the painting lessons i learned today was i need to paint in broader strokes otherwise you can see all the brushwork and wire track lighting are delicate and if you're not careful, you might end up breaking two test tube bulbs by accident (not me). while i was painting inside the bathroom, jeff was busy sanding the wooden ceiling beams in the living room. by the time i left, the floors were covered in this dark dust. the music was a lot better today, chemical brothers followed by the soundtrack for reservoir dogs. i only worked for 3 hours before i came back home. i finished the rest of my poptart from this morning and chicken bits from last night before going over to bruce's place for some naturing on this gorgeous clear blue sky day.

we drove down to broadmoor in natick. i casually asked bruce if he knew what poison ivy looked like (i didn't know), and he showed me, and i wish i never asked, because i suddenly realized we were completely surrounded by the stuff, it's innocuously looking triple leaves disguising its sinister operation. once i knew the truth, once i had the knowledge to identify said plant, i became quite paranoid and couldn't enjoy the forest, being very careful not to accidently brush against any poison ivy. at the same time, i wanted to know what it felt like to get a poison ivy itch, and i wanted to know if i was one of those lucky people who are immune to its effects, since i don't remember ever suffering from it before.

lily pad flower

red admiral

bruce fending off
mosquito attacks

at the information center, on a chalkboard and in an observation notebook, there were written mentions of recent sightings for bluebirds and wood ducks. unfortunately, we saw none of those birds. there were a lot of red-winged blackbirds around the river, and in the water were painted turtles swimming gracefully underneath the duckweed, occasionally trying to climb onto a lily pad to sun themselves. everything was going fine until we got further into the forest, out at a clearing. first i noticed one or two mosquitos, which i was able to slap away, but before too long, bruce and i were being attacked by mosquito swarms, these tiny bloodsuckers (some weren't even that tiny, a few were as big as a centimeter) pricking us on any exposed skin. bruce had pants on, while i wore shorts. i got mosquito bites on my arms and legs, in my armpits where they flew into my t-shirt, on my thighs where they flew into my shorts, a few on my chest through my clothes, on my ears, on my head, in my hair, on my neck. it was nearly unbearable, but so long as we didn't stop, we could outrun the mosquitos. everytime i paused for a photo, i'd finish by brushing off the mosquitos from my arms and legs, sometimes leaving little smears of mosquito guts.


yellow custer

lady's slipper

king boletus

eventually we made it back out of the forest having survived the mosqutio guantlet. although we didn't see any pretty birds (besides the red-winged blackbirds, and off in the distance a red-tail hawk being mobbed by smaller birds), we did see some interesting plants, mushrooms, and insects, including a tiger beetle, which flew away before i could capture it. there were also a lot of different butterflies, but they never stopped flying so they were hard to get photos of.

once we got back to civilization, i got out of my clothes and went to take a bath to soothe the itching. surfing the net wirelessly, drinking my carbonated cranberry juice, with the window opened just a crack to let in a slight late spring breeze, for a brief moment i was completely relaxed enough to almost forget about the mosquito attacks in the natick forest.

my father stopped by with some paperwork for a refinance meeting tomorrow (he had already been to my place earlier, leaving some supplies while i was away), along with some old family photos he had scanned from some color negatives, photos of me perhaps age 3 in an amusement park with my paternal grandmother and my then high school aged aunt.

my father dropped me off at renata's place, where i had a feeling that on such a nice day, she'd find it nearly impossible to not call me up for a walk around fresh pond, in my second nature outing of the day (though technically, fresh pond isn't a nature preserve). the thing we noticed right away when we got there was at first appeared to be feathers, then we realized it was some kind of seed dispersal mechanism (sort of like milkweeds, but smaller), then we saw that it was everywhere, covering the ground in white, filling in the air, like snow in june. it was weird, and it was happening at only one end of the pond, and try as we may, we couldn't see where it was coming from. as we continued walking, i realized the abundance of poison ivy growing along the path, perhaps a deterrent for those thinking about straying and going to places where they shouldn't be going to. renata, ever observant, saw a yellow bird in the trees, which originally we thought was a goldfinch, but after consulting with my bird guide (which i just happened to be bringing, since i had it for the broadmoor walk), we agreed that it was a male yellow warbler, with unmistakeable reddish streaks on its stomach. after the walk, renata was kind enough to drive me back home to my side of cambridge.

manny came over for one final night of wings before his wedding this saturday. besides wings, he also showed me his brand new cellphone (finally submitting to practicality and taking the plunge into wireless communication). he told me what i had to do before the rehearsal dinner on friday and expressed some concern that i had a hard time remember the day and time of his wedding. he also said there'd be some dancing at the reception dinner, and i told him there's no way in god's green earth that i would dance, and it's unfair anyway, since i'm not the one secretly taking dance lessons like him.