the only thing i had to do this morning was return the canon flash before noontime. after i did that i went to my garden to do some watering. today was a weird day, overcasted like it was going to rain (but didn't) and brisk like autumn.

since my mother picked all the near-ripened tomatoes yesterday, there weren't any new red ones left in the garden. i used the bricks to build up some platforms for that one sprawling tomato plant to keep its branches off the ground.

elsewhere in the community garden, there are these wild cucumbers growing in the common area below the mulberry tree. today i noticed they actually have some inconspicuous (but pretty) green flowers (normal cucumbers have yellow flowers).

the man with one of the plots adjacent to mine has been growing eggplants. i've always thought eggplants to be a difficult vegetable to have in the garden but he seems to be doing well despite little effort on his part (although marauding squirrels do raid his eggplants from time to time). eggplant flowers are similar looking to cucumber flowers except they have 7 petals and they're lavender-colored.

i made some lunch when i got home, an omelette using some homegrown basil and tomato. this was my first time eating one of my tomatoes and i was surprised how red the flesh was inside when i sliced one of them in half. i did some online research for my mother who wants to buy a digital camera for less than $200 (she wanted a camera ever since my aunt got a samsung digital camera for $100). there's plenty of inexpensive digital cameras on the market but i wanted to find one with optical image stabilizer (IS). panasonic makes a bunch under their lumix brand in conjunction with leica; nikon has a few - particularly the coolpix L12; and canon has an entry level camera with IS in the A570. i pulled a bunch of info then went to the cafe to give my presentation. afterwards i went to target and best buy in watertown for a fact finding mission.

there was a lot of pruning activity as one of my neighbors did some maintenance work on a ginormous tree they have growing in their backyard. i bumped into jeff today, who was picking up some small branches that escaped the wood chipper machine. when i asked him what kind of tree it was, he couldn't quite remember the name but just knew they were an invasive species originally from china. the branches with the red seeds looked so pretty i asked if i could have them.

later i found out it's called the "tree of heaven" (ailanthus altissima). they grow fast and can reach heights up to 100 feet (the one in the backyard is probably 80 feet tall). it's a pretty tree that i would've never noticed if those landscapers didn't cut some of it down.

returning to the digital camera search, i narrowed it to three candidates: the panasonic lumix LZ7 ($170), the nikon L12 ($150), and the canon A570 IS ($180). they all have image stabilizing and they all take regular AA batteries (which i think is a plus when you run out of juice out in the field). the LZ7 was out of the running when i saw a model at best buy: although i liked its functionalities, it was just too big and bulky. i kept on returning to the L12 because of its small and sleek design, but from the reviews i've read online, it's a slow camera. having tested it at the store, i can vouch that it has an unusually slow response time whenever the flash is used. that left only the A570, and even that one wasn't without some faults: for instance, poor image quality at high ISO values - but that's usually the norm with cameras anyway. the A570 is also one of the bulkier models (though nowhere as big as the LZ7). the A570 also has a significant lag time between flash photos, but the bulk of the online reviews i read were positive. even though it's slightly more expensive than the other models i saw, i think in this case you get what you pay for. so i made the final recommendation to my mother, who was all ready to order it online, but i told her she had to go visit a store first and see the camera herself before she could do that, just so she knows how big the canon actually is.

bruce dropped by in the evening to say his good byes, returning tomorrow to his teaching job back in pennsylvania. after he left, i heated up some of the leftover ribs from last night for dinner.