it's been so dry our barrels have ran empty. the last time it rained was the night of the 15th, when the hot and humid weather triggered some thunderstorms beginning at 9pm. in order to water the lawn and the plants, we had to use the faucet for the first time in a long time. the forecast shows it won't be raining anytime soon, with the earliest possible rain not coming until next friday. the lack of rain might be terrible for plants and rain barrels, but it's been a boon for solar production, as we head into record setting territory. we've also been lucky this month that for whatever reason, most of our rain has come at night, when it won't affect the panels. how considerate!
a little bit after 11pm i went out for a walk to tag a pokemon gym so i could earn my 50 coins. night time is best time for gym tagging activity since most likely people will be sleeping so no opposition teams are attacking the gyms. passing by the burger joint, an asian girl wearing a miniskirt startled me as she appeared out of the dark. we awkwardly navigated around each other, social distancing and stranger danger rules in effect.
my outdoor weather sensor in cambridge said the high temperature today was 86°F. there was no way i'd be spending the day at home, i simply had to go outside and enjoy this warm weather. after some avocado toast for lunch, i left the house by 1:30pm. it was hot enough for shorts, but all my summer clothes are in storage bins in kevin's closet, and i won't be able to get to them until after he leaves.
first stop was to the community garden, where i watered my plot. i noticed david has been slowly filling in his garden. i don't know if he buys or grows his own seedlings but they're magnificent, short enough not to topple over, with thick stems, and plenty of healthy leaves. he had tomatoes, japanese eggplants, and cucumbers. his garden is a mess but but my summertime he grows enough food to probably not need to buy anymore produce.
after that i set out for boston to haymarket, to look for some "ugly fruit" oranges. it's been 3 weeks since my last visit, i was hoping new produce would be in stock. i arrived at haymarket by 2:15pm. last time i guessed maybe 1/2 the vendors were there; this time around there seemed to be even less. the sidewalk facing quincy market has also been demolished, so the few vendors that would normally be on that side are gone as well. with a new hotel being built on top of haymarket plus the addition of the coronavirus social distancing, i fear for the future of haymarket as a local institution.
they didn't have the oranges i wanted, i don't think they're ever going to have it this season. i left with this haul: 2 melons ($3), 1 lbs. of multi-colored hot peppers ($1), 10 white peaches ($2), bunch of cilantro ($1), 2 cucumbers ($2), 10 baby cucumbers ($2), and 5 limes ($1). instead of going home, i took a tour of empty quincy market again.
i got home by 3:15pm. i then went to star market where they had a memorial day sale on corn (8/$2) and watermelon ($4). i then packed everything into my saddlebag and backpack, and rode the motorcycle to belmont to drop off the supplies. i could've waited until tomorrow, but reports say the daytime temperature difference could be as much as 30 degrees, so better to go today while the weather was still nice.
my mother tried one of the honey tangerines i got yesterday from the allston 88. she immediately said it was too dry, barely edible. i tried one, yes, maybe a little dry, but very sweet, nothing like she described. i was about to leave but my mother said she was making dumplings tonight. i told her if i didn't use up the rotisserie chicken i bought on wednesday that it was going to go bad. i finally left by 4:45pm.
when i got back home i planted another white hydrangea in that space between renee's house and our house. i'm not sure who that spot belongs to, but there was a bare patch of dirt just the right size for a hydrangea. unfortunately there seemed to be a large piece of concrete buried underground. instead of digging it out, i left it in place, and planted the hydrangea anyway.
at 6pm i started making my rotisserie chicken stock for my rice noodles. i removed the two drumsticks (my mother said she wanted those) and split the rest of the chicken into parts. into the pot it went, along with some crushed ginger, a dash of chinese cooking wine, some ground white pepper, and a stick of scallion chopped into large pieces. i filled the pot with cold water and set it on boil with the cover on. once it started boiling, i removed the cover and turned the heat down to a simmer and left it for an hour. i also added some salt later on because i felt the broth didn't have enough flavor, about 1/2 tsp of salt.
another perfect production graph line, another day of 50kWh+ electricity. it's been like this since tuesday, 4 straight days of 50kWh+. strange thing is every day there seems to be a little less production. today we didn't even break 7kW. the day length is increasing so you'd think production would be increasing, not the other way around. my personal theory is every day this week the high temperature has gone up about 10° per day. hotter it is, the less efficient the panels perform. in the dog days of summer we still manage to make high production simply because of quantity over quality. we're probably not going to hit 7kW, at least not without the help of clouds. so far this month we've had 8 50kWh+ days. last year we only had one, and the year before that just 3. we keep this up for the next 9 days, we're looking to shatter some major records here.
by 7pm the chicken stock was finally finished. i spent some time fishing out any bones and other inedibles. i then scooped out a medium pot's worth of broth and various chicken meat and reheated it again, this time adding some rice noodles, some 天津冬菜, some fried garlic, chopped cilantro, and a dash of black vinegar. i haven't made rice noodle soup in a long time, this used to be one of my staples. buy a rotisserie chicken, eat it on the first day (lunch and dinner), save everything (including bones), use it to make a broth the next day, making enough broth for 3 additional servings of chicken rice noodle soup.
i ate while watching red sparrow on FX. stylish, yes, but a terrible movie, amazed it got made. jennifer lawrence is such a ditz in real life, but all the characters she plays in the movies are nothing like her. afterwards i watched the magnificent seven.
i rode down to greater boston motorsport in arlington in the late morning to get my inspection done. an employee who just happened to be outside said inspections are done by appointment only, and suggested i call the service desk. a woman answered, i told her i wanted to get an inspection, she checked her schedule and said she could put me in either next thursday or friday. i told her thursday, resigned that i'd need to come back again next week. "actually, i'm outside right now, didn't realize i needed to make an appointment," i revealed to her. when she heard that, she said she wasn't going to send me home and said she'd get someone to inspect my bike immediately.
since my last visit about the same time last year, GBM has expanded: they bought the tires dealership next door and turned it into their service/repair department. the expansion was recent, right before the coronavirus shutdown. the service office still looked brand new, like it was just painted, hardly anything inside except a bank of registers. a folding table was placed by the door, a sign said only one customer could come in at a time. the woman i spoke to earlier beckoned me to enter. she asked how i wanted to pay for the inspection ($15). cash, i said, but added i could also do credit card if that was more convenient. so we did it with credit card, i read the numbers to her from across the room. she gave me back my registration and receipt, and said a mechanic would be right with me.
a minute later somebody came out. this mechanic wasn't wearing a mask, so i gave him some space to work. he pumped the brakes, checked the horn, turned on the lights, and passed me by putting a new inspection sticker on my license plate. just like that i was done!
instead of going home, i took a detour and went to my parents' place first. my mother was out taking her walk while my father was in the backyard setting up the scaffold by RB4 so there was a wooden shelf for some jasmines. he said the area by RB4 actually gets the most sun compared to any other place in the backyard. as for the scaffold, he sanded off the rust and repainted everything in a white primer. i suggested we just make a simpler lower platform with our wooden planks and some bricks and get rid of the scaffold.
my mother returned home by the time i was about to leave. i updated my parents on when kevin was moving out (june 10th is when the current tenant leaves, 11th is when the professional housecleaners come to clean the room, 12th seems like the most likely move date), told him to only pay me for the 2 weeks that he's here even if there's a few additional days. they suggested he pay in full (whole month), and i can split the difference with my parents once he finally moves to my grand uncle's upstairs apartment. my mother was going to make me some lunch, but i said i had a lot of stuff i needed to finish eating back home otherwise they'll go bad.
that other stuff turned out to be a bunch of avocados. i made avocado toasts on my own for the very first time. besides one avocado, i also added some chopped garlic and a drizzle of olive oil, per my mother's instructions. the whole wheat bread i got yesterday from star market, toasted two slices. it was just like my mother's avocado toast, although i wonder if i shouldn't add a pinch of salt to make it more savory, or maybe drizzle some hot honey. i washed it down with some cold ice tea, my new drink of choice now that the weather is turning warmer.
the weather was so nice i couldn't stand to be indoors. around 2:30pm i told kevin i was going out for an hour, and ended up biking to the memorial drive trader joe's to look for some incan corn. there was a short line, only a few minutes of waiting. an attendant by the entrance gave you a courtesy squirt of disinfecting gel if you wanted it. they don't seem to carry the incan corn anymore, so i ended up getting some snacks (wasabi seaweed, spicy dried mangoes, rice crackers).
next stop was the allston 88 asian supermarket (now the hong kong supermarket). i went a new way where i crossed the BU bridge and rode west on commonwealth avenue until i hit 88. i haven't been here in a while, not since GC was my roommate and i brought him here for some lunch followed by some shopping. the food court was still opened, though only a few shops were operating. there was no customers, the employees were all napping and seemed bored. they reorganized the supermarket a little bit, rearranged the aisles, made it more cramp it seemed, but seemed to better stocked. not so much in terms of produce but everything else. i bought a few things, including what they called "honey tangerines" (5/$4) but what my mother calls "ugly fruit" oranges.
coming home, i continued west until i hit harvard avenue, and went north on my usual route back to harvard square and home. the weather was so nice it seemed to have given me an extra boost of endurance and i felt like i could pedal all day and not get tired. i finally returned home by 4:30pm, catching kevin just as he was about to take a rare step outside, going out for a run.
i figured i had half an hour of privacy before he returned home, so i went to go use the bathroom before taking a shower. like clockwork, he came back at exactly 5pm. although he was covered in sweat, he didn't bother taking a shower to clean up. i shuddered over what it meant in terms of smells, but kevin keeps it clean for the most part (other than peeing on the floor, which he did twice today), so i wasn't too worried, even though i found the practice disgusting. i was just happy he left the house for a change.
another near perfect production graph (53.63kWh) even though we're 2kWh off from the record. the sky this morning was a deep cobalt blue because of how dry and sunny it was. a typical clear summer's day has a milky look to it because of the humidity. i'm not sure if we're going to achieve another record day but 50kWh+ is not too shabby. i predict our graph won't get any higher, but will expand horizontally and make up the difference that way.
i finished the last of my fried chicken around 6pm, the same time kevin was making dinner, just a wing and a piece of thigh. i was going to make some chicken broth rice noodles for later, but i wasn't the least bit hungry by that point, so decided to use up my rotisserie chicken tomorrow night instead.
i've been spending some time retroactively updating old posts for may. i still got 6 days that needs to be filled in, it's a slow process but the sooner i finish the sooner i can erase the photos off of my computer.
i thought kevin went to bed around midnight but he woke up at 1:30am to use the bathroom. i usually don't like to go to sleep until he does first. this way i can check that he didn't leave the bathroom faucet dripping or if there's any pee on the floor. also as i've mentioned previously, i can use the bathroom in peace knowing that he isn't waiting to use it.
no police was waiting for me this morning for what i've done late last night. when you commit a crime and don't get caught, it's almost like everything you hold sacred and true turned out to be wrong. you mean you can do something illegal and not get caught? this is the slippery slope of how a law-abiding individual ends up becoming a master criminal. maybe i've just watched too much breaking bad and ozark. when the garden refuse truck can by, i went out and let them destroy the evidence for me. now all i have to do is return the looper to my parents' place without the neighbors catching sight of me. i'm sure they'll see the damage eventually; hopefully not for a long time, at which point they won't be able to figure out what happened anyway. what i did was so subtle, it even took me a while to see what i did. what i really want to do is inspect where i cut the branch, but to do that would be to give myself away. so for now i can only admire my handiwork from afar and enjoy the return of unobstructed street view.
i finally had enough of my coronavirus quarantine beard and shaved it completely off. at one point i thought i'd leave a moustache but thought better of it. immediately after shaving everything off i realized i made a mistake. as dirty as that beard was, it sort of balanced out my face. now a clean-shaven face contrasted too much with my shaggy coronavirus quarantine hairstyle. plus, having not seen my face for many weeks, i thought my naked face looked pudgy and ugly. fortunately it won't take long for new growth to come back, about a week. besides, nobody can see my face anyway, since everyone's still wearing masks.
after a chicken salad bagel sandwich in the early afternoon for lunch, i asked kevin if he was interested in seeing the community garden. so we walked down, i gave him a quick tour, and left him to take some photos while i watered my plot. he was pretty impressed with the whole garden, especially all the flowers; apparently in china people don't usually plant flowers since it's a waste of good space that can be used to grow something actually useful like a vegetable crop.
i thought about taking the motorcycle up to greater boston motorsports to get it inspected, but decided i'd do that tomorrow when the temperature would be 10 degrees warmer (70's). instead i biked to the walgreens on beacon street for a few supplies (shampoo, snacks) before turning around and paying a visit to the porter square star market. apparently there's a special deal this week where you get a free rotisserie chicken when you get an 8-piece serving of fried chicken. when i scanned the items the rotisserie chicken wasn't subtracted, only after i was about to pay did it become free.
ever since the coronavirus quarantine i've been thinking about fried chicken. the porter square star market is the closest joint nearby that offers decent cheap fried chicken. i sampled a thigh, a wing, and a breast. it wasn't as good as last time though, very dry, like maybe it was left under the heat lamp for too long, and the breading wasn't as crispy and flavorful. next time, i'm going to get some wings from city slicker on somerville avenue. i tried korean bbq last time; it was okay, but not better than bon chon. they have two other flavors - sweet chili and buffalo - i might try one of those.
the itchy dermatitis blisters on my right palm has sort of fused together into a big blister. it was so itchy last night i almost wanted to scratch the outbreak until it bled. only washing with cold water seems to alleviate some of the itchy, but with coronavirus prevention hand washing calls for hot water, i'm not sure what to do. but i know hot water makes it itch more, so i'm just going to be washing my hands with cold water until the blisters are finally gone.
the sky today was a deep dark blue, so no surprise we got a perfect solar production graph. by often times a perfectly smooth graph doesn't mean record production, and that was the case today, we made just 54.41kWh, more than 1kWh shy of breaking the all-time record from a week ago. still, i'm not complaining about a perfect graph! the forecast for thursday and friday calls for more sunny days, i'm hoping we can make an additional 100+kWh by the time we reach the weekend.
i had more fried chicken for dinner, by nearly 10pm. i ate while watching the HD presentation of game 6 of the 1998 NBA finals, michael jordan's last game as a chicago bulls. the NBA apparently filmed the game separately in HD, and spliced the footage together to create a game film. because they were hedging their bet on the history nature that this might be jordan's last game, they spent a lot of time focusing on jordan himself, like a voyeur, using hand-held HD cameras.
i ended up not eating any of the rotisserie chicken, but instead saving it to make chicken stock for my rice vermicelli noodle soup that i'll be making for tomorrow night. any leftovers i can freeze for next week.
i had trouble falling asleep last night, compounded by the fact that i drank so much water before bed i had to get up several times to go use the bathroom. i was probably still up around 4am. so it's no surprise i didn't wake up until almost 10:30am. first thing i saw when i looked out the living room was steve and paul packing up for the vineyards for the next 4 months at least. as soon as they were gone, i went out into the backyard and planted 4 hydrangeas. 2 more were supposed to go in the main perennial bed but while i was digging i uncovered a buried hosta and stopped what i was doing.
i wasn't very hungry and had a late lunch around 1:30pm. finally done with the ham, i could once again eat whatever i want for lunch, but still ended up with a bagel sandwich this time with a cranberry-almond chicken salad filling. in the afternoon my father stopped by briefly to drop off half a dozen tomato seedlings, my glass lotus germination jar, and a pair of long-handle loppers. my father told me that one of the rutgers tomatoes in RB3 had been decapitated by some critter. he thought it might be a squirrel, but only a rabbit would do something like that. either way, he was going to put collars around the seedlings and replant another rutgers from our spares.
kevin asked me about the rent for this coming month. i said to pay me for however long he'd be staying. he said the remaining student in the bedroom he was moving into was tentatively leaving on june 10th. i told him in that case just pay me for 2 weeks. i was also surprised because earlier i heard that student wasn't leaving until the 17th, so this was news to me, but kevin said he had to confirm, as the departure date might've changed.
i walked down to the community garden to plant my tomatoes. the 2 sandwich tomatoes and 1 cherry tomatoes i planted in the grow bags, leaving one more for a future eggplant. the 3 remaining tomatoes i planted in the ground. i also planted some zucchini seeds in the southeastern corner. around the garden perimeter i planted a combination of nasturtiums and sunflowers. in the empty grow bag i sprinkled some cilantro seeds.
when i got back home (3:20pm) i started cleaning my aquarium. it hasn't been cleaned since march, almost 2 months ago. that would explain the lower water level, algae on the glass, and hair algae on the plants. the algae problem wasn't as bad as last night now that i've started using the magic eraser to thorough clean it off the glass. the hair algae wasn't as thick either, i think it's because the aquatic plants have really found their foothold and started to out-compete the algae. i wanted to do a more thorough cleaning so i ended up removing the driftwoods and accompanying plants. the anubias nana has really taken off, outgrowing it's own smaller piece of driftwood and growing onto the larger driftwood. i also didn't realize how much roots it'd put down into the gravel substrate. i was meaning to divide up the plant but it broke naturally while i was taking it out of the tank. i put them in basins and gave them a thorough cleaning, scrubbing off algae from the leaves and removing any hair algae. the water was already cloudy, but after i vacuumed out a bucket full of water, it was downright muddy. it took a long time but i was finally finished by 5pm. it took several hours before the water was clear enough to see through.
the weather today wasn't anything special, but nothing special still managed to narrowly break the all-time single day production record with 54.86kWh, just 700Wh shy of another new record. the forecast for the rest of the week calls for clear weather so we're only going to be making more electricity. the month of may has the potential for the highest production: days are getting longer, the sun's angle is such that both the main roof and sunroom roof panels get an equal amount of sunlight, and the weather is often times still cold enough that the panels are still performing near peak efficiency. such was the case back in 2018, when may was actually the 2nd highest production for that year, only beaten by july 2018; that year may was higher than both june and august's productions, summer months traditionally with the highest productions. it's going to be interesting to see just how much we actually get for this month, even just to see where we land by week's end.
for dinner i had two pieces of leftover ribs and a piece of barbecue corn, ate around 8:40pm. not sure what it is, maybe it's my body changing to summer metabolism, but i just wasn't that hungry for most of the day.
the thing i've been waiting all day to do would happen later in the evening. a little background: one of my neighbors has a tree with an out-of-place hanging branch that partially blocks my view of the street. i noticed it last year, and wanted to chopped it off, but once it lost its leaves, it wasn't as big a problem. fast-forward a new season, the leaves are back, and once again my view is blocked. i suppose the correct thing to do is simply ask my neighbors if they wouldn't mind me chopping off that branch. but what if they say no? just easier if i resolve the problem myself. the branch is just low enough that i can cut off with a long-handle lopper, which arrived earlier today. the time to do it would be very late at night, when all the neighbors are asleep. i was thinking after 2am, but when i looked outside around 1:30am, the streets were already empty, so i decided no time better than now.
first i turned off all the lights in the living room, so it was pitch dark, and i could look out onto the street to find the best time to go. i wore a dark jacket i don't often wear, along with a dark hat with my hair bunched up underneath. i could feel my adrenaline pumping. finally i mustered enough courage to exit the house, lopper close by my side so if i passing car was to go by they wouldn't see it. the whole operation took 30 seconds from beginning to end. i was filming it with my phone from my living room window for posterity. in my haste to leave, i forgot the most important piece of equipment, which was my facemask. there was nobody outside, but my biggest fear is if some neighbor has a security camera with night vision, hence the need for a costume. i couldn't just leave the branch, so i brought it to my backyard and chopped it up into little pieces because throwing them in the garden refuse barrel.
now comes the paranoia as i wait and see if anybody saw me chop off that branch. as far as crimes go, it's pretty trivial, but that's how all good criminals start, first with something small, then eventually something big.
i thought my back would hurt from all the heavy lifting i was doing yesterday moving tubs of wet soil, but when i woke up this morning i only felt some soreness in my upper arms. i woke up relatively early - 9:30am - and surfed the web on my macbook pro until 11:30am when i finally went to belmont. going via motorcycle was effortless; what i make up in time i lose out in exercise and the ability to play pokemon go. i saw on the webcam this morning the town DPW crew came by to pave the sidewalk. for some reason they left a big lump of asphalt on the sidewalk grass bed as well; hopefully they'll come back and fill it up with dirt before planting grass seeds. at the very least they have to return to get their barricades.
i was outside in the backyard when my parents returned home: apparently they went on a grocery run at the fresh pond trader joe's (hardly any wait) and also went to the post office. once again i had some avocado toast for lunch along with a glass of frozen orange juice.
i then spent the rest of the day doing all sorts of yard work, only coming inside for a brief break before going back out.
my father and i pruned the kwanzan flowering cherry; the best time to prune is after it's finished flowering. we did very little pruning last year after having just planted the tree in april. we removed branches that were either too close together or crisscrossed, as well as trimming for shape and symmetry. we also pruned a little bit of the redbud. slow-growing redbud branches are very hard, it took some effort to even cut the smallest branch. the flowering plum we didn't touch, although it could use a haircut as well; that will be a project for next weekend.
the cold damage on the dragon fruit cactuses continue to spread; my father had to slice another stem tip to control the damage. he said the bit he cut yesterday has already hardened, so maybe some of the cactuses can yet recover.
i was worried raccoons would return overnight and ransack my lotuses again but that didn't happen. they all seem to be doing okay, nothing exciting to report yet. i dropped some cherry blossoms to beautify the barrels. my father and i finally moved out the water reeds from the basement, the last of our basement plants. thus ends our basement grow room. we still need to clean up, and i put my pepper seedlings there to let them germinate. my father said we'd keep the grow room empty so it'd be ready to use again come next winter.
we tilled the soil in our raised beds and then i went ahead and plants a few things. even though the tomatoes all look too thin and twisted, they'd do better growing in the beds than in the plastic cups: 3 cherry tomatoes in RB1, 3 sandwich tomatoes in RB2, and 2 rutgers in RB3. in RB0 and RB3 i also planted some zucchini. then in the back of RB1, RB2, and RB3 i planted a combination of cucumbers, blue morning glories, and moonflowers. i saved half a dozen tomatoes for myself, 9 more for my sister, and 2 i selected for discarding because they looked too deformed, although my father said we could try plant them on some random corner of the yard.
there was a lot of fragrances in the backyard: on the western side were the lilacs, and on the eastern border were the lily-of-the-valleys along with solomon's seals. my father had attached the wire fencing underneath the backyard entrance door with some more heavy duty round "staples". i sprayed the eggplant seedlings with insecticidal soap and i sprayed the grapevines with serenade fungicide from a bottle. my father planted some more grass seeds. i did some weeding. we also planted a bunch of buttercup squash seeds all along the border of the yard. afterwards i was exhausted, having expended 12,982 steps according to my mi band fitness tracker.
my poor hands: my mother noticed over the weekend how incredibly damaged they were from all the hand washing i've been doing. they were so dry and rough, they felt like sandpaper. i even had little bloody cuts on my knuckles from where the skin split open that never seemed to heal. she gave me a jar of burt's bees res-q ointment (smells of lavender and rosemary). then while working the garden bare-handed, i once again got some contact dermatitis. most likely it came when i pulled up weeds from the lawn, just on the bottom palm of my right hand. but today i noticed a strip of itchy blisters on the edge of my left palm as well. finally, i managed to get a splinter in the first knuckle of my left index finger. i don't remember it happening, and it bothered me all day. after a shower i tried to remove it. a tip was poking out earlier, but somehow managed to slip further underneath my skin. armed with a alcohol-disinfected sewing needle, i attempted to dig out the splinter. it was not going to fun and it wasn't coming out. so i tried squeezing it, maybe if i could push out the tip just a bit, i can clamp it with tweezers. so i did that amazingly enough, the entire splinter just came out. it didn't look like a piece of wood; that's when i realized it's a cactus needle, from when i accidentally hit it when going up the basement stairs.
i got my sister to come pick me up in the late morning so i could get my motorcycle out of storage from the garage. i've got until the end of the month to get it inspected, but chances are the expiration has been extended, though an inspection is part of my spring "getting the bike out" routine.
my mother made some avocado toast when i arrived, mixed with some garlic and olive oil. i still haven't made it on my own yet, though there's no reason not to: i have plenty of avocados (actually, probably need to eat them before they go bad) and garlic, i just need to get some bread. i wonder if you can serve it on bagels? might be too thick.
while my sister and mother took hailey out for a walk, my father and i drove to home depot again to return the expensive hex bushings and pick up the cheaper garden hose adapter fittings i ordered online. he also need some more pvc pipe connectors as well as some more wood planks for his backyard stand. it was insanely crowded with customers at home depot, no capacity enforcement (unlike their neighbor target across the street, which had a line of socially distant customers waiting outside to get in). we grabbed what we needed and quickly left the store.
back at the house we cut the pair of 12ft planks into 8ft and 4ft pieces. they will be used to repair our raised beds in the future, but for now they'll be used as platforms for the backyard stand.
my father helped me get the motorcycle out of the garage. while he was mowing the lawn, i was reinstalling the battery, making sure the jump start wire i added at the end of last season was reconnected. afterwards my father helped me start the bike. when it's been in storage for half the year, it takes a while for the fuel to trickle down into the carburetor. while i turned on the ignition, my father helped me crank the throttle. after some fail starts (from the sound my father said it was an engine not getting enough fuel issue, not battery issue), the engine finally roared to life. the handlebar clock was dead, i'll need to replace the watch battery. i took the motorcycle for a short spin on the street before parking it along the curb.
while clearing the backyard of obstacles so my father could mow the entire lawn, i took down my birdfeeders from the shepherd's poles. nowadays, it seems to be a grackle feeder, as i haven't seen any other smaller birds visiting for a while (unfortunately i still have a 20lbs. bag of black oil sunflower seeds). instead of putting it back in its original spot, i decided to hang the squirrel buster high up in the tree, about a good 10 ft off the ground. it may turn out to be a terrible idea, as the only way to change the feeder is to climb a ladder to get into the trees. and should the feeder ever fall out of the tree, it will definitely smash to pieces on the ground.
inspired by online videos, my father has been making a lot of different breads. today he was trying an indian bread recipe he found. to be honest, it seemed like a lot of his other breads, and kind of remind of me scallion pancakes, with maybe not as much oil.
finally, it was time to plant the lotus seedlings. 4 of the lotus barrels were ready, the 5th one i already filled with water, i just needed to mix the right planting medium in one of the wash basins i got from chinatown a few weeks ago. because we hardly have any clay left, my original idea was to turn low quality top soil into a heavy mud, before adding a layer of sand. however when i finished making the mud, i found it was slushy like a waterbed, not solid like an all-clay substrate. surprisingly, it didn't smell bad, had a nice wood mulch odor. i thought i could live with it by adding a layer of sand, but it was just too slushy so i decided to see if i had enough clay to mix with the soil.
i had enough clay to fill 1/3 of the basin, so after my father made a suggestion, i put down 1/3 top soil mud, 1/3 clay, and 1/3 sand. this 3 layer mix i placed in the middle part of the yard, between 2 raised beds, the sunniest spot in the backyard. to this basin i added the best lotus seedling, one that has the longest stem and with a coin leaf that was nearly completely opened. the 4 remaining seeds i distributed to the other containers, burying them lightly in the sand just enough to keep them from floating away. each seed was planted below about 4" of water, just shallow enough to make it easier for the lotus leaves to break the surface. afterwards i put wire fencing around all the lotus containers.
my mother collected a bunch of garlic sprouts earlier today for a leftover italian sausage stirfry. these are 2nd time sprouts, and as such, they don't seem to have as strong a garlic flavor as the initial sprouts. i'm still amazed by how they'll grow back even after being cut down to the ground. we also ate the indian bread my father made, which he pan-heated with an egg.
i haven't been on the motorcycle in 5 months but it all came back to me. i've never riden the motorcycle with a face mask though, not too much different since most of my head is already covered by the helmet. the air would blow behind the mask so that it wasn't pressed up against my face. if i really wanted protection, i could always get a face shield for my open-face helmet. i'm so used to riding the bicycle that i found myself wanting to signal with my hand.
i went down to the community garden this morning to collect some garlic chives and to plant one of the white hydrangeas. i wasn't planning to be there long but ended up staying an hour anyway just sprucing up my plot. one other gardener was there, just so happens to be the plot in front of me (formerly belonged to beth). she told me where to find water when i made a search (turns out it wasn't in the garden but actually a neighboring building's spigot). i planted the hydrangea in the northeastern corner, where a grow bag used to be. not sure how big it'll eventually be, but i could always dig it up if it got too unruly. lunarias (money plants), chives and forget-me-nots were in bloom the last time i visited a week-and-a-half ago; this time creeping buttercups and star-of-bethlehems were open.
i came home a bit after 11am. after gathering my things, i informed kevin and biked to belmont. i was warm enough that i only needed a t-shirt, but i threw a dress shirt into my backpack in case it got cold later in the evening. i packed 2 cases of seltzer, along with some of the things i got from market basket yesterday.
i gave the garlic chives to my mother, who promptly sorted them in the sink, discarding any accidental grass stalks. she didn't think my garlic chives were any good at first, but later said they were very healthy and plump. i harvested about 2/3 of the fattest chives from my plot, leaving the rest to fatten even more. i also have a garlic chive border in my garden that's still tiny, but i could harvest them as well once they get bigger. my father was outside applying the clear sealant we got from home depot on thursday on the planks of wood. he moved back out some of the more tender plants after yesterday's thunderstorm threat. i mixed up a new solution of insecticidal soap (1 tbsp of soap concentrate to one 24 oz. spray bottle) to treat some mealybugs i saw on a few jasmines, the gardenia, and the orchids. i didn't spray the eggplant seedlings though when we saw a ladybug going to town eating up all the aphids.
back inside i had an egg & ham sandwich for lunch. my mother was trying to clean my father's insulated travel mug. simple scrubbing didn't help, i suggested adding some baking soda and soaking the container in hot water. my father accidentally took a sip thinking it was tea. the baking soda hot water soak had zero effect. later my sister tried using salt and ice cubes, which worked a little bit, but there was still a lot of stain. i tried again, making a baking soda slurry and scrubbing with a bottle brush. that worked up to a point, but required several application and a lot of elbow grease. finally my father sprayed some bleach into the container and left it to soak a bit in the sink (we made sure he didn't try to drink tht). i didn't think it'd do anything but was surprised it actually worked, managed to dissolve almost all of the tea stain, leaving the stainless steel interior looking like new.
something happened to my father's dragon fruit cactuses: a lot of them seemed to have suffered frost damage, the lost of color and mushy consistency tell-tale signs. not sure what happened, it was cold a few nights ago, but not freezing. maybe the variety we raised is particularly cold sensitive. my father had no choice but to slice off the tip of one cactus that had started to droop. he's hoping that maybe some of them might recover. he raised these from seeds last august, so nearly a year. apart from the cold damage, a good many of them had also changed color from green to a sickly brown and yellow once they were transplanted into permanent containers, which may be some kind of disease.
another project we took on today was patching up some of the raised beds, which have fallen apart from rotting wood. my father finally convinced me to use large L-brackets to brace the raised bed walls. this is only a patch, since most likely we'll need to completely replace the wood at some point in the future. we built these raised bed in spring of 2011 using raw lumber that we treated with linseed oil. not sure why we didn't go with pressure-treated, must be a lot of the wood was still using chromated copper arsenate (CCA), a type of arsenic. nowadays most pressure treated wood using safer options like alkaline copper quat (ACQ) which doesn't contain arsenic.
my parents made jiucaihexi with some of the garlic chives i brought back. i can't have them without my chili bean paste. we ate around 4pm, with a barbecue scheduled a few hours later.
i only ate one, saving my appetite for the barbecue.
originally i planned on planting my lotus seeds, but with hailey at home for most of the day, i couldn't run the hose without her thinking i was playing. i fished the seedlings out of the jar so i could clean it and do a water change; ever since i removed the rotting seeds, the water has been clear. all of them had tiny coin leaves with the exception of the one where i accidentally broke off the stem tip. but that one continues to grow, sending out a second coin leaf at a rate much faster compared to the other seedlings. the one seed with the broken stem tip that didn't seem to be growing? even though the seed itself still looked viable, it aborted the stem component altogether, so that seed is dead.
out of the 10 i soaked 2 weeks ago, i ended up with 5 viable seedlings, 6 if i didn't accidentally break the stem. the seedling that germinated the earliest and has the longest stem is also the one that has already developed some roots, so i should plant that as soon as possible. all the other seedlings look like they're forming roots as well, but currently they just look like spurs. 5 seedlings make my planting decision easier since i only have 5 lotus containers. i will plant a seedling into each basin, regardless if the lotus root i replanted from last year will develop or not. i know for sure these new lotuses will grow; i don't yet if any from last year will reemerge.
* tomato leaf pruning
we started the barbecue a bit after 5pm, figuring the ribs might need an hour to properly cook at low heat. we were using a different korean barbecue sauce instead of our usual lee kum kee brand. this was an actual korean brand, but it was more runny, not as thick as lee kum kee. it smelled good though, and towards the end i reapplied some barbecue sauce on both the ribs and the corn (more of a wash).
the final result tasted pretty good. i thought it was a little too sweet (was there artificial sweetener?) while my mother said it wasn't sweet enough.
i left by 7:15pm. by then the temperature had dropped into the upper 50's, a little chilly, but fortunately i brought a shirt. even with a shirt it was a little cold but after a few minutes of riding i quickly warmed up.