i went down to the community garden in the late morning. even though i was there on tuesday
, i didn't do any watering then, and the past few days have been relatively dry. i was also there to trim back some overgrown mints. there was a large hispanic woman with frizzy dyed blonde hair wandering through the garden. strangely enough, she was carrying an empty wire basket decorated with fake flowers, which made me suspicious that she was there to steal vegetables. i kept an eye on her, and maybe because i was in the garden, but she left empty-handed, just took a few selfies with flowers. i managed to collect a few more mosquito bites, one on the neck behind my ear, and a few on the back of my legs. i left with some tomatoes and an eggplant, using my gardening gloves as a makeshift bag to carry them all.
when i returned home it was nearly noontime. since i drank all my milk yesterday, i couldn't make a matcha latte. instead i just boiled some water in the electric kettle and had a maruchan instant cup of noodles for lunch.
i set out for chinatown and haymarket by 1pm. i didn't need anything from the asian supermarkets, but i had a craving for a vietnamese sandwich. the weather was nice, not too hot, not too cold, although later in the afternoon there could be spot showers or even thunderstorms, i wanted to go there and back soon. i visited the new saigon sandwich shop on washington street, which according to google maps was closed permanently, but they were definitely open, though with limited selection. there were 3 people ahead of me in line and space was kind of cramped so i waited outside. the asian woman in front of the line wearing a tank top with tattooed arms was buying something like a dozen sandwiches, that's why it took so long. she laugh embarrassingly as she left the shop.
i remember bánh mì used to cost around $3; now they're $5.50. it's still pretty cheap, but to be honest, you're getting mostly baguette for that price with a little bit of filling. i ordered the special sandwich because i couldn't decide what i wanted. two grandmas were working behind the counter, feverishly assembling sandwiches. one of them asked if i had a dollar when she saw i was holding a $20 bill in my hand. i thought she meant if i gave her $21 it'd make it easier for her to give me change, but then i realized she meant they were all out of dollar bills, and asked if i had anything smaller. fortunately i had smaller bills, and when she saw i was holding $6, she asked if i wanted a spring roll. i thought she meant she'd give me a spring roll so she wouldn't have to give me change, but she still charged me $6.50, so i ended up fishing out another dollar bill. it was pretty confusing.
from chinatown i continued on washington street through downtown crossing, down milk street to post office square, to haymarket. say what you will, downtown is still relatively empty due to the pandemic, so it makes for easy biking, very few cars, and even fewer pedestrians. most of the people is see now are tourists.
last week seems like every vendor was selling cherries; this week a bit fewer, but still plentiful and could be had for cheap. i stocked up: 2x 2lbs. boxes of rainier cherries ($4), 5x 1lbs. boxes of rainier cherries ($10), and 2x 2lbs. bags of bing cherries ($4). i topped them off with some white nectarines (5 for $2) and magenta dragon fruits (4 for $3). i padded my grocery bags with bath towels so the produce won't get bashed on my way home. my mother asked me to also get mini cucumbers but none of the vendors had them this time.
i left haymarket by 2:20pm, got back home by 2:40pm, record time. there were serious cumulous clouds in the sky and rain looked imminent. my mother called asking to see what i bought from haymarket. she said my father was coming over to drop off some pan-fried dumplings in exchange for haymarket cherries and other produce. i had the raviolis around 3:40pm. i went out on last time at 4:40pm, to score some concession prizenewman's own lemonade on sale at star market ($1.47 a carton). i had the pink virgin lemonade and virgin pomegranate lemonade a few weeks ago for the very first time and found them surprisingly good. this time around i got the virgin limeade and half and half ice tea lemonade.
my kenda kenda kwest 26x1.5" replacement tire ($25) arrived today. i was disappointed to see it wasn't the version with the reflective side, but i wasn't surprised; the one that i currently have (with reflective sidewall) was most likely sent by mistake. i'll need to replace the old tire at some point, along with the replacement chainwheel i bought back in march.
i watched the first episode of the second season of ted lasso. i still like the show, but it's starting to feel saccharine. they introduced a new character - the sports psychologist doctor - and so far i'm not a fan.
i didn't have dinner until 8pm, my bánh mì sandwich along with a box of rainier cherries and some half and half ice tea lemonade. the half and half is good stuff, that's now my new favorite drink. the sandwich was just as i feared, a lot a bread but very little filling. the cherries were the consolation prize. i bought so much cherries, i need to eat a pound a day just to finish them all before they go bad. i ate while watching the yankees-redsox game. i feel like i'm getting back into baseball, made easier by the fact that the red sox are currently first place in the division. once again like last night, boston managed to beat new york in dramatic fashion, off of 2 rafael devers homeruns.
i also finished watching zola. movies about strippers and sex workers always seem depressing and never end with a happy ending. this film was actually good though, scary at times, but also very funny.
i watched the bucks parade in milwaukee starting in the early afternoon. since this is their first sports championship parade in a long time, i'm willing to cut them some slack, but mistakes were definitely made. the players rode on the tops of double decker tour buses. they were positioned in such a way that it was hard for fans to actually see the players. for example, giannis was only on the left side of the house, so fans on the right side never got to see him. he should've been in the center, or rode in the front. also the bus drivers forgot this was a victory parade, and sped through the parade route, giving fans just a split second to glimpse the passing players. hopefully they'll do a better job on their next championship parade.
in the afternoon i went to market basket for the 3rd consecutive day in a row. i had a pineapple lindy's italian ice last night and it was pretty good so i went back for more. my mother also asked me to get some scallions and cilantro. plus i finally got that sushi i was eyeballing yesterday, saving it for dinner. they didn't have any pineapple-mango italian ice, but they did have watermelon-strawberry, so i got a box of that. i came home to drop off the sushi before riding to the cafe to deliver the supplies.
i left the cafe around 3:15pm and headed for prospect hill park to fly my drone, which i already brought along in my messenger bag. it's a great spot to fly, with a clear view of boston and (behind some trees) cambridge. however it's within a restricted runway airspace of logan airport, with a height restricted of 200-500ft depending on how far you are from the airport. i've actually flown here back in early january, but it was a little harrowing because my pixel 3XL phone crashed midflight and i couldn't do anything but wait until the phone reconnected with the drone. also i was still doing hand catching and managed to slice my fingers with the propeller blades. i was eager to try flying again this time with the far more stable iphone 7.
there was a man getting his photo professionally taken at the prospect hill observatory, and a couple having a picnic down below underneath a tree, but the place was otherwise empty, perfect condition. i still wasn't quite sure if i could fly, because for some reason there were helicopters circling overhead. i was tempted to listen to the police scanner to see if i could pick up any traffic, but they disappeared soon afterwards. (later i learned they were actually doing helicopter train above somerville, flying out of norwood airport). i climbed down to the mid-tier lawn to possibly set up my launch pad circle, but decided to do my launch directly from the observatory itself since it was higher up with a better view, plus it was solid ground so i didn't have to unfurl my launch pad. the drone was having a hard time locking onto a strong gps signal from the ground, so i put it on the wall and launched from there.
the couple beneath the tree actually heard my drone ascending into the air. i flew it over the union square MBTA extension station construction site (at 200ft elevation measured from prospect hill), then continued onwards towards boston, in a south-southeastern direction. i flew as far as rogers street in east cambridge, my former workplace (since torn down and replaced with a biogen lab). that was a distance of 5800ft, more than a mile, the longest distance i've ever flown. my RC signal was strong and i could've kept going but i saw the US department of transportation (DOT) building and remember seeing it on my flight map as a red restricted fly zone (i actually made a mistake, the restricted zone is the cambridge courthouse and jail building). not wanting to risk crossing into restricted air space, i made a turn and decided to fly back.
that's when my strong RC signal started acting crazy. was it because there was a plane or helicopter nearby? the warning alternated between signal lost and weak signal. finally i got an "aircraft not connected to RC" warning. i started to get a little panicked. that's when my remote control initiated an auto return to home command (RTH). i couldn't understand what was happening, because the drone was flying. but it was actually rising up to 400ft (i was flying at just 200ft) because returning home. so on the one hand wasn't happy to see that i lost signal mysteriously, but i was happy to know the RTH does work if i ever do lose RC signal control with the drone. instead of cancelling RTH, i let it fly back, stopping it only when it was directly overhead so i could guide it down manually.
once i got the drone back, i changed out the battery and wanted to fly it again, this time towards cambridge. but my view of the cambridge sky was blocked by trees, a couple came up to the observatory, and the sky started to darken with ominous clouds. i took those as cues to calling it quits. biking back, i tried looking for a new place to fly, but nowhere was as good as prospect hill.
later when i checked my drone footage, i discovered the reason why i had signal loss was because i fly by a building that was outfitted with various antennas and satellite dishes. it was also a good thing i didn't keep on flying past rogers street, i was actually flying relatively low (200ft) and there was a building ahead of me with various cranes that i might've crashed into. but that doesn't mean i can't fly elsewhere, and the next time i try from prospect hill, i'm going to see if i can reach MIT or maybe even the charles river.
when evening came around, i made some smashed cucumbers (using half an english cucumber), letting them chill in the fridge for half an hour before they were ready to eat. i also finally opened my container of sushi (spicy tuna volcano roll). i ate while watching the yankees-redsox game. midway through there was a rain delay of nearly an hour. when the yankees went up 3-1 in the 8th inning, i closed the stream, figuring new york was sure to win. but when i watched the news, they were saying how boston might win, so i switched back to the game, which was in the 10th inning. apparently the red sox managed to tie the game. but the yankees scored a run in the 10th, and it was up to the red sox to score a run to tie or more to win. but the yankees totally imploded, their closing pitcher suddenly lost his accuracy and every ball seemed to sail into the backstop, advancing the red sox runners. it was almost like new york didn't want to win, and gifted the red sox a walk-off victory.
i biked to the cafe this morning to fix my mother's broken xiaomi fitness band. she told me yesterday it had problems sync'ing. in order to fix it, i made her phone forget the device through the mi fit app and then re-established the bluetooth link. it was an easy fix, didn't even require an account number or passwords, which i brought along as well. i returned home soon after that.
last night i finished watching big bad wolves on amazon prime, after reading the director of gunpowder milkshake had made a movie a few years ago that quentin tarantino was raving about. it's a well-made thriller, about vigilantes kidnapping a suspected pedophile and torturing him for a confession. it falls under the torture porn genre so it's not for everyone, and it's very well written and bears repeated watching to catch the clues along the way.
i thought it'd be a very stormy and wet day, but the storm clouds won't arrive until 4pm at the earliest, if they even get here. so until then it was a very dry and calm day. in the early afternoon i returned to market basket to get some rice vinegar. i was in the asian food aisle but surprised there was no rice vinegar to be found. i then went to the dressing and oil aisle and that's where i found the rice vinegars, so many variety it was hard to choose. i went with the classic marukan-brand. i was also eyeballing the sushi but decided not to get it. while checking out, a man in front of me in line was buying a bunch of aloe fronds. i asked him what he does with it, he said he uses them to make drinks. i don't think i ever seen anyone buying aloe fronds before even though i have seen them for sale. he also told me i can bottled aloe drinks, which i think i have tried in the past, sort of a flavorless drink (think coconut water) with jelly elements.
my mother went to the dentist this afternoon in arlington. she was going by herself and i was worried she 1) wouldn't be able to the find the place, and 2) wouldn't know how to park the car once she did. she hasn't really driven the car in a while, the longest she's driven recently would be from the cafe to my house. i volunteered to drive her on a few occasions, but she was she'd go alone. in the end my sister ended up driving her and leaving her there to walk back afterwards, as the dentist office was right along the alrington-cambridge border. my mother's had a toothache for at least a year now. she was going to wait and get it done in taiwan, but with the pandemic, who knows when she'll be able to go there. i figured the dentist would do a root canal, but apparently the tooth was in bad enough shape they just pulled it out. the dentist will see how it heals and whether they can do a future dental implant.
once again i took a nap in the early evening, around 6pm, waking up sometime after 7pm. my body felt achy and a little sweaty from sleeping in the warm living room.
besides an encore preparation of smashed cucumbers (this time with rice vinegar), i decided to also roast the parsnips i bought yesterday.
i still wasn't happy with the smashed cucumbers. yesterday they were too sweet, today they were too sour. i tasted the rice vinegar, i really didn't notice any difference compared to regular vinegar, of which i have many different bottles (red wine, regular, cider, balsamic). i think next time i'll need to add some sugar just to balance out the sourness. i could also ask my mother, who occasionally makes this as well, maybe she has some flavor tips. fortunately i bought another cucumber today (english), so i can make this recipe a few more times. i can't imagine anyone would object if i ate a lot of cucumbers, i imagine they're a lot healthier than what i normally eat.
as for the parsnips, i first trimmed off the tops, then parboiled them in water for 8 minutes. this is to soften them up, as i read the thicker pieces can be tough if roasted directly, particularly the woodsy interior. once they finished boiling, i cut them into smaller pieces then tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, and ground garlic powder. i then placed them on a pan and roasted them in the oven for 30 minutes, turning them with tongs every 10 minutes so they brown on all sides.
the final results looked like home fries, but taste more like sweet potato fries. they're sweet but also have a very strong fragrant taste (of the parsnips) that confused my brain as it couldn't quantify just exactly what i was eating. that was my dinner, half the parsnips fries and a whole bowl of smashed cucumbers, along with a glass of chocolate milk. i finished it off with a pluot and a lindy's italian ice mango-pineapple flavor.
i ate while watching the bluejays-redsox game, as there was nothing else to watch on tv. i couldn't even watch it on tv, had to stream it from an illegal sports broadcast site on my laptop. red sox ended up winning, continuing their buffalo homerun derby.
i woke up this morning just to watch jeff bezos and his team go up into space on a penis-shaped rocket. a small part of me wanted to see the mission fail (like explode), just so it'd be this great story about the hubris of the richest man in the world. alas that was not the case. the whole trip seemed very fast, and they didn't show any footage inside the spacecraft until well after they landed (in case there was an emergency). apparently they were in space long enough to unstrapped their seatbelts and float around a bit. i watched as an 18-year old boy rotate himself in zero gravity to show jeff bezos his taint while the richest man in the world fed him skittles, like some kind of really specific fetish.
in the early afternoon i biked down to the community garden to inspect my plot. a few of my tomatoes had ripened, but they all had critter damage, and i ended up throwing them away. not rabbits, i think it was more rats. my nigellas putting on a shower even though i just have a few plants. the cypress vine has a single red flower. i need to come back at some point with the pruners and cut back some of the rampant garden growth.
afterwards i bumped into my upstairs neighbor david walking by the garden and we chatted briefly. he told me his brother got married back in late june and went to the wedding party which was at least 100 people in the north shore.
from there i continued on my way to market basket for some groceries. for the most part i already have the ingredients for making dinners the rest of the week (korean rice cakes, crispy orange chicken, and ramen), i was just there to stock on some supplies, like pork ribs (for making my bone broth congee), and i also bought a package of parsnips.
when i returned home i tried some parsnips since i read you can eat it raw. they look like white carrots and they taste a lot like carrots as well, though slightly softer but with a tougher center. the taste though, like a perfumy carrot or celery or even licorice, a flavor that just lingers in the mouth and ends with a slightly bitter and sweet aftertaste. the preferred way to cook them is roasting, i'll do this week on a night that isn't too hot.
i went out again briefly to whole foods to pick up a package of fried tofu wedges.
my sister returned binbin's leased car today even though she said she'd do it tomorrow. she used her AAA membership to tow it to danvers, back to the dealership. i called my sister to make sure there were no penalties, she said the dealership were fine with getting the car back a few weeks early.
despite it being warm and humid, today wasn't all that bad. there was a distinct haze in the air that obscured the sun on what would've otherwise been a high solar production day. later when i watched the news i learned the haze isn't because of the humidity, but rather it's all that wildfire smoke from the west coast.
when evening came around i made a bowl of smashed cucumbers. after smashing and chopping up the baby cucumbers into smaller pieces, i sugared and salted them and put them in a colander in the fridge to let them drain. 30 minutes later i took them out again and mixed them with a sauce: rice vinegar, soy sauce, minced garlic, sesame oil, korean pepper flakes. i then put them back in the fridge to chill some more. i actually used mirin because i didn't have rice vinegar.
while the cucumbers were chilling, i started on the rice cake recipe. i ate the rice cakes while watching game 6 between the suns-bucks. only after i finished the rice cakes (always good) did i remember i had smashed cucumbers in the fridge. because i used mirin, the cucumbers were a little too sweet, didn't have that tang that vinegar would've provided. i'll need to get some from market basket before i prepare the remaining baby cucumbers.
game 6 was close throughout, but you could just feel that the bucks were in the driver's seat, and it was their game to lose. milwaukee ended up winning tonight, making the bucks the new NBA champions. after the game giannis looked like he was frantically searching for someone (his brother maybe?) and was even seen talking on the phone angrily. but i'm happy the bucks won, though i would've been fine with a phoenix championship as well, just to see chris paul finally win the trophy.
after biking to belmont for lunch (wonton soup), i went with my parents to binbin's house (1:30pm) after my sister told us she's going to get it towed to the dealership on wednesday (lease expiration) and wanted us to check the tires. we moved the car out to the driveway before we left.
afterwards we went to the burlington market basket for supply run. of the market baskets we visit (chelsea, waltham, burlington, somerville), this one is only the third largest, but still many times bigger than my local (somerville) market basket. they had a lot of things we wanted, but not everything (didn't have pork bones, nor stewart's diet root beer, nor buldak ramen, nor the special spicy thai canned tuna). i did however find hog casings for making homemade sausages, i'd never seen that before, perhaps a future food project. we finally returned home by 3:40pm.
it rained in the morning but the rest of the day was dry. the sky was overcast but bright. i fertilized all our garden plants with miracle-gro. afterwards i made another gallon solution and used it as foliar spray. since it's not going to rain until wednesday, the plants will have at least a day to absorb the nutrients.
in the late afternoon i decided to fly the drone again, this time to take a peek at our neighbor's backyard across the street. when i flew over yesterday i noticed they had some raised beds, but i was too high (400ft) to make out what they were. this time i was only at 100ft and had a much better look. they have a bunch of squash and a few beans, but the rest i can't identify. maybe tomatoes? and some red-leaf lettuce? but everything else is a mystery. i also wanted to see how far i could fly the drone, this time to the center of fresh pond before i got nervous and decided to fly back. i probably could've pushed it a bit farther, i was still at 60% RC signal.
i took a few snapshots in the garden with the dSLR. like yesterday, i got a few more mosquito bites on my legs. maybe because of all the turning i did yesterday, but the compost didn't smell today. the ground-grown squash next to RB0 has a fruit that i believe is the second largest squash we have. none of the ones we have can compare to the monster sizes we used to grow (2018). maybe ground grown squash with vines that can root in the soil produce bigger fruits. although hanging squashes take up less space, they can only get so large (2019 2020). if we don't get a second batch of squashes, this year will be the least amount of squash (by overall weight) even though we expended the maximum effort.
for dinner my parents cooked up some frozen calamari they bought at market basket. in their natural unflavored state they don't taste very good, but drown in some sauce and they improve dramatically. my mother also made a salad using watermelon rinds. it tastes like cucumbers, but i prefer the real thing. i also tried a lindy's root beer italian ice afterwards, my sister asked us to get them for her. not sure what all the hooplah's about, there are much better frozen desserts than italian ice.
i left after dinner, biking back to cambridge and returning home by 7:30pm. there was nothing good on television, so i streamed the red sox game followed by the angels game. by total coincidence, my taiwanese cousin contacted me via line. he was also following the red sox game while commuting into work. red sox smoked the blue jays, put up 8 runs just in the first inning. ohtani pitched in the angels game, had a shutout happening before they replaced him in the 7th inning and the wheels fell off as oakland scored 3 runs.
because i had the car, there was no hurry this morning. i slept a good 8 hours last night on newly laundered sheets. the only negative was i couldn't open the window to allow some cool breeze because there was an acrid smell outside, maybe something in renee's garbage which is right below my window. fortunately it wasn't too hot in my bedroom, and by the time i woke up this morning, it actually felt a bit chilly without the blanket.
i left by around noontime. when i arrived in belmont, my mother was once again waiting for her italian sub. i had just enough ingredients left over from yesterday for one more sub. my mother ate half while i ate the other half.
inspecting the orchids in my parents' bedroom, i discovered they were infested with mealybugs. i brought them outside to spray with neem oil while my father repotted them as several of them were crooked. we also watered them with special 30-10-10 orchid fertilizer, just a small amount (1/3 tsp) makes a gallon of fertilizer water. we filled the orchid pots with the mix, left it to sit, before pouring out the water.
we then made a garden inspection. a new generation of female squash flowers have emerged, we're hoping those will survive and not abort like the last batch. so far none of our squash plants have more than one squash. also all the newer leaves are much bigger than before. it's hard to say whether this is nature or because we overfertilized the bed (i side dressed with my espoma granules, my father side dressed with his unknown fertilizer, i watered with miracle-gro, then finally did a 2 foliar treatments).
originally we thought about training the squash growing in RB1 so it'd grow into RB2. but now the RB2 trellis seems to be exclusively for the 3 bitter melon plants, so my father pruned the squash vines, preventing them from growing any farther. there's so much overhanging squash leaves that they're eclipsing one of my lotus barrels, and the lotus thinks its already fall and the lotus leaves have changed colors.
the compost bin stinks something fierce. i turned it yesterday and turned it some more today to the point where i almost got blisters on my gloved hands. there's just too much grass clippings and not enough dried, dead materials. the pile steams when i turn it and it smells like a farm, that strong manure odor. i'm hoping to control the smell before neighbors complain.
the wild tomatoes seem to be doing well. growing in the western bed they look very leggy and slender, but their ability to produce tomatoes are unmatched. they come in long strands like cherry tomatoes, but nearly 2 dozen tomatoes per strand. the tomatoes are also much larger than standard cherries. we have noticed that some of them have an elongated shape (like a mini roma), but maybe they'll grow out of it.
elsewhere in the garden: chinese asters are growing tall we could possibly see some flowers by next weekend. the flower buds look white, but hopefully they'll change colors once they finally open; our climbing trellises for flowers on the western bed and RB3 are doing well but so far no flowers. once they bloom, there should be a combination of blue morning glories, white moonflowers, red cypress vines, and purple hyacinth beans; eggplants in RB4 are getting huge. i grew garlics in RB4 last season, so there should be plenty of leftover nutrients since i fertilized very well; hyacinth beans in RB0 seem to be eclipsed by the squash vines, such that the bean leaves have lost their greenish color. however, this kind of stress is actually causing them to finally set some flower buds.
in the afternoon i decided to finally do a drone flight. unfortunately i haven't used my setup for so long, the iphone was out of battery. i charged it to 4% before going outside. right away something seemed off, the DJI fly app kept warning me that the processor on the phone was maxed out and there could be errors. i managed to take a few snapshots before the phone ran out of battery and went dark. fortunately the drone was just overhead and i managed to fly it back to the launch pad manually. later i discovered that the ability to recharge the phone from the remote controller is actually an option that needs to be turned on before that happens.
i went back out again in the late afternoon, after seeing a lull in the rain showers. this time the controller recharged the phone and i didn't get any processor errors. i flew the drone to the belmont farm to see what they were growing. that seems to be the range limit and i had a few RC signal lost error that made me fly the drone back. i was also getting weather errors, i think 400ft up in the air there was some rain, so more the rain to come back.
for dinner my parents cooked up the 3 japanese eggplants harvested from our gardens. unfortunately they forgot to add the thai basil, which is a key component of this asian braised eggplant recipe. for the next eggplant harvest we'll be sure to add it (we have plenty of thai basil in the backyard).
it was dry enough after dinner that i was able to bike home instead of getting a ride. there was nothing good on tonight, i kind of just want to make an early evening of it, crawl into bed with some netflix or a book.
all this rain we've been having must've created a mosquito population explosion. i never gotten so many mosquito bites in the backyard, at least half a dozen, on my arms and legs. yesterday i even managed to get a mosquito bit on my face without realizing it. then just tonight, while i was sitting in the living room, i scratched my neck and felt something. when i looked at my fingers, it was bloody smeared body of a mosquito. i can't remember the last time a mosquito made it inside the house.
i biked to belmont this morning, bringing with me all the ingredients necessary to make some italian subs. only my mother was home, my father had already gone to the cafe to meet the electrician who was their to repair the ceiling lights that seem to flicker and turn off on their own. my mother said she'd been waiting for me to make the italian subs so after a brief moment to catch my breath, i went into the kitchen to make the sub. my mother could only eat half, leaving the other half for me to eat.
afterwards i was out in the backyard inspecting the garden. i saw signs of bacterial wilt on a few squash leaves, but the cucumbers still seem fine even though i found a few cucumber beetles hanging around the cucumber flowers (i promptly squashed them). the ground-grown squash has gotten a lot bigger since i last saw it 2 days ago on thursday. the squash vine with kinked stem doesn't seem like it's going to make it, most of its leaves wilting and the ones closer to the ground have already turned yellow. the 2 squash plants on the western side of the house continue to get bigger. i smelled something that i thought was a dead animal or really pungent fish emulsion but was actually the pile of grass clippings my father dumped into the compost bin when he mowed the lawn thursday after work. i turned the compost with pitchfork, i smelled a strong ammonia odor and was hit with some intense heat as the grass clippings decomposed rapidly.
my mother called me back inside when my father finally came home, she asked me to make another italian sub for my father. i also browsed the streaming services for a show my mother could watch (that must have chinese subtitles). i ended up choosing hanna on amazon prime, which she immediately got sucked in.
later in the afternoon i was going to go into the backyard and fly my drone - it's been a while since i last flew - but the sunny condition earlier had now turned into something dark and cloudy, like it'd rain soon. i decided to postpone my flight and wait for the showers, which according to the doppler radar was close. however, it didn't actually start raining until after dinner, close to 7pm. during that wait time i had a chance to go outside and fill the 3 holes that rabbits have decided to dig in our front lawn with a combination of miracle-gro garden soil and grass seeds. i didn't even have to water it since it'd be raining later and all of tomorrow and most of the next few days.
the FM bluetooth transmitter arrived today. we already have one and my father uses it when he's driving to listen to his taiwanese youtube channels, but has to swap out the transmitter whenever he changes cars. this way he can have a transmitter for each car and doesn't need to swap back and forth. he was going to test it out in the car but when he opened the door and saw it was rainy, he decided to do it another time.
because of the rain, after dinner i borrowed one of the cars and drove myself home. earlier i'd wheeled my bicycle into the backyard and put a tarp over it. there were a few parking spots when i got back to cambridge, but i took the one that didn't involved parallel parking because i very terrible at it, couldn't quite gauge where the car would fit or not.
after using the bathroom and taking a shower, i did two loads of laundry, including my bedsheets and bath towels. during the summer i try to hang dry my wet laundry as often as possible, but the past few weeks have been so rainy, i haven't been doing any laundry, waiting for a sunny dry day. unfortunately i reached the point where i'm all out of clean clothes, so this was a laundry emergency. it was also very warm inside the house - 78 degrees - as well as humid. it was just 68 degrees outdoors, but because it was raining, i didn't want to open the windows. i ended up running the AC for a few hours to cool down the house.
the highlight of tonight was game 5 between the bucks-suns in phoenix. the suns seemed to have the game well in hand at the end of the first quarter, up by 16 points. but the bucks persisted, and finished the first half with a lead of 64-61. i can't remember if the suns ever lead again, milwaukee just matched them shot-per-shot, not allowing phoenix to pull ahead. the ending was close but ended with a spectacular giannis dunk that gave the bucks a well-earned victory playing an away game no less. game 6 is on tuesday, milwaukee will have a chance to close out the series.
i had a serious case of insomnia last night, a combination of taking an evening nap coupled with the hot temperature (i couldn't open my bedroom window because the AC dripping noises was too loud and it was too late to move creep around renee's alleyway to move her trash cans). i went to bed late as it is (3am), but didn't actually fall asleep until probably 6:30am, waking up at 10am.
john sent me a photo of his old nikon coolpix 950 camera while he was cleaning out his basement. they close on their houses in august, selling their brooklyn place while moving to pelham. he also told me he's been busy with his mother, who was back in the hospital due to cancer. doctors don't have a prognosis yet as she's currently too frail for chemo.
even though today was the hottest day this week, i still biked down to haymarket in the afternoon. it was so hot i could feel the blood in my head throbbing. i left cambridge by 2pm, got their at 2:20pm. seems like every vendor was trying to offload cherries, and not just regular bing cherries, but rainier cherries as well, as cheap as $1/lbs. i bought as much as i could, definitely coming back again next friday for more cherries.
i left by 2:45pm and decided to go to the cafe to drop off the cherries. i ended up taking the charles river bike path along storrow drive, which ended up taking nearly twice as long. the only good thing about the bike path is i don't have to deal with cars, so even though it's longer by a few miles, all i had to do was peddle mindlessly.
i got to the cafe by 3:30pm, with the sky outside looking it might rain. my 2nd aunt was there, she told some rainier and bing cherries, as well as some scallions and a few pluots. when i went to leave, it started raining. fortunately it was just a passing rain, and after less than 10 minutes, i went back out and was able to peddle home. i kept an eye out for rainbows but didn't see any.
once i was home, i took a hot shower. like yesterday, once again i fell asleep on the couch, this time from 7-8pm. i woke up and made an italian sub, ate while watching an illegal stream of the red sox-yankees game. boston won, 4-0. i also watched the mariners-angels game. that one i could see on youtube tv, there's some kind of free trial of mlb.tv. it won't broadcast any red sox games (they're region locked to NESN, which youtube tv doesn't carry anymore after a contract dispute last year), but i can watch all the out-of-market games during this trial period. i was only watching the game to see shohei, but he wasn't pitching tonight and after waiting several inning just to see a single at bat where he grounded out it got boring (that's baseball) and i started watching something else.
i was nervous this morning, knowing that i had to drive down to westwood to meet up with eliza and do some naturing at the ponkapoag bog. i rarely drive, and i can't remember the last time i was on the highway. i woke up early to prepare, brushed my teeth and gargled with listerine a few times as i ate a lot of onions with my italian sub last night and i could still taste it. for breakfast i had a matcha latte, reserving enough time for it to work through my system and use the bathroom before i left by 11:25am.
i wore my navy polo with a pair of khaki shorts and my merrell hiking shoes. knowing that the it'd probably be wet in the bog due to all the rain we've had, i was tempted to go with my rubber boots, but those things are hard to walk in, and though waterproof, if somehow the water gets above my knees, those boots will become useless. as far as camera equipment, in my messenger bag i packed my canon 80D dSLR along with the 18-200mm lens, the 60mm macro, and the 10-22mm wide angle. i also packed my fuji 3D camera. i as tempted to bring the drone as well, but if for whatever reason it crash landed, i wouldn't be able to retrieve it. i also packed two types of bug spray: cutter advanced with picardin and cutter outdoorsman repellent stick with deet. i brought along a frozen bottle of water and some candied pecans as a snack.
i biked to the cafe to borrow my parents' car. the plan was to leave from belmont, since it's easier to get onto the highway from there versus cambridge. i was meeting eliza at 1pm, and google map told me the best time to leave was 12:15pm. after a quick inspection of the backyard plants, i finally left my parents' place by 12:20pm.
the route to westwood was pretty straight forward: route 2 to the 95 interchange then a straight path south. it'd take approximately 30 minutes. my phone was charging in the dashboard cradle with the google maps navigation screen on. it was a hot day - the car thermometer said it was 90 degrees outside - so i had the AC turned on. i listened to WBZ 1040AM on the radio only because that was the channel it was on and i didn't want to get distracted while fumbling with the radio controls. i think the speed limit was 55mph but everyone drove at least 10 miles faster than that if not more. i was doing 65-70mph in the middle lane (white-knuckling it), but cars were still passing me left and right. whatever direction i was going seemed to be the right one because i noticed a lot more traffic on 95 northbound out of the city.
i was surprised when google maps told me to get ready to exit off of 95, i was expecting it to be farther than that. i've never been to westwood. well, that's not exactly true, i've been to parts of it, just never off of the highway. some of the local intersections looked familiar from my time naturing, i might've passed through westwood while going to millis or medway. i actually arrived 7 minutes early, so i parked the car off the side of the road and waited until 1pm, looking at the map to figure out how to drive to ponkapoag bog. when i finally drove to eliza's father's house, i couldn't find it at first, and i kept circling the street a few times before i finally figured out which house it was. i actually saw eliza earlier when she was waiting outside before she went inside. even though i got there right on time, i ended up being a few minutes late because i couldn't find the house. i brought in some packages that were out by the mailbox at the head of the driveway. eliza greeted me not with the traditional hug but a first bump.
in all the times we've known each other, i don't think eliza has ever gotten into a car where i was driving, it's always been the other way around. when she got in the toyota camry, she instinctively adjusted the seat, like she's been in this car before. she said this car was more to her liking, one that doesn't have all the fancy rear-view camera, proximity detectors, and keyless fob entries like more modern cars.
the route to ponkapoag bog was simple, 8 miles on 95, so i decided not to use the gps. that turned out to be a mistake, because i ended up getting lost. that area is very confusing, 95 becomes 93. instead of transferring over to 93, i kept on going 95 south (towards providence). actually, my original way was the right way, i just got nervous because i didn't see any signs for 93 and turned off onto 95 instead. i had to fish my phone out of my pocket and had eliza turn on gps navigation for me so we could get back on track. we finally arrived at the ponkapoag bog trial parking (off of exit 3 on 93) by 1:30pm.
we had until 4pm before eliza had to return home because that's when theo gets back from camp. at age 13 i asked eliza if her son was too old for camp. she told me actually this summer he has more of a counselor duty, keeping an eye on the younger kids. also because theo is eligible for the pfizer vaccine here in the US, i asked if he'd be getting it (children currently still can't get the vaccine back in france). eliza told me theo arrived in MA a few weeks ago already (for camp), and one of the first things her father did was take his grandson to get vaccinated. he'll get his second shot before he returns to paris.
anyway, after we parked, we started heading towards the bog entrance, a distance of 3/4 mile through the woods. it was actually kind of buggy but because we kept walking the mosquitoes (if any) didn't have time to latch onto us. both of us were winded walking the gravel path while trying to chat at the same time. at one point eliza spotted a small garter snake slithering across the path (i initially thought it was just a giant earthworm). before we entered the bog though, we stopped to spray.
as soon as we entered the bog, we knew it'd be impossible to keep our shoes wet. the planks of the boardwalk were all floating. standing on a plank, you immediately since to above your ankle. some of the boards were also slippery from algae. so it wasn't so much a leisurely walk but more of an obstacle course, stepping from one board to another. soon after we started walking, two girls appeared behind us. we let them get ahead because they seemed better at balancing. they had the right idea though, going barefoot as to not get their shoes wet. they told us they were here during the winter, and it was just as bad; not so much the flooding as everything was frozen and slippery.
as i was taking a photo, i casually took a small step back and found myself falling into the bog. it happened so fast, i didn't even know what was happening, and i managed to dunk my dSLR camera briefly. apparently there was a hole in one of the planks and my left leg just fell through up to my thigh. eliza was concerned, kept asking if i was okay, i think i was more embarrassed than anything else, total rookie mistake. she also asked if i needed to go back, but i said i was okay. i think it looked worse than it actually was, the only injury was maybe a small cut and a bruise on the back of my knee. i was more concerned about the camera. after wiping it clean, i tested it to see if it was okay. it was still working, the canon 80D has some weatherproofing, but still, it wasn't designed to be an underwater camera. the lens suffered a bit more. some water must've gotten inside and it kept fogging up. it took a while for me to realize this, but all the photo i took with the 18-200mm afterwards had that soft-focused look because of the fogging. my other lenses were fine - the macro and the wide-angle - but this was my main lens, so it kind of took the wind out of my photography sail. also once we began to realize how challenging it was navigating the boardwalk, i put away the camera to keep my arms free, so if i started to teeter on a board i could use my hands to grab onto the branches on either side. eliza fell at one point as well, early in our walk. she also went down to her thigh, but quickly scrambled back onto the plank.
i used to come to ponkapoag bog quite often, one of my favorite naturing spots. i haven't been back in a few years though, the last time was october 2017. i've been here in all seasons (other than winter), and i've even been here in the pouring rain, that's how much i love the place. the only other person i've ever brought here is bruce, so eliza is just the second. i've studied ponkpapoag bog enough that i'm filled with bog trivia, something that eliza remarked on and said i could give tours.
so a few things we noticed inside the bog. one thing, it didn't smell bad, wetlands are notorious for bad smells. i think the nature of the bog, with the acidic water, helps keep stenches at bay. second thing was it wasn't buggy at all. eliza thought maybe that meant the bug repellent was working, but i've been in situation where the mosquitoes don't bite, they just swarm around you like satellites. this wasn't the case at all. maybe all the rainfall washed away the mosquito eggs, since their larvae can only survive in still water.
i started seeing pitcher plants and sundews, but many of them were underwater. i also saw the third type of carnivorous plants - bladderworts - but they do fine in the water since they're aquatic. so the bog transitioned from cedar swamp into a boggy clearing of sphagnum moss carpet. the entire boardwalk is just 2/5 miles, but it took nearly an hour just to get from the bog entrance to the bog clearing. the boardwalk was on more solid footing in the clearing area, but being out in the sun instead of the forest shade also meant it was hotter. also because we'd been balancing on floating planks for the past hour, we actually experienced some sea legs once back on solid ground. here were sundews growing amongst the moss, turning red from being out in the sun. i could've stayed here for another hour just taking sundew photos, but we continued onwards.
we kept waiting to see those girls returning since they'd been gone for a while. maybe they jumped into the pond and swam away? but eventually we saw them again once the clearing transitioned back into bog forest. apparently they had planned on having a picnic at the end of the boardwalk, not realizing there's nothing at the end. but they stayed there anyway and had lunch before turning back. while we waited for them, they were waiting for us, and thought maybe we had turned back. eliza and i made way so they could get by us.
in the second bog forest is where we saw better specimens of pitcher plants. i even spotted a small water snake slithering away underneath a wooden plank. by 3:30pm we finally made it to the end of the boardwalk. it used to extend further out, but those planks had rotted and weren't replaced. there were also some high bush blueberries, and almost as a prize for our hardwork, we did some foraging. they say wild blueberries aren't as sweet but they have a stronger blueberry flavor. we started heading back.
it took us 1-1/2 hours to walk the boardwalk coming in, but just 40 minutes to get out. along the way we passed a family of 5 with 2 kids who were also visiting the bog. we made way to let them pass before continuing onwards. another thing i noticed was all the new planks were smaller, not as wide as the old planks. could it be because of wood price inflation?
i didn't get any mosquito bites in the bog, but as soon as we left, i squatted two bloody mosquitoes making a meal on the back of my leg. like before, being back on solid ground was a little disorienting for our wobbly legs. it took us another 20 minutes to walk to where we parked the car.
i learned my lesson the first time, going back i used the gps to return us to eliza's father's place. earlier she'd already texted her father, who was going to go pick up theo from camp. we didn't get back to the house until almost 4:50pm. the wheelchair van eliza had told me about earlier was parked in the driveway. so even if eliza could've borrowed the van, they're very difficult to drive (extra wide) and there's additional challenges, like hitting the wrong button and having the wheelchair platform lowering and popping out, potentially scratching any vehicle to the side.
i went inside the house briefly - the air condition was turned on high enough it felt like walking inside a refrigerator. i met their dog, a golden retriever named emily who sleeps inside of a cage but otherwise has free range of the house. she was a little weary of strangers, but wasn't aggressive, and didn't want any pets or scratches. i saw theo, which is actually my 3rd time seeing him. the last time i saw him was 2012, and before that 2009. he seemed like a nice, polite soft-spoken young man (tall). i left soon afterwards, hoping to avoid the traffic rush.
i was lucky, because i seemed to be traveling against traffic, so i never encountered any congestion, while on the southbound side of 95 there seemed to be more cars. i only hit a snag when i came into cambridge. i turned off the wrong exit and found myself behind alewife station. i ended up taking a huge detour out to mass ave to get back to the cafe. i finally arrived by 5:30pm. after dropping off the car, i biked back home.
i rinsed my hiking shoes in the kitchen sink before putting them outside to dry. later eliza told me to put balls of newspaper inside the wet shoes to help them dry faster. after a day of hiking, nothing feels better than taking a hot shower afterwards and getting cleaned up. by the time i was finished it was close to 7pm. i ate a braised beef rollup my mother had given me for a late lunch even though it was already dinnertime.
i must've been pretty tired because at 8pm i fell asleep on the couch, waking up at 10:30pm. i made myself an italian sandwich and had my second dinner of the evening.