The Amazing Adventures of Josie and Seb

July 13, 2010

Raccoon? No. Creek? Yes!

Filed under: adventuring, pittsburghing — Cate @ 11:36 pm

On Sunday, Joe and Seb and I took off for Raccoon Creek State Park. Poor Josie never gets to go; Seb wasn’t even supposed to come, but he charged out the door and gave Joe such a pitiful look that we couldn’t bring ourselves to leave him behind. It was good weather for being out in nature – warmer than Saturday but not as hot as it has been.

Not going to lie, I was a little nervous about the outing. Joe has legs for miles and I have legs like…something with really short legs…not to mention I prefer to stroll at a leisurely pace over walking at a normal speed. Joe and Seb have a lot more hustle in them than me. Would they leave me behind to be eaten by raccoons? How long till I was at the point of exhaustion just from trying to keep up?

Turns out, I needn’t have worried. Joe let me set the pace for most of the hike and I got my second wind¬† on the second half of the Forest Trail (more like my first wind, since I griped and huffed through most of the first part). The Forest Trail was really lovely, up and down through the woods. We passed through a big fern meadow and climbed over fallen trees and tromped through the mud.

Seb had an episode along the trail, early in the hike. It was a muddy spot in the trail where they’re laid wooden planks for hikers to pass over. There was six to eight inches between the plank and the muddy ground and Seb kept losing his balance and falling off the plank or turning around to look at me and walking sideways right off the edge. Of course once he hit the ground he’d get sucked into the mud and would flail around for a bit before getting his footing. He must have done it about five times. I was doubled over when Joe caught up to us. He said, “what’s wrong? Is Seb hurt?” – mistaking my hysteria for panic. For the rest of the trip whenever I thought about Seb and those silly planks I would laugh so hard I had to stop walking.

Poor Seb. Such indignity.

After the Forest Trail, we headed to the Wetlands Trail. It started out nice enough – shady and cool, crossing over a bubbling little creek at one point. We took a break at the creek so Seb could stretch out full-length in the water and cool down a bit.

It also gave us an opportunity for some cell phone portraits, since I didn’t bring the camera along. I really am having a fun time, I’m just being eaten alive by bugs.

The Wetlands Trail turned out to be kind of horrible. It left the shady woods and snaked through dense tall grasses, with a muddy pond on one side and razor-sharp hell plants on the other. The bugs were making me crazy and my arms were bloody from all the prickers and I just wanted to get out of there ASAP. Joe said later he’d never seen me walk so fast. I was miserable and I was truckin’.

After that, it was a slow easy stroll back to the car on a mostly shaded road. We were all tired and sweaty and bug-bitten and bloody but in very good spirits. What a great way to spend a few hours.

When we got home, Joe wanted to sit down and chill out but I had worked myself into a paranoid frenzy over the prospects of all of us being covered in poison ivy (not very far-fetched, given where we were walking). I immediately got in the shower and made Joe give Seb a bath before I would let him into the house and then I made Joe scrub himself down. He was maybe a little annoyed with me, but I wasn’t about to risk it. Two days later and I have bug bites and scratches galore, but so far no sign of an ivy rash so I’m happy with my decision.

We’re hoping to make a regular thing of these little outings, now that the weather is (mostly) nice and we have the means to travel. Where will the winds take us next? Who knows…somewhere cool, I hope. And no more freaking wetlands!


April 24, 2010

The world is just awesome – well, most of it.

Filed under: neat!, pittsburghing, sadface, Uncategorized, work — Cate @ 11:16 pm

It’s easy to be cynical and grouchy (I oughta know, I play that game), but it’s also no great feat to find people doing really cool, generous things. Today I found out about Secret Agent L, a fellow Pittsburgher who has taken it upon herself to do random acts of kindness for people in the city. It might be some money tucked into a bar menu for the next patron to find or a goodie bag left at a bus stop – just little things, “day brighteners,” without any kind of hitch or ulterior motive.

First of all, I love it. And even better, she’s inspired other people to reach out in similar ways. Of course I wish I’d thought of it, but still…makes me very proud to live in this city.

It sounds like such a simple, silly thing to do, but it’s just those simple, silly, completely unexpected things that can make someone’s day and that’s a very positive force. I remember one day I was walking up Centre Ave and I happened to turn my head to look in a store window and I saw a little sticker on the window that said, “you are so beautiful.” Now obviously whoever left it didn’t leave it for me personally, doesn’t know anything about me, wasn’t speaking directly to me, but seeing it there lifted my spirits. I’m sure I smiled and said hello to a lot of random strangers¬† that day, and maybe that had an uplifting effect on their moods, too.

We all have to start somewhere.


In other news: I have a job! Yes, I am finally formally employed once again – go me. I’m now an assistant/jack of all trades/extra set of hands/etc at Vanilla Pastry Studio, aka the awesomeist bakery in the city. And it’s not all eating frosting and gazing at cupcakes, either (which disappointed me at first, I’ll admit) – this is serious business and they keep me seriously busy. You would be shocked by the number of cupcakes I haven’t eaten. But I have the opportunity to get my hands in pretty much every aspect of the shop, so it’s been a great experience so far.

Plus the owner actually pays a living wage which is, you know, very sweet. (See what I did there! Ha!)


News from the home front is not good. The always lovable and amazing Beagle that’s been a member of our family for twelve years (wait…twelve? or thirteen?), the irreplaceable Little Pocket Rocket aka Rocky aka Bucket aka Fat Hound Dog is in a bad way. My parents are doing their best to keep him comfortable, but that’s all that can be done at this point.

Seb is the dog that’s in the forefront of my life right now, but Rocky has always been my # 1. He’s absolutely the best dog in the world and I can’t even imagine a world without him in it. I’m going back east soon to say goodbye and kiss his sweet white face and cry buckets.

Rocketman on his birthday, 4-1-2010.

…The whole thing seems so surreal.

March 26, 2010

My inner artist is 8 years old…

Filed under: adventuring, neat!, pittsburghing — Cate @ 1:14 am

And obsessed with destruction.

But I get ahead of myself.

Last night, Joe and I went out to the bar to watch the hockey game (they lost) and eat bar food (yum) and drink beer (mmm). Afterward, we headed to his buddy’s place to hang out for a little while longer. Now this buddy is an artist type and he has a little easel set up with some charcoal and likes to invite people to draw on it. Joe, being a similarly-minded artist type, immediately got to work on some kind of masterpiece that involved a lot of shading and buffing and fancy technique.

When Joe was done, they both turned to me and said, “your turn!”

I can’t draw. And that’s not just me being modest, I legitimately do not possess the power to put pen (or crayon, or pencil, or charcoal) to paper and produce anything resembling art. And, also, I sort of hate it. But they were peer pressuring me and calling me a loser* and finally bullied me to my breaking point** so I had to give in.

Behold, my drawing:

Just a happy little mountain. With lava. And fire.

Let’s break it down and really show off the detail here, shall we?

The mountain goat is excited that his mountain isn't covered in lava, but joke's on him! It's a T-Rex!

The fisherman is actually flaming about the head, but refuses to leave without some fish to show for his troubles (of which he has many, clearly).

The doe similarly on fire. Perhaps she's about to dunk her head in the river to put out the flames? Aw, shucks, the river is lava.

Rounding out our trifecta of fire, the bunny rabbit's tail is engulfed. Also, the side of the mountain is burning. Or maybe spraying fire.

Not sure that you needed it, but there’s five good reasons why I stick to taking pictures instead of drawing them. (I promise I’m not an arsonist. It started off as a simple pastoral scene, but the only colors he had were black and red and orange, so…you know. Fire was the next logical step.)

Upon its unveiling, Joe laughed and said, “wow, you’re so literal!” which I think is the non-literal artist’s way of saying, “wow, you’re so bad at this!”

Thanks. Ass.

*This may be a teensy exaggeration.
**…This too.

March 21, 2010

In which I meet and am immediately adored by Dog The Bounty Hunter

Filed under: adventuring, pictures, pittsburghing — Cate @ 8:27 pm

That’s a total lie: I didn’t meet him. Though I’m sure if we had met, he would have liked me immediately, but I would have been super-annoyed with him so I might have said something snotty that led to him to revise his first impression of me to something less positive.

Let’s start from the beginning.

The Beginning

Dog The Bounty Hunter came to Pittsburgh yesterday! Wow! Excitement! Some friends and I planned to go down to the Barnes & Noble where he was signing books to say hey and high five and be obnoxious. I was hoping to get a photo of him holding a sign that said, “happy birthday, Mom!”

But as it turns out, Dog is insanely popular in Pittsburgh and the book-signing was a mad house.

There's more line around the other side of the building and behind me.

Also – and this is the thing that really annoyed me, hence the reason I’d probably mouth off at Dog when/if we met – you couldn’t get in to meet him unless you bought his new book. His new book, mind you. People who had already bought other books/memorabilia were S.O.L. because he refused to sign those ones. BOOHISS.

I get that it’s a ploy for Dog and B&N to make money, but I found it really annoying and more than a little distasteful. You’d think the guy would be trying to project more of a nice-guy image, since everybody knows he’s a huge douchenozzle.

PLUS the guy was late! I say, sir, do not expect me to wait around for your arrival! I have important appointments!

Pictures with the van were free! The only price I'd pay...

I had absolutely no intention of buying his book, so my friends and I did the only reasonable thing: skipped Dog and went to the bar.

Since I had no book and was denied getting a photo of him with a “happy birthday, Mom!” sign, you could say that Dog The Bounty Hunter ruined my mother’s birthday.

Admittedly, I was a little sad not to meet Beth…I imagine she’s a peach.

March 19, 2010

On Being 25 – and other things

Filed under: adventuring, conversations, pittsburghing — Cate @ 11:23 pm

So I’m officially 25 years old. As with all “milestone” birthdays, you sort of expect to have some kind of big revelation upon turning a year older even though, intellectually, you know that that expectation is pretty silly and you have years of experience in non-revelations so you know not to expect it, but that doesn’t keep you from kinda wanting it…and so on.

I guess I should say up front that there were no revelations, just a lot of reflecting about the last 25 years and the last year in particular. 24 was pretty hellish, but also pretty wonderful – the mix of good times and bad times that affirms you’re alive. All told, I’ve had a good year and a lot of happiness and even though broke and unemployed and wondering “what next?” is not necessarily where I wanted to be at 25, it could be so much worse.


The city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration was last weekend – the parade and festivities and all that. My college roommate came into town for it and it was awesome to see her. We had some people over for breakfast and car bombs at our place and then went down to the parade. It rained, which was not super-fun, but I was hoarse on Sunday from yelling and cheering so much, so I guess that means my St. Patty’s was awesome.


A random photo of one of the animals being tortured for our amusement:

Seriously, guys? Seriously?


I have been reading like crazy lately, mostly trashy romance novels. It’s almost like a sickness or an addiction. I can read one in about a day, which might be why I love them so much. No commitment. No real effort. Just fluffy. Pure trashy, fluffy fluff. Candy for your brain. And who doesn’t like candy?


An actual conversation that Joe and I had recently:

Me (eating a muffin): Have you tried these muffins? They taste weird.

Joe (taking a bite): What’s weird about it? It’s a perfectly normal blueberry muffin.

Me: …They’re chocolate chip.

Joe: Oh. Weird.


Seb is a pretty tractable guy, but Josie refuses to be bothered.

Not interested, human. Beat it.

Oh, Josie.


Joe and Seb and I might be taking a trip to the Garden State soon. Or maybe just Seb and I. Or maybe just me. The details have yet to be worked out. Suffice to say, though, that I’m really looking forward to a change of scenery and seeing my family and seeing my friends.

I’m also really looking forward to getting some barn time. Lately I’ve been dreaming of horses three or four times a week. Withdrawal, perhaps? Probably.

Speaking of, I’ve been looking for someone in the Pittsburgh area that I can take driving lessons from (trying to fulfill a long-held ambition to drive a carriage!), but so far it’s been a lot of frustration and not a lot of success. But we’ll see. They have to be out there…


Two big birthdays this weekend: my momma is turning 50 (woot woot) and Joe’s gram is turning 65 (booooyah). I promised I’d help him remember. Birthdays are my speciality.

April is a big birthday month: Rocky, Josie, Seb and my Dad are all celebrating a new year.


Who has two thumbs and got flowers for her birthday?

This girl!


Beautiful, beautiful weather in the Steel City lately. A girl could get used to blue skies and sunshine – but I’m trying not to be too excited about the arrival of Spring. I’m sure that this is Pittsburgh’s idea of a sick joke and the blizzards will be returning any day now.


New episodes of “Doctor Quinn Plays My Life” are forthcoming, I promise.

February 22, 2010

Weekend in Review

Filed under: googly eyes, neat!, pictures, pittsburghing, triumph! — Cate @ 3:02 am

Friday afternoon, inexplicably, our electricity cut out. Like any sensible young people, we decided to wait at the bar for it to come back on.

In our case, “the bar” was Sharp Edge Beer Emporium – yes sir, an EMPORIUM of beer! – and we arrived in time to take advantage of happy hour. Joe is not a huge fan of Belgian beers, which of course is their speciality, but they have enough other things that he was happy. I was happy too, because happy hour means cheap beer means I can try different things. I only had two, but they were both good.

Beer #1: De Konninck

Beer #2: Bavik

As it turns out, the Belgians can also fry a mean onion. Mmm onions.

Saturday, Joe took off to play with his friends and I watched season two of Tool Academy. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a GENIUS show about men who are tools and the women who love them, but wish they weren’t tools. So they trick them into going on a reality TV show where the men are enrolled in therapy and couple-strengthening challenges and eventually (we hope) come to realize that they shouldn’t be such tools to the women they love. It’s great – and it makes me appreciate Joe (my non-tool) so much more.

Ooh, such quality!

While I watched, I worked on a new necklace – pale pink rectangles and some darked pink squares. Used the leftovers for earrings and voila…I have successfully made a jewelry set! I find it very soothing. And pretty.

Later my friend came over to watch a movie and catch up. He also brought his Puggle, Aston, who’s a little over a year old and SO CUTE. I used to live with Aston and I wasn’t always his biggest fan, but you know how it goes…you move apart and learn to appreciate each other a little more.

Josie and Aston used to play, so I thought she’d be happy to see him, but it was Seb who really had a blast. I’ve never seen him play with another dog like he and Aston played. It was pretty adorable.

Then they laid down and napped for awhile. Awwwwwww.

Sunday I had a pretty lazy day – rebeaded my bracelet on new jump rings and now it’s strong and pretty. I even had some left over to make earrings. I am a MACHINE. I doubt I’ll be able to translate this to a money-making venture like I’d hoped, but it sure is fun.

Then me and Joe (mostly Joe) made Indian for dinner and I don’t want to talk about it. Ugh. Samosas.

And then the weekend was over. Not like it matters, though; when you don’t have a job, every day is the weekend.

February 12, 2010

In Which We Venture Into The Snow and Return With Goofy Glasses

Filed under: adventuring, neat!, pictures, pittsburghing — Cate @ 3:15 pm

Yesterday Joe and I hooked up the dogsled and made the long journey into town to run some errands. OK, not really. (We only have 1 dog and he’s old…not much of a sled team. Sorry Seb. Just sayin’.) The buses are back on track and for the most part the city seems to have dug itself out, so we were able to get around just fine. (Unless you count all the unshoveled sidewalks. This neighborhood sucks at shoveling their sidewalks.)

First stop: lunch at Chili’s. Joe got a giftcard for Xmas, so we figured we’d use it. My meal came with the saddest ear of corn I’ve ever seen. But it’s Chili’s in February, so my expectations were pretty low to begin with. Joe had equally sad little tacos. Not a great meal, all told, but it was free. And it makes me look forward to corn season returning…YUM! I think Chili’s must be looking forward to it, too, because they were pushing the summer drinks.

Uh? It's February?

We went other places and eventually ended up at the party store. In typical Cate Makes Bad Decisions fashion, the first thing I did was try on a St Patty’s hat covered in green glitter. Within seconds of walking in the door, I was also covered in green glitter. Joe had a good laugh or six. Luckily there were plenty of other things to fool around with and pretty soon I forgot about the glitter.

There are simply not enough occasions in one's life for one to wear a jaunty sequined top hat and veil.

I wish I’d bought that silly hat. I would wear the heck out of that hat! Forever!

Joe had to stock on goofy costumes for his Awesome No-Girlfriend Party With Awesome People Who Aren’t My Girl Awesome Weekend (whatever). I think I made him try on most of the stock of goofy glasses. Just like old times in Rite-Aid!

Joe's got a good head for wigs, right?

He offered to let me buy the pink wig for him, but I didn’t. Damn! He would have worn the heck out of that wig!

On the way out, I spotted a little piece of my childhood and got all nostalgic and misty-eyed.

Luckily, I managed to leave without stuffing my pockets.

Then other stuff probably happened but I don’t remember anything noteworthy. So we got back on our dogsled the bus and went home to watch some Doctor Quinn Law & Order. The End.

February 8, 2010

Winter wonderland!

Filed under: adventuring, neat!, pictures, pittsburghing — Cate @ 12:58 am

We got dumpins of snow Friday and Saturday – Joe was a grumpy disbeliever, but I knew we were going to get lots of snow and I was right. It’s pretty surreal outside. Everything is buried. The city still hasn’t recovered – schools and businesses are closed tomorrow (Monday) still, some roads aren’t plowed, people still don’t have power, garbage pick-up is canceled, etc. Doesn’t bother me being stuck inside, but Joe and I have done our share of exploring and playing in the snow, too. Seb still does his business out-of-doors, you know.

Friday night around 10:30pm I wrapped up my camera in plastic bags and painter’s tape, snapped it onto the tripod and we went outside. There was only (only!) about 8-10 inches on the ground at that point and it was still coming down pretty hard. “Taking pictures” really consisted of putting down the tripod in random areas and hoping for the best. They turned out pretty nice, though. As we were walking down the alley behind our house, the power went out for the whole street. We ended up going home, warming up as best we could and watching Indiana Jones by candlelight until my laptop died (it may be in league with the Nazis to steal the Ark of the Covenant).

Saturday we got up, got dressed and went back outside. Joe thought to bring a yard stick (smart fella) and measured at various places – between 19 and 21 inches total. Not bad!! Seb bounded around the back yard a little, but mostly he followed Joe’s trails (me too…way less tiring).

It’s fun to be able to play in the snow or hole up inside if we want to, but I know this storm has been awful for a lot of people. Thank goodness we don’t have any emergencies that need attended to. We can just take it easy, snuggle and watch Law & Order. Hopefully the city gets back to functioning before too long. All the same, I’m not going to hold my breath over it…

January 26, 2010

Go ahead…make my dog.

Filed under: adventuring, food, pittsburghing — Cate @ 6:11 pm

So yesterday I got fired from my shitty, soul-sucking job that I hated. Today to celebrate, Joe and I went downtown (that’s dahntahn in Pittsburghese) to run a few errands and have lunch. Where did we eat? Why, Franktuary, of course!

And on the seventh day...

Franktuary is an awesome little hot dog shop in the basement of a church. It’s where all the cool kids go to eat ‘dogs in the middle of their hip, downtown days. When I was in college, this place was all the rage among my classmates and I because it was started by two young people – just like us! Proof that we could do something with our lives! Proof that life-after-college didn’t have to suck!

Joe had never been to Franktuary so it was fun to share the experience with him. He’s a committed fan of D’s Dogs up in Regent Square, but I think he liked Franktuary just fine, too. Dare I say more…?

Between us we got a Detroit dog, a Texan dog and a Chicago Impostor dog, all delicious. Next time I definitely want the Pittsburgh dog (pierogies and slaw – hello!), but I was happy with our choices. The Chicago Impostor is something I probably would never have ordered on my own, but it ended up being pretty yummy. There I go with my closed mind again…sigh.

Detroit: chili, onions, yellow mustard

Chicago Impostor - yellow mustard, relish, onion, banana pepper, celery salt, tomato, pickle spear

Texan - chili, cheddar cheese, jalapenos

A really good hot dog with yummy toppings, not to mention a Boylan’s black cherry soda (and, oh yeah, the company), makes for a great afternoon.

A reason to smile!

Gobbling in an unladylike manner...?

Of course the problem with such a nice afternoon is that it eventually has to end. But at least I didn’t have to return to the office afterwards – YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I miss you already, Detroit Dog!

January 13, 2010

My sweet new ink…

Filed under: adventuring, girls in the world, pittsburghing, triumph! — Cate @ 5:20 pm

I decided a long time ago that I wanted to mark the completion of my MFA (have I mentioned I have a Master’s degree?) with something really awesome, like a new tattoo. Generally speaking, I think tattoos are a great way to mark a milestone – like a living scrapbook. Sure, you can save pictures and such, but there’s always a chance you’ll lose your stuff. Your skin, your body, you’ll always have that.

As I continue on my slow journey to embrace the whats and the hows of my body, this becomes even more relevant. When I got my first tattoo I felt (maybe for the first time) beautiful – not “beautiful, but…” as is usually the case, but beautiful. There’s something indescribable that comes with the physical transformation of getting tattooed, something that the needle cultivates into a bloom. It’s easy to see how people get “addicted” – I certainly can’t claim to be immune.

So I did it again last night. The design is one I first saw on Threadless and fell immediately in love with it. I’ve carried it around with me for a long time…and now I’ll carry it around with me a while longer, in a more concrete sense. For me the feather harkens back to writing with a quill and the birds bursting forth from the feather…what better metaphor for creation? What better milestone with my MFA?

I had it done by a great guy named Joe Capone at South Side Tattoo and the whole experience was wonderful, start to finish. It hardly hurt at all and Joe finished it up in a little under an hour. My Joe came along, too, and was absurdly jealous. I’m pretty excited for the day when it’s his turn to sit in the chair and I get to watch. One thing that stinks about getting tattooed on your back is you can’t watch the image coming to life.

So here I am, sporting something new. A little sore today, but certainly worth it. Already itching for the next…

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