i woke up early this morning because i heard the call of the monthly cambridge street sweeper through my open window. "street cleaning on odd numbered side of the road. your car will be towed." even though my motorcycle was parked on the even side and was thereby safe, the stress of neighbors potentially getting towed for no good reason kept me awake. i'll say this again: the monthly civic street cleaning/towing is a huge racket. the city makes money, the tow mafia makes money, while the residents of cambridge are the ones to lose. fortunately everyone was wise this month and everyone moved their cars.

there's been some fluid build up underneath the dermabond on my nail and the surrounding skin. it was clear but turned opaque yesterday. opacity could mean a build up of pus (which would need to be drained), so with a knife (another knife!) i cut open the dermabond just a bit. some fluid did leak out but it was clear. the opacity is just my skin, which turned back to normal after a few hours. i can't explain it, i'm no doctor, but it doesn't hurt, so i'm going to leave it alone until my doctor's appointment on friday.

i made a reuben sandwich for lunch. scotland painting finally got back to me with an estimate via e-mail. i couldn't quite believe the number when i saw it: it was twice the amount of the first contractor, and i already thought that estimate was a wee bit expensive. so my hunch was right: scotland painting is way out of my price range, i had a feeling they'd be the most expensive choice. how is their any painting different that it'd be worth 2x as the next guy? are the paints mixed with gold dust? so the only contractor who hadn't gotten back to me yet was cleber. i was beginning to be afraid that maybe cleber would be too expensive as well, and that i'd have to start over and look for a whole new set of cheaper painters. in the afternoon i went with my parents to an asian wholesales market somewhere in southern boston (i'd never been there before). they handed me a letter, which was as estimate from cleber. i didn't even bother looking at it, i asked my parents how much: the price was just $500 more than the first contractor. looks like we have a winner!

this wholesales market is just like costco where you pay to become a member, but the warehouse is stocked with all things related to asian restaurants. besides food, there are also different containers, and cleaning products, and kitchen utensils (woks the size of satellite dishes), and signs, and even restaurant furniture. it reminded me of that raider of the lost ark warehouse, and aisles are set up in no logical order, with some aisles so tight two people would have a hard time passing each other, while other aisles are big enough to drive a truck though. aisles also come to random dead ends, like a great big maze. a cool place to explore, unfortunately photography is not allowed for some reason. coolest thing i saw: different tiki ceramics, like mugs and porcelain bowls featuring topless hula ladies.

returning to the cafe to unload the supplies, i got a chance to talk to cleber in person (he's painting a large house next door). i told him tentatively he has the job, but i first have to talk with my upstairs neighbor and work out the details (like how to split the bill). he said he won't be able to start until september because he's so busy, i told him that was okay.

i made another belmont garden discovery today. of the 4 supposed calabash gourd plants, only one of them is a calabash, while the other 3 are an unknown variety of squash. the woman who gave them to us, even she didn't know what she had, and i wonder if these are 2nd generation stock grown from hybridized seeds. if that's the case there's no way to tell what we have until the squashes and gourds are fully developed, and even then it could be a mixture of two different squashes/gourds. how i figured this out was when i saw a large yellow flower on one of the plants. calabash only have night blooming white flowers. a yellow flower could only mean it's a squash of some kind. that totally explains why these flower buds looked nothing like the calabash flower buds. it also explains why the single calabash plant is growing way faster than the other 3 squashes. unfortunately these squashes don't seem to want to climb, despite the fact that my father and i build these complex wire trellises for them (thinking they were climbing calabash gourds). it'll be interesting to see what kind of squash we'll get.

after dinner my mother gave me a haircut before my father drove me back to cambridge. we stopped by the renovating restaurant to throw away a few items (broken pieces of plywood, buckled ping pong table) into the rented dumpster that's leaving tomorrow. i moved my motorcycle to the other side of the street and put the cover on it since it's going to rain tomorrow. a package was waiting for me on my front steps: my neti pot!

i couldn't wait to have my first neti pot experience. i mixed a quarter teaspoon of diamond fine salt with some warm water. i put one end of the neti pot spout to my nose and then leaned forward to let the water drip out of my other nostril. it felt weird, like that choking sensation you get when you accidently breath water. i wasn't leaning right and some of the water trickled into my throat and out of my mouth. i could taste the saltiness. afterwards i repeated with the other nostril. it'll probably take some practice before i can get the technique right. afterwards i did feel like my sinuses were cleared, but they weren't blocked to begin with, so it's hard to judge if it really did anything, other than to rinse out my sinuses with warm salt water.

finally, i got a postcard from my godmother's son alex from shanghai. he wrote it all in chinese, knowing that i can't read it. for the longest time i couldn't figure out who the postcard was from. for a while i thought it was this shanghai girl i met on my travels through southwestern china (i lost touch with her, i don't remember ever giving her my home address).