i rode the motorcycle to belmont this morning for an OSJL run. we left by 11am, which happened to coincide with some torrential downpours as we drove to waltham.1 we got some planter boxes for our mints and gardenia. we also got some boxes for the garlic chives, saving me the trouble of building my own. we got a teriyaki chicken subway sub before returning to belmont around 12:20pm. it kept on raining but the downpours were mostly gone.
we did some research on pulley clothesline, as my mother is always complaining about no place to dry her clothes outside as we've taken up her former spot by the basement entrance with raised beds and wire trellises. there's a good place to install a pulley clothesline from the sunroom entrance then 30 ft to the cedar tree. when we asked my mother she was for it at first and thought it was too much hassle and said she didn't want one anymore.
my father and i went to the watertown home depot around 2:45pm to pick up a new water heater to replace the one in my sister's basement which started leaking the past few days. the weather had improved since earlier, and the sun was even out, making it hot. we got a rheem's tank that was 40 gallons (enough for 2-4 people) with a 12 year warranty and more importantly of the right height for the low basement. all the floor units were sold out so we had to ask one of the employees to help us get one from the top shelf. we also left with 4 bags of potting soil.
we went to my sister's place around 4pm to drop off the water tank; she'll call home depot installers tomorrow morning to schedule the repair. supposedly they're able to do it on the same day if you call them on a weekday morning. at what cost though we don't know. if it was just a simple electric hot water tank we might be able to hook it up ourselves, but this is gas and better to get a professional. besides, home depot will also take away the old tank free of charge.
returning home, we stopped in front of a nearby house that was dumping a bunch of flower pots. had we known, we probably didn't need to buy some earlier. they also got rid of a bag of rose-tone organic fertilizer.
when we got back by 4:30pm, we put some soil in some pots and planted the mints and replanted the gardenia. we also prepared the two long boxes for eventual garlic chive transplanting.
after dinner i returned home by 7:45pm. because of street cleaning, there was no place to park so i had to stash my bike on the private street 2 blocks away. i waited 15 minutes before putting the cover over the bike as downpours are once again forecasted for tomorrow.
i got out of the shower right when the final episode of game of thrones was starting. i hadn't planned on watching it live, but the stream i've used over the past few weeks was working again so i watched it. everything was going great until the stream was blocked 40 minutes into the show. i had to download the episode and watched it half an hour later.
so they killed daenerys. it wasn't a surprise, given how she went totally loco last episode and burned king's landing down. what made it even sadder was she never got to sit on the iron throne, because jon snow interrupted her moment and then gave her the shiv after they embraced. drogon taking her away was a fitting tribute to the dragon queen. that they sort of fast-tracked her to be the bad guy this season was unfortunate, after building her up to be the hero. at the same time, jon snow (who has the best claim to the throne) doesn't become king, and gets sent to man the night's watch again. is the wall even necessary, now that the night king's dead? many people were probably thinking sansa would then become queen (and she probably thought that herself), but it ended up being bran, the least likable GOT character. however, sansa does become the queen of the independent north, which isn't a bad consolation prize. besides bran, another character i hate is bronn, who was created by the showrunners as an exposition device but ended up being this magical character who shows up out of nowhere and can never die and in the end gets all this undeserved glory. i could've done with less bronn and more screen time for other characters. i'm glad that game of thrones is finally over. there are plenty of other great shows to watch.
1 today was actually the rain date for the postponed may fair happening in harvard square. i ended up not going but the whole time i was thinking about those poor people getting soaked in the rain, and especially the sidewalk chalk artists, which is usually the only reason why i go.
just when i thought my mysterious upstairs tenant wasn't home this weekend, i heard her in the kitchen upstairs around 7am, noisily closing cabinets and drawers and refrigerator door. it was so loud that it induced a subsequent dream where i was beating my fists against the walls yelling at her to stop but my hands had no power, like trying to thrash underwater. i take back what i said about her being the perfect upstairs neighbor, at least when it comes to her morning routines. thankfully she's just here for a month. i don't look forward to sharing the house in the summer with the couple with 2 kids.
i woke up at 8:30am to get ready for the annual spring cambridge ride. i took my trek allant, probably the only time out of the year where i ride it. i inflated both flat tires and wiped off the dust. i made it down to the cambridge public library where everyone was congregating before leaving at 9:30am.
i picked up some biking literature as well as a complimentary water bottle and some bike lights. honestly, i only went for the freebies. i should've gone home afterwards. instead i went along on the 13-mile bike ride, figured it'd be good exercise at least on this sunny spring day. temperature was in the 60's and i wore some jeans and a white polo shirt. the only person i knew there was renee.1
at the midway way we passed the cambridge-belmont line. so close were we to my parents' place i could almost see it. that would've been a good point to leave the convoy, but instead i continued riding, until we returned to the library by 12pm. there was a raffle and i wanted to see if i was lucky. i ended up not winning anyway, but i did go away after eating two pork vietnamese sandwiches and grabbing another water bottle for my mother. i don't think i'll be doing another one of these bike rides anytime soon.
after using the bathroom and taking a quick shower, i packed up my things and left for belmont via motorcycle, figuring i had enough of bicycling for the day. i was still hot and wore only my polo shirt, but packed a hooded sweatshirt in my backpack since it'd be cooler in the evening. i arrived a bit before 1pm.
i installed the handlebar clock onto my motorcycle, it was a perfect fit, looked like an original factory issued part. it seems secure enough, locked in place with a simple screw, but i'll keep an eye on it, whether it's to make sure the vibration won't loosen the clock or damage some internal clock mechanism.
i had some gardening projects but we never went out for supplies. instead my father and i pruned the quince bush and called it a day. supply run will have to wait until tomorrow.
hailey was home for most of the day, sleeping outside, occasionally in the sun, occasionally under the shade of the maple tree. my sister dropped by in the late afternoon to pick up her dog. she left with a bucket of ornamental grass for her garden.
i played for my mother the thriller greta. after dinner i introduced my parents to gentleman jack before returning home.
1 renee said she actually met my upstairs neighbor, but only briefly, not enough time to ask her what she was doing in cambridge. renee thinks she might be retired. i asked renee about her downstairs tenants, fishing for clues to see if they were leaving and if i'd have more new neighbors. she gave me some juicy gossip, said the married indian couple had split up briefly, but the wife had returned, and might decide to renew their lease for another year. i still haven't officially met them yet, although we've awkwardly waved to each other in passing a handful of times.
a black bear up a tree in arlington was the news du jour this morning. animal control shot it with a tranquilizer dart and the bear had the foresight to finally climb down the tree (despite the mob of watching residential spectators) before it passed out. supposedly they'll reintroduce the bear (a young 2-3 years old male with study tags) to somewhere further out in western massachusetts.
the darkened sky because of the rain outside threw off my natural alarm clock and i woke up later than usual this morning. i thought maybe the rain would stop by noontime, but every time i checked the doppler radar it seemed like new rain clouds were forming, and the end of rain kept getting pushed back later and later.
i continued working on that splinter in my fingertip with the sewing needle as it was still hurting. i opened up the wound a little more, to the point where i got the splinter to poke out a bit. then it was just a simple matter of extracting the splinter with the tweezers. the splinter itself seemed like nothing, just a tiny bit of wood, yet it managed to cause all this discomfort.
finally by 12:30pm, when i saw a break in the rain, i got my cargo bike from the basement and pedaled to the cafe. it was still showering a little bit, but not enough to dampen my clothes.
i was at the cafe to inspect the memory cards on the wyze cameras to see who stole our garlic chives for the second time. suspicion fell heavily on the restaurant people, but we had no proof. when all of the garlic chives first disappeared just two weeks ago, the only thing we managed to capture was the before and after. so i adjusted the cameras to record 24/7, hoping to catch whoever it was that stole our garlic chives the first time should they come back again. and sure enough, the thief struck again on wednesday, not just in the parking lot garden behind the cafe, but in my sister's backyard as well.
yesterday i tried looking at the saved footage through the wyze app via the internet, but it was slow and prone to losing connection, so it was easier just to scrub the videos directly off the memory card. another problem i discovered was when my mother was looking at the videos when she was in taiwan was that the camera clocks would get set to taiwan time, so the timestamp would be messed up. i was afraid it'd also erase the old footage, but thankfully they were still on the card (just tagged as "old").
videos on the card are sorted by day, and within each day folder there are 24 folders representing the hours. in each of these hour folders are the actual videos, each one just a minute long, 60 files per folder. though viewing the videos directly was faster than doing it online, it was still tedious. thankfully my 2nd aunt was at the cafe when it happened, and she remembered there were still chives around 5pm, but were gone when she left by 6:30pm.
it was actually kind of exciting playing detective, pouring over the clues, looking for evidence. and before too long i found it: at exactly 6:25pm the cafe parking lot footage shows a chinese man carrying a bowl and a pair of scissors approaching the garlic chives. unfortunately the view is blocked by a van, but less than 2 minutes later he leaves the area with a bowl full of garlic chives.
but wait, there's more! the fact that my sister's backyard garlic chives were also snipped clearly meant that the restaurant people did it. but without actual proof, they could always deny it. not unless you're faced with video footage: at 6:30pm the video from my sister's backyard wyze camera showed the same man going through her garden taking all the garlic chives.
it felt good knowing what actually happened to our missing garlic chives, but at the same time a little worrying knowing that our restaurant neighbors would be so brazen with their theft. not only that, it was the restaurant owner who did this. while we were talking about it, my mother remembered many years ago that she actually told the restaurant owner that he could help himself to our garlic chives. he's never done it before until this year however. even then, common courtesy dictates that he asks first. common courtesy also dictates he only takes a little bit, not all of it. and it wasn't enough that he took everything the first time, but that he had the audacity to do it again 2 weeks later.
my father said he'd take care of it since my sister has no tact when it comes to neighborly diplomacy. we wouldn't even mention the videos, but should they deny it, we had footage of them in the act. in the grand scheme of things it's not a big deal, but it goes to show what kind of people these restaurant workers are that they would do such a thing.
i was set to return home, where hopefully the rain would stop and i could go to haymarket and get some produce. but it was still drizzling and i hadn't had lunch yet (it was almost 2pm by then), so i ended up eating at the cafe, where my 2nd aunt showed up with some leftovers and my father made kung pao chicken again. my sister also made some meatball cabbage soup with her pressure cooker.
i returned home by 2:30pm (i saw my aunt pulling up in her car before i left the cafe). the latest forecast said the rain would end by 3:15pm, but when i checked again, it said it'd continue raining until 5pm. there would be no haymarket trip today.
as i was home with nothing to do due to the rain, i broke into my stockpile of downloaded movies and shows. i watched gas pump girls (1979), an early precursor of the sex comedies that would be an 80's staple. i also started watching HBO's gentleman jack.
unlike yesterday when i was very disciplined, i couldn't help myself from snacking today, eating a whole bag of spicy potato chips. i had a late dinner, some more pasta around 10pm, followed by a small container of rice pudding.
i was afraid to get up this morning because i didn't want to find out that my toilet still leaks despite all my best efforts to fix it. when i finally did get out of bed, i immediately went to the bathroom and knelt down in front of the toilet. with a piece of tissue, i wiped the upper part of the bowl checking for leaks. it was bone dry. tightening the locknut worked! no more leaks! but i couldn't believe it and was afraid that it was only temporary and would suddenly start leaking again. one thing i noticed while checking the toilet bowl was the leak had been going on for so long, it actually furrowed a grooved path in the porcelain itself, which with my trained eye looks like a false leak.
with the leak fixed, i was in a good mood the rest of the day. even though it wasn't that cold outside (temperature in the lower 60's), it seemed colder because it was mostly overcast. however, there were intermittent periods of intense sunshine, which made me instinctively want to go outside and do something. alas, i never once set foot outside today. it would've been a good day to work on the bike, but i was afraid it might rain, and wanted to do it on a better warmer day.
all that good mood was dampened somewhat when i got two splinters while moving a piece of wood in the house. i only saw the one splitter and immediately pulled it out. only later when i felt a sharp pain in my hand didn't i realize there was another splinter. this one was deeply embedded in the whorl of my fingertip so it hurt intensely. i spent some minutes with my glasses off (macro mode) trying to dig out the splinter with a sewing needle. i only managed to break the skin above the splinter, but it was just too deep to budge. hopefully it'll just come out on its own over the next few days.
i contacted kevin at united solar again this morning. to my surprise he actually wrote back almost immediately. he said the town of belmont verbally okayed the inverter "upgrade" but wanted some updated documents for review, which he already submitted, and should be approved shortly. once that's done, we're back to playing electrician schedule tag to try and book a time for the swap out.
i caught a glimpse of my upstairs neighbor, who was in and out all day. first time was from behind, seems like a skinny blonde woman in her 50's or 60's. later when we left the house again in the afternoon, i finally saw her face, rather nondescript, and i immediately forgot what she looked like. i'm curious to know what she's doing here, that she can rent a 2 floor condo for so many months to live by herself.
i wasn't feeling particularly hungry today, and didn't have lunch until 2pm, a chicken kielbasa english muffin sandwich with some homemade sauerkraut. in the afternoon i wanted a health snack so i decided to make some machine bread machine - which takes 3 hours to make. i used a recipe that called for: 1 cup of warm half and half, 1 egg, 1-1/2 tbsp of melted butter, 1-1/2 tsp of salt, 1-1/2 tbsp of sugar, 4 cups of flour, and 2 tsp of yeast. it should've given me a delicious bread but it didn't. the bread didn't seem to rise all that much, sitting inside the machine in an unsightly clump, and the end result was like a dense edible rock.
i had bread slices with some brie around 5pm, which naturally threw off my dinner schedule as i wasn't very hungry afterwards. i didn't have dinner until almost 10pm, reheated some spaghetti meat sauce and boiled a cup of pasta. for dessert some navel orange slices. i watched the bruins game while i ate, never thought i'd be watching ice hockey, but the playoffs makes fans of us all. they ended up beating the hurricanes, sweeping them in the series to advance to the stanley cup final.
i finally paid my motorcycle insurance, which is down to $111/annual. i wasn't in a hurry to pay because i remembered it was around $300, but i think that's what i paid in the past, before switching to progressive. i also filed my paperwork for a state tax "intent to assess" in order to verify my refund of $88. both of these things i could've done weeks ago but i was too lazy. the only thing left is my home owner insurance, which has jumped to $1300 so i've been trying to see if i can switch to a difference company (i currently use concord insurance, which was what the previous homeowner used).
i ordered a bunch of electronic parts off of ebay: double rocker switches, digital volt/ampmeter, 10W ceramic resistors, rotary switches, and binding posts - all parts to make a DIY bench power supply from a used computer PSU.
i woke up this morning and the toilet bowl water was green, proof that the leak wasn't just a tiny trickle. however the color in the bowl wasn't as dark as the tank but hard to gauge just how much water had leaked from that alone. after flushing the tank a few times to clear the dye, i disassembled the tank once more, even easier the third time around. i noticed the red tank to bowl foam gasket was still scrunched but only a little bit, but that wasn't the problem. the issue most likely had something to do with the way the flush valve was seated on the toilet tank. i was afraid i wouldn't be able to remove the plastic locknut underneath the tank hold the flush valve in place, but the plumbing pliers was the perfect fit and i unscrewed the locknut easily. i checked the tank for obstructions, then reattached the flush valve assembly. i reassembled the toilet and turned the water back on. it was still trickling water into the bowl.
could the problem be the tank itself? that was the only answer i could think of, as i'd already checked the flush valve multiple times. i didn't see any cracks when i inspected it, but it could be micro cracks, or a material defect. i went online and did some research on toilet tanks. if i bought one and it didn't work, would i be able to return it? what's home depot's policy on used toilet equipment?
my upstairs neighbors came back, or at least one of them, i didn't see anyone, but i heard the noises. i remember paul told me that their new tenant would be moving in today so my days of single house occupancy has come to a short end. in the late morning i heard a knocking on their door, but i didn't have to a chance to check out the new tenant.
i finished the tub of red bliss potato salad for lunch while watching the news. my father called me asking for my help to move the upstairs apartment furniture from the kitchen back into the bedrooms so renovation work can be done in the kitchen, which i thought was happening today but apparently not. the newly finished floors seemed too good to be walked on. my father closed the cafe for 10 minutes to come help move some of the heavier items. afterwards i clipped some exposed telephone wires.
i rode the motorcycle to belmont, to wait for my mother's arrival later in the evening. i also had some cleaning to do, so the house wouldn't be a mess when she came back. my father said he already did some cleaning, but at the very least i would vacuum the house. i ended up dumping the vacuum canister 8 times, that's how dirty the house was. i also organized the sunroom, which has slowly turned into a large storage locker, with so much clutter you could hardly see the floor anymore. i put the jasmines and gardenia closer to the south-facing windows so they can get more sun. the sunroom still needs another pass to remove the clutter but at least everything is organized now. there wasn't much to do out in the backyard. i weeded a few dandelions, churned the compost bine, put up some solar lanterns, and planted a packet of fragrant sweet peas. there seems to be too many things growing on the trellises: sugar snap peas, hyacinth beans, and now sweet peas. as the season progresses, i'm also going to be planting some cucumbers and morning glories and moonflowers.
i finally finished cleaning by 5pm. my father went to the airport after work to pick up my mother, her japanese airline flight arriving around 6pm. i was actually able to listen to the logan airport control tower chatter as the plane came in for the landing, and tracked the plane on radar.
my parents didn't get home until around 7:30pm. my mother was on the same flight as my godmother, but jack went to the airport to pick up his mother. my mother had two heavy suitcases. she dug out a few packages of suanmei my cousin had gotten for me. earlier i'd cooked some rice and reheated a pot of chicken broth my father had left on the stove. he ended up making some scallion pancakes and we opened a tin of smoked mussels.
i returned home around 9pm. there must've been a brief shower since my motorcycle was wet but it was dry riding home other than the roads. it was dark in my upstairs neighbors' house and i didn't see their SUV's around so must've gone. also their front porch light was off, and that's always on, even during the daytime. all signs point to the new tenant having moved in. but steve didn't send me her contact info like he normally does. in fact, he hasn't communicated anything about their summer plans, and i learned all of it from paul from casual conversation. later in the evening i heard somebody coming home, the soft sound of the door closing, the clatter of plumbing as a toilet was flushed, and not much else. i think i'm going to like this new quiet tenant, whoever she is.
the first thing i did when i got into the house was to disassemble the toilet tank for the fourth time. the leak is definitely related to the bottom gasket underneath the flush valve. i carefully checked the tank once more for cracks. there was a scratch near the flush outlet but it wasn't deep enough to cause any leaking. i then put back the flush valve, maybe sure it was centered to the outlet. i also gave the locknut a quick tightening with the pliers before installing the tank back onto the toilet. it was still leaking.
at that point i was all out of ideas. the only thing to do now was either replace the tank or replace the entire toilet, neither of which i was in a hurry to do. the leak isn't so bad, just a tiny trickle, and i convinced myself that it probably amounted to a single toilet flush per day (1.6 gallon of water maximum). i could live with that until the day comes that i want to renovate the bathroom.
i went out and put the rain cover on the motorcycle and came back inside to take a shower. i ate some orange slices while watching the end of the red sox game.
when it finally came time for bed, i couldn't sleep knowing i didn't try fixing the toilet one more time. i'd been reading plumbing discussion groups and watching a bunch of online videos on fixing a slow trickling toilet. another idea was sealing the area around the flush valve gasket with some silicone caulk. but one thing i wanted to try was to really tighten the plastic locknut. i thought it was just supposed to be hand tight, but the instructions actually said, "hand tighten locknut and then use large adjustable pliers to go 1/2 beyond hand tight." could it be as simple as i didn't tighten the locknut enough? it sounded so easy it was worth a shot. by now - my fifth time removing the toilet tank - i could probably do it blind-folded. i was still careful though, my biggest fear is accidentally dropping and smashing the tank. i marked a spot on the locknut so i could see how far i've turned it. using the 12" groove joint pliers i started turning the locknut so it made half a revolution. i then put the tank back and turned on the water.
i flushed and waited. at first it was still trickling water from the usual spots. but then it did something i'd never seen before: usually the trickle is a small steady stream, but this time around the tickle ended into drops and stopped midway on the bowl before it reached the bottom. this was a promising sign. i wouldn't know for sure until tomorrow morning though whether or not the leak has been fixed.
i thought today was going to be intermittent showers at most, but a mostly dry day that would afford me the opportunity to run some errands like gardening. i was wrong. though not as bad as yesterday, it was still a rainy day. on top of that, it was cold with temperature in the low 40's, and we nearly broke the record of lowest high temperature, missed it by a degree.
i called my sister this morning to volunteer to help her haul some supplies at home depot. she drove the honda element to pick me up since her car has very little carrying capacity. i drove the rest of the way to the somerville store. i thought we were just getting a new kitchen countertop (the contractors are back tomorrow) but my sister ended up grabbing more things: kitchen backsplash, faux wooden vinyl flooring, and plastic radiator covers. we ended up paying around $700 in materials. i picked up a 7/16" combination wrench for my efforts, to replace the one that i'd misplaced.
we drove back to the cafe and carried all the materials to the upstairs apartment above my sister's place. i saw the newly sanded floors, all shiny and new. the only downside was the strong polyurethane smell, my sister will need to run the ozone generator and open some windows once the floors are good enough to walk on (which will be tomorrow).
my sister said she could give me a ride home before she went to work but i decided to walk back instead, gave me a chance to enjoy some urban nature and maybe take a few flower photos. i finally got home by 12:45pm.
instead of eating lunch, i went ahead and replaced the flush valve on my toilet. what was supposed to take 20-25 minutes ended up taking me more than an hour. it wasn't my first time removing the toilet tank, i did a long time ago when i painted the bathroom. after draining the tank and sponge out as much water as possible, i disconnected the water supply. the two brass bolts securing the tank to the bowl took some finessing to remove, a combination of flat-head screwdriver and a 1/2" socket wrench. once that was done, the tank could be removed, but not before i tipped it over to drain whatever water was still left behind.
the tank to bowl rubber gasket was all crumpled and corroded, no wonder the toilet was leaking. there was probably nothing wrong with the flush valve itself, i could've simply just replaced the gasket. but better just to replace everything, and know for certain everything is new and working correctly. next i had to remove the plastic locknut securing the flush assembly to the tank. i had a pair of plumbing pliers that could open just big enough to grab ahold of the locknut. since it was plastic, if i couldn't get it off i could always cut it, but fortunately after a few attempts the locknut came loose.
with the old flush valve assembly removed, i put on the new flush valve. the locknut on the new assembly was even thinner, and should i need to remove it in the future i'll probably need a special tool for it. i then slipped on the rubber gasket, red instead of black. i noticed the gasket was large enough that it didn't fit the flush hole on the toilet bowl. maybe i got the wrong size? but i continued with the instructions.
the new bolts - instead of a simple bolt-rubber washer-metal washer-nut assembly - involved a double series of rubber washer-metal washer-hex nut. it seemed kind of strange but i went along with it. i first attached the bolts to the tank, then used the bolts as a guide to lower it into position on the toilet bowl. because the gasket was so large, the tank was still wobbly at that point. i then went ahead and secured the second set of washer-washer-nut combination below the toilet bowl. as i tightened, the tank lowered into position until it was stable and didn't wobble anymore.
after adjusting the flapper chain to match the old length, i filled the tank up with water, gradually at first to make sure nothing leaked, then finally filling it to capacity. i flushed it, no leaks, everything seems to be working again. it was 2pm by the time i finished.
surprisingly i wasn't very hungry anymore. i ended up having a korean instant cup of noodle for lunch. while waiting for the water to boil, i stuck some fertilizing food sticks into my potted plants. afterwards in the late afternoon i took the utility bike to market basket to get some food. i decided to make some spaghetti for dinner tonight. coming back i admired a lovely wisteria trellis.
a late lunch combined with some hard sourdough pretzels i bought meant i wasn't hungry until later in the evening. into my meat sauce i added some leftover anchovies i had in the fridge. instead of spaghetti pasta i cooked up a cup of cellentani. the sauce was okay, but a little bland and oily because i used 85% lean beef. next time instead of beef i should get some ground italian sausages which have better flavor. even though the anchovies disappeared into the sauce, i probably added too much because i could kind of taste it, and anchovy in recipes is best when i don't notice it. i never had cellentani before, figured they'd be like macaroni. they were a little tough and chewy but i liked that.
i wrote to nelson-rigg's customer support last night, about how my motorcycle cover was missing a clip, and i also sent them a photo. i didn't hear from them most of the day and i figured nothing would come of it. not that i need the clip anyway, as the cover is already plenty tight so i don't need to strap it down any further with bungie cords. however, i was surprised to find an e-mail tonight, asking for my mailing address so they could send me a replacement clip free of charge. nice customer service!
feeling happy that i finally fixed the leaking toilet, i was horrified to discover that the toilet was still leaking. how could that be? i completely replaced the flush valve, there's no possible way it could leak. so i added some red food coloring to the tank to see if any color gets into the bowl. 1-1/2 hours later i noticed a tiny amount of red tank water had seeped into the bowl.
i was going to wait overnight but thinking about the leaking would drive me crazy so i decided to take it apart and check inside the tank. i flushed the toilet a few times to clear the red dye then unscrewed the 2 bolts underneath the tank. it was easier the second time around, and i was kind of surprised how loose the bolts were (yet there were no leaks outside the toilet tank). the tank to bowl gasket was all smooshed up, perhaps this was the problem. i reseated the gasket and reassembled the tank. i added some green dye to the tank this time (easier to see) and decided to wait until tomorrow and see what happens. once again i wasn't very hopeful because when i checked the toilet before going to bed, i thought i saw some green already leaking into the bowl.
it was a noisy monday morning but i didn't mind too much because i knew paul and steve were leaving for their summer house on the vineyard today. i watched as paul packed one of their SUV's. when i looked again, both of their cars were gone, apparently 10am was their scheduled departure time. of course i wasn't notified, although paul did tell me verbally on saturday they were leaving. as a rule however, they should've let me know more formally if they're going to be gone the rest of the year while a series of strangers rent out their house for the next 6 months. paul told me they were coming back to meet the tenant, although he didn't specify when that was, but i think by the end of this week.
today wasn't a bad day, cool and overcast, but dry. but don't let that fool you, as torrential rain would arrive by late afternoon into the early evening, raining into tomorrow morning. i took advantage of the dry conditions to run some local errands.
my new motorcycle cover arrived yesterday, a nelson-rigg defender all weather cover in black and size large (Nelson-Rigg DE-400-03-LG). i thought it was going to be made from a soft material but it was more like parachute fabric. unlike my old cover however, this one was supposed to be waterproof instead of just water resistant. the one had i before was an XL and this was a L, so i was a little bit worried about the fit. i'm happy to report it fits perfectly, a little snug but the elastic band provides some leeway, better than having a larger cover drag on the ground. the bottom of the front wheel is slightly exposed, but it was like that when i had the tall windshield with the XL cover. it had two grommet holes like my old cover, and both had bungie hooks to tie the cover down in case of strong winds. unfortunately there was only one hook, as the other one seemed to be missing. not that i really need it since the cover fits so snugly.
i promised bruce i'd give him some milkweed and drop off two pots on my way to the community garden. i saw him reading the newspaper through his study window and waved to him. he came out and i gave him further instructions of milkweed care. i went to the garden primarily to see if my container of milkweed rhizomes were still there. it was right where i left it, but because the roots had been sitting out for so long, most of them looked shriveled so i dumped them in the garden refuse bin. i dumped the half bag of potting soil into another grow bag i bought, so now i have two grow bag planters. i ended up digging a few more milkweeds, saved them for growing elsewhere. i also noticed something today: i no longer have any ornamental grass growing in my plot.
because it was going to be raining later, i didn't take the bike to belmont. instead i walked down to harvard square and grabbed the 73. walking from the bus stop to my parents' place, i passed by a sidewalk tree bursting with large white blossoms. at first i thought they were yoshino cherries but the petals didn't have the telltale cherry notch. they were also fragrant, though only when you got up close. they could be pears but the flowers were too big and it's already post-peak flowering pear season. most likely it was a white blossom variety of crabapple.
my father had lunch ready, some almond pastry, some pan-fried chinese dumplings, and some pineapple slices. it was cold in the house so he had the space heater running.
in the afternoon my father and i went to the backyard and installed some trellises behind the raised beds for the emerging sugar snap peas and hyacinth beans. later i found an unopened packet of pink fragrant peas that i'll plant later this week when i get the chance. typically around this time of year peas don't do very well because the weather gets hotter. but all this cool weather we've been having has extended the pea growing season.
for dinner my father once again made semi-readymade trader joe orange chicken. while tranferring the chicken from the toaster oven, he dropped them and half landed on the ground. we picked them up but a lot of the chicken was covered in dust and hair and other debris. i wanted to toss them out but my father said we could salvage them by carefully cleaning them off. i have a strong stomach when it comes to bizarre foods but i draw the line on food that's picked off off the floor. rest of dinner i was very leary of the chicken, kept looking to find something inedible. we also finished the second bunch of haymarket asparagus.
after dinner my father gave me a ride back to cambridge. the rain that'd started in the late afternoon was now more torrential, crackling against the windshield. i was happy to return home, knowing for the next few days i have the whole house to myself.
first thing i did was to bring in the houseplants that'd been sitting out on the back porch for the past few days. i was hoping the sun would do them some good, but other than saturday, it's been mostly cloudy. it's simply too cold and wet tonight, and colder still tomorrow with temperature in the 40's, which might set a new record low for the day. afterwards i reduced the size of the flush valve by sawing an inch off of the plastic pipe. i had a hacksaw but for some reason i couldn't find any purchase. instead i used a coping saw, which worked much better. later i used some emery sandpaper to smooth down the rough edges. i'll finally replace the flush valve tomorrow morning, look forward to do plumbing, just one of my many handy man activities.
i'd plan on biking to belmont this sunday but it was rainier than i expected. my father ended up coming to get me with the car since he was going to the upstairs apartment anyway to do some more work. he brought the shopvac to clean some debris in the stairwell. we emptied the closets since the wooden floors inside will also be sanded and coated tomorrow. while ripping off some makeshift wallpaper in the small bedroom closet we discovered a hidden power outlet. finally my father tried to replace a faulty circuit breaker. he was doing it live since this junction box didn't have a power main cutoff. he tested the wire and was surprised to see it wasn't live. nevertheless, he moved it out of the way while he tried to insert the new circuit breaker. unfortunately the breaker wasn't the right size and wouldn't clip into the box. however, when he put back the old breaker, it suddenly started working again. that only lasted for a short while because when he turned on the light toggle in the stairwell, it suddenly popped the breaker. my father was going to fix it but the light switch was embedded in the wall (because the contractor layered over the walls with sheet rock) and he couldn't take it out. we'll need to have the contractors pull out all the switches and outlets before we can do anything. my father also bought a pair of LED ceiling lights but those won't go in until the walls have been painted.
my father came this morning to help me move all the plants i dug up from my community garden plot to belmont. i then followed him to the cafe where he needed my help moving all the upstairs apartment furnitures from the bedrooms into the kitchen so floor contractors can sand and coat the wooden bedroom floors. that included the refrigerator, which somehow ended up in the large bedroom.
one of the circuit breakers in the junction box was broken, no longer snaps to either the on or off position. afterwards my father got into a shouting match with my sister, who wanted us to stay and help her pick up materials while we just wanted to leave after working for 3 hours on a sunny saturday. we finally left around 1pm.
my cousin eric video chatted me this morning while i was still sleeping. my taiwanese family were having a big mother's day dinner. to talked to them briefly before we hung up.
my father made some scallion pancakes with eggs combination for a late lunch. i rode the motorcycle back home to grab some haymarket produce i forgot to bring. later while my father took a nap, i was outside in the backyard dividing up the plant patches, separating the sensitive ferns from the ornamental grasses.
later my father woke up and helped me divide while i went around replanting the sensitive ferns. unlike some other ferns, sensitive ferns do very well in full sun, so i tried to put them where they could get at least some sun part of the day if not the entire day. there were also these thick black roots (about the diameter of a nickle) that i think are also fern rhizomes so i planted those as well, hoping to get even more ferns in the future.
i returned home by 8pm. a large box was waiting on my doorstep. judging from the size i knew right away it was my bike parts order.
besides the things i ordered, they also threw in a few complimentary samples of dove men+care antiperspirant in extra fresh scent. just so happens i ordered a bunch of men+care extra fresh soap from amazon a few days ago and i was curious about the fragrance (meh at best).
as exciting as it was to receive all these new bike parts, if only they could magically be installed that'd be great. alas, it's going to take me some time to put these hardware on my bike: new wheel (check the inner tube for leaks), new front and back derailleurs, new shift cables.i also got new foam handlebar grips but i'm going to wait until the ones i currently have completely fall apart before i change them. hopefully once that's done i'll have a new used bike again.
the part i was most curious to see was the wheel. i got the wheel master front 26x1.5" 559x19 alloy black machined-sidewall 36 quick-release 14G ($38.40 with 20% discount). i failed to take into consideration the number of spokes when i ordered: this one has 36 while my old wheels both were 32. i was afraid it'd look weird but it's barely noticeable. i was also worried about the axle length, but i compared it to my old wheel and they're exactly the same. one thing that's different is the wheel master doesn't have rubber dust caps on the hub. i thought maybe they were missing but i checked online and apparently it's a shimano deore hub feature, most bike wheels don't have them.
also arriving in the mail were some heat sinks for my raspberry pi's. i installed a set on my raspberry pi 3 model B+. the main heat sink that goes on the CPU is green, which goes well with the green PCB board. there was also a smaller heat sink for the network chip and a copper square wafer heat sink for the memory chip at the bottom of the board.
i decided to turn off in the fans in my grow closet: i think that's the reason that's preventing my seedlings from getting any larger. all of them seem stunted, and i think it's because the constantly running fan has dried them out too much and over-stressed the plants. i'm hoping to move all the seedlings out of the closet by june 1st, so i've got about 3 weeks to get these plants to size.
would you believe i went to bed last night at 5am in the morning? it's true, past few weeks i seem to be sleeping later and later, especially this week, where every night i seem to add an extra hour before i finally fall asleep. it's not healthy and i'm trying to go to bed earlier. regardless of when i sleep, i still wake up around 9am. to be honest, i wish i could wake up a bit earlier just so i have more time to do things. i love that feeling when i get a bunch of stuff done and it's not even noon yet.
annie texted me early this morning, confirming that it was okay for her to move in on june 1st. so it looks like she's going to be here for two months, instead of splitting an apartment with her friends for the first month then moving into my place the second month. her friends haven't contacted me again, and i'm hoping they decided to live elsewhere, so i don't have to break the news to them that they can't live at my grand uncle's place.
my plan today was to hit haymarket in the morning and do some gardening in the afternoon. the weather forecast said there might some intermittent showers throughout the day but most of the rain won't get here until evening. i had the last of my blueberry muffin for breakfast and was ready to go when i noticed my toilet was leaking. i actually noticed it last night when i was brushing my teeth. i've known about this problem for a while, but the leak is so minuscule, sometimes i see it, sometimes i don't. but the glare of the bathroom light caught the trickle in such a way that it was obviously leaking. i tested it by putting a square of toilet paper against the side of the bowl. minutes later the tissue was wet. i was hoping the leak would stop by this morning, but it was still happening.
it wasn't a fill valve issue because 1) i just replaced the fill valve last august, and 2) typically a leaking toilet means it's a flapper problem. i happened to have a spare (relatively new, taken from my parents' toilet which was fixed just last year) but when i installed it, the leak was still happening. that could be a flush valve seat issue. but i tried something where i emptied the toilet tank so there was just a half centimeter of water left; not high enough to reach the overflow, so any leaks would mean the whole flush valve assembly itself was bad. sure enough, the toilet was still leaking. i decided to wait and see. i shut off the water valve and marked the water height in the bowl; a leak would lower the water level.
i went to haymarket at 11:30am. the cargo bike was much better behaved this time around. the chain still occasionally skipped, but typically happened when i start from a full stop. but as long as i was moving, the chain wouldn't skip, meaning i could climb hills (something i was barely able to do last week). i also kept an eye on the front wheel. somewhere there's a small leak in the inner tube. like my toilet, the leak is just a trickle, and i can ride around just fine, but i need to inflate the tire every so often otherwise it will go completely flat over time. once the new wheel arrives next week i'll take a closer look at the tube, mend it if i can, otherwise just use a new tube.
like last time, i felt a few drops of rain, but otherwise there were no showers or drizzles and i remained dry for the most part. today marks the 9th consecutive friday where we had rain. there was much new stuff at haymarket, there weren't even any ugli fruit this time around. i ended up getting: 15 navel oranges ($3), a bag of small potatoes ($1), 2 asparagus ($2), a fyffes pineapple ($2), and 6 red pears ($2).
i returned home by 12:50pm. despite the leak, the toilet tank water level hadn't changed at all. either that meant the shutoff valve wasn't closed tightly enough, or that the trickle is tiny, even after more than an hour it barely makes an impact. i then flushed the toilet again with the shutoff valve turned off, left a bit of water in the tank, and watched for leaks. the trickle running into the toilet bowl was still there, it's definitely a busted flush valve assembly.
because it was so early i had time to run to home depot to get a replacement flush valve. i decided to go to the one in watertown so i could drop off some of my haymarket produce in belmont. before i left, i checked online just to make sure they had what i wanted. the flush valve on my toilet is an old 2" and apparently it's uncommon enough that home depot didn't even carry it, i had to order it online and have them ship to the store. they had 2" toilet repair kit that included the fill valve as well, but i only needed the flush valve. it got to the point where i was going to buy the kit just for the flush valve, saving the fill valve as a backup. curious, i went onto amazon to see what they carried. they had the exact same one i needed with the same price, but free delivery by tomorrow. it was a no-brainer: i ordered it off of amazon, saving me a trip to home depot.
i went down to the community garden by 1:30pm with a bunch of empty containers for the plants i would dig up from my plot. most of them would be for the milkweeds that was spreading everywhere. about that same time it started to drizzle but that didn't stop me from working. but the combination of light rain plus dirt made a real mess of my clothes, but it'd be a good oxiclean test when i got back home.
digging out milkweeds reminded me a lot of digging out bamboo rhizomes, in that the plants growing through underground roots that run in a straight line. but unlike bamboos, milkweed roots are delicate and prone to breaking. the actual milkweed stalks also break off quite easily, so i had to uproot carefully if i wanted to keep them for planting elsewhere. i grew these milkweeds from seed back in 2012. they required a period of cold stratification so i kept the seeds in the fridge for a while before planting them. they originally grew in my old plot, before i moved them to my new plot. how that they've gotten very invasive, i've decided to stop growing them directly in my garden plot, but still want to keep them in case i want to grow them in pots. some of the underground milkweed rhizomes were quite long, which made sense, because they had escape one corner of the garden and almost reached the opposite corner. i ended up trimming the roots so there was at least a few viable shoots before planting them in containers. i took so much soil there's now a depression in one corner of my garden.
a line of milkweed ran underneath the monkshood, and i accidentally uprooted some of them when i pulled out a milkweed rhizome. i gathered up the uprooted monkshood and planted them back. but sure if it was my imagination but minutes later my fingertips felt a little numb even though i was wearing gloves. could it be some of that monkshood poison (most concentrated in the roots) getting into my system? also while i was digging i noticed a lot of striped mallow seedlings. i tried not to disturb them but sometimes it couldn't be helped. i also noticed a few lupine seedlings; the few lupines i had growing last year are all gone.
the other garden project was to clear the patch of perennials in the northeastern corner of my plot, where they are thick mats of ornamental grass and sensitive fern. originally i wanted to get rid of all of that, but there was just too much, so i decided to only remove half, saving the rest for next season. digging them up wasn't that hard; it was finding a way to transplant them that was more difficult. i ended up making 3 trips back and forth from my house, moving the uprooted plants in batches.
while going around checking out what other people were growing, i saw a chunky black and white bird pecking the ground. when i saw the red chevron on its chest, i knew right away it was a rose-breasted grosbeak. i'd never seen one of these before but knew about them because of their distinctive colors. it didn't seem to be afraid, but when i got closer to get a better photo with my phone (if i only had my dSLR!), it flew up into some trees.
for my final trip back to the community garden, i brought my 55 quart of potting soil and a grow bag. steve and paul came home right when i was coming out of the backyard. i was struggling to keep my bike from tipping over from the heavy weight on the back. they sat in their car and waited until i was gone before they got out. i think it was because so they wouldn't have to fake volunteer to help me. with their fleet of twin SUV's, transporting a bag of soil would be nothing for them. even though these were 10 gallon grow bags, they seemed so much smaller in the garden. i thought the 55 quart of soil would fill the whole bag, but i only needed half that amount, which means i can have a second grow bag.
i was finally done by 3:30pm. i came home, stripped off my jeans and shirt, and left them to presoak in some oxiclean. later in the evening, around 9pm, i did a load of laundry. the presoak water had a dark blue hue, which makes me think oxiclean and jeans aren't a good mix. after they came out of the dryer, the pair of jeans did look a bit faded, but they were faded to begin with, and i didn't really notice any difference. but definitely next time i won't oxiclean presoak any denim.
the hdmi angle port adapter arrived today. i attached it to the hdmi-dvi adapter i got last week. the adapter-adapter configuration looks a bit ugly, but it works, giving me enough clearance to connect the hdmi cable. i was then able to run the external LCD monitor off of my macbook pro. this means i can finally work with two monitors from the dining table.
my honing steel also arrived. i was originally going to get it off of ebay, but some of them looked kind of flimsy. i found one on amazon that was pretty inexpensive ($6.99) yet still seemed legit, and i didn't want to pay too much for my new knife sharpening hobby. i bought the 10" rod but they actually sent me a 12" which is fine by me. it was actually delivered earlier but to the wrong address (my neighbor margot). only when i looked online an saw that it had already been delivered did i go outside and see the package on my neighbor's doorstep. not only did i hone my normal kitchen knife, but also some dull pocket knives as well. i don't know if i noticed any difference, the knives were already sharp after i ran them through the knife sharpener. but i feel better now that i have a honing steel in my kitchen gadget collection.
in the late afternoon i finished a whole carton of tabouli salad with melba toast, so i wasn't very hungry. i didn't have dinner until 9pm, just some canned clam and corn chowder. i also tried some of the navel oranges i bought today. though sweet, they're not the same as the ones i got last friday; these were just orange, not the reddish orange from before.
(oh no it's already 2:30am! so much for trying to sleep early)