this morning was street cleaning and i was curious to see what would happen to that booted SUV. it took the city of cambridge a long time before they sent someone from the traffic department to remove the boot. by then the tow mafia was already waiting with a flatbed truck. for once i'm kind of happy about a tow: that SUV was an eyesore and taking up a scarce parking spot.

while making breakfast, i noticed the package on my rear porch. it was from amazon, but i didn't remember ordering anything. when i opened it up i got even more confused; these were things i wanted on my wish list, but i had no recollection of ordering them. when i finally saw the note that's when i realized they were presents from my friend frances: a case of good earth tea, a knitting pattern book, and a set of collapsible light reflectors for photography.

i made a trip to rite aid to get some snacks before visiting the nearest hess gas station to fuel up the motorcycle. i then went to belmont to drain the rain barrels. it wasn't as cold as yesterday, with temperature in the 40's. still cold, but at least i could ride a few miles without my fingers hurting from freezing.

i didn't have an problems with the rain barrel closest to the rear door - the east side. i think it's because it has the most sun exposure to melt the ice inside.

the rain barrel on the other side of the house - the west side - has the least sun exposure. when i checked yesterday there was only a layer of ice on the surface of the today. overnight however, ice formed all along the inner walls, clogging up the faucet. initially i thought the whole barrel had frozen solid because when i thumped the sides it felt solid. it was only after i broke the surface layer of ice did i realize it was still mostly water (icy water, but water nonetheless). i tried to chip off the ice with the wooden end of an ice pick but it didn't do anything. i ended up boiling a pot of water and dipping the head of the faucet. after a few minutes of thawing, the faucet began working again.

as the barrels drained, i saw how grimy they were inside, coated with dirt accumulated from a season of rain water runoff. i tried to find a hand brush or a scouring pad but the only thing i came across in my search was a toilet brush. that turned out to be the best option, since it gave me a longer reach.

the triple rain barrel setup on the southern side of the house initially seemed to be working fine; i used a long hose and let it drain out by the compost bins. when i unscrewed the lid of the red collecting barrel (formerly a greek olive container) i saw it was still full of water, meaning it's faucet was clogged with ice as well. this freezing didn't affect the 2 attached reserve tanks maybe because they're black in color and are better at absorbing heat. once again i got a pot of hot water to thaw the faucet. i then reconnected all three barrels and let the remaining water all drain out. one thing i noticed was the piping going through the wooden post seemed to be leaking. i think freezing water in the pipes might've cracked it; my father will have to do some resoldering come next spring.

after the barrels were all drained, i screwed on the lids and flipped them upside-down - all except the black reserve tanks which don't have any openings other than at the faucet end which can be closed.

my mother came home in the afternoon. my sister was doing nanny duty and wouldn't be back until 6:30. after dinner i returned to cambridge. with cleaning on the other side of the street for tomorrow morning, all the safe parking spots were already taken. i ended up in a little space at the end of the road.

the only show on television that wasn't a repeat was monday night football. as a patriots fan i rooted against the pittsburgh steelers, there loss would make it easier for new england to capture the number 1 seed position.