8 minutes before my cellphone alarm clock could wake me up, i received a call from renata at 9:22am, telling me she'd be coming over after a shower (she would've called earlier, but figured i'd still be sleeping). this gave me just enough time to literally run across the street and buy some groceries to fix up a nice breakfast. the first and only time i've made a lavish breakfast for anyone was when eliza paid me a visit one april sunday to get some photos taken. since that time, i've had 3 months to refine my techniques. i decided to start cooking without renata, whom later i found out was delayed because she was talking with a neighbor. it would be the first breakfast cooked almost entirely via appliances: smoothies from the blender (frozen peaches, strawberry, grapes, honeydew, pineapples mixed with a banana and some mango-orange fruit juice with a sprinkle of fresh mint leaves), sausages from the foreman grill, and belgian waffles from the waffle iron. by the time renata arrived, i was mixing the waffle batter.

renata, who almost never arrives empty-handed (even though i always tell her not to bring anything), came with a bag of frozen blueberries to make the compote for the waffles. she also wore her hiking boots, still in the stages of breaking them in, reluctant to take them off (i told her they could stay on). the blueberries turned out to be critical to the success of our breakfast when renata saw that i've been keeping my strawberry topping in its original metal can, not to mention the fact that my whip creme had already expired. she even called her mother, who told us that we could get ptomaine, which later i found out was a fancy way of saying food poisoning. while i made the waffles on the waffle iron that i don't like very much because it's a mess to clean up, renata was making the blueberry compote on the stove, adding such other ingredients as corn starch, honey, cinammon, ginger, and mint.

with everything done, it was time to eat. i made 7 waffles, i took 3 while renata had 2. besides the waffles and the sausages and the smoothies, there was also slices of canteloupes, a bowl of green grapes, and some leftover pound cake i'd made earlier in the week. i was this close to getting some bacon at the supermarket, but figured i already had too much food. when i had my back turned, renata arranged faces on my waffles with pieces of fruit. she was only able to finish 1.5 waffles, and i barely made it to 2. renata, her desire to play with her food not yet quenched, took the two remaining waffles hostage and started to dress them up with more pieces of fruit. i could only watch in horror (tempered by curiousity) as perfectly good waffles were tranformed by the produce fairy good mother into works of fruity art.

after breakfast (more like brunch), renata and i went out for a walk around the charles river before she had to leave for her next appointment. prior to our departure, i was looking up some info on "ptomaine" and casually asked renata what the pancreas does, which i really didn't know (made digestion enzymes would've been my guess). i was surprised when she blurted out the answer, "the pancreas makes insulin," as if she was a walking talking encyclopedia of anatomy knowledge. renata was determined to navigate her way from my house down to the river, and would on occasion accuse me of trying to trick her into going the wrong way (i did no such thing!). we finally made it to the river based mostly on renata's sense of direction, at the same time renata teaching me how to correctly cross roads (what's this button? what're those lines on the road?), residual effects for that one particularly dangerous road crossing incident a few days ago. the walk around the charles was bright and sunny. every so often, i'd stop to take a photo, or maybe renata would shake the demons out of her hands. over the eliot bridge i took renata about the holy trinity of a great guy movie: ninjas, pirates, and zombies. renata couldn't believe it when i told her the holy trinity of a good girl movie is some kind of relationship, a puppy or kitty, and marriage. on our way back, we caught a woman gathering berries from a mulberry tree, who said to us, "i don't know what kind of berries these are, but i saw somebody else eating them, so i guess it's okay." i had a berry myself, while renata wanted no part of this wild berry action, such recklessness in direct diametrical opposition to her sense of safety.

when we got back to the house, after a glass of water, renata took off. i showered, then got dressed to go out to the claypit pond in belmont to do some naturing. i seemed to have forgotten how polluted the pond is. if it isn't the canada geese poopoo on the path nor the occasional dog poopoo, then it's the layers of non-biodegradable trash floating along the edges of the pond. still, there was nature to be discovered despite the general level of ickiness.

my primary mission was to look for signs of monarch butterflies. i know from past visits that claypit pond has an abundance of milkweed, which is what the monarchs feed on. however, i could see no signs of activity, be it eggs, caterpillars, or butterflies. i haven't really seen monarchs all this summer. in seasons past i remember they were a common sight, but not this particular season. i did discover that milkweeds, when grown in large enough of quantity, is actually a rather fragrant plant, its flowers scented somewhat like lilacs. even though it failed to attract the monarchs, it had no problems in attracting all sorts of other flying insects, from bees to wasps to flies, from daytime moths to other butterflies (including a tiger swallowtail, tattered, nearing the end of its life).

moth (?)


red bug


there's always plenty of dragonfly activity around the pond. i discovered that with the 24x zoom set to macro, i can take fairly decent photos of dragonflies that i normally couldn't get without falling into the water. some of them were perched, chasing other dragonflies out of their territory, while still others were engaged in mating, the male clasping the female in tandem pairs. i also saw a whitetail and a twelve-spotted skimmer, but none of them stopped long enough to be photographed.

eastern forktail

blue dasher
(24x zoom)

(24x zoom)

why must i always encounter freakishly large turtles whenever i go out naturing? it happened again today. i was walking around the pond, minding my own business, when i came across a monster sitting in the middle of the path. i didn't recognize what it was at first, then i saw it move. SON OF GAMERA! this thing must've been 6" long, had some markings on its head that made it look like a painted turtle, but it was way bigger than any painted turtles i've ever known and its shell looked nothing like a painted turtle shell. i wish some turtle expert would just call me and let me know what this monster is so i can stop having nightmares. i didn't notice it at first (the fear and loathing have a blinding effect on me), but when i got home and saw the photos, i could see that this turtle has been tagged, and not only that, but there seems to be numbers painted on its shell. two women walking their dog came by, which seemed to spook the turtle (that's ironic, the object of my most primal fear is actually afraid of something itself), which quickly (for a turtle anyway) crawled away to hide underneath a bush. i took a few more snapshots before running away as fast and as far as i could from this unspeakable monstrosity.

once i made it around the pond, i hopped back on the motorcycle and went to my parents' place. i went with them on their weekly supply run at bj's and costco, returning to my own place to drop off my supplies (bumped into andrew and maura having dinner), then i went back to my parent's place to have dinner along with suhan. i was pretty hungry, having not eaten since this morning. i had a bowl of wonton soup, edumame beans, lamb steak, corn on the cob, some chicken wings, and a dessert of yellow kiwi fruits.

wonton soup


lamb steak