it's too hot to write! i'll fill in the details tomorrow (hopefully when it's cooler). in the meantime, enjoy some july 4th photos!

i tried to make it to belmont early enough so i could see the flowering radicchio. i wasn't optimistic, since it was already so sunny out. by the time i got there around 10:30, the pale blue flowers were already wilting. there would be no radicchio flower show today!

i went to the squash and cucumber plants to check for new SVB eggs. there were none. i wonder how directly correlated is the relationship between squash flowers and vine borer visits? we can't pull out all the flowers though; there wouldn't be any squash if we did! SVB also lay eggs on cucumbers, but without squash flowers to attract them, they will usually ignore all the other yellow flowering plants.

there is one immature zucchini on the squash plant. i don't know if it'll mature because there was no other flowers around when it bloomed, so it might not have been successfully pollinated.

my parents weren't home but the bikes were missing so i assumed they were out riding. just then my mother called me to let me know they were at the cafe, and said we could all ride back to belmont together, not realizing i was already there. but it wasn't a big deal to go to the cafe so that's what i did. it'd give me a chance to teach them some city biking skills i'd picked up from my own biking experience and see my mother's first bike ride (back from the cafe).

it was a great day to ride because the streets were unusually devoid of traffic due to the 4th of july holiday. even when i left my house and arrived at normally-busy mass ave, there was hardly any cars. my father was leading, and took us on a different way than i'd normally go, just to avoid being on busier roads. he then rode far ahead of us while i rode behind my mother. another reason why i was in the back was because i was taping the whole ride using my mother's canon SX230 camera mounted to my handlebars.

everything was fine until we got to the intersection of huron avenue and fresh pond parkway. my father had already sped across, seemingly unconcerned about my mother's safety given that it's her first time navigating these streets on bike. first i told her to stay on her bike so she could quickly pedal across the intersection when the light went green. she almost fell off her bike at that point and said there was no way she'd be able to bike across in time. when the light turned green, she was just going to walk her bike across, even though cars were already turning. i told her to hit the crosswalk button. when she saw there were no more cars, she prepared to cross. i told her she had to wait for the lights to change because she'd already hit the button. what should've taken us just a single cycle of traffic light change ended up taking several minutes. all the while my father was about 50 yards ahead of us, just waiting.

later for the rest of the ride back, he rode behind my mother. once we got to the border of cambridge-belmont there was another drama. it's a bit of a steep climb, followed by the crossing of a fast-moving street. my mother pedaled up the hill a bit before she gave up. i don't normally stop on hills (harder to start up again) so i'd already biked up to the top, waiting for her, yelling instructions for her to cross the street. she decided our way was too difficult and decided to go a different and longer way home. i rode behind her shouting because she was riding too far into the street with an oncoming truck heading her way that she was oblivious to.

when we finally got back home (23 minutes instead of the supposed 12 minutes) she told us, "i know how to ride a bike! you guys don't need to teach me! i'm a natural biker." she said she preferred biking inside fresh pond on the paved pedestrian roads, which was the way my father had taken her when they went to the cafe earlier. that route adds a few more minutes to the commute and takes an unnecessary detour along the edge of the pond.

after helping my father tweak the bikes (adjusting the rear brake pads on the 10-speed and then finally pilfering the new ones [replaced 2 years ago, never used] from the old huffy sitting in the garage), we went ahead and did some work on the russian olives.

russian olive AKA russian silverberry AKA oleaster AKA Elaeagnus angustifolia: my father first encountered this plant during my parents' recent trip to western china. russian olive trees grow in the desert of dunhuang when few other trees can survive. it wasn't the silver foliage that my father noticed; instead it was the distintive fragrance. so he collected a few seeds and brought them back home. he asked me to find some more information on this plant. he only knew the chinese name, but after discovering its latin designation, i was able to find a lot of info.

turns out the russian olive is an invasive weed here in united states. it was introduced to america in late 1800's, but can now found in almost every state (except in the southeast for some reason), as well as most canadian provinces. so the answer to the question of will it survive here in new england is yes. my father had already planted some in pots, and the seedlings emerged just a few days ago. now he wanted to plant the rest. so we scrounged around the house looking for empty pots. he also for some reason planted some seeds in the potted japanese maple, which had all sprouted and needed to be transplanted. the potting mix was a 1-1 mixture of peat moss and manure. my father scooped out the transplant-ready seedlings with a pair of spoons; the thing he noticed was despite the rough treatment, none of the seedlings showed any sign of wilting.

i'm a bit suspicious about these russian olives. if they truly are invasive, we shouldn't be growing them at all, or maybe only indoors. and now we have a dozen potted plants, with more to come. are we indadvertedly raising monsters?

my sister wasn't home, off at some 4th of july party in newton. after dinner, i biked back to my place. the whole ride felt like being in a war zone, as local citizens were (illegally) setting off fireworks and the sounds of explosions filled the air. after taking a quick shower, i was out the door again. i wasn't planning to, but since the weather was nice and i had time, i decided to go see the fireworks after all.

the explosions continued, now mixed with groups of people roaming the streets. you don't necessarily have to be in boston to see the fireworks; as long as you can see the city, you have a pretty good chance of catching the show. so people were already standing on street corners (some were sitting on lawn chairs), looking down the roads to the horizon, counting the minutes to the pyrotechnics. i passed through inman square then went down columbia street to MIT. cops were rerouting cars, but they completely ignored anyone on bicycles, so i was able to bike into the crowd. i decided to park and walk the rest of the way on foot; if i had my bike too close, i wouldn't be able to get out easily once the show was over and the place mobbed with a sea of people going home.

i arrived at 10:00, with about half an hour before the fireworks. i wandered around, trying to find the best place to watch. the bridge had already been closed off as a crowd-control measure. instead i stood in an area right before the bridge, behind a few rows of people and a metal barricade.

after the fireworks, i followed the crush of people and got to my bike. i pushed the bike at first, then hopped on once the crowded started to thin out a bit. i headed northeast onto vassar street, then navigated my way home. what was cool was there were other cyclists, and we formed an impromptu moving convoy, jockeying for position at each traffic stop. some had lights, while others were completely dark. the whole event reeked of photo op, but there's no easy way to take photos while moving on a bike (dangerous anyway, especially in the dark).