i woke up around 8:00 (after less than 4 hours of sleep), which in my little universe is considered early.1 there are only a few reasons why i'd get up early, and cooking is one of them. with relatives showing up this weekend, and possibly a large family dinner on sunday night, i've decided to make my annual flan. for the dessert to properly set, i need to make it 2 days prior so today was the day.

i walked to the supermarket to get milk and sugar, running into my upstairs neighbor paul as he was buying the newspaper. we were quite cordial, i asked about his recent vacation (he was actually on a weeklong business down in florida prior to that, so it was like a double vacation for him), he asked me about my roommate. he shared a little neighborhood gossip, told me our next door neighborhood renee was not happy with her bike messenger housemate james. being a bike messenger, i know he keeps odd hours, and it's not uncommon to hear him coming home around 3-4am. i don't want to judge anyone based on their appearance, but he does have some weird looking friends, all tattoos and piercings and tattered black leather and denim. it's like having the pit (from ye old harvard square) right next door.

while the flan was baking for an hour, i biked down to porter square to look for suitable spigots at tags hardware store. if home depot only had one thing that fitted the bill, i wasn't too surprised tags didn't have anything i was looking for. there were some lovely 1/2" and 3/4" sillcocks and boiler release valves, but no hose bibb. besides, the prices were about the same as home depot, i wasn't looking to save, i was looking for selection.

i did however pick up a packet of thai basil ($1.89, "thai siam queen" ocimum basilicum citriodorum, botanical interests® brand). fun fact: because it's listed as seeds/herbs, i didn't have to pay taxes. hooray! small victories. the cashier asked if i was a student. "no," i said, half incredulous he'd ask, half flattered as well. "what would i get if i was a student?" i said. apparently students get a 10% discount. i am feeling particularly scholastic.

i'd gone to the supermarket, baked a flan, and went to the hardware store - all before my roommate woke up. i felt a sense of personal victory, getting so much accomplished so early.

as soon as victor left for work around 10:30, i started cleaning the house. it was already pretty tidy to began with, so it was just mostly vacuuming the hairs off the bathroom floor and wiping down the kitchen countertop.

i was going to ride to the cafe with the flan (i have no more fridge space) but my father said he could give me a ride (he didn't want to see the pudding battered on the back of my bike). we loaded up my bike in the back so i could get back home. in the car he showed me the spigot assembly he'd been working on, a sequence of rubber washers, metal reducing washers, and conduit lock nut. we stopped at masse hardware so he could pick up some more reducing washers (70¢ for a package of 2) before dropping off the flan at the cafe (where i saw the black squirrel2 again). i then got a ride to belmont, where earlier this morning my father had already bought the rest of the wood for making the raised beds. also in the backyard was the new england rain barrel we bought a while back from the cambridge public works department.

my father ended up buying three 3/4" no kink brass hose bibbs i saw at home depot but took a pass on because i thought they were too expensive and ugly. i'm still looking for a cheaper alternative, keeping the receipt ready for a possible return. i'm currently thinking about a handwheel sillcock with a steel close nipple attachment. it's a little cheaper and i like the round handle better. i just don't know if the black steel material will rust in the long run.

i had a bowl of beef flavored instant noodle for lunch. i cleaned the house a little bit more (moving some unused appliances down into the basement) before going outside to treat the wooden boards with linseed oil.

my sister helped out for about an hour, rubbing off the excess oil with rags while i painted on the oil with a brush. i spent 2.5 hours painting 10 board pieces to the point where my back was hurting. despite wearing plastic gloves, i still managed to get a little bit of linseed oil on my hands, which developed into an itchy and painful rash later. if the boards are dry enough, we should be able to assemble 1-2 more raised beds.

when my mother came home in the late afternoon, we cleaned out the sun room, which had devolved into a secondary storage shed visible to backyard neighbors of our large clutter collection (electric snowblower, empty cooler, pruning equipment of all shapes and sizes, paint cans, etc). we moved things to either the garage or the basement. i worked slow, already wiped out from painting all those boards.

i was reluctant to go home, didn't want to face off an additional roommate. when i finally did get back around 6:30, nobody was home. i took the opportunity to have some dinner (pulled pork anyone?). while cutting some oranges in the kitchen around 8:00, i heard the front door opening.

up to that point, i didn't even know the name of victor's girlfriend. being a female astrophysicist, i imagined her to be some petite nerd girl with glasses. so i was a little surprised to see a tall and attractive young woman. her name was gise, pronounced "HE-say," not sure if there's an english equivalent. i found it kind of funny that they were wearing nearly matching outfits, light purple sweater above a dress shirt.

gise went to bed early due to the jet lag while victor and i watched the celtics game (they beat the washington wizards). he also asked me about the government shutdown he's been hearing about, something that doesn't happen in spain. i told him it was a political ploy and probably the republican-dominated house of representatives would blink first because they're closer to their constituents. i joked that he should get a t-shirt that says, "i can to america and all i got was a government shutdown." one of his bosses at the office would not be allowed to work should the government shut down, since he draws a federal salary. later in the evening, with just an hour to go before the midnight deadline, there was breaking news that both sides (republicans and democrats) reached an agreement.

1 i had some help: noisy upstairs neighbors cooking breakfast in their kitchen directly above my bedroom and then running the garbage disposal. it was a rare occasion when i wasn't roused out of bed annoyed.

2 i actually saw the black squirrel for the first time this year standing on a street corner on rc kelley street. it was literally standing up on its two hind paws, but quickly scampered away when i passed by. i hadn't seen it all winter long so i was afraid it died. glad to see it's still alive!