already there were a few flurry flakes when i looked out the window this morning. i decided last night i wouldn't be riding my bicycle to my parents' place for sunday night dinner. not that i doubted i could do it; the heaviest of the snow wouldn't arrive until later in the evening. i was more concerned about getting sideswiped by sliding cars. from my motorcycling experiences, i decided to err on the side of caution and play it safe.

my options were then either to take the 73/74/75 bus out of harvard square - which i didn't mind (for nostalgic reasons) - or try to see if i could arrange a pickup. it was my mother's day off so i tried calling her but kept getting the answering machine. i must've dialed half a dozen time before she finally picked up, out doing some post-christmas shopping with my godmother. just so happens she needed to return a few things at the somerville AJ wright so she could get me along the way.

my 2nd aunt was in the car as well, which was good, because i wanted to return some money she had given me last night. there's a chinese tradition of handing out red envelopes with cash during the holidays. i'm sort of a little old to be on the receiving end, but i still get them from relatives on occasions. my aunt had given me an amount that i considered way too extravagant and i was looking to return some if not all of it. in the end she and my mother talked me into keeping it.

AJ wright, a subsidiary of TJX (which owns TJ maxx and marshalls amongst other stores) is going out of business. that means all its stores are currently undergoing liquidation sales. i'd never been in an AJ wright before because i always thought it was just a clothing store, but apparently it's like TJ maxx in that they also sell home goods as well. my parents went last week. they bought a cheap camcorder and a webcam but my mother was returning them because they don't work very well (which is to be expected for no-name-brands that sell for $20 or less). the one thing they got that was actually useful was a 13" high folding stepping stool.

i'd been thinking about getting a folding stepping stool for a while. is it because of hard-to-reach cabinet shelves? no, i wanted one actually for photography purposes. every so often i'm at a crowded event where if i can only get a little bit higher, i can get some better photos. with a folding stool, i can carry it with me in a backpack, and take it out when i need a slight height advantage. this isn't such a farfetched idea, and i've actually seen some photo places sell them for just such a purpose. the one that my parents got was from a company called "kennedy home collection" and supposedly sturdy enough to support upwards of 300 lbs.

while i waited in line to return the camcorder and webcam, my mother went in search of another folding stool. when i finally found her in the back of the home goods department, she was holding a purple stool. apparently there weren't anymore on the shelves, but she saw one in the back room when one of the employees came out and went in and grabbed it. with its already discounted price ($9.99) plus an additional 25% clearance sale, the final price came out to be just $7.96 including taxes.

by the time we left the store, the flurries had picked up and a bit of snow was starting to stick. we dropped off my aunt back at the cafe before going to belmont. it took us a while to realize my sister wasn't home (out doing some shopping of her own). on the living room floor was a mangled stuff animal with all its guts pulled out; obviously the work of hailey, my sister had sown some dog treat into the toy as a christmas present for the dog. she didn't care much for it yesterday, but apparently figured it out once nobody was home.

i brought along my tripod to take some photos of the still-flowering rosemary plant. they're tiny, less than a centimeter long each, and resemble purple iris flowers. i managed to grab a few snapshots at f/14 with a shutter speed of 1 second. when i tried to handhold a few photos yesterday, the best i could do was a few shallow-depth shots at f/2.8.

in the early afternoon i watched the patriots-bills game, the second to last game of the regular season. a new england victory would ensure a division championship, a first round bye week, and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. i wasn't so sure about the outcome of the game, especially when buffalo came out early to score 3 points. but that was the only point they'd get for the rest of the game, as the patriots just blanketed the bills for a final score of 34-3. i ended up watching most of the game in the background while i surfed the web.

by now the snow was falling at a pretty good clip, about an inch an hour. it still wasn't the heart of the snowstorm, which wouldn't arrive until later in the evening and into the early morning.

for dinner we had more hot pot. without the right spicy hot pot sauce, i found it to be uninspiring. i got a chance to try out my homemade ginger ale. it tasted like carbonated water with a mild ginger flavoring (or was that just the flavor of fermenting yeast?). it wasn't even that sweet. it was okay at best; i will definitely spike it with some hot peppers for next time and probably some more sugar. it was just too bland for my taste.

getting home, i was ready to take the bus that came every 20 minutes, but my father said he'd give me a ride instead. with the snow nowhere near done falling, the street crew just plowed the roads instead of salting it. that left the surface of the roads in a compact layer of snow, but my father said it wasn't slippery driving the honda element (which doesn't have 4-wheel drive). thankfully there wasn't all that much traffic, as most people stayed indoors to wait out the storm. it wasn't all that bad, and i think i could've even biked it, even though it'd be pretty miserable and i'd be covered in snow by the time i got back home.

back in cambridge, the first thing i did was i went out and shoveled the sidewalk. there actually wasn't all that much snow, and either a friendly neighbor already shoveled it for me (not my upstairs neighbors though, they weren't even home) or most of the snow just blew away from the strong winds. because it was still so cold (around 25°F) it was a light snow with a distinctive layer of frozen crust when i shoveled. i thought about going out and getting some photos but decided i'd do that tomorrow morning, with more snow on the ground and less falling from the sky.