i went down to the cafe late this morning to help my mother help my 2nd aunt book her flight to california to attend the july wedding of my girl cousin whom i haven't seen in almost 2 decades. i paid with my credit card and my aunt repaid me immediately with cash.
back at home, i saw a can collector working my street. when i heard somebody rummaging through the recycle bins next to my house, i knocked on the window to get his attention. either he didn't hear me or pretended not to, so i rolled up the window and told him he couldn't be here. it's one thing to rummage through the trash when we have our bins on the sidewalk; it's another thing to actually unlock the gate of our fence and come into our private backyard. this is actually the 2nd time it's happened. at least this man was apologetic; the other time i caught somebody, he played it like there was nothing wrong with trespassing. given the recent home break-ins in the neighborhood, there's even less tolerance for over-ambitious collectors.
after some scrambled eggs and sausages for lunch, i went to the bank to deposit my cash before going to the supermarket to pick up my supplies for the week. i was thinking risotto so i gathered up the necessary ingredients (arborio rice, onion, hot italian sausages, frozen broccoli, parmesan cheese). riding back, i saw 2 fine black wood modern-style dressers on the curb on beacon street. too large to haul back on my own, i called up assistance. by the time my father arrived 10 minutes later with the car, they were already gone. driving me back home, we saw an old box fan on the street that my father told me to grab. it was covered in cat hair but my father said it'd wash off and be good as new. one of his hobbies is restoring broken fans, since most of them just need some re-oiling to get back into working condition.
with the possibility of a thunderstorm arriving, i was resigned to staying at home. but a check of the doppler radar showed clouds not appearing until at least another hour so i decided to take a motorcycle ride to the somerville home depot to return some aluminum spacers and to buy some stainless steel machine screws for my rear racks.
i decided to come back via union square, which was a mistake. the whole reason why i found a new route to assembly square mall was to avoid the perpetual congestion in union square. my new route might be longer distance wise, but it's shorter time wise since there's no traffic. anyway, while stopped at the lights, i saw a man pushing a trek allant on the sidewalk.
close to home, i decided to pay a visit to the community garden to check up on my plants. i noticed a bike on the side of the road on wendell street with a note taped to the seat. i wasn't able to read the message but i had a suspicion what it might be.
i met jenny in the garden, who was a few plots away. she asked if i could help her move a concrete block in her garden. i figured she'd help as well but she made me carry it by myself while she lead me to the other side of the garden to find a place to put it. it was a square-shaped concrete donut and it must've weighed 60 lbs. at least. i'll probably feel it in my back tomorrow. jenny had the plot with the lovely peony bush in the corner; however it wasn't so lovely this season as all the leaves were covered in this white mildew. it didn't affect the flowers though, big white ones with surprisingly little scent, with a few spots of red in the center. she said last year she had 2x as many flowers so the mildew definitely had an effect.
as for my own garden, some of my squashes have sprouted by not all of them. a few nasturtiums have appeared as well, poking through the mulch. the areas where i wasn't able to put down any mulch had some weeds, a combination of crab grass, wild morning glory, escaped chinese lanterns, and some unknowns. i pulled what i could by hand before watering my garden (despite the rain later).
after parking my motorcycle back at home, i decided to walk down to wendell street to investigate that bike i saw. i bumped into jeff and his dog and they both accompanied me. i thought maybe the bike was gone until i saw it. sure enough, the note read, "free fixer-upper." i immediately grabbed this free bike.
we contained walking until we came to the lesley tennis courts. along the chain-link fence were hung makeshift garden containers made from hollowed up 2 liter soda bottles. guerrilla gardening or abandoned college project? whatever it was the plants growing inside seemed neglected. there were a few different types of parsley, one with thyme, and another with a tomato. i noticed there was no drainage holes at the bottom. it's definitely a cool idea though, and maybe some of the community gardeners up against the chain-link fence could do something similar.
wheeling the free bike home, i bumped into ed. he was impressed with my find, and estimated that i could get $30-40 just for the front wheel alone (not sure how he came to that number). he noticed the tires were flat and pumped them up for me with an automatic air compressor. i tried riding it back home the short distance i had left; the chain was moving but something was catching on the derailleur.
once i got the bike home i took a photo of it before storing it away temporarily on my backyard deck. from my initial cursory inspection, it's a schwinn lady 10-speed. it's got a wald basket in the front, and a milk crate basket on the back strapped to a rear rack. it has chrome fenders that are a bit rusty but hopefully can be polished clean. the brakes are center-pulled calipers. in a former life this bike lived on the dartmouth campus as it still has a security sticker. the right pedal is busted, but still works if you're careful. the original schwinn saddle is a bit torn but still usable. the frame is a bit tall and sitting on the seat i can't touch the ground with my feet but i can still get a good riding position. it'll be fun restoring this bike.
the main question here is: when did i become a bike hoarder? although in my defense, i couldn't just pass up on *free* schwinn 10-speed. i really need to seriously think about selling (or even just giving away for free) some of my bikes. for instance, that GMC denali is a sweet bike, but it's kind of dangerously tall for me and i could never seriously ride it. i could probably sell that for $100 since it's in practically new condition. likewise that jetter. if i can get it fixed, i'd sell that cheap for $50 (obviously for somebody who's very tall). i think if i can fix up this schwinn 10-speed, i think it'd make a good auxiliary grocery getter.
i moved on to my trek 800 grocery getter, trying to reattach the rear baskets which have become loose recently. since the screws i put in have a tendency to unscrew themselves through vibration, i had the idea of getting one long screw that could go through the 2 rear rack eyelets on bike frame. simple in theory, difficult in practice apparently. the eyelets aren't exactly aligned in a straight line. i almost had the screw all the way across but since the alignment is off i wasn't able to get it to come out the other side. maybe with some more work i could it to work; or i could go with a smaller diameter screw and just pass it through without threading into the eyelets. it would probably strip the threads inside the eyelets but it would work. after suffering a few mosquito bites and the sky beginning to darken, i decided to call it a night.
i made risotto for dinner. it takes more than half an hour to make but the effort is totally worth it as i'm left with fine risotto. my only regret is the leftover is never as good as the fresh from the stove. it's completely filling too, all that creamy rice and cheese and broccoli and sausages.
there was a brief heavy downpour in the evening. my worst fear was realized when my upstairs neighbor steve wrote me a short e-mail saying, "water coming in my skylights. we really need a new roof this summer or fall." he's kind of a reactionary and i've received panicked e-mails and notes like these in the past. i called his bluff and asked to come up and see the damage for myself, but he said he just finished a report and was getting ready for bed. it's obviously not that bad if he's willing to wait until fall. i really don't mind, since i'm going to be paying a small fraction of the total cost, because i already told him i wouldn't pitch in to replace his 8 skylights (only to repair/replace the roof). i think he had a estimate done 2 years ago, and my share was something like $3000 while he had to pay $10,000 ($4000 his share of the roof plus $6000 to replace the windows - obviously very fancy windows).