awake by 9:30am, left the bedroom by 10am, but ana already gone by then. i think today she and her father are doing some sightseeing in boston before he returns to spain tomorrow. i motorcycled to belmont, dressed for serious winter action despite the fact that temperature was only in the low 40's. i had more leftover turkey for lunch then settled in to an afternoon of football. my mother and i continued to search for a 16GB ipad air for my 2nd aunt, but everywhere we looked they were sold out. i helped my mother buy a used leather coach bag online ($80). somehow she managed to find a website that connects buyers with individual sellers of namebrand items like handbags. then when my father came home, i helped him buy a new GPS (factory refurbished garmin nuvi 3590LMT, $130).

after some fried rice for dinner, i returned to cambridge. temperature had dropped into the 30's, but fortunately i was dressed for the occasion. the bike felt tight though, compared to friday when temperature was in the 60's. nobody was home when i got back, but ana was definitely here earlier, because somebody had turned on the heat, and she thoughtfully left a bag of trash in the kitchen for me to take out. all i know is in about 36 hours she will be on her way back to spain.

all day i'd been waiting for the patriots-broncos game. new england with its nearly depleted offense was predicted to lose by many sports pundits. but the game started out very well, with the pats scoring 2 touchdowns early on. then things stalled, made worse by the falling snow. it was just a messy game overall. despite seeming like they'd lose, new england came back to tie the game and send it into overtime. but things didn't go our way, and denver ended up winning with their backup quarterback. i don't think pats fans really care about losing the perfect season; we're more worried about gronkowski, who had to be carted off the field with what looked to be a painful leg/knee injury.

ana came home around 11:45p. dejected by the patriots' loss tonight, i called it an early evening as well. i've got a weird week scheduled, with one roommate moving out and another roommate moving in. i'm also not sure if i'm going to new york city or not next week, with my grand uncle returning home. finally, i need to get my dental crown placed (and pay an additional $700 in the process).

my roommate was gone by the time i got out of bed at 9am. she told me yesterday that she was having brunch with her father and her brother's family. it was raining steadily today, not a good day to be outside. i ate a tea egg for breakfast. around noontime i was surprised to see ana back at home. she rushed in to get changed them was back outside again. i walked down to harvard square and took the 73 bus to belmont. for lunch i had some more turkey leftovers. i was looking forward to spending the rest of the day updating my blog, shopping online, and selecting some photos to print.

i help my father buy a magic bullet compact blender (11-piece set, $30) for making smoothies for my grand uncle once he gets out of the physical therapy rehab center next week. we bought it from sear's and would go pick it up later in the evening. my mother and i went to the watertown target to score an ipad air 16GB for my 2nd aunt. despite the website saying there were units still available, they were all sold out at the store. as a matter of fact, the electronics department was the most crowded area of the store, with people lining up and clamoring for mostly apple products. we did get a ninja master prep chopper (QB1000, $27) for my sister's personal chef job.

after dinner (turkey broth noodles) my father drove me back to cambridge, but not before we made a stop at the galleria mall to pick up the magic bullet from sear's. ana wasn't home when i got back. i showered then had some ice cream.

the first shot across the bow of black friday shopping frenzy came when i saw an online ad for a 128GB PNY turbo USB 3.0 flash drive for just $20 at staples (amazon currently has it as $25). i actually saw the ad yesterday but when i clicked on the link it said they were all sold out. but this morning i realized they still had some available in stores, conveniently telling me exactly how many they had in stock. so i paid for it online and went to go pick it up at the harvard square staples moments later around noontime.

i love the design of these PNY USB thumb drives, they have a built-in enclosure so there's no cap to lose. i've been using them since the days of 32GB USB 2.0, and even had one with me in china (which i lost when i connected it to a hotel HDTV and forgot to take it when i left). when i came back i upgraded to a pair of 64GB USB 3.0. and now i have a 128GB USB 3.0. i wonder how big my next thumb drive will be?

ana was awake up that point, having left the house briefly earlier to buy cigarettes (she had to do without yesterday since most places were closed). i knew she'd be leaving soon to go pick her father up at the airport at 1pm.

i rode the fuji bike down to harvard square. for some reason i look the most circuitous route, via martin-avon-shepard-garden-concord-mason-brattle-ash-mt.auburn. it was also an unusually warm day, temperature in the 60's, a great day to be outside. pick up was easy, i didn't even need the printout, just had to show the clerk my id. coming back i was far more sensible, cutting straight across harvard square, through the science building courtyard. ana was gone by the time i got back.

after a shower and a tea egg for lunch, i packed up my things and decided to take the motorcycle. the white-haired old lady from across the street was raking leaves in front of her house. when i got to my bike, and came up to me and asked if i wouldn't mind parking the bike in a smaller spot, instead of taking up a whole car spot. i told her i did this for strategic reasons, since whenever i park in a small spot, cars end up hitting the bike when they either come in to park or leave. it's not like she doesn't know this, and i've been parking like this for a few years now, and only now she's speaking up. besides, i told her, i put the bike away in storage for the winter, so her complaint was for naught since in a few more weeks i won't matter (or as soon as it begins to snow).

my sister was home when i arrived in belmont. before i could come in the house, my mother came out and asked me if i wanted to go with them for a walk at the winchester fells. there's not much to see in late november naturing, but i welcomed the opportunity to get out, since i've done virtually zero naturing of my own this year. i didn't have my camera bag but all i needed was just my camera and the 18-200mm lens. my sister took a windy back roads way instead of pleasant street (she said due to ongoing construction), and i got a little motion sick sitting the back with hailey.

when we arrived around 2:20pm there was about 2 dozen cars parked outside the entrance (it's not even one of the main entrances, just a side entrance on a residential street). as we walked into the fells, we kept on seeing people, either coming or going. day hikes seem to be a very opportunity post-thanksgiving excursion.

sitting in the cold bathroom this morning i turned up the heat on my nest thermostat using my phone. the power to order up some warmth from anywhere in the house, oh what an age we live in! then for breakfast i had a tea egg, a greek yogurt, and some orange juice. ana woke up around 11:30a, doing a load of laundry as her first bit of business. i biked to market basket to gather up some last minute thanksgiving ingredients. surprisingly, it wasn't as crowded as this past sunday, but still crowded since it's always crowded there. i smiled when i saw they now carried those extra large sized frozen turkeys, but nobody would buy one now since a bird that size won't defrost in time for tomorrow.

when i got back home, city tree services were outside pruning the locust and a few other neighboring trees. i told one of the workers about the broken branch dangling from a crook in one of the main branches; he assured me they'd remove it. i went out again to grab some asparagus from star market. when i got back, the broken branch was gone.

ana asked me about the definition of "fringe." when i asked her why, she said the guy she's been sort of dating described their relationship as "fringe." she ended up telling me it was one of her teachers from her school. they couldn't go out while she was still in class, but now that she's graduated, he asked her out. their age difference isn't that great, she's 28, he's just 32. yesterday returned to washington dc for thanksgiving. she said he's planning on visiting her in spain. in other news: ana also told me that her father is coming to boston on friday. partly to see her (even though she's returning to spain next tuesday), but also partly to see her brother who's celebrating his 40th birthday. so the next few days she'll probably be out, which means 1) she won't be at home a lot, and 2) she won't be cooking.

i left for belmont around 1:30pm, taking the bicycle instead of the motorcycle because i'd be returning home via car (so i can transport my flan to belmont tomorrow). i was bringing back a lot of things and not everything could fit in my backpack so i tied a box to the back of the bike. once i was in belmont, i did some cleaning, both indoors and outdoors. i vacuumed the living room, moved the old roller shades into the garage, put a squirrel guard on the suet feeder (still no action), moved the sodas outside (nature's refrigerator with temperature hovering around the upper 30's lower 40's), dusted the kale and radishes, and moved some boxes into the basement. i didn't overdo, and i took numerous breaks to watch NFL news and eat snacks.

my parents didn't get home until around 6pm, my mother getting her mammogram appointment, my father seeing a doctor about his hurt knee. since they had two cars, my mother came home first, and made some noodles for dinner. i wasn't very hungry, already steading myself for the food onslaught happening tomorrow.

when my father returned from visiting my grand uncle at the physical therapy rehab center, we expanded the dining room table, using all but 1 leaves since there was only 10 people for thanksgiving this year (my grand uncle is still attached to a urinary bag so he's sitting it out this year, and anderson has his own baby seat).

when my mother called binbin to ask them to bring their baby high chair, binbin told her that they have another thanksgiving dinner to go to at 6:30pm, so they can only stay for a little bit. that meant we have to move thanksgiving 1-2 hours in advance in order to accomodate them. if it was up to me, i'd just tell them not to come. if you're planning on spending thanksgiving with your friends instead of your family, maybe you need to reassess your priorities.

the other piece of bad new was when my mother called my godmother to asked what time we can drop off the flan tomorrow. she's gone for the whole day, so we have to be at her place by 8:30am, which means i have to wake up at 7:30am, despite the fact that my godmother and her sons aren't celebrating thanksgiving this year. so much for sleeping late on thanksgiving day! and i was so much looking forward to it, with my upstairs neighbors steve and paul leaving this morning.

finally, when i left to go home, i was confused by the car keys. the one that i had in my hand was the original, but didn't i remember using the spare yesterday? could i have accidentally not returned the car key yesterday? it just left me super confused as i drove home, looking for the spare key in vain when i got back.

the final piece of business of the night was to visit the liquor store and buy some beer for tomorrow (hard cider and an IPA). a trio of noisy thai girls came into the store. they seemed to know the manager, who gave them a free cherry pie for some strange reason. outside of thai restaurants, i have never met thai people here before.

i met the taiwanese tourists (brad & olivia) at harvard square this morning (9:00am) to take them to salem. i brought them back to the house to give them a quick tour, let the use the bathroom, and retrieve the car (ana had just came home after spending the night elsewhere, but she was asleep at the time). they gave me a box of taiwanese pineapple cakes as a gift. as i predicted, salem was pretty boring. we spent 2 hours just walking around before finally driving back.

i drove back the wrong way (thanks garmin gps!) and returned via lynn and revere so it took a long time. i treated them to some authentic american burgers for a late lunch. as if to make it even more american, the patriots-bills game from last night was broadcasting from the ceiling-mounted HDTV's. after letting them use the bathroom at my place, i sent them on their way back to harvard square at 3:00pm.

i returned my parents' car and was ready to help my father install the new hot water heater he got from home depot today (they only gave him $300 credit despite the previous tank still being under the 12 warranty; he paid an additional $150 to get a new 9 year warranty heater). unfortunately the new tank was slightly taller than the old tank so the pipings needed to be reduced in size. my father did the soldering originally but didn't feel comfortable enough to do the work again so called xiaowu for help.

i took a nap at 5pm, xiaowu came at 6pm (i kept watch on hailey to make sure she wouldn't bark), and he finally left at 7pm. after my father picked up my mother from work, we had dinner. later my father discovered that the heater was still leaking from the old coupling. nothing drastic, but we'll need to get it fixed next week. i bicycled back to cambridge in my fuji glow bike. ana wasn't home but came back around 10:30pm.

* woke up at 8:30am to make flan. made 12 for thanksgiving, 6 for godmother, and 3 extras. baked for 1 hour, added another 30 minutes, another one more 30 minutes (total 2 hours) to finally finish baking. had a glass left of flan mixture, drank it down as early season egg nog (raw eggs)

* ana woke up at 9:30am, left the house to go clean out her storage space (her final week in town)

* brad texted me this morning that he and his girlfriend leaving new york for boston (arrive in boston 3:30pm)

* dermatitis on my left palm: is it because of new usb charging cable?

* pickup at 1:30pm for chinatown supply run. ming's market parking lot packed, but the supermarket actually had very little people.

* solar shade samples arrived; best choice seems to be 5% openness

* suet feeder untouched

* attempting to repair hot water heater, went to home depot to buy new dielectric nipples, even after replacement and threading multiple times with plumber's tape, hot water outlet still leaking. called GE/rheem warranty hotline, instructed to return home heater for credit (or possibly exchange, though home depot no longer carries GE hot water heaters)

* buffalo vs. patriots rematch

any grand notions of waking up early sunday morning to go check the supermarket to see if they restocked their XL turkeys was just a notion at that. in reality, i didn't make it to market basket until 10:30am. market basket on a quiet day can be a madhouse crush of people. on the last weekend before thanksgiving? something you may not wish on your worst enemy. from the nearly filled bike rack, i knew it wasn't going to be pleasant. i made a beeline to the frozen turkey department. there were birds in the 20/24lb section, but they were really just 16/20lb turkey moved over to take up the space. the largest one i found was 17lbs, which i grabbed, fearing i wasn't going to do any better. i called my father to confirm, but in talking with him, i decided try elsewhere for a bigger bird, 17lbs. didn't seem like enough. so i left market basket with just some flan-making ingredients (gallon of whole milk, a carton of eggs).

i tried again the star market across the street, but couldn't find any of their frozen turkeys (in hindsight i think they're kept in the freezer cabinets, not the refrigerated bins), just fresh turkeys which were too expensive. i was a little worried. maybe we waited too long to buy a turkey, and now all the large sized turkeys were gone?

arriving in belmont via bicycle, i ate some rice noodles before my mother and i left in search of our thanksgiving bird. our last hope was the watertown stop & stop (pleasant street), which is a rather large supermarket that doesn't get a lot of shoppers due to nearby russo's; if anyplace would have a lot of surplus turkey, it'd be them. but first we went to nearby waltham ocean state job lot (river street), to get a smaller birdfeeder for my mother amongst other things. but while we were there, we realized there was a shaw's supermarket right next door, so we decided to take a peek and see if they had any turkeys.

shaw's1 didn't have a lot of frozen birds either. the largest one we saw was 16bs. (only $8!) but that was even smaller than the 7lbs turkey i nearly bought at market basket but later returned. so my mother and i were debating whether or not to just buy this 16lbs bird and call it a day, since there was no guarantee we'd find something larger at stop & shop. so we almost decided to take the 16lbs. when my mother thought we should just get a fresh turkey instead. we went to the fresh turkey bin and she found a perfectly-sized 20 lbs. bird. granted, it was $24 (3x more expensive than frozen), but with thanksgiving in a few more days, a fresh turkey meant we wouldn't have to thaw it and could begin brining right away. so we ended up buying the fresh turkey. my mother also scored a bunch of keurig coffee cups on sale ($5/box).

finally we went to OSJL. they had a lot of bird feed, but the selection of feeders was somewhat lacking. i told my mother we could just my old deluxe feeder (can take 9lbs. of seeds) and got a suet feeder instead ($2) anda suet cake ($1). returning home, we passed by the stop & shop and i could see that the parking lot was also pretty full. when we got home i set up the suet feeder and hung it from the shepherd's pole in the backyard. never had a suet feeder before, wonder how it takes before squirrels start pillaging the cake!

my father came home with the brine solution in a large bucket and began preparing the turkey.2 there was some juice in the bag and some chunks of ice in the center of the turkey. also in the cavity: a large length of turkey neck and some organs (liver). my father removed some loose skin around both ends of the turkey before putting the turkey into the bucket and submerging in the brine solution. he also had a bag of ice which i didn't understand until i learned that you have brine the turkey in cold condition to prevent the bird from spoiling. so either put it in the refrigerator (impossible with a bird so large) or add ice to lower the temperature.

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1 shaw's bought star market a while ago, so technically they're the same supermarkets. but apparently that's not quite true, as we discovered things on sale at star's (e.g. asparagus, $1.99/lb) that weren't on sale at shaw's (asparagus, $2.99/lb) and vice versa. that's strange because there were also many things that were on sale at both chains. i guess they do this to make bargain shopping more fun for the customers!

2 shady brook farms fresh turkeys are actually already basted (brined) with turkey broth, salt, sugar, vinegar, celery, rosemary. double brining!

ana did not come home last night. i thought i heard something while i was asleep but it wasn't her. i actually woke up early around 8:30am to chat with sunmeng then i stayed in bed to read a few more chapters of dune, finally getting out of bed by 10am.

i finished my 100 day supply of rhodiola rosea root capsules. when i was in western sichuan i used the raw roots to brew a tea that supposedly helps to alleviate high altitude sickness. i don't know if it worked, because my symptoms definitely weren't as bad as in past trips to kham country. rhodiola rosea is also supposed to be prevent fatigue, increase memory, and boost energy. having tried it for 3 months, i can't really say i've noticed any changes. i can get just as tired compared to when i wasn't taking it. if i ever return to western sichuan though, i'll be sure to take some rhodiola rosea beforehand.

after using the bathroom, after a shower, after a tea egg for breakfast, i left for belmont after noontime via bicycle (cargo bike because i was carrying my grand uncle's exercising equipment that arrived yesterday).

nobody was home, but i helped myself to some cold breakfast sausage (2) on the dining table and some peking raviolis (8) in a pan on the stove. later i went outside and patched up any areas of the house that was missing some paint coverage. while going into the garage a pair of red-breasted nuthatch flew out. i've seen white-breasted nuthatch, don't think i ever saw red-breasted ones before.

my parents returned home sometime in the late afternoon, after visiting my grand uncle at the physical therapy rehab center and later getting some groceries at the mt.auburn star market.

returning to cambridge, i brought back all my pyrex ramekins along with a large lasagna dish for making my annual thanksgiving flan. i wrapped everything up in towels and secured everything in a flat cardboard box tied up with bungie netting. my mother told me my godmother wasn't celebrating thanksgiving with her kids this year, so i didn't have to make a lot of flan this season.

i'd been entrusted with getting the thanksgiving turkey (my parents tried earlier but they only had small birds at star market). i was going to pick it up tomorrow morning, but decided to visit market basket tonight just to get it out of the way. it was still pretty busy there at 8pm. unfortunately, all the large 20+ lbs. birds were gone, only smaller ones. i'll come back tomorrow morning, hopefully they'll have restocked by then.

ana wasn't home tonight, nor was she back at the house while i was out this afternoon. i took a shower and caught up on some shows (ash vs. evil dead, the knick) the rest of the evening.

i don't understand how anyone can take a one hour long shower. but apparently this is something my roommate ana is quite good at. to her credit, she does ask me beforehand if i need to use the bathroom. but how can i predict the inner workings of my aging bladder and bowels and know for certain i don't need to use the bathroom for the next hour-plus? she did wake up early today (earlier than usual, close to noontime), so i can only hope that she's planning on going out later and i won't have to see her until very late at night (if at all). actually i know for sure she'll go out. it's not in her nature to stay home on a friday night. when she first moved in the first few things she told me was she was "very social." this evidently means never being home on a weekend evening.

after more than an hour ana finally came out of the bathroom. i hurriedly made my way to the facility. perhaps feeling apologetic for being in the bathroom for so long, ana told me the reason was she had a date tonight and she was just getting ready.

relieved, i packed up my things and told ana i was going out to take some photos. with temperature in the upper 50's it wasn't like it was indian summer, but the sun was out and the weather will only get colder from now on so i took advantage of it. i decided to bike down to the mt.auburn cemetery. it's sort of the poor man's version of naturing, but it's close by, and i could ride down brattle street and admire the architecture, maybe get some sightseeing ideas for the taiwanese couple visiting boston next week.

i returned home by 4pm. ana left around 6pm. i finished the rest of my vodka sauce rigatoni for dinner.