this morning i had to fire off an e-mail to my upstairs neighbor, gently complaining about the noise level. by a quirk of fate, my bedroom just happens to be directly below his kitchen. it's never been a problem in the past, but a recent change in his morning routine has woken me up everyday at 7:00 (sometimes earlier, it was 6:00 yesterday). this wouldn't be a problem if that was also the time i get up, but unfortunately it isn't. it's gotten to a point where now i'm afraid to go to bed at nights in anticipation of my early morning wake up call from above. it sounds like heavy persistent stomping and occasionally the noise of furniture being dragged about (i'm very much curious to know what's actually going on upstairs). 

the trick with drafting one of these communication is not to come off sounding too passive-aggressive. finding the right voice is key, cordial but with an air of firm authority when delivering the bad news. how my neighbor will take the message i don't know. maybe he just didn't realize how much racket he was making in the morning, but now he knows. already the battle is half won. 

i just couldn't fall back to sleep afterwards. it did let me catch a suspicious man (suspicious in the fact that he sported a moustache) walking down my street looking into people's cars. turns out he was just a traffic officer, checking vehicles for the proper parking permit stickers. he did write a ticket for a car parked too close to a fire hydrant, a $55 fine (the 2nd highest, below the $100 for parking in a handicapped zone or blocking a disability access ramp). it seems like i'm not the only one who's going to have a bad morning. 

i spent the rest of the morning punching laptop keys from bed. my neighbor wrote back: no apologies, just said he was a morning person and would try to "tip toe around" from now on (was he being sarcastic?). i had some buffalo wing style drumsticks for lunch, which actually tasted better being a day old.

i wanted to take advantage of the warmer weather (mid-40's) and decided to bike to the assembly square mall shopping center. during the fall season i figured out a shortcut to get there via motorcycle that didn't involve going on the highway. the distance was only 2.5 miles, and on the bicycle i could even go down one way streets, further shortening the trip. i had no particular reason to go there, but on the map i saw a little fellsway riverfront trail that looks interesting, and on the way back i could check out the mt.vernon street historic district in somerville.

i arrived at the shopping center and went down foley street in the direction of the mystic river. the area looked abandoned and very sketchy, but i figured i was safe on the bicycle, able to pedal as fast as 13mph in case i encountered trouble (unless it was a car chase, then i'd probably be dead). i got as far as the amelia earhart dam, with a grassy snow-covered field nearby and half a dozen older gentlemen just standing around, a few of them with dogs. looking into the river, i spotted some red-breasted mergansers. they're winter migrants, but rather common on the mystic river around this time (i remember seeing some many years ago). i must've looked pretty suspicious with my camera, especially being so close to the dam and the neighboring orange line train tracks. i also saw a large unidentified raptor flying overhead while i was leaving, being escorted by a seagull.

i decided to explore the fellsway some more, cutting through the winter hill yacht club along the way. following the road, it looks like i might be able to get all the way to the mystic river reservation. the only problem was the road wasn't plowed and there was a layer of snow on the path. maybe if i had a mountain bike i could've made an attempt but i couldn't get any farther on my hybrid road bike. i decided to return to the shopping area. around the bend on foley street i spotted a bird landing on a telephone wire. turns out it was an american kestrel. i love kestrels; even though apparently they're quite common, i've only seen them a few times. it flew away before i could get any better photos.

i went to the christmas tree shop looking for cool soaps. next, a stop at ac moore to find some matching enamel paint to touch up a few rust spots on my bike frame. finally, a visit to k-mart to check out some bicycle accessories (i almost bought a front bike basket). i left all 3 stores empty-handed, and made my way home.

mt.vernon street - the road i was coming back on (against the flow of traffic i might add) - is apparently a historic district, which means a lot of old (200+ years) houses. winter is actually the best time to do some architectural sightseeing because the trees have all lost their leaves. i turned down pearl then crescent before finally coming out on cambridge street (charlestown) towards the direction of somerville. instead of dealing with the snarl of traffic in union square, i climbed the hill of columbus avenue and bypassed union square completely, ending up at the intersection of walnut and bow street to get back onto somerville avenue.

after an hour soaking in the bathtub, i made some penne pasta in vodka sauce (with prosciutto) for dinner. i used diced tomatoes instead of crushed, so the sauce came out a bit lumpy.