from almost never drinking coffee to having the equivalent of 3 espresso shots every morning, that's what's happening this week. jittery yes, but that may just be my imagination; what isn't imaginary is the urgent need to go to the bathroom 10 minutes after finishing my coffee. it wasn't the yogurt because i didn't have any today. maybe the almond milk was spoiled, but it smelled and tasted fine. i think primary suspect is coffee. i must be one of the lucky 30% of the population that ingests coffee as a fast acting laxative. this is going to come in handy for future long trip preparations: wake up in the morning, drink some coffee, go straight to the bathroom. also for lunch i had a pork floss pastry and another italian sausage.

i called cubby oil this morning to get a heating oil price quote. before my agent would tell me, he first told me about their 2-year contract, where we'd save 22¢ per gallon the first year, and then 17¢ per gallon the second year. their current oil price is $3.09/gallon, but with the discount it comes out to $2.87/gallon. also included is a free cleaning every year, and a 15% discount on all parts and labors should the furnace need any servicing.

i went to the cafe in the early afternoon primarily to see if my father would be free for us to go out and buy a multi-ladder, but also to do some garden refuse clean-up along the border of the parking lot. my mother also got me to do some neighboring mulberry tree pruning with a pair of oversized loppers and a step ladder. my sister's been harping about this tree for months now, saying how the low branches would scratch the roof of her car.

i also gave my father my old late 2012 macbook pro, the one that i've now deemed completely fixed (i sent a note to the repair shop to let them know). he said it's been a while since he used a mac (not since the powerbook 3400c from the late 90's). i demonstrated siri (apple's version of google voice) and showed him some special trackpad moves like revealing desktop or show all windows. he said he'd bring it home and play with it.

it took less than 48 hours but the black plums have already started to reduce into liquids. my mother showed me the small jar on her desk while my father brought me down to the basement to see the remaining 3 jars. so far no molds yet as far as i can see, maybe the sealed nature of the fermentation will kill off any harmful bacterias.

my mother also agreed that we should go buy a ladder, if nothing else, to beat my sister to the punch as least since she was also planning on getting one. my father and i went to harbor freight at the fellsway plaza in medford. 17ft franklin mult-ladders usually cost $140, but i had a coupon for just $110. earlier i'd determined the distance on the front steps of my sister's place using a laser measure to make sure a 17ft would be the right size. we looked everywhere in the store for the ladders but finally saw them in front of the store by the cashier. they only had two left, one in black, one in red. we picked the red one because the black ladder looked a little scratched. in its compact form, the multi-ladder was still light enough for one person to carry it, but it still had some weight on it. it was small enough we could fit it in the sedan's trunk with the back seats folded down.

we went next door to OSJL so i could look for some yarn for my mother. they did some major cleaning since the last time i was here, now everything is organized and well-stocked. i found the yarn and sent my mother a few photos. she called me back and we coordinated back and forth until i picked 5 skeins of amazing wool yarn for her and my 2nd aunt (at $3/skein, my aunt was at the cafe as well).

since we had time and we were in the area, i wanted to show my father the aldi food market. it's still really hard to describe aldi. it's kind of like a really cheap supermarket stocked with off-brand food items. they also some some really random stuff, like deck nails and gardening tools, along with toys. it's never crowded either, with stop & shop just on the other side of the strip mall, and places like costco and market basket within the vicinity if you have a car. what i found really exciting was right next door an ac moore crafts store was soon to come. there used to be one in assembly square before they got kicked out and trader joe's took over its place. with their departure, the only nearby crafts store seems to be michael's, but glad to see ac moore coming back, if nothing else to have some competition.

we left aldi with some pork rinds, some plums, and some insulated socks of all things. we finally went back to the cafe (4pm), hitting some light traffic along route 16.

the first thing we did when we got back was to try out the ladder. it came with instructions which i tried to make sense of but decided to skip it as the ladder seemed pretty intuitive in function. we brought it over to my sister's place and set it up on the steps so i could reach the wooden decorative arches over the doorways. these need to be scraped and sanded before painting. it was actually pretty easy to set up, everything seemed self-explanatory. the multi-ladder is a more stable platform compared to a standard straight ladder or regular step ladder. if we can find suitable tarps to cover the steps while i scrape, i can begin prepping as early as tomorrow. prepping is the hard part; actual painting will just take a few hours. the multi-ladder seems so useful, we should've gotten one years ago.

i finally rode home close to 5pm. going home any later, i'm liable to hit traffic and could have a hard time finding parking once i got back. i finished watching episode 5 of bodyguard. for dinner i have more corn and ribs. at this point i'm pretty ribbed out, even though i have more for one more serving. i think it's going to be a long time before i want to eat ribs again.

i watched the first episode of alienist, a late 19th century term for the new field of psychiatry. in a nutshell, the series is a mid-1890's hunt for a new york city serial killer. it reminds of me the knick, about turn of the century doctors in the also new field of surgery. the knick was better made and tackled tough subjects like racism and hospital corruption. i'll still watch it though, hopefully it gets better in subsequent episodes. dakota fanning plays sara howard, the first woman ever employed at the NY police department. she has a vey serious matter-of-fact demeanor that reminds me a lot of hailee steinfeld's character mattie ross in true grit (2010). i find her story to be more interesting, as she has to deal with daily institutionalized sexism in her work place.