i went to the somerville artbeat festival this afternoon in davis square. it's similar to the may fair that happens every spring in harvard square, a few performance stages, a lot of vendors selling handicrafts, and tents featuring local cuisines. not wanting to deal with the hassle of riding the motorcycle with my injured thumb, i walked to davis square instead. i went alone, but kept on bumping into people i knew. first it was my neighbor renee by the bluegrass stage. she'd just arrived as well via bicycle. later i ran into james and jaime (all the way from attleboro) along with their somerville friend. james i've seen a few times this year from our occasional lunch in the city, but jaime i haven't seen since their wedding. she and her friend are both in the nursing profession and almost seemed excited to see the damage on my thumb. i told them there was some minor fluid build up underneath the dermabond and they recommended i go to my doctor ahead of schedule to get it drained if it gets any bigger. the last person i saw was jeff, who shouted my name as i walked right by him. each year's artbeat has a theme, and this year's was "somerville...of the future," but the only way anyone would have guessed that would be from the island of handmade robots. there was even a parade, which consisted of mainly children in just-made construction-paper robot masks and families in stilts. somebody behind me said something funny, "this must be how they walk in the future." i did talk with one vendor, a young soapmaker. i noticed she only had opaque soaps and asked if she ever made any clear soaps. she said they require a lot more work and are more dangerous to make, but hopes to one day graduate to the transparent soaps.
from davis square it was just a few blocks away from the largest tree in somerville located on morrison avenue (the street perpendicular from the somerville branch library). i heard about it one day while i was browsing the web, looking for the tallest tree in cambridge and somerville. while i couldn't exactly find what i wanted, i did find mention of the largest tree in somerville. the tree is remarkable enough to earn its own plaque, from the very mysterious "great trees of somerville project" circa 1996. notice how it's the largest, and not necessarily the tallest. if you want tall, the ailanthus tree behind petsi pie on beacon street must be 140+ feet tall. this tree however is most definitely the widest tree i've seen in all of somerville, a silver maple at that.
crossing a crosswalk on the outskirts of davis square, i was the recipient of some road rage. a woman came to an abrupt stop, almost hitting the guy ahead of me in the crosswalk. i picked up my paces and quickly got across the road, but i looked at her and she was absolutely furious, sarcastically pantomiming the "hurry up" gesture while rolling her eyes. she was screaming something as well but her window was rolled up so i couldn't hear her. unfortunately for her, there was traffic in front of her, so she was just stuck in the pedestrian crossing, with me just looking at her from the sidewalk for several awkward seconds, debating whether to knock on her window and asking her to step out of the car so we could discuss it thunderdome style. in the end i decided it wasn't worth it. as you know, i'm all about playing it safe these days.
walking back down beacon street, i came across a sidewalk sale. a chinese couple were selling a bunch of stuff, some office furniture, a lot of computer peripherals, a lot of textbooks, a few kitchen items. i decided to break the ice and spoke to them in mandarin so they wouldn't have to keep on guessing if i was chinese or not. i wanted to get 3 books that i thought were just a dollar each, but turns out two of the books were $3, so decided not to get the outdated 2004-2005 NFT guide to boston. instead i bought a langenscheidt pocket korean dictionary ($3, those ubiquitous yellow covered dictionaries, i don't know korean but i thought it'd be cool to have) and a chinese cookbook ($1, actually written in chinese). they asked how long i've been in the US, and i sort of chuckled. "a long time," i said, "since 1980." they asked where i was from originally. i made them guess, the woman got it right when she said taiwan. the man was from jiangsu province and when i asked him where that was, he couldn't quite place it geographically, just knew it was south. the woman was from kaohsiung, the southernmost city in taiwan. he was study computers and just graduated, moving to connecticut for a new job at yale university. the woman was an education graduate. this was their first yard/sidewalk sale, and they said people were already waiting this morning before they even brought out the merchandise. while we were chatting, i ended up buying a round vanity mirror from them as well ($1), the kind that has two sides, one normal, one magnify. that's one of the things i was missing from my house. when i was fixing my washing machine, i couldn't see inside the tight spaces and had to use a shiny cd-rom because i don't have a mirror.
it got hot enough today that i did two things: unplug the heaters on my aquariums (the room temperature is already higher that what i set them at) and started using the oscillating fan. even then, the humidity was high enough to first make my living room really stinky but also to keep me in a perpetual state of stickiness.
my first contractor called me this morning. "ni hao!" he shouted into the phone, not realizing every time he tries to ingratiate himself to me the less chance he has of winning the bid. and especially if you call me on a saturday morning to talk business. "have you decided yet? is our bid too high or too low?" while the other two contractors never talked money, mike seemed overly preoccupied with the subject. as a matter of fact, he even asked me while he was here looking at the house how much my neighbor and i wanted to pay. you're the expert, aren't you supposed to tell me that instead? "don't answer if you don't want to," he quickly added, when i hesitated. of course his bid quote was exactly $1000 more than what i ended up telling him. i told him the other contractors haven't sent me their estimates yet, so i won't know until next week. but it's pretty obvious mr.ni-hao is not painting my house.
finally, the end time for household appliances continues. there was the cablebox, then the washing machine, followed by the bathtub faucet, and now it's the toilet. i first noticed the toilet was still trickling water long after a flush. it's usually a simple matter of adjusting the float ball, but i was playing around with the assembly and now the ballcock valve doesn't work at all, no water is filling back into the tank. because it's an encased assembly, i can't take it apart so the only way to fix is it to replace it completely.