my mother showed up at 11:20am so we could go to the assembly square mall. the reason was to investigate the somerville acmoore crafts store, which began a liquidation sale ever since i came back from china. i saw the e-mail message a while back but didn't register the significance until much later. liquidation sale? does that mean the store is closing? i searched online for answers. the only information i found was that a trader joe's will be opening in the sports authority next door, itself going out of business; there was no mention of acmoore. the only way to find out for sure was to visit the store.

my mother brought some leftover zongzi and a carton of watermelon which i placed in the fridge. she doesn't particularly like driving (especially not after her little fender-bender in watertown a few years back) so i drove to assembly square, my first time behind the wheels since my return. we went north on central street then east on broadway; that turned out to be a mistake as there's currently road repairs on broadway so 2 lanes became 1 lane and took a bit longer to arrive at our destination.

arriving at acmoore we saw the liquidation signs everywhere, but no mention of store closing. but why have a liquidation sale (and only at this store) if everything was okay? everything in the store was 20% off or more, which meant we couldn't use the 50%-off coupons we normally bring when we visit. as far as discounts, it was only a modest saving, since typically with coupons we're used to saving even more. my mother didn't buy much, a plastic boot tray, a pair of no.7 circular needles to replace the ones she seemed to have lost, and a bag of cheap yarn. i found a 6x8" float frame that was on sale for $5.

when i asked the acmoore cashier if the store was closing, she said yes, scheduled for december. so the liquidation sale is indeed tied to something bigger. it's sad to see the somerville acmoore closing. true, michael's crafts store sell much of the same items, but it's nice to have some variety, and acmoore does carry a few yarn brands exclusive to their stores. i wonder what store will go in its place once acmoore leaves? will trader joe's expand on its sports authority space? maybe something better will come along, but ac moore was a fixture at assembly square. i mourn its closing.

we went next door to the sports authority, which was still opened despite news of its demise back in march. apparently only now (since the end of may) is it in the process of closing all their 463 stores. liquidation and sale signs were everywhere, but the discounts were paltry at best, with most items only reduced by 10% from retail price. not good times for general sporting stores: local chain citysports closed all of their stores (26) the end of last year. there's one on the corner of porter square; i only shopped there once maybe around 2 decades ago when searching for last minute christmas gifts. even EMS - which sells outdoor gear and equipment - is closing a bunch of their stores (although i think the one in harvard square is still around).

next stop was tj maxx. after checking out their selection of discounted name brand bags (michael kors, kate spade), we perused the rest of the store. i was in search of a small clock for my bathroom, to replace the frog clock mary smashed up. they had a lot of home decor items, but i didn't find anything suitable. my mother bought a lot of summerwear, in anticipation of my parents' bermuda vacation in october. when we went to go pay, that's when we noticed how many people were there shopping with 10 registers opened. this was on a monday afternoon at 1:30pm. how can there be so many people not working today? a secret holiday i wasn't aware of? is it because of the subway station making assembly square more accessible? but these folks looked like they all drove here. i asked the old cashier if it was always like this; she answered yes with an unsmiling look like she had just about enough.

finally we went to the christmas tree shops at the other end of the mall. we spent a long time here as well, looking at everything from toiletries and cosmetics, to food and home decor. i noticed they don't carry the large size (5 liter) bormioli rocco fido clamp jars anymore, the ones that i use to make my sichuan fermented paocai; i'm glad that i stocked up when i had the chance, i have 3 of them in my possession and i think my parents have a fourth. speaking of paocai, i brought back some special salts and spices when i was in chongqing, i'm hoping to start a jar sometime soon.

we finally left close to 2:30pm. my mother had to be back at the cafe by 3pm. i drove back to my place first, but with the ongoing road construction on beacon street, i pulled onto the curb before star market and walked home while my mother drove back to the cafe. i took my float fame and a $1 bag of soft licorice.

i biked to market basket to pick up a few grocery items (always 12 or less, so i can check out in the faster limited items lanes): bagels, frozen pizza, pickles, pork rinds. basically, all the things i couldn't have while i was in china, i was determined to reacquaint myself with.

the last time i was in western sichuan (august 2014) i managed to collect a bunch of wildflowers. i tucked them away in a hardcover journal book i'd been carrying, and sort of forgot about them. when i was in china this time around, i brought the same journal book, and happened to rediscover these pressed flowers nearly 2 years later. determined to do something with them was the reason why i bought the float frame. i'd investigated these types of frames before, but wasn't happy with them because i couldn't find any frames that had a tight enough seal to hold the pressed flowers in place with using glue. but i never actually tried out one of these frames until today. it managed to hold a single test photo just fine, so i figured it'd do the same with the flowers. i first cleaned the two panes of glass before arranging the flowers. unfortunately despite being pressed for so long, these flowers still have a bit of thickness to them, so that some of the smaller flatter flowers fell out of position when i held the frame upright. i will need to use some glue after all.

i also got a chance to examine these flowers. what i thought was a blue poppy was actually a blue delphinium. the blue gentians i collected have now turned mostly yellow, but i managed to recognize them from the faint traces of blue still visible on the petal edges. and thanks to the 2 volumes of china wildflowers guide i picked up from china, i managed to identify a few flowers that don't even seem to have any layman english descriptions, like Pedicularis chinensis - which was only mentioned in a bunch of scientific papers and a very short swedish wikipedia entry. my dream is to one day return to western sichuan to collect some more wildflowers.

i heated up some french bread pizza for dinner while watching the NBA finals, game 5 between the cavaliers and the warriors. to me it seemed suspicious that golden state player draymond green would get suspended in a crucial game that cleveland needs to win in order to extend the finals. of course having the series go the distance would be in the best interest of the NBA for financial reasons: more commercials, more ticket sales, more of everything. but now there will be a game 6, which must make the NBA overlords happy. it wouldn't surprise me if the cavaliers got more calls going their way, thereby pushing the series into a game 7. i personally would love to see that - not because it makes the NBA richer, but because i'm rooting for cleveland to win.