there was slim pickings at haymarket, with limited selection and only about 2/3 of the vendors showed up. i got some scallions ($1), cilantro ($1), garlic ($1), grapes ($2), lemons ($2), and persimmons ($1.50). it seemed kind of circuitous to come all this way and spend less than $10 on cheap produce, but i looked at it as a chance to come into the city and to get some exercise.
i returned home via the charles river bike trail; a longer ride but i wouldn't have to worry about car traffic. riding up and over the sky walk next to the longfellow bridge, i stopped to take some photos of the ice floes in the river (i noticed them when i rode over the longfellow coming into boston). there was a girl (on a bike as well) taking photos as well and a japanese man stopped to admire the view (surprisingly, he did not have a camera).
nearby there was construction on a new pier by the river boathouse. i always thought there was no construction during the winter because of the frozen ground. maybe it's different on the water, since only the surface is frozen, while everything below is still diggable. i also noticed large boulders (about the size of a pumpkin) floating on the frozen river, handiwork of people testing to see how solid the ice was.
there was hardly anyone on the trail; i counted less than a dozen joggers. it felt like i had the whole place to myself. i rode the bike onto one of the piers. i never noticed before, but apparently there are solar-powered lights embedded in the planks (they even have light sensors, to turn on only at nights).
there were birds congregating in the center of the river where it wasn't frozen. mostly gulls, a few canada geese. but i was able to spot a few uncommon birds: hooded mergansers! one male and two females. i've seen hooded mergansers before when i used to go jogging around the charles river (by harvard square). always from a distance, not close enough to get good photos of these rather attractive water birds.
i spotted a group of foreigners goofing around near one of the inner canals along the river. a man held a woman's hand while she walked onto the ice. another man was looking for a large enough boulder to drop onto the frozen surface. he was hesitant to throw the rock while i was watching, but as soon as i left, i heard a loud thud.
crossing into cambridge over the aptly named cambridge street bridge, i noticed strange frozen ripple patterns in the river. solid state water never fails to amaze me in all its infinite shapes and varieties.
i went directly to the cafe to drop off some haymarket produce items. my parents were making rice wine moonshine using nothing more than cooked glutinous rice and special rice wine yeast. my father was showing me how during the first stage of fermentation the result is a sugary rice pudding dessert, but when allowed to ferment some more it reaches the second stage where the sugar is broken down into alcohol. that gives me all sorts of ideas of making my own alcohol with other ingredients, like potatoes and beets. if it really is this easy to make rice wine, maybe that explains why the stuff is so cheap in china.
on my way home, it finally started to snow. just a few flakes, but the sky was darkening ominously. i stored the bicycle in the basement just in case, although the weather report said we'd probably only get a dusting at most (more snow to come saturday, but only a few inches).
before i could get comfortable, i went back out again to get some kleenex from the dollar store. i also bought a bottle of drain cleaner (not realizing i still had some), some arm & hammer fridge deodorizers, cotton balls, a box of good & plenty, and a package of clearance-sale holiday LED lights ($2.50).
later i strung the christmas lights in my closet for some festive storaging. it kind of reminds me of an indian restaurant now. all i need to complete the look is to put mirrors on the walls and ceiling.
as for my homemade ginger ale, this morning the bottle was still soft, but by evening it was hard (full of carbon dioxide). that's when i remembered i forgot to add the lemon juice. i tried a little taste: sweet, spicy, and unfortunately still flat. adding the lemon juice seemed to make it suddenly bubble more. maybe that'll help with the fermentation.