i left the house at 11:00, taking the bicycle into the south end for the annual pride parade. it rained earlier this morning but seemed to have stopped for the time being. i pumped up both tires and oiled the chain before i left. the route took about 30 minutes, over the longfellow bridge, down charles street to arlington then all the way to tremont. part of tremont was already closed to car traffic when i arrived but my bike slipped behind the wooden barricades without even a police officer giving me a second look. i locked the bike to a parking meter and waited at the southeastern corner of tremont and berkeley.

i still had 30 minutes before the parade began. on the way in i felt a few rain drops but while i was waiting it turned into a steady drizzle. last year it rained as well, but towards the end of the parade; this year it'd rain for most of the procession, at least from where i was watching.

it's scary how promptly the parade begins. at exactly noontime i heard the revving of motorcycle engines as the lesbian and gay bikers kicked off the procession. i climbed onto the utility box for a better view, a spot i discovered last year. nobody else joined me, which was great (maybe also because the surface was all wet and nobody wanted to sit in the rain), but my view was still blocked on two separate occasions: an ecstatic woman waving a rainbow flag standing below up, poking the spokes of my umbrella a few times; and a couple pushing a stroller holding a large golf umbrella eclipsing my view. fortunately they were there only for a little bit and eventually moved away.

i pretty much had the best view ever of the pride parade but the rain dampened the photography because i had to shoot while holding the umbrella. it was hard to control the zoom; i basically pre-adjusted the focal length beforehand, then started shooting hoping i got the right factor of zoom. when i wasn't shooting, i was busy wiping off the rain from the lens and the barrel.

it wasn't just the rain: it was also cold and windy. i was bouncing to the music but only so people couldn't see i was shivering because i was wet and cold. fortunately i brought my hooded sweatshirt (in my grocery tote bag) but i didn't want to wear it until after the parade because i didn't want it to get wet.

the pride parade is different every year. even in lean years, there's still a lot of spectacle to be seen. i'd say this year was about a mid-range parade in terms of pageantry. the strength of a parade can also be gauged from how much free tchotchke can be amassed. the beads were free-flowing this year, and basically anyone who wanted beads could get them. 2nd most common freebie were the safe sex packets, and i was given a few regardless if i wanted them or not. there was also a lot of candy, some rubber bracelets, balls, and (marshall) tote bags.

i don't like it when strangers take my photos (i don't mind when friends do it though). this has happened to me a few times, when somebody has blatantly stepped next to me to take my photo without asking. i don't think i'm photogenic at all, and i'd hate to have my likeness be used for some prurient purposes. so it happened to me again today. i was sitting on the utility box and i noticed a man was just standing below me putting his camera to my face. i paused for a second but then casually turned away. maybe this makes me a hypocrite because i take photos of strangers all the time. but i do it on the sly! which possibly might be worse.

i got back on my bike once the procession was over. i basically wandered blindly through the south end until i found myself back onto arlington street going the wrong way. fortunately the street was still blocked off so there was no cars. i then followed the procession to the state house, cutting through boston common. by that point the rain had stopped. i came down park street, going northeast on tremont (boy, tremont sure is long), until i got to the intersection of beacon, in front of king's chapel. from there i snaked down to washington street and arrived at haymarket to get some cheap produce. there's a bit more selection since my last visit. i saw a lot of lettuce (romaine, iceberg) and cherries are now in season. i ended up buying some ginger ($2), jalapeño peppers ($1), a pineapple $2), and 2 bags of cherries ($5, i think about 4 lbs. worth). i took a quick peek at city hall, where there was a free pride concert and various vendors set up around the plaza.

instead of riding the longer but safer charles river route, i just went over the longfellow bridge and went back the way i came. it was almost 3:00 and i was a little hungry since i only had a banana for breakfast. i was tempted to get some KFC along the way but decided to visit punjabi dhaba instead for some nice indian highway-style curry. i wanted something simple but everything seemed so expensive (did prices go up? i thought they were an inexpensive joint); i ended up getting the chicken tikka masala to go ($7.95), which comes with basmati rice and chutney.

nobody was home. after a quick shower, i finally settled down for a late lunch. maybe i was just hungry, but the chicken tikka masala was exquisite. the rice was cold but the curry was hot enough that it actually melted a part of the plastic lid (is that safe?). there was a sweetness to the curry, almost like they added coconut milk. i ate too fast and got the hiccups.

to went to the dollar store to stock up on toilet paper (there was a sale and i had a $1 coupon). coming back, i ran into ed. we talked about hockey. he said he was going into the north end tomorrow night in the hopes of celebrating a game 6 bruins victory.

earlier i'd accepted an invitation to dinner with eliza. she was back in town for a week, to visit her dying grandfather. leaving tomorrow, she wanted to see some friends before she left. dinner would be in jamaica plain, at canary square at 7:00. also invited were carl and hilary, and ed and michaela. i wanted to ride the motorcycle but i didn't want to risk getting caught in the rain that was due to arrive later in the evening. according to google map, the fastest MBTA route would still take an hour. i made plans to leave early, but lost track of time and suddenly realized close to 6:00 that i had to get going. it was a race against time, one that i wasn't winning. at porter square a train had just left when i got there. the same happened as well when i got to the orange line at downtown crossing. despite the setbacks, i managed to get to canary square right on time. carl came out to greet me while i was taking a photo of the restaurant from the outside. they'd gotten a table but nobody else had arrived yet. i met hilary inside. soon ed and michaela showed up, followed finally by eliza.

Headcheese shoulder andouille, short loin tri-tip ham swine pork hamburger. Ham hock shankle shoulder cow sausage, rump ground round tenderloin flank. Brisket ground round flank ribeye bacon. Turkey tongue strip steak, drumstick ground round sausage meatball short loin pork belly tenderloin tri-tip rump boudin venison pork loin. Pork loin meatloaf headcheese, shoulder short loin strip steak bresaola. Shoulder shank boudin tenderloin salami jowl jerky. Beef swine rump sausage ball tip shoulder pancetta andouille t-bone.

the waiter asked us if we wanted to move to a different table. the alternative was a better choice, with eliza sitting in the middle so everyone could have a chance to talk with her. it's been more than a year since i last saw eliza, when she was back in boston briefly may of last year to sell off her JP condo. the food at canary square was a little fancy for my taste. carl, who's been here a few times with hilary, was telling us about the popcorn assortment and the fried twinkie, neither of which were on the menu anymore. i ended up getting the wood grilled burger ($11) and shared some appetizers with carl and hilary (deviled eggs and truffle blue cheese tater tots).

eliza showed me her new nikon coolpix camera that her parents gave to her as a consolation prize for not spending more time with her when they last visited paris. i'd forgotten that she used to own a nikon as well, a coolpix 4500, the same camera i had for many years. i love that camera still, it's by far the best travel camera for the stealthy way you can take photos.

after dinner we were trying to think of things to do, this being eliza's last night in boston before returning to europe. carl was pushing for more alcohol, or possibly go clubbing. in the end we settled for some ice cream at jp licks at the other end of centre street.

we decided to walk there, but everyone got their umbrellas ready just in case because ed's iphone weather app showed imminent storm clouds on the doppler radar. sure enough, it began to rain midway towards our destination. with the money left over from dinner, we used it up so everyone could get a special topping on their ice cream. i got a medium cappuccino crunch with jimmies ($5): the crunch comes from the coffee beans, medium was probably too large, and turns out jimmies are free. i also asked for a cone but they gave me a soft-serve cone instead of a sugar cone. and i was a little disappointed with the ice cream flavors (no burnt sugar flavor like at christina's in inman square).

we decided to call it a night as everyone retreated to their cars. i was prepared to take the subway home but ed and michaela generously offered me a ride back to cambridge (since they live in cambridge as well, huron village). i got home in 20 minutes in what would've taken be an hour by MBTA.

i spent the rest of the night sorting through my pride parade photos. the cappuccino crunch must've hit me hard because i wasn't sleepy at all and stayed up until 4:00. i forced myself to go to bed, only so i can wake up tomorrow morning at a sensible hour.