm going to plunge back in & re-commit myself.

Right now, I'm home in my pj's, watching the Pats game, drinking a Harpoon Octoberfest & trying to get some reading done for class. I spent the weekend in Boston, visiting friends & family. One of my best friends from high school was home from NYC for the weekend, so I stayed with her at her parents' house. On Friday night, we met up with another of our best friends from high school & her boyfriend for a few drinks. Saturday was a lazy day spent inside reading, watching movies & drinking red wine.

This morning, I swung by my sister's house with Dunkin' Donuts & had a nice visit with her, her husband, and my nephew. Thing 1 is getting so big now! He'll be 21 months on November 11th, which is still kind of unbelievable to me. After leaving her place, I stopped by my grandfather's for a bit, with an egg & cheese sandwich for his lunch &
the Sunday Globe.

In other news, I finally have a dating life again - after six months! But I can't give away all my secrets today - I need fodder for a month's worth of posts! Catch you tomorrow. ;)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Check out Thing 1 above. He was trick-or-treating downtown with his grandparents & parents yesterday. I can't even handle how cute he is in this picture. :)

In more grown-up news, I went out downtown & had a fun time. My grad-school-bosom-buddy was Sam Adams (calf-length pants, white stockings, colonial looking shoes, a white man's shirt & a brown leather vest) & her brother was Clark Kent (blazer, cords, red & blue tie, and white button-down shirt - unbuttoned to show a Superman t-shirt underneath). Once she sends me the picture of she & I dressed up, I'll post it.