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More Days with No Visits and Catching Up: Botanical Garden and Baneasa Forest

To start with some more recent matters, yesterday I noticed that what had remained of those fig trees behind the building, after that woman tore most of them up last year, had been cut. Not completely, but the parts of trunks left likely have less than a meter, all being chopped at about the same level. Noticed someone there when I pulled up the blinds after waking up yesterday afternoon, but didn’t actually look to see who it was, whether it was the guy tending this place or someone else again, and obviously have no idea whether it even was that person who did it or they were there to assess the damage done by someone else.
Moving on to an entirely different matter, been quite worried about a cold all of last week, starting with a sore throat and other symptoms following, and since I can’t afford anything of the sort now, with the half marathon a month away, didn’t let my body try to fight it off on its own anymore and took a few things. Even considered buying something from the pharmacy, but what I took seemed to keep it under control at first and then it was getting better, and now I seem quite fine, so there was no need of that after all. On the other hand, as of Saturday evening I had a nasty taste in my mouth and smell in my nose, if I may use the term, and wasn’t sure whether it had actually appeared, somewhat vaguely, even before I ate that night, possibly as a result of something I had at the event I went to earlier that day, and I only thought I identified it later, or it only really appeared after eating, but until I ate this afternoon I thought it was the taste and smell of spoiled garlic. However, now I just realized it most likely came from the smoked tofu I had, and which I had indeed last eaten Saturday night, before finishing it today. Definitely shouldn’t have been spoiled, but the thing is that, even though it had faded a fair bit, I still felt some of that taste and smell even today, before finishing that piece, so two and a half days after last eating some of that tofu.
And to finish with these more recent matters, there seem to have been no visits here on April 5 and 6. Or at least Google Analytics didn’t record anything, which of course may also mean that there was a problem there, since there was nothing in the “unfiltered” view either. But obvious bots are automatically filtered out and my own visits are filtered out of that view as well, and the sort of spam visits that I try to filter out of the main view may be very frequent but not to the point of showing up every day, so I can’t know whether it was a problem or not. Should probably make a view where my own visits aren’t filtered either, to be able to check, but it’s not like having no visits is surprising. If anything, it’s rather surprising that it’s the first time I make a note of this after December 6, though I was wondering about data loss then as well… And now that I checked again, I just noticed that no visits show up, in either view, on March 29 either, yet I didn’t make a note of it at the time, so not sure whether I forgot to check that night, which is actually possible, or I saw but forgot about it, which seems much less likely, or there was something there and then it got deleted for some reason. Either way, the fact remains that the last time I had two consecutive days with no recorded visits was on October 25 and 26, 2010, so only a little over a month after launching this site.

And now I have some catching up to do, starting with March 24, when I volunteered at the Botanical Garden again. The “official” album gives a pretty good idea of what was done that day, but this is a personal post, so for me the day started at 7:45 AM, when the alarm went off and I got up. Meant to leave at 8:40 AM and that was actually when I was at the door, and when I got to the metro station the train was just there, had to run for it, so there was no time lost there either. There was an unpleasant moment when I got off, when the people coming in didn’t give me priority to walk out, as they should have done, so at first I had to wait for a guy and his kid to step on and then the next guy almost ran into me and stepped on my foot, but shrugged it off and was at the Botanical Garden at 9:20 AM, and it was actually a few minutes after 9:30 AM when Anca gave the signal to get going.
Before being divided into teams, those who had been there the previous day as well were put in one team and told to finish what was left to do in the sector they had worked on and the rest of us were given a rough idea of what each team would do, to know where to position ourselves. I stayed just where I was, but that was the spot for the team which was mostly going to just rake, so only girls and women rushed to that area and I was the only guy, which prompted the woman who eventually stepped forward when Anca asked for some team leaders to say, when we gathered in front of the area we were supposed to work on, that we might as well follow gender stereotypes and have me carry stuff. But I said it at the same time she did, and that was what I meant to do anyway. It was also there that we split into three smaller teams, but almost right away one of these smaller teams seemed to pretty much vanish, and later I saw one girl working alone in an area for quite a long time.
I also raked a bit at first, but after a while I was pretty much stuck carrying, which was actually easier than expected this time, having a wheelbarrow and the spot where we needed to take the stuff being nearby, our team actually being the closest to it. The issue was that the first time I bent down, these old pants that I keep for such things tore quite badly, on the right leg, so I had to stay like that all the way. At least it’s a good thing they didn’t tear at the back or between my legs… Did notice quite a nasty look from a girl, I think she might have even been one of those helping Anca organize these things, when her eyes fell on the tear when we were eating, and one of my teammates asked about it at some point, probably having forgotten that I had pointed it out as soon as it happened, but I managed. Felt more awkward about getting back like that, thinking that I had brought my shoes along, to only use the boots while there, when it would have apparently been better to bring spare pants, but my jacket could more or less cover the tear when I had it on, which I did, except while working.
Back to what we actually did, after a while the team I was in was told to also move a pile of things, I think made of rubber, which I think had been used to mark the path created through that area. Those did have to be carried a long way, but I again had a wheelbarrow, and starting on the second trip one of the women got her hands on one as well, while the others carried bunches of the longer pieces in their hands, one holding each end. Since many pieces were long, we eventually took to bending and, where possible, snapping them to make more fit in the wheelbarrows, yet even so those carrying the longer ones had to make a fourth trip to take the last ones left after we had all made three. It was also a bit annoying that some pieces kept falling off, but I was placing myself last in the group and was gathering them as they fell from others, since I had an easier time of it and could catch up after those brief stops.
We started doing this just before the lunch break, at noon, so when we came back from the first trip we found the others already eating. Saw three types of sandwiches this time and grabbed the one that seemed better, the other two being similar, just that one was with chicken, which was also the case of the one I got, and the other with pork. Those with pork seemed to be avoided by just about everyone, and quite a number of them, as well as a few of the others, were left after each had taken one, so a guy asked whether he could take another and Anca said he could, since those left will just be left there anyway… And eventually, as the break was ending and after Anca had also left to do something, I grabbed one of those with pork too, as I was talking with a couple of women about planting trees, one saying she recognized me from that last time, actually recognizing the cap at first, since I was wearing the one I got from there. Probably shouldn’t have grabbed that second sandwich though, since my teammates were getting back to work, I had to get the wheelbarrow back there and ate it very quickly, which led to me feeling a bit nauseous for a while.
Either way, after we finished carrying those things, Anca told us to carry a pile of branches away as well, so I joined a woman to do that too, finishing on my own since somebody else took back that second wheelbarrow she was using at some point. After that, helped a bit more with cleaning up what little of our area was left and we were pretty much done when, a bit before 2 PM, Anca said we should finish up and gather the tools and our things. It was 2:02 PM when I checked the time, and by then we had taken the stuff back and were gathering in front of the shop.
There was no raffle anymore, with the only bigger things, I’m not sure whether just some sort of big keychains or air fresheners, being given to those who had volunteered more than once this spring, and the rest just getting to pick one of the regular keychains, plus of course the regular stuff everyone gets each time. When she got to me, Anca asked whether I hadn’t been there for the previous days as well, but then realized she knew me from previous years, not previous days. So I grabbed one of those small “pineapple” ones, which seemed the only one like that left when my turn came, and actually considered using it, but then decided against it, since it’d just waste space in my pocket. So would even do without these little additional rewards, on top of seeing it as a pretty good thing that they no longer give plants and got rid of that raffle and any bigger “prizes”, and much prefer them using whatever little funds they have to get us food, as they started doing since last time, and possibly other useful things like better tools and equipment to use while we work.
As for the way back, got off the metro at Dristor to get toothpaste from that pharmacy, walking back from there. And then threw the clothes in the washing machine just about as soon as I got back… And forgot the money I had in the pocket of my pants. The bills weren’t a problem, being plastic, but the five little coins sure made quite some noise, and I couldn’t find one of them at the end. Three were there at the bottom, after I got the clothes out, and one more fell from the clothes as I was getting ready to hang them to dry on the balcony, but I never found the fifth, since I know there were five of them. Just hope it didn’t somehow find a way out and end up in some unreachable place in the washing machine, possibly causing problems at some later point. There are some problems with this washing machine as of recently anyway…

Moving on to March 30, that was when the event where I could volunteer to plant trees this spring as well took place. I said it was on very short notice and I spotted it when I was sure that there won’t be any such event that I’ll be able to attend this time around, but of course I went if I actually found one. Do feel like I’m sort of cheating to say that I really planted trees though, as it was the smallest such event I took part in and it was particularly poorly organized as well. Also considering the fact that it was organized by the developers of a residential complex built in that forest and who keep trying to clear even more of it for another access road and therefore will try to do whatever they can to greenwash their actions, it seemed like little more than an excuse for some to be able to say they planted something. On the other hand, we did plant something, so some good will come of it, at least if those oak saplings will survive and grow. I probably planted about a dozen myself, half of them without digging the holes, the first few because the holes were already waiting for us and the others because other people were just digging. And yes, took a few pictures as well, but just had my phone, so the quality is poor.
Getting back to how poorly it was organized, that became obvious even before getting there, since there was a form to fill that also asked for e-mail and phone number but there was no confirmation or anything else sent after filling it, and there weren’t even instructions on how to get there. I asked and they did reply, but told me what bus stop to get off at and that I’ll have some 400 meters to walk from there, yet I saw that the location marked on the map was some 650 meters away from the next stop and some 850 meters from the one they mentioned. Admittedly, from that stop you had to walk on the road that’s at the edge of the forest while from the next one you’d have to use a path cutting right through, so that first stop is the better choice if you don’t know the area, but that makes their instructions no less wrong, due to the distance they listed, and this was one reason why I ended up at the wrong event at first, and I highly doubt I was the only one to do so.
But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. Got up that morning at 7:15 AM, left at 8:25 AM, pretty much as planned, didn’t have much to wait for the metro, neither here nor after changing, and got on the bus that arrived at 9 AM, after waiting for it for a few minutes. I think it’s been a couple of years since I last used that bus pass, but it still worked and there were 5 RON left on it, so even if I didn’t also check after using it, there should be 3.7 RON left now, since I just used it to get there. That is, annoyingly, just 0.2 RON short of three trips, but at least, by walking back, I kept enough for two, including on lines going outside the city, as those cost 1.5 RON, or for one using an express line, as that costs 3.5 RON.
But I’m again getting ahead of myself. In fact it was a little interesting as soon as I got out of that metro station, seeing a small group of what looked like Boy Scouts gathering there and then walking to that same bus stop, obviously with the same destination, and a few others dressed like runners, which I initially assumed were going there to plant trees while also pointing out that they’ll be taking part in the half marathon and are volunteering because the organizers support this event, before realizing that they were simply some of those just running through that part of the forest that day, and I saw plenty of those. All of these got off at that next stop though, but I stuck to the plan and got off at the one I had been told to get off at, stepping on that road at 9:18 AM, and getting to the end of it at 9:25 AM.
Well, that was where things got tricky, because at the end of that road I walked right into a group that seemed to just be getting the brief instructions for the day, before getting to work. I was surprised, since the event I was going to was supposed to start at 10 AM, with me being there so early since I had given myself time in case I’ll get lost, but I didn’t think there could be two events so close to each other and I had been told 400 meters and had already walked more than that, so assumed that the marked location had been a bit wrong and they were starting early because enough people had arrived early. On the other hand, I was looking oddly at the fact that there were so many children in that group, and had even more questions after I saw someone with a list, asking people whether they had signed, and when I asked what that was she said I was supposed to sign it to state that my child had taken part in that brief “training”, something being quite obviously wrong when she acted very surprised when I said I didn’t have a child. Still, I went with that group… And stood around for a few minutes, since very few tools had been brought and even when one of the foresters said he’ll go bring more from the car, he only came back with two, many, if not most, people still having nothing to work with.
Whether that was somehow the right place or not, it was obvious there was no point to be there, so I soon walked away and quickly, at 9:40 AM, found the actual location for this event, just a bit farther on, pretty much exactly where it had been marked on the map. There didn’t seem to be any other volunteers there that early, but there were a few signs clearly marking the spot and the organizers were getting the tools and water out of the van and starting the generator. Unlike the other ones, they were at least prepared, but very few people seemed to be coming, only a few others seeming to have a look at the area before the two events joined together, that woman who had that list to sign coming a bit before 10 AM to say that she’s feeling awfully embarrassed due to having way too few tools for the number of people who arrived there. And since at this event there were plenty of tools but hardly any people, which I again point out was very likely also because plenty had made the same mistake I had, going to that other event which I then learned was indeed meant for children and their parents, and the same foresters had to work with both groups anyway, we just formed a single group and got right to work, without any more instructions for anyone arriving straight to this location.
That did mean that those coming to this event weren’t told anything about where to plant, and since only the first few holes were already there, after that people were more or less left to guess at the right distance and dig new ones where they saw fit. There were some strings to mark the rows, but there were only a few of them, the foresters taking one when that row was more or less completed and moving it to the next spot, which left plenty of people, myself included, to spend quite a lot of time just looking around to try to figure out where they should go next to plant something. 1000 oak trees were supposed to be planted, according to the event’s description, while I heard the foresters mention 1500 at the start of that other event, and there were a fair number of people, but it definitely didn’t seem like that much was done. Plus, at least one pile of saplings was left at the end, though when I pointed that out to one of the organizers she said they had more than needed.
Either way, even took a break, between 11:15 AM or 11:20 AM and 11:35 AM or so, drinking a bottle of water and burning my tongue and throat quite a bit with a cup of hot chocolate, and by the time I got back there was very little left to do, so found a small area where I could still help and then was left asking one of the foresters, quite surprised, whether that was really it. He said we had planted quite a bit, but it sure didn’t seem like it to me, and by noon we had taken all the tools back and were leaving.
Since I meant to check out the shopping center from that area as well, I started walking, and was at the next bus stop, on the way back, when one just reached it, at 12:19 PM. But I stuck to the plan and ignored it… Only to have someone honk and stop the car next to me for a moment, asking whether I wanted a ride. Refused and found the moment rather odd just then, but after a while realized that the driver had probably been the guy I had helped just at the end, and that I likely also walked right past him as he was changing his shoes before getting into his car and driving off, so he probably just noticed me walking there, where very few people would consider walking, and wanted to help.
After that, reached that shopping center, went to the bathroom, changed my boots after coming out, then went back in and struggled to change my pants as well, since I had those old ones on again, after sewing that tear. That definitely wasn’t easy, with nothing to put anything on and nothing to sit on, or at least nothing I cared to sit on, since there of course was the toilet itself. In addition, as I was trying to somehow hold my backpack and those pants while putting the other ones on, I realized, when first one and then a few more people tried to come in, that the lock on that door didn’t work either, which also meant it didn’t show up as occupied. Still, eventually managed it, wandered around a bit more, peed one more time, and was finally out at 1:30 PM. There is a bus that could have taken me straight back from there, no longer needing to use the metro, but I preferred to use that and save what I had left on that bus pass, so I kept going and it was 2:15 PM when I entered Herastrau Park, at Press Square, and 2:37 PM when I got to the metro at Aviatorilor, after walking what would seem to be eight kilometers, starting from the moment I left that event and not counting wandering around that shopping center and its parking lot. Either way, that first metro came within seconds, but when I had to change, at the next stop, I just watched that next one leave and had to wait ten minutes for another. Was eventually back at 3:10 PM, after giving up on the idea to get off at a farmers’ market and look for lettuce.

The thing is that I still felt like I hadn’t done much of anything, even despite the walk, so that at least prompted me to change the sheets on my bed after I got back, though it still wasn’t enough to make me clean my room as well, and I definitely can’t recall when I last did that. A while later I took a shower, finished it at 6:30 PM and got in bed, thinking that I won’t be turning my computer off for Earth Hour, considering the issues I have when logging back on, but the monitor will be off and even if I’ll wake up before it’ll be over, at 9:30 PM, I’ll just stay in bed. But that wasn’t an issue, because when I did eventually wake up and check the time, I saw that it was 9:49 PM… And I felt quite exhausted the next day as well, shaking a fair bit, even dropping my glasses at one point, though nothing seems broken, fortunately. And speaking of that next day, the computer added another hour to the time that following night, which it tended to do a week, not a day, after the hour changes. But I guess it’s not particularly unusual, and just telling it to synchronize the time again fixed the issue.

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