when it looked like my roommate wasn't going to leave for her office by 10am, i was the first to leave. the clouds this morning were very dramatic. look in one direction it looked like rain; another direction it'd be sunny with hints of blue sky. temperature was in the 60's but warm and slightly humid.
first stop was the beacon street whole foods, to return the universal bathroom sink drain plug. i then went to market basket to get some beef jerky on sale and a cabbage for the cafe. when i got back to the house a bit after 10am, lauryn was gone. my mother called me, said they also needed bean sprouts at the cafe. so back i went, to market basket again for the bean sprouts. i then rode to the porter square star market to pick up some boneless chicken thighs on sale, before heading to the cafe to work.
work was uneventful. it got busy for a while, which made the day go by faster. i stole a few minutes to eat an old tea egg and to reheat a meat bun for lunch. i also picked out some food that a customer had thrown away, it pains me to see all that good food go to waste. my aunt stopped by to have some zhajiang noodles and franz showed up with some friends in the early afternoon for lunch. at 3pm i tuned into youtube tv to watch jack smith give a short announcement of the indictment before leaving without any additional comments to reporters. we also got some torrential rain in the afternoon, the kind that spontaneously generated out of thin air. i was able to turn off the automated sprinklers right before we got a free soaking. i have no doubt that we got enough rain to refill our rain barrels again, which were pretty full to begin with (just down one barrel).
so after it stopped raining around 4:30pm, i returned home. i wore my pale khakis which i was afraid would get splattered with these wet road conditions, but i rode carefully, and got home unscathed. the rain washed away yellow tree pollen into the storm drains.
i was finally able to log into the uber eats manager account. for some reason it doesn't authenticate via password, but requires either an e-mail or a phone number. i logged in using my sister's credentials (after she told me the passcode that was sent to her e-mail) and created my own manager's account. i added some photos (which may require a week to authenticate). while searching through the options, i noticed something in our payments: uber eats takes a 25% cut from the profit. unfortunately all our prices reflect a grubhub markup, which is only 13%. so we actually lose money when people order through uber eats. i changed some of the prices, but now there's a difference as much as $3 comparing pick-up orders to uber eats deliveries.
lauryn didn't get home until 8pm, after going out for some chinese dinner with coworkers. she immediately took a shower and then retreated to her bedroom, i didn't get a chance to ask her if she wants to go see the pride parade tomorrow. a part of me sort of hopes she'll say no, because it's easier to be a photographer without having to babysit someone. but a part of me hopes she'll say yes, because i know it's definitely something she's never experienced before.
i made some luxury korean ramen for dinner just as soon as the NBA finals started at 8:30pm. this was game 4, and a must-win for miami if they don't want to be down a 1-3 hole. how well teams play can be summed up by the scores per quarter. the heat managed to win the first quarter but by a single point, while the nuggets won the 2nd and 3rd quarter. the 4th was a tie, but denver played too well for miami to overcome the point deficit. what i find particularly amazing is how the nuggets can maintain (and sometimes even expand) their lead even with their star players resting on the bench. let's just say i'm very impressed with the nuggets, and their performances in these final games shows me they're worthy of being the champions. miami might win game 5, but denver's eventually victory seems all but inevitable.
my roommate didn't go to work this morning. i kept waiting for her to leave at her usual time, but when the hour approached and no departure was in sight, i didn't bother waiting and went out to run errands. i went to the post office to mail some prescription drugs to my 2nd aunt. when the clerk asked me what was in the package, i said earphones, which was partially true. i got a little nervous when she handed me back the envelope but only because i didn't put a return address on it. since i'm only mailing it to new york i was going to pick the cheapest option - 98¢ - but when i went to go pay i saw the clerk selected the most expensive option - nearly $5. it's scheduled to arrive saturday.
i then went to the porter square star market to get some more cherries on sale. i didn't bring a bag, so i took off my jacket and used it as a cushion so the cherries don't get bashed as i brought them home on my bicycle.
i was a little annoyed that lauryn wasn't going to work today. which was why i got a little angry when i found her cooking in the kitchen. not just any cooking - but frying. i closed the door to my bedroom, opened the window to install the window fan, turned on another fan to blow the smoke out, and opened the back door. i told her because i don't have a ventilation hood, anytime she fries, she has to ventilate manually otherwise the floors (and everything else) get greasy from oil precipitate. later i asked her what she did with the used frying oil. she said she poured it down the drain. i told her that'd clog the pipes, and in the future, to keep the used oil, preferably freeze it, then throw it out on trash day.
thankfully lauryn did leave for work around noontime. even though i'd already used the bathroom this morning, i used it again, performing better with an empty house. afterwards i microwaved a pair of meat buns for lunch.
i decided to test out the universal drain plug i bought from amazon before returning it. it worked flawlessly on my bathroom sink, stopping the water as it should, before i let it drain. so the thing works, just not on all sinks (like my parents').
it actually drizzled a tiny bit this morning, but the weather seemed to be letting up, so i decided to run more errands. i rode to the community garden at 1:30pm to water my plants and take the two wooden planter boxes. some school kids had left a butterfly tent by the entrance. there were empty cocoons on the lid and at the bottom were a few feeding fritillary butterflies.
the white nigella flower from yesterday? now there were 3 flowers, two pinks and one blue. i remember correctly, nigella flowers start out white, but change colors as they mature. i noticed one of my hyacinth vines has started producing what looks like flower buds.
i wasn't planning on staying in the community garden for long, but then ann showed up, and i was helping her buy some things on amazon, and i ended up staying for nearly an hour. i finally left by 2:30pm, strapping the grow boxes onto the back of my motorcycle with some bungie netting, as i left for belmont.
arriving at my parents' place, i bumped into their german next door neighbor. he congratulated us on our newly seeded lawn, though nothing compared to his lush and thick lawn. he said they were getting their kitchen and two bathrooms remodeled next week, and apologized for any potential construction sounds. his family are also going to germany for 2 weeks during that time, and i told him my parents just came back from germany.
there was a temu order on the doorstep: a waterproof outdoor electrical box ($22) and a pair of brass bulkhead fittings ($8.50). not the most exciting purchases, but these items will be useful when the time comes.
i headed out to the waltham OSJL by 3pm. the weather started to look like there might be some serious rain, but i checked the doppler radar which showed no nearby precipitation. i bought a plastic 4-way hose splitter ($8), a shallow terracotta pot ($5) for my rosemary, and a few bags of candy. it looks like the waltham OSJL doesn't provide any bags, not even the ones you pay for, so it's totally BYOB or push out your purchases in a shopping cart.
i made it back to belmont a bit after 3:30pm. i noticed the automated sprinklers had already watered the front lawn. something i didn't mention earlier is a lot of the grass seeds have germinated, much faster than the previous reseeded lawn. was it because the temperature was warmer? or maybe because i mixed the grass seeds with the soil before sprinkling on the lawn? whatever it was, it took just a week for new grass to sprout. heck, i was just mowing over the reseeded soil on tuesday and i didn't see anything. seems like overnight all the seeds decided to germinate. now i need this cool weather to last for 2 more weeks for the grass to properly grow.
i went into the backyard and swapped out the double double splitter assembly on the newly recaulked rain barrel with the 4-way splitter i bought. the double double was so difficult to remove that i accidentally turned the spigot again, though i didn't see any leakage. the 4-way splitter is just easy to work with, and has a swivel connector that attaches to the spigot, which makes it easier to install and remove.
i noticed my father didn't use any rain barrel water but instead used the water i pumped out into the grey commercial trash can. i poured the water from the two wine barrels into the trash can and tested out the newly-epoxied watering wand handle, which was already outside. the fact that my father had installed it already was probably a good sign. the fixed handle didn't leak at all, or the leak was confined to just the quick release. just to make sure, i connected the watering hand directly to the hose (bypassing the quick release), and there was zero leakage, the repair was completely waterproof.
i left belmont by 4pm. i hit a bit of traffic but it wasn't too bad. when i got back home, i went to the nearby star market to cash in on some cherries one last time. when i came back i added some potting soil to the new pot and planted the rosemary i got from market basket.
lauryn didn't get home until 6:30pm. i felt bad for sort of yelling at her this morning, so i shared some cherries with her. for dinner she boiled some dumplings. as for me, i didn't eat dinner until 9pm, cut up the grilled chicken from last night to make another bowl of chicken caesar salad. i was going to watch the latest episode of silo which i downloaded, but ended up watching breaking news coverage about trump's classified document probe indictment.
only later - around 10:40pm - did i finally start watching silo (episode 7). i put on my noise cancelling headphones and settled in with a bowl of cherries.
i had already been up since 9am and doing stuff on my computer in the living room when lauryn headed to the office around 10am. antonio contacted me this morning, updating me with his tentative arrival date of september 8-9th. i sent him some photos of the house, after finally doing a data dump from my phone, over 2000 photos, some as far back as late april. i finished by 10:30am and went to the community garden to water my plants.
it'd ben 5 days since i was last in the community garden. because of all that rain we got over this past weekend, i didn't need to be in the garden until now. all the grow bags and potted plants were well saturated, with the exception of the ground cherry plant. the chive flowers look faded, i'll need to deadhead them at some point.
my nigellas are doing well, and i decided to remove the chicken wire fencing so people can see them better, even though they now run the risk of getting eaten by rabbits. some of the nigellas even blossomed, white flowers so far, i can't remember if they change their colors as they mature, though several other flower buds look like they might be blue flowers. that these flowers all self-sown is my proudest accomplishment. mixed among them are striped mallows; once they mature they'll put on a flower show of their own.
my row of long beans are doing well despite having no protection. i only lost one seedling, more like slug/snail damage than rabbits. for the most part i've been pretty lucky that i haven't had any rabbit issues this season, unlike neighboring gardeners (jen, lynn).
i made it to the cafe by 10:50am. this morning we had another uber eats order before i even arrived. the uber eats restaurant app is pretty terrible, function starved, and can only display in landscape mode. my sister has it set up with 2-factor authentication so it always sends her a text message/e-mail whenever anyone tries to log in, and so far i've been unsuccessful getting into the online admin webpage.
my sister told me about some jars a neighbor had thrown out and i went to pick them up. it was a pair of german-made weck 975 340ml (11.5oz) glass canning jars. they work similar to our american mason jars, except the rubber sealed glass lids are head in place with a pair of stainless steel clips. they're cool looking, and interesting to see convergent technology. they are a little small and narrow though, not sure if i'd use them to store anything fermented or jellified (like i do with my mason jars), maybe just use them as decorative items, storing dried spices.
my parents made meat buns today, some to sell with my sister's catered meals, the remaining for personal consumption. my 2nd uncle briefly stopped by the cafe today to drop off some prescription medicine for my 2nd aunt still in new york city. for some reason she didn't bring enough and now she's out and she asked me to commit a federal felony by mailing her the drugs.
we made 3x more than last wednesday, but business was actually slow today. my sister didn't offer her catered meals last week, hence the dropoff. if there wasn't any catered meals today, i think we would've made the same as last wednesday.
with business slowly down, i left the cafe by 5pm. lauryn wasn't home yet, but based on when she came back yesterday, i figured she'd be home soon. around 5:40pm i started prepping my chicken breasts for caesar salad grilling later. i was pounding them with a meat tenderizer when lauryn surprised me by coming home. trying to make some chitchat, i asked her if she didn't anything fun at the office today. she told me she attended a seminar, with a side perk that once again they offered everyone free pizza. she ate so much that she didn't need dinner, only grabbed a yogurt from the fridge.
as for the chicken breasts, after tenderizing them, i washed them with some olive oil and coated both sides with salt and fresh ground pepper. i left them on the kitchen countertop to marinate.
i didn't start grilling the two breasts until 8pm, using my foreman smokeless grill. i had the window fan on and another fan blowing any smoke towards the window. i only grilled the chicken for a few minutes at 524°F, but that was enough to cook them thoroughly, despite being rather thick cuts of breasts. i sliced one into cubes while saving the other one for tomorrow. for the salad, i chopped up a romaine heart and some red onions. after adding the chicken, i poured out some caesar salad dressing before adding the croutons.
game 3 between the nuggets and heat was tonight in miami. the heat played well enough, but the nuggets were so much more dominant. miami had a good first quarter, but even then denver had already tied them 24-24. all subsequent quarters the nuggets would have the lead. i'm really hoping the heat can win game 4, otherwise i'm afraid the series is lost and it's only a matter of time before the nuggets win it all.
lauryn was still at here when i woke up this morning at 9am. maybe she decided to work from home again. but around 9:40am she finally came out of her bedroom and said she was going to her office.
it was the first time since lauryn's arrival last wednesday night that i had the house all to myself. i took advantage of it by using the bathroom without worrying about making embarrassing sounds.
i tried removing a foot pedal from an old bicycle crankset using the harbor freight knockoff icon adjustable pliers wrench. these old pedals are better than the ones i currently have which make an annoying rattling sound when i ride. unfortunately that one pedal was stuck on the crank arm pretty tightly and i wasn't able to pry it off. i'll take it to belmont and put it in a vice and try again.
i left for my parents' place around 10:45am. i noticed there was a hazy amber hue to everything outside. i figured it's probably smoke from canadian forest fires. besides returning a few things at home depot, i also had to recaulk one of the rain barrels (i'd inadvertently twisted the spigot while trying to unscrew a hose, breaking the silicone seal), then mow the lawn.
i didn't bring my saddlebags and the melnor watering wand i was returning didn't exactly fit inside my messenger bag. i ended up tightly wrapping the spray end of the wand in a bag before stuffing it inside my bag, the wand sticking out awkwardly, and nearly falling out a few times. i was also returning some unused wood glue before i noticed it'd already been used, so i wouldn't be able to return it.
i left home depot by 11:20am and returned to belmont.
that one rain barrel that needs recaulking, it's a black storage barrel, and those are prone to leaking because the spigot is held in place simply by screwing in the threads and some caulk to prevent leaking. you can't crawl inside the barrel (like you can with those red olive barrels) so it's difficult to get a proper fit. if i had to do it again, i'd install a bulkhead fitting (that's screwed in from the outside), which are more common these days (both brass and plastic types).
to recaulk the rain barrel spigot, i had to first drain the barrel. i pumped the water into a rubbermaid brute 32 gallon plastic garbage can. but the barrel holds 50 gallons, so i had to drain the excess water into a pair of plastic wine barrels. at one point i was also draining from the leaking spigot itself using just gravity. the water didn't come out as fast as the pressured hose, but it came out at a greater volume.
with the rain barrel empty, i removed the old silicone caulk with an awl before applying new silicone caulk. i applied a generous amount, hoping that if i were to accidentally twist the spigot again in the future, that the silicone seal would still hold. to keep the silicone from getting wet and giving it time to properly cure, i used a plastic cup and some duct tape to create a makeshift awning over the spigot.
next i mowed the lawn. every time i use the gas mower i wonder if we should get an electric mower. the advantages would be no more gasoline (just free electricity) but also the ability to fold the mower and store it upright (the current mower takes up a good amount of garage space). mowing the front lawn, i even went ahead and mowed the newly reseeded patch because there were patches of tall grasses intermixed with the reseeding patches. so far none of the reseeded areas have germinated yet. it's only been 5 days since i reseeded; i remember it takes about 10 days before the grass seeds will begin to germinate (previous reseed: april 4th seeds sown, april 15th green stubbles).
i checked out our epoxy fused old watering wand handle. though the epoxy should be set, it was still a little soft. full curing won't be until later tonight. we'll need to run water through it to see if it'll hold before either applying more epoxy or sealing it up. if we get this fixed, we may fix our current watering wand, which is also leaking, but not nearly as bad as this one.
i finished with some watering. the weather this week looks to be unsettled, with the possibility of shower bursts every day. but a check of the doppler radar showed dry weather at least for today, so i decided to water using the rain barrels. before i left, i also turned on the two automated front lawn sprinklers for 10 minutes.
i got back home around 2pm. i didn't stay long, just enough to write a grocery list, before leaving for market basket. i decided to make chicken caesar salad for dinner this week. i did think about making some risotto (as italian sausages were on sale), but i didn't have any cheap white wine; i might make that next week.
i didn't have lunch until after 4pm, reheated two leftover blue cheese burger patties.
i was also waiting to see when lauryn would come home, figure out her routine. even though she'd already been here nearly a week, today was actually the second time she's gone to her office (and the first time where i'm at home). she got back around 6pm, which meant she left the office 5:40pm. she started making dinner at 6:30pm, and wasn't finished until 7:10pm. i was sniffing to see if there was any kitchen smoke, in which case i'd go and demonstrate to her how to use the window fan. yes there were cooking smells, but it wasn't too bad.
i wasn't too hungry in the evening, plus i was really lazy, and was caught watching the band of brothers marathon on the sundance channel, so didn't feel like grilling some chicken to make a salad. instead i ate an icelandic yogurt and some clementines and called it dinner. i'll make the caesar salad tomorrow or thursday night.
lauryn did not go to work this morning. don't know why, but my guess is because the weather was bad. in terms of roommate score, this is a point deduction. luckily it didn't affect me all that much because i was leaving soon anyway. my parents were scheduled to arrive at 10am for another supply run, but they came early, around 9:40am. i wasn't even ready yet and quickly grabbed my things before shouting at lauryn through her bedroom door that i wouldn't be back until tonight.
first stop was costco. for some reason there were a lot of koreans there.
next we went to the nearby dollar tree so i could get some super glue for our spray wand handle repair. my father stayed in the car while my came with me so she could pick up some more cheap yarn. we then went to bath & body works a few stores down for their annual summer sale. i used to be able to score a myriad of scented hand soaps for just $2.50; now even with the sale they're $4, and only a selection, not all the scents. but smelling things is one of my greatest joys, and between my mother and i we bought a dozen different hand soaps that should last year for the rest of the year.
we went to restaurant depot to pick up takeout boxes, clear 16 oz. cups, and coffee beans. i took a peek at the price of bulk eggs, made me regret buying them from costco, as the eggs here were much cheaper: costco eggs were $15 for 5 dozens, while at restaurant depot they were $18 for 15 dozens. next time we'll come here for eggs.
then we went to the chelsea market basket. they had tables of seedlings outside for sale, i picked up a rosemary for $3. after costco and restaurant depot, we barely had room in the car for our market basket purchases. i was disappointed that they seem to no longer carry the tyson frozen raw flavored buffalo wings, those were pretty good the few times we grilled them on the barbecue. we still have a bag of unflavored frozen wings that i'm going to use to make double-fried korean fried chicken one of these days.
our last stop was bianco & sons on our way back for chinese sausages.
we returned to cambridge via the same route we "discovered" last week, which was to cut through davis square. we made to the cafe by 1pm where we spent 20 minutes unloading the supplies before we left for belmont.
while my mother was making wonton soup for lunch, i was outside spraying the basement gardenia with neem oil after noticing some mealybugs on some of the flower buds. basically i need to spray with neem oil every weekend if i want to keep the gardenia pest free. i also fertilized with some acid-loving fertilizer. later i'd come out and spray the flower buds with water to rinse off any remaining mealybugs.
after lunch my father and i applied super glue to the cracked old spray wand handle. this was step one.
we then went outside to inspect the garden. we pulled up more bokchoi from raised bed 1, just to keep it less cluttered, fewer places for slugs and snails to hide. we discovered aphids on a few bitter melons which we sprayed with both water and neem oil. i put some duct tape around the kwanzan and cherry plum trunks to keep ants from climbing the trees and protecting the aphids. we went inside once it started raining.
overall today the weather was grey, with brief intermittent periods of very light rain. the weather forecast reported that not even a 1/10th of rain fell in the boston area, but was still moist enough that i kept the automatic sprinklers off for the time being.
for dinner my father made some panko-breaded pork cutlets. what would they taste like if they were cooked in a wok? i wouldn't know, because these were cooked indoors, just like the shrimps this past weekend.
after dinner we continued to the second phase of our watering wand handle repair: JB weld epoxy application. ever since we glued back a broken cafe pot handle, my father has been looking for an excuse to use our leftover JB weld epoxy. we ended up applying a later of epoxy over the handle crack. we'll have to wait 24 hours for the JB weld to set and cure, and then we'll know if we fixed the crack. if it still leaks, there's still plenty of epoxy left over for additional patches.
i got a ride back to cambridge by 8pm. lauryn had just finished making dinner from the oily odor i smelled when i came inside. she retreated to her bedroom and i didn't see her the rest of the night. while boiling some water to make tea, i wiped the splatter of oil around the kitchen range. she's definitely doing stirfry, which is the style of chinese cooking i hate the most for my house because i don't have a ventilation hood so the smoke seeps into everything afterwards. but it seems to be gentle stirfry, so the verdict is still out if it's going to be a problem. having lived with about 2 dozen different roommates over the years, i've grown pretty mellow when it comes to cooking smells.
my parents arrived before the agreed up 10am pickup time. lauryn was up by then, preparing breakfast, when i told her i was leaving and wouldn't be back until the evening. i was surprised to see my mother, she said she wasn't coming, but couldn't trust us into getting everything. it was supposed to rain all day today, and i even put the cover on my motorcycle for the first time this season, but it was so dry (though still overcast) that my mother seemed to lose faith in my weather forecasting skills.
we were going to baifu in south boston this sunday for a supply run. instead of our usual route of storrow drive into kenmore square then down mass avenue, i looked up a new route on google map that told us to drive to the science museum, and then get onto interstate 93 to get to foodpak express. we cut through inman square and lechmere, saw all the new construction and businesses popping up in east cambridge.
we got to baifu around 10:15am, spent half an hour checking off items from the grocery list. the only thing they didn't have were medium-sized wumu chinese noodles. we currently still have a case and 4 boxes, which should last us a month or two, but if they don't get new stock soon, not sure what we'll do.
we returned via mass avenue, then onto storrow drive from the berklee music school area. we got to the cafe by 11am, dropped off the supplies, before heading to belmont. we did all this before even noontime.
my father and i were in the backyard inspecting the garden. last night temperature dropped into the 40's and i was worried about the pileas and prayer plants, but they were fine. chinese money plant are surprisingly tough, despite their rather succulent-like appearances.
we also pulled up most of the bokchoi growing in the raised beds as slugs and snails continue to wreak havoc in RB0 and RB1. it wasn't just slugs: a few bokchoi showed signs of caterpillar droppings, though i couldn't find any caterpillars. i did notice baby slugs and snails were living in the rotten corner posts so i removed them from the raised beds.
when we came back inside, my mother had already made lunch, left them for us on the dining table while she retreated to the bedroom to watch her newfound favorite series, FBI. fresh soy milk, braised eggs, ho fun noodles, and youtiao.
earlier i brought in the leaking handle of our old melnor watering wand. there was nothing wrong with it besides the leak. so my father and i tried to fix it. the handle is a solid piece of plastic encased in a rubber grip. we discovered the grip can be removed to an extent, but the thumb flow control was in the way. we tried removing the control by hoping to pry off the cover caps hiding the screws, but the caps wouldn't bulge.
instead my father said if we just cut the rubber grip, we can get to the plastic handle. once we didn't that, we took the handle back outside and connected it to the garden hose. when we turned on the water, it was obvious where the cracks were. the fix would be easy: apply super glue in the cracks, then apply some JB weld epoxy over that to completely seal it. unfortunately our supply of super glue gel had all dried up, so we need to get some tomorrow during the second half of our weekend (though a monday) supply run.
it finally did rain a little bit in the afternoon, but nothing like what we experienced yesterday, even though i thought it was going to be raining for much of the day.
my father made dinner, cooked up the bokchoi we dug up earlier, pan-fried some mackerels, stir-fried some jumbo shrimps. the shrimps were similar in style to our outdoor wok-prepared shrimps, but didn't have that wok-hei flavor. it also stunk up the kitchen something fierce, and we were all choking from the spicy smoke.
i got a ride home back to cambridge. it was raining a bit more now. i found a beautiful garment soaked on the sidewalk, rinsed it off when i got back inside. i discovered it's actual a dog bandanna from a company called lucy & co, and they cost $20.
lauryn seemed to be asleep, even though it wasn't even 7:30pm yet. could she still be jetlagged? even though she'd been here since wednesday night? i didn't see her the rest of the night.
i used the bathroom and took a shower, and got ready to watch game 2 of the NBA finals. the more i watch, the more i like the miami heat. the trick is to forget that they beat the celtics, and to watch the series objectively, and appreciate that they are the underdogs with a real possibility of taking the championship this year. anyway, the heat won, even though the nuggets came roaring back, and nearly stole the game away from miami.
i discovered lockwood & co. on netflix and watched 2 episodes in bed before falling asleep. i like it, despite the fact that it's a YA fantasy. the girl who plays lucy carlyle - ruby stokes - reminds me of florence pugh. unfortunately netflix cancelled the series shortly after its premiere a few months ago, so season 1 (8 episodes) will be all there is.
at 10am i shouted at lauryn through her bedroom door that i was leaving and wouldn't come back until 7-8pm. today was supposed to be a dry day so i was surprised that there was a misty drizzle as i rode the motorcycle to the cafe.
since my 2nd aunt is still in new york city for another 2 weeks, my father came to help out at the cafe today. wasn't sure what kind of day it'd be: you'd think the rainy conditions would keep customers away, but we'd had busy days despite bad weather. throughout the day we kept a running list of things to buy when we do a supply run. not only do we need to hit baifu this weekend, but restaurant depot as well, which are both in different directions.
i pruned some of the neighbor's mulberry tree that overhangs into the cafe parking lot. the neighbor's had the tree pruned recently, but they didn't bother pruning any branches that fell onto our property, only bothered to prune their's. some branches are so long, they risk breaking in stormy weather, so we did some preemptive pruning. a few more branches could use some pruning, but those are too high, and we may need to use the polesaw.
my father grilled up some extra firm tofu for lunch. i made a new batch of tea eggs for next week, as well as some black soy sauce noodles. i was afraid we'd run out of rice but we had just enough to make it to the end of the day without needing to cook any more. i still had some spicy taiwanese paocai left at the cafe and would occasionally add some to bento boxes depending on whether or not i thought the customer would appreciate it. today actually turned out to be a busy day, with the busiest period around 3-4pm.
after months of delay, my sister finally logged into the uber eats account. no sooner did she do that, we ended up getting an actual order an hour later. i'm always amazed when people choose to their food delivered instead of picking up in person, since it's more expensive. but when you have disposable income and can't be bothered with picking up an order yourself, these food delivery services are for them. uber eats is a little weird in that drivers don't vie to deliver these orders. uber is still essentially a ride share service, but i guess uber eats will alert nearby drivers about food delivery opportunities, and drivers can choose to make these deliveries enroute (and make a little extra cash) when they're not actively ferrying passengers around.
i thought it'd stop raining but it continued to precipitate. i was hoping for a lull after work so i could ride the motorcycle to belmont, but the rain actually picked up by that point, so i ended up going to belmont with my father via car instead.
my father told me all the rain barrels were filled when he checked them this morning. i hate it that when we do get rain, it rains so much we can't capture it all. then we have a long stretch where there's zero rain, before we get another big rainstorm. ideally we'd want a bit of rain everyday preferably at nights, so i can still have the daytime to do stuff without getting wet. but i went out into the backyard and did a check anyway.
plants all seem happy to be getting so much rain, more than i could ever provide with my occasionally watering. i noticed some of our giant red mustards are starting to get holes in the leaves. when i dug around the base, i noticed a few tiny slugs, which must be the culprit. with the wet weather, there's nothing i can do about them, except to pick them off by hand, which is a gross task, like picking off boogers.
we never repotted the spanish lavender we bought from costco last season. its soil is so porous, it can't hold any water, so the lavender seems dry all the time, to the point of wilting, and the pot always feel light because its so dry. but when i do some research online, sandy fast-draining soil is exactly the kind of conditions spanish lavenders like. the jasmines are flowering more. being outside has dramatically decreased any mealybug issues. once we get more natural predators, that should clear up any mealybugs completely.
we have two caged hollyhocks and they're already developed flower buds. they're actually pretty easy to grow, but we've had terrible luck because rabbits love to eat them, even the higher leaves, so they need to be protected if they have any chance of surviving in our backyard.
another concern i have are the pileas and prayer plants. temperature tonight will drop into the 40's, and i'm wondering if they can survive such cold temperatures. but they're already been outside for nearly a week now, and underneath the protective canopy of the maple tree, they don't get too hot or too cold. i haven't seen any signs of cold temperature damage yet, so i think they'll be fine. besides, i have so many, if i lose a few, it won't be a big deal.
because of the overcast weather, the magenta spiderwort flowers stayed open throughout the day. the honeysuckles are also beginning to bloom, so many flower buds, the western bed will be super fragrant in another week or so. and we noticed this about a week or two ago, but some of the long beans have already started to flower (pink). the plants are still low to the ground, and any developing beans will not have ample room to grow. maybe me wonder if i could remove the flowers for the time being, so they can focus on climbing before they flower.
my mother cooked up some ground beef with fermented long beans for dinner. these beans were sealed in an airtight jar and even though they're almost a year old, they didn't have that weird antiseptic flavor of those last batch of fermented long beans, and these beans were still crunchy. we also had some of my father's salt-reduced flavored radish leaves, which also had a crunchy texture. my mother also brought out the leftover pasta salad from last week.
after dinner i was looking out the window into the backyard when i saw something scurrying on the ground. at first i thought it was a squirrel, but it seemed too large to be a squirrel. maybe a rabbit? but after a few seconds more of watching, i realized what it was: a large rat! that a rat would be out during the "daylight" is troubling. it also didn't look too healthy, could've just been wet, but its fur looked a bit mangy. my father saw it too, before it disappeared. i went outside to see where it went but couldn't find it anymore. we've never had rats before, even though one time a while back i did see one but it died soon afterwards, must've ate too much rat poison. there has also been one or two mysterious holes in the lawn that suddenly appeared, but they were out in the open, and more likely made by rabbits. anyway, something to keep an eye on. war against rabbits and chipmunks and squirrels is one thing, but rats are a different thing altogether. my hope is it too ate some rat poison, and was just wandering the backyard to find a quiet place to die.
my father give me a ride back to cambridge around 6:30pm. it was raining a little bit, a very light drizzle, so he dropped me off back at the cafe so i could ride my motorcycle home. i found lauryn putting away groceries in the fridge. she went to the fresh pond trader joe's today, said it only took 30 minutes to walk down there. she bought some dumplings (gyoza) from trader joe's, and was probably adamant on going because she had some favorite foods she wanted to get since last summer.
lauryn did try to contact fei fei but she her she was a bit under the weather today so they didn't get to meet. lauryn was in the middle of making dinner, and asked if i had any soy sauce (she'd already searched the cupboards, and was surprised i kept my soy sauce in the fridge). she used my rice cooker to make a single serving's worth of rice, and earlier had already cooked some pork strips. i told her she didn't have to eat in her bedroom, and that she was free to use all areas of the house. so she ate dinner from the dining table while watching videos on her phone.
i went to use the bathroom and take a shower while lauryn was cooking. i found myself having a bit of performance anxiety, because i didn't want to make any embarrassing sounds while i was in the bathroom (i have thin walls). the things you take for granted when you live alone!
there was nothing on tv and game 2 of the NBA finals isn't until tomorrow night. i just watched some youtube videos, and found myself dozing off in my chair. these past few months i've been really tired and feeling weak. is it not enough sleep? or maybe a potassium deficiency? i used to eat bananas all the time (when i made my summer smoothies), maybe i should get back to that practice. i'm going to try and use the bathroom one last time before going to bed early.
lauryn was already gone when i woke up this morning at 9am, i didn't even hear her leave. i went to the community garden to water my plants around 10:30am before heading to the cafe to work.
i was super busy at the cafe today, didn't even have time to eat, while my aunt and sister's godmother all showed up to visit. my aunt left with a bunch of food while my sister's godmother came by to help her clean her place. she waited for nearly an hour, with no sign of my sister. i even tried texting her but no answer. when she finally returned, she said she didn't take her phone, and made no apology for making her godmother wait so long.
during a lull in the afternoon, i biked to belmont to retrieve an amazon package. a new replacement universal bathtub sink drain arrived. unfortunately it was an exact copy of the temu drain, though 2x the price. i gave it a try anyway, and it also leaked just like the temu one.
the melnor minimax turbo oscillating sprinker (with step spike) also arrived today ($27). what i liked about it is it has the same coverage as our melnor adjustable sprinkler, but in a more compact size and on a garden spike so it doesn't sit on any grass. i swapped out the pulsating sprinkler and replaced it with the minimax, positioned in the center of the old reseeded lawn for most efficient coverage. i then adjusted it so watered just that area.
i watered the backyard garden. i saw the defoliated bok choy in RB1; i'd never seen defoliation like that before, where it ate everything but left just the veins. i also moved in the thanksgiving cactuses because i noticed they were wilting. my father said it was sun scalding, i don't think they're tough enough to live outdoors. the lantana potted shrub - after dropping all its leaves once we moved it outside - have quickly resprouted new leaves. and finally one of the water spinach has sprouted, but still waiting for the other 11 remaining rock wool plugs to germinate as well.
i left belmont by 3:30pm, returning to the cafe. since it wasn't busy, my parents said i was free to go, so i left by 4:30pm, with the sky turning increasing cloudy and looking like it might rain on this very hot (yet dry) day.
lauryn returned home around 6pm. she said they had a pizza party at her office and she ate enough that she wasn't hungry for dinner.
around 8pm i started making my taiwanese paocai. i reduced my vegetables (4.35 lbs. of taiwanese cabbage, 1.26 lbs. of carrots) separately this time, making it easier to drain later. the ratio i used was 1 tbsp of salt per 1 lbs. of vegetable. i sliced the carrots very thin (they taste better that way, versus medium size), it was easier using the madolin the second time around. i kept turning the vegetables (with gloves hands) which made them reduce faster. once they finished, i rinsed them in the sink a few times before mixing everything with sugar (a little over 2 cups) and vinegar (a little over 2 cups), plus some pepper corns and one sliced thai chili pepper. i made sure to give each fistful of vegetables a good squeeze to remove any remaining water before mixing. all the paocai fit neatly into the 12 cups dollar store square container.
lauryn stayed out to chat until almost 10pm. i regaled her with traveling stories, and found out she's been to a few places i'd haven't been to (heilongjiang, south korea, singapore). she revealed that she contracted covid last month while visiting beijing with her grandfather (he didn't get it); thankfully she's vaccinated, twice with the china vaccine, twice with pfizer while she was studying in hong kong. she'd also been qauarantined a few times while traveling back home: 2 day quarantine in hong kong, but another time a 28 day quarantine in shenzhen. she said it wasn't too bad (had her own room with bathroom), though she did have to pay for the quarantine, and the quarantine hotel price was actually higher than market value. she said she met PX at the office pizza party and he told her they know a friend who has a car and they often go out to weekend trips. she also purchased her return flight today, after confirming with me that it was okay for her to leave on september 1st.
while we were talking, i kept hearing thundering outside. it wasn't until i was finished making the paocai that i went to the living room and realized the blinds were still on, and saw that it was pouring rain outside. i didn't think we'd get any rain today, but we ended up about 2 inches worth of rain.
for dinner i ate the braised beef rollup my mother gave me while watching air on amazon prime.
lauryn was still asleep when i woke up this morning at 9am. she's probably still very tired from a full day of traveling yesterday, so it wasn't too surprising. after i used the bathroom and showered, i left lauryn a note, saying she can get groceries from star market, but cheaper options can be had at market basket. i left the house by 10am, biking into chinatown to get some supplies.
i locked the bike in front of ming's market, went inside briefly to check out some produce prices, then walked down to c-mart to see their prices. mustard greens stems at ming's market was $2.69/lbs. while at c-mart it was $1.99/lbs. taiwanese cabbage prices were the same in both places 79¢/lbs. i was shocked to see they had fresh wax apples $9.99/lbs. i was tempted to get some, but at that price it was something like $3/fruit, too expensive.
back at ming's market i bought the bulk of the remaining produce, including 98¢/lbs. for shanghai bokchoi. it's so cheap, i don't know why i ever bother growing my own. they also had tianjin cucumbers, which were just advertised as "cucumber" for $2.79/lbs., i'd never seen them before. longans were on sale for $8.99/lbs. while lychees were $29.99 for 2lbs. i did get some large gold nugget oranges, $1.29/lbs.
i left chinatown by 11am, took the scenic route home via the espalanade. crossing the mass ave bridge into cambridge did i finally realized today was MIT's graduation (actually, MIT has a three day commencement, though undergraduates have their ceremony tomorrow).
it was nearly noontime by the time i returned home. lauryn was still asleep. i dropped off a taiwanese cabbage and some carrots (for making taiwanese paocai) before heading to the cafe. i took the bicycle because it was too much of a hassle to move all the produce into my motorcycle saddlebags.
my parents were making buns. i was happy to see my sister helping out at the cafe today, she'd been missing in action for nearly 2 weeks. i had an ugly vegetarian bun for lunch before continuing onwards, to belmont.
i went to my parents' place to reseed the dead patches of grass on the largest section of the front lawn. today was a hot day - with temperature in the upper 80's - but this heat will only be with us for another day tomorrow before the temperature comes crashing down to a cooler 60-75 degrees, ideal grass growing weather. i'm taking a gamble, hoping that we have a few more weeks of cool weather in june. when temperature gets above 80 degrees, cool-season grass will stop growing. the grass seeds i'm using is scotts turf builder sun & shade mix, which is a combination of kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescue (they seem to be all cool-season varieties).
i used matthew's thatch raking to work the lawn. it didn't work so well because we have thick carpets of dead grass, extreme thatch. the thatch rake ended up just tearing up those sections, which i later collected the dead grass with a rake and threw them away. i measured the area of the lawn that needed to reseeded - 12ft by 12ft or 144 sq.ft. i then drove out to home depot to get some soil.
a lot of commercial soil has chunks of shredded wood. i was looking for a finer type of soil, one that isn't so chunky. i then came across scotts turf builder lawn soil, specially formulated for lawns. it was $11 a bag (1.5 cu.ft.) but worth it if it does what it advertises, so i ended up grabbing 3 bags. i also went inside the store and got a new melnor watering wand ($15, these only seem to last a season before they start leaking) and a melnor pulsating sprinkler with a zinc spike ($10). i had a feeling i'd be returning the pulsating sprinkler, but got it just to test it out.
i got back to the house by 2pm. based on matthew's advice, i mixed the grass seeds with the lawn soil. i couldn't tell how much seed to use, so i added enough seeds so each handful of soil was filled with blue-coated seeds. i then sprinkled it onto the lawn. i ended up using all 3 bags of lawn soil.
second step was setting up the sprinkler. i moved the melnor oscillating sprinkler so it's water the new batch of grass, while using the pulsating sprinkler on the previously reseeded lawn. the pulsator is kind of an inexact sprinkler, sort of just randomly spraying in all directions. because it had a round radius, the corners of the lawn got the least amount of water. the oscillating sprinkler was much easier to use, adjustable in all directions and volume. i moved the sprinkler timer directly onto the spigot while moving the splitter below the timer so it would automate two hoses. because i had to turn off the faucet to make the switch, i noticed the repaired stem was starting to leak again. nothing i can do about it now, but once we have the lawns established and no longer watering automatically, i'm going to repack the bonnet for the nth time.
i watered the backyard garden before leaving. my father told me he'd already switched the hose so it was using faucet water instead of rain barrel water since the barrels are mostly dry at this point. we're supposed to get some rain this weekend and i really hope it'll happen just so we can replenish our rain barrels again.
i got to the cafe by 4pm, dropping off the pair of new brooks ghost 14 shoes for my mother. she tried them on and immediately disliked them, said they were too large even though they were the same size she tried at the store. she decided to return them, and just as quickly bought a new pair of allbirds shoes she saw online. i was pretty tired by that point, only having eaten that vegetarian bun, but still hungry enough that i was having stomach pangs. i returned home by 4:30pm.
lauryn texted me earlier, said she was going to market basket to get groceries, said she'd be back by 5pm. that gave me some time to take a hot shower and have a piece of drumstick and a sausage for a late lunch. when she finally came back, she was clutching a large paper bag of groceries in her hands. i forgot to tell her to take some canvas grocery shopping bags.
she paid the rent, and asked if she needed to put down a deposit. that might be something my sister thought up for the upstairs apartment, but i've never had to do that. just pay month to month. she also asked my help to order a 3-months mintmobile SIM card ($50), since she doesn't have a US credit card. i also found out more about what she's doing in hong kong. she was supposed to graduate this spring, but because of credit mix-ups, she still owes her school one more semester when she goes back. no, she is not going to mcgill university, that was something she was supposed to do in the fall but her canadian visa application got lost so she never got her visa even though she'd already been accepted into their semester program. she told me while studying in hong kong, she took cantonese language classes so at least now she can understand it dialect, if not speak it well. she also wants to travel to taiwan but the chinese government has now banned most chinese citizens from vacationing in taiwan (only student visas and family visits are allowed).
later in the evening i showed her how to work the gas stove (she'd never used gas before). she was cooking some pasta with tomato sauce. she also added an egg to her simple dinner. as for me, i heated up two leftover blue cheese burgers for dinner. i coincided my meal with the start of the NBA finals. i'm not sure who to root for. i have zero opinion on the nuggets, but the heat i either love them or hate them. denver dominated throughout the game, but miami was scrappy and wouldn't give up, fighting to the final minute when it was all but certain they'd lose. that scrappiness makes me want to root for them.
my letter writing campaign worked: last night was pitch dark in my bedroom when i went to bed. darkness how i missed you! i slept soundly, no longer bothered by the unnatural brightness.
i woke up this morning to do more cleaning. i cleaned up the guest bedroom closet. i decided to throw away my two broken round ikea ottomans that i had stashed in the closet for nearly 2 decades. i also decided to move my unused desktop PC's (a mac G4 and a windows PC) to the basement, haven't touched them in ages. finally i swapped out my winter clothes (sweaters, flannel plants) with summer clothes (mostly shorts).
i stopped cleaning by 10am so i could ride to harvard vanguard and pick up my mother's losartan prescription. patients and workers no longer have to wear masks now, and i saw the pharmacist for the very first time without a mask. she recognized me right away, even though she'd never seen me without a mask either.
afterwards i went to market basket to get some supplies for the cafe: milk, bean sprouts, garlic, scallions, frozen peas, black tea. i came home briefly before heading to the cafe for work by 11am. riding by rc kelley road, i noticed a guy sitting next to the giant elm tree, with what seems to be tubes circling the trunk. i knew what he was doing but asked anyway. he was injecting the tree with fungicide, to keep it from contracting dutch elm disease. he said the tree itself is pretty healthy, which is what i like to hear.
my mother had already started boiling a new batch of tea eggs, while it was up to me to prepare the tea egg brine and simmer it for an hour. my mother made some lunch for herself (noodles) before baking some frozen spring rolls for my father and me. my father wore the new croc knockoffs to work today, replacing the old pair of croc knockoffs he'd been as work shoes. these shoes were originally purchased to be used as backyard gardening shoes, we can always order another pair from temu.
like yesterday, today wasn't very busy. so much so that i returned home around 2:30pm to continue cleaning. i stopped by the community garden first to do some quick watering. i ended up staying for an hour, first chatting with ann, then chatting with david.
so my new roommate lauryn isn't scheduled to arrive in boston until 9:50pm, flying out from hong kong with a stop in chicago. that meant i have 6+ hours to finish cleaning the house. i started by moving things down to the basement, including boxes of magazines (finally got rid of the last of those), my two computers, an assortment of empty jars, and a small unused side table. i ended up tossing out a cd tower, not sure if i'll ever need to use that again. next i moved on to the fridge, clearing out some space so lauryn can stash some groceries. likewise i did the same with the cupboards, clearing out about 1/3rd. i also rewrapped my stove top with new heavy duty aluminum foil. i finished by vacuuming the entire house. it was 7pm by the time i was done.
for dinner i finished the rest of my leftover pasta salad, along with a hot italian sausage, a grilled drumstick, some homemade lemonade, and two gold nugget oranges. my mother called me, said my sister told her lauryn's flight out of hong kong was delayed an hour, so she might miss her connecting flight out of chicago. so there could be a chance she'll either arrive later tonight, or possibly tomorrow morning.
earlier while moving things from the house onto the backyard porch, i got a splitter when i walked out barefoot. the tip must've broken off because i couldn't see it anymore, and i assumed it fell out. but later in the evening it kept bothering me, so i checked it more carefully, and sure enough, there was still a piece of splinter underneath the skin. so i spent some time removing the splitter. it was a bit awkward, wearing a headlamp, one leg bent onto my other leg, trying to see the splinter with my aging eyes. the good thing was it was underneath my foot, and the skin is pretty tough, so i could dig away at it without it hurting that much, unlike, say, a fingertip. the splinter wouldn't come out, so i soaked my foot in a plastic basin of hot water for a few minutes, to soften the skin. it still wouldn't come out, so i found my x-acto knife and picked away at the spot until the splinter head finally popped out. from there it was just a simple matter of tweezer extraction. i put a bandaid on it because it bleeding it a little bit.
later in the evening i put in lauryn's flight number (UA656). her new arrival time was 10:30pm. figuring it'd take her at least an hour to clear customs, get her luggage, then ride the T to cambridge, she probably wouldn't get to my house by 11:30pm at the earliest. my sister went to go pick her up from alewife, and they didn't get to my house until after midnight.
i'd never met lauryn before, but seen her a few times from my sister's street facing webcam, though she always had her face mask on. when she arrived she was still wearing her mask, but took it off soon afterwards. having never seen her face before, she wasn't what i imagined. she asked what she should call me, "uncle, or tony?" i said tony was fine. with my sister looking on, i gave lauryn a quick tour of the place, then taught her how to use the front door key. after my sister left, i gave lauryn the wifi password. i also gave her my phone number so she could add me in whatsapp (using her HK number). there was just enough time for me to ask her where she was from originally: hunan. i had some instant noodles for her in case she was hungry (she did eat on the plane from chicago to boston), but she said she just wanted to take a shower and go to bed (don't blame her, she'd been traveling for 24+ hours). her internship doesn't start until friday so she has tomorrow free. there was a time when i would've taken out my roommate on a tour of boston, but lauryn was here last summer, plus she knows the couple currently living in the apartment above my sister's place, so she has people closer to her age who can take her out.
so i haven't had a roommate since the start of the pandemic, when i was basically stuck with kevin and all his neuroses (plus his inability to use the toilet without urinating all over the floor). i already had a taste of the roommate life when PX stayed here for 2 nights last week. i think lauryn will work out fine. i had some preconceived notions, but from first appearances she seems quite normal. plus i don't think she'll pee on the floor.