as i don't have much time, i better write quick. in less than 12 hours i'm leaving on a bus to new york city, the first step of what will eventually take me to the great smoky mountains national park by the end of monday. so of course i'm not even packed yet. i've got things strewn all over my living room, still haven't stuffed anything into my backpack. for someone who's done a bit of traveling, i still get anxious before trips. nervous enough that i think it'd be better not to go and stay home. but i know once i'm out there, i never regret an opportunity to travel and experience new things.
my parents drove me out to the reading REI so i could buy a pair of merrell moab with 20% discount on their big memorial day weeklong sale. there was a line of people checking out, with 5 registers opened. not only did they have the moab, but they had it in my size (7.5) in men, which is really what i wanted in the first place, 3 hiking shoes purchases later. i've compared the men and the women moab and they look exactly the same, just different colors.
i bought my lucky star bus ticket to new york, now $28 for a single trip. the days of $15 tickets are long gone, thanks to annoying things like regulations and terminal fees. i look back nostalgically when the chinatown bus used to actually leave from the streets of the chinatown, and on weekends the place would be a mess of people trying to leave town, standing out in the rain and the snow and the freezing cold.
i've managed to find everything i was looking for exception for a few things: comfortable pants that aren't too tight in the waist (curse you weight gain!), my hydration pack (haven't seen it in ages, i'm sure even if i found it, it's so old that the plastic must've fused together by this point), and my mp3 player (could be in a winter jacket pocket - no, i just checked, still missing).
in the late afternoon i planted some more seedlings in my parents' backyard (this morning i arrived with another box of mostly flower seedlings, still have a box of tiny columbine seedlings in my backyard, my father will go pick them up tomorrow after he gets off from work, and also help me bring out the garden trash - this weekend is unfortunately my week to do it). the planting was complicated by the fact that my sister took home a box of plants but it was the wrong box as she left with nearly all my tomato plants.
dinner came in the form of burger king. when the cashier gave me my change, i saw there was a chinese renminbi coin in the mix. this is my first time seeing chinese coins in my american change.
my bus leaves tomorrow at noontime, so i still have a few hours tomorrow morning to finish packing. i always wait until the last minute. maybe the lesson to learn here is to prepare earlier for next time.
SM told me this morning that she finally got the birthday card i sent her. i mailed it out more than 6 weeks ago, and it missed her birthday by more than 2 weeks, but it finally got here. it says something about a country when it takes this long for mail to arrive. i guess i should be grateful that they didn't just lose it.
i biked into boston for a 12:30 follow-up appointment at boston oral & facial surgery. i went the usual way, beacon-hampshire-longfellow-charles. google map said it'd take 35 minutes, i got there in 25. even though i was early, they saw me right away since there was no other patients. it was a quick spot check, make sure nothing was infected. dr.chan yanked the implant as if he was trying to pull it out but it wouldn't budge (there was also no pain), which is a good thing. back outside in the reception area, both his secretary and him were fascinated by the fact that i biked there. when they found out i was coming from cambridge, both of them though it was so far away (dr.chan himself lives in quincy). they each said they'd love to bike into work, but the traffic is just too daunting. i'd agree with them, biking in the city takes a certain kind of courage. i made an appointment for next month, to come in and get an x-ray taken.
i biked back via the storrow drive overpass, along a stretch of charles riverway, then across the mass ave bridge, biking down the other side of the river (memorial drive), to trader joe's. you'd think since i wasn't on the street it'd be smooth ride, but it was anything but, as i kept going over small speed bumps in the asphalt pushed up from underground tree roots. at trader joe's i picked up $30 worth of trail mixes and energy bars, along with two bottles of white wine (for cooking purposes).
i returned home via putnam avenue, cutting across the cambridge library/high school.
i spent a good chunk of the afternoon cleaning up the basement. i restacked the wood piles back onto the overhead racks. i moved some boxes into the newly created space, then moved all my bikes back down in the basement. i also put away in storage all my grow lights. finally, i collect all the gravel from the trays and put them into plastic buckets.
sometime after 4:00 i went to go pick up my peridex prescription (dr.chan wants me to continue using it to prevent possible infection) at rite aid. i bought some new-skin liquid bandage just to try it out. then i went to the walgreens in porter square to score some nexcare bandages (they finally had some in stock, BOGO) and herbal essences shampoo/conditioner.
i saw the news online first: tsarnaev sentenced to death. i quickly turned on the news, where all the local broadcast were breaking with the report. i was actually kind of surprised, because it was taking 3 days, and the longer it takes the jury to decide, the more it means they can't come to an unanimous decision, which would result in a life sentence rather than a death sentence. i don't particularly have an opinion on the matter. tsarnaev's life is essentially over, whether he spends it in prison for life or be put to death. he's not even a person at this point, more like a political chip that gets passed around depending on different 3rd party agendas.
i tried the liquid bandage. i've known for a while that superglue is great for papercuts, and i was hoping that this liquid bandage was a safer alternative. you apply it similarly to rubber cement, with a little brush attached to the lid. the liquid itself is pretty pungent, like nail polish remover. it goes on wet, but dries after a few minutes. when it does dry, it's a lot like superglue in that it seals up any minor wounds. i tried it on two spots; the first time was okay, the second time it stung.
for dinner i had the usual tortellini-pasta sauce-spinach combination.
my plan was to return the merrell hilltop at the harvard square EMS, then with the 15% off coupon, purchase another pair of merrell moab, and return the pair i got from REI. such was my thinking, until i read the fine print on the coupon and realized that most hiking shoes were excluded from the discount. regardless, after some apple chicken sausage oatmeal for lunch, i biked down to harvard square to return the hilltop. normally i get to harvard square via oxford but today i came through mt.auburn street. the cashier was helpful, reminded me that EMS was no longer fulfilling returns for used items (didn't even know they did that), but this wasn't my case. i did look for some hiking socks but the cheapest pair was $10 so i decided to look elsewhere.
returning home via chauncy-mass ave, i stopped by sacramento street to water my community garden plot. as was the case today, i'm normally at the CGP in the early afternoon, when most of the time i'm the only person around. i didn't stay home for very long, just long enough to drink some passion fruit juice before heading out again, this time to the somerville target to buy some new boxer underwear.
i'm a hanes man myself, but they were all out of my size, so i got a 5-pack of fruit-of-the-loom instead, in tartan plaids print, for $16. is underwear supposed to be this expensive? and these are supposed to be the cheapest too, so what price is premium underwear? i must admit, it's been a while since i'm gone underwear shopping. boxer briefs seem to be all the rage these days in mens undergarments, but i still prefer classic boxers because i can briefly be seen outside in them (like taking out the trash) without the neighbors calling the police to file an indecent exposure report.
i then went next door to the cwprice store, which was having an extravagant going-out-of-business sale. everything seemed to be just a few dollars, so i bought a bunch of quick dry t-shirts and an assortment of socks. what i paid for everything ($25) equals the price of 4 pairs of REI hiking socks.
by the time i returned home, it was almost 2:00. i relaxed for a bit, before leaving again at 2:30 for belmont. nobody was home yet, but there was plenty to do in the backyard: weeding dandelions; pruning the diseased plum tree; clipping bamboo stalks; pulling out chokeberry runners; digging out any invasive weeds like greater celandines, swallowworts, and garlic mustard; weeding the raised beds; adding wire mesh fencing to the corners of the fences to prevent rabbits; setting up a simple bird watering station; watering the raised beds and outdoor plants; planting some more seedlings (eggplants and hot peppers). i was outside for 2 hours of non-stop gardening work, finally called it quits by 5:00.
my mother came home with the dog. my 2nd aunt's eye swelled shut from allergies so my father worked the evening cafe shift so she could go rest. we had noodles and a simple plate of kielbasa sausage stir-fried with green peppers and onions. i left soon afterwards, trying to get home before it got dark.
it might've rained overnight but i didn't hear anything. though cool yesterday (temperature peaked in the 70's around noontime and dropped after that), the heat returned today with a vengeance, pushing boston close to the 90's, causing sporadic spots of severe thunderstorms in some parts of the area (though not here in cambridge).
i removed the bandaid from the popped blisters on my hand. the skin flaps had turned white, but otherwise everything seemed okay, and some of the swelling appeared to have gone down. after a shower, i applied a new bandaid.
after a bowl of chicken sausage oatmeal for lunch, i headed out to the EMS in boston (by the allston border) to search for hiking shoes. but you already got a pair of hiking shoes, you say. that's true, but my mother went online and found a cheaper pair of merrell's, and i wanted to see for myself. they were the merrell hilltop ventilator waterproof hiking shoes, which retails for $95, about $15 cheaper than the waterproof moab. however, there was a sale this week and the price dropped to just $75. more importantly, they had ones in my size at the boston EMS store. strange thing is the merrell website doesn't make any mention of these shoes. are these an older version no longer made? the closest looking match were the merrell waterproof pulsate ($140). from the photos i thought they looked a bit ugly, that's why i wanted to see for myself. ugly or not, if they're a good fit, at $75 that's a real bargain.
so i biked down via memorial drive, across the BU bridge, and backtracked west along commonwealth avenue until i arrived at EMS. it was hot and i was pretty sweat, wiping the perspiration on the sleeves of my t-shirt. inside the store it was nice and air-conditioned. there was hardly any customers (unlike REI on sunday) and two assistants found me as i made my way to the hiking footwear alcove. i saw the merrell hilltop on display, it didn't look all that bad. i asked them if they had a size 7.5. the guy told me they only carried 8 or above. dejected, i was ready to leave, but told him when i checked online it said they had it in stock, and besides, the shoe on display was a size 7. he seemed surprised, and went to the store room to check. i sat down, enjoying the air-conditioning.
he came back with a pair of size 7.5, which he almost couldn't believe they had. it was that size, and sizes 7, 11, and 13. i tried it on, it was a perfect fit (earlier i tried the size 7, and my toes bunched up in the front). he asked where i was going, i told him the great smoky mountains, he'd actually been there a bunch of times, has some friends down there that he visits occasionally. he said now's the time to go since it's not very busy yet, as the kids are still in school. i asked if the hilltop was an older model. he actually said it was newer, because the moab's have been around for a long time, but he's only recently seen the hilltop's. i decided to buy the shoes, just so i could take it home and do a comparison with the pair of moab's i bought on sunday. besides, if i didn't like these, i could easily return that at the harvard square EMS store. before i left i also bought a bottle of natrapel bug spray (20% picaridin, 8 hours protection, 3.4 fl. oz. $6.99).
i was right next to the super 88 supermarket and food court, but it was so hot, i had no appetite, and just wanted to get home. besides, there was a risk of thunderstorms in the late afternoon, and i wanted to be back before it started raining. i went home via babcock-ashford-linden, making my way through allston and back into cambridge through the JFK bridge. this is the way i'd normally go, but definitely more traffic than memorial drive-BU bridge. passing through the small side streets of my neighborhood, i came across a linksys wrt54g router somebody had tossed out. i took it home so i could flash it with an opensource firmware.
at home i tried out both hiking shoes, one on each foot. i noticed the difference right away: the moab felt more snug, whereas the hilltop i could feel my ankle lifting with each step. the hilltop only has 5 laces, while the moab has 6. the hilltop seems to be designed for a wider foot. aesthetically i think they both look about the same. although i like the hilltop in terms of price, in terms of comfort and walkability, i prefer the moab.
i then went on a lengthy scavenger hunt, picking up things i needed around the house that were on sales at the various pharmacy stores. i went to the beacon street walgreens where they had a sale on nexcare bandages (buy-one-get-one-free, BOGO) but of course they were sold out of the ones i wanted (nexcare active waterpoof bandages, the opaque variety, not the clear ones). i still however managed to spend $14, everything from lip balm to beef jerky, from boxed candies, to sharpie markers. next i went to the somerville avenue rite aid to pick up my HBP medication prescription and some almonds and häagen dazs ice cream (BOGO, $5.39). my favorite cashier was there, we exchanged some pleasantries.
i dropped off my things at home before going out again to the porter square walgreens. like the one before, they were also sold out of their nexcare bandaids. one of the workers there told me the sale was all this month, so i could come back the next few weeks to check if their new stock had arrived. after returning home for the final time, i went across the street to star market to pick up a box of strawberries on sale. häagen dazs ice cream was also on sale ($2.99) and i couldn't resist picking up a carton of pistachio flavor (one of my favorites).
finally home for good, i took a shower then curled up on the couch with a bag of jelly beans to surf the web. the couch is dangerous and by 6:00 i felt tired enough to take a nap, waking up at 8:30 to heat up some frozen french bread pizza for dinner while watching a documentary on the roosevelts.