so onto garden number 8 on our cambridge secret gardens tour, the first one on fayerweather, underneath an umbrella, with the rainfall starting to get heavy, my nikon 4500 gave me an error i've never seen before: this card cannot be used. what could that be? did too much water get inside the camera? i put in another compact flash memory card and everything went back to normal. it was only later when i got back home did i realize my 256mb card got fried, along with 300 photos, pretty much a whole day's worth of snapshots gone. this is the second time with eliza that i've had a camera malfunction (that's not entirely true, that other time was because i left my camera at home). i was surprised how calm i was about the whole situation, because normally i'd be freaking out, on the floor crying in a fetal position clutching my memory card, but maybe because eliza was here and i wanted to put on a brave face for her. so what got wiped? photos of the breakfast i made for us, including my american flag waffle decorated with strawberry filling, blueberries, and whip cream. missing are the rare photos of eliza cooking bacon (how often will i have young ladies over my house making bacon? and she was quite skilled at it i might add). say bye bye to the photos from the first 7 gardens we visited on orchard, cogswell, chester, haskell, milton, and brattle. but in a sick way, i'm kind of glad though photos are gone. other than the loss of a few choice photos of eliza doing outrageous things in the gardens, i'm not too bummed. it's nice to be normal for a change, and not have every part of my life documented via photo. all is not lost though: although the card won't mount in OS X and my photorescue tool can't even see it, i haven't tried it on the PC yet, where i think there are more robust tools to deal with stubborn flash memories. there's also the computer repair shop a block away from where i live. i personally think it's something wrong with the boot sector of the card, maybe i filled it to maximum capacity and corrupted that portion of the card.

this would be my third visit to the annual cambridge secret gardens (now in its 5th year). 2 years ago laurie and her parents introduced me to them, and last year i came back on my own (sort of). eliza originally wanted to ride our bikes to the various gardens scattered across cambridge, but when it looked like it would rain, she changed her mind and drove her car to my place. after we had breakfast (waffles and bacon and smoothies), after eliza had a chance to browse through the latest issue of details magazine (i convinced her that the publication had a predominantly gay demographic) and a copy of the international men catalog (thanks to details), we took off in eliza's hubcapless ghetto mobile.

the first one we visited was on orchard street. a great garden, curvy organic in shape, not cluttered but still filled with different plants, many pockets of space to relax in, a great place to have a garden party. eliza and i were like a pair of space aliens visiting earth for the very first time, snapping away with our nikon 4500 cameras. next, we walked to cogswell avenue, a garden with a cloistered walkway, drawing your eyes to the perimeter of the garden when you first visit, then once you're in the cloisters, it directs your attention outwards. eliza's cellphone rang and i started to gravitate away from her, pretending we weren't together. walking back to the car, we trash dived some junk on the side of the street, eliza taking a nice clay pot and a garrish unused thanksgiving turkey candle.

we drove to chester street for our next garden, one that we'd visited last year, a pair of small ponds filled with koi and carp. though it seemed interesting last year, compared to the two we'd just seen, where architecture and garden meld into one, this one seemed sparse. the fish were really interesting though, the garden as a whole could use a few more shade trees. the garden on haskell street was another one we'd seen from the previous year. although the garden was small, the woman who owned it filled it with all sorts of plants and flowers, and it was obvious a lot of love went into her garden. she had an outdoor stove burning fragrant wood with free cookies for guests. she asked about my own garden, and suggested coyote urine to keep the squirrels from attacking my potted vegetable plants. the garden on milton street was cool. apparently two sisters tend to these gardens, one on the front, the other in the back. at first glance the backyard features a beautiful garden but with nothing to write home about, but upon closer look reveals foliage garden, with leaves of various shapes and colors. of all the gardens i saw today, this one gets my award for originality. a wee bit cramped, but definitely interesting. next door, neighbors were throwing out some junk as well, and i picked up a book on cantonese while eliza found a leather pouch for carrying a single roll of film.

our itinerary brought us to two mansions on brattle street. one of them, a staple on the garden tour, featured a large everflowing wooden bucket of water suspending upon rocks. some jack-in-the-pulpit grew underneath shady trees. here eliza showed her kinky side by taking upskirt photos of various flowers. although one of my favorites for the past two years, this particular garden was only so-so this year. i think i was more impressive by the largeness of it all instead of its content and creativity (although the everflowing bucket is very cool). we crossed the street to the other mansion. they didn't have so much a backyard as they did a large stone tiled space with circular raised beds of plants surrounded by stone walls. it started to drizzle but it quickly turned into rain. we fled back to the car and figured out where we wanted to go next. eliza sat in the backseat of her car reviewing the photos she'd taken.

next came fayerweather, the site where my memory card died. we needed umbrellas at that point since the raining was coming down hard. figuring it might drive home some of the tamer elements, i was surprised to see so many people still out touring the gardens. this particular place is a new addition to the tour circuit. in the garden stood an old man, whom i thought might be the owner, but he was just a spectator like us. he told me out of all the gardens he'd seen today, this was one was the best. he looked so wise with his white hair and wispy eyebrows, whom was i to disagree? this garden featured a long contemplation pool with a fish squirting water from its mouth.

the next house on fayerweather doesn't deserve to be on garden tour. it's not so much a garden as it is a poop littered lawn (fortunately i remembered this fact from last year). eliza and i did a fast perimeter walk through the property in the rain and quickly left.

the last garden we saw was on blakeslee street. the owner was there to take questions. he had several large leaf plants that seemed almost tropical but were actually quite adapted to our new england climate. talking with him, both eliza and i figured him to be gay (with his nice shoes, impeccable taste in garden design, and just his overall demeanor), so we were surprised when he mentioned his wife to some other visitors.

we tried getting some bread from high rise but they were closed (3pm on sundays). after a brief browse inside an antique store, we drove back to my place. while i boiled some water for tea (we both had some cold leftover bacon strips), eliza called her future boss about the details of her new job starting in a few weeks (she borrowed my phone after hers ran out of batteries, but coincidentally mine did as well). we tried one of the flowering tea balls, eliza snapping photos from various angles. after a few cups of tea, eliza left to go to work ("i can't get anything done during the day," she said). i gave her the international men catalog and told her to enjoy. as for me, i changed out of my rainsoaked pants and drove the toyota camry back to belmont, where i had dinner with my family, as well as my aunt lili and uncle matthew, and my 2nd aunt, who just this week passed her naturalization interview to become a US citizen. we had senjianbao and watermelons, and afterwards i got a much needed haircut.

(if i end up recovery photos from my dead memory card tomorrow, i'll post some more photos)