i went to star market this morning in search of guacamole but only left with a jar of medium spicy salsa. i went to petsi's pies to see if they had any strawberry rhubarb pie. there were two girls inside so i waited outside until they were finished. i must've waited 10 minutes before they were finally done. they did have strawberry rhubarb, in sizes 5", 8", or 12". i opted for the 8" which was $15. i strapped it to the back of my motorcycle with some bungie netting and rode to belmont.
weather today was sunny and in the 60's but felt much warmer than that. first thing i did when i got to my parents' place was to move out all the houseplants so they can get some real sun. my sister had brought some dunkin donuts breakfast sandwiches and i had one for lunch. i was checking the fedex tracking website to see my sister's godmother's sofa delivery progress and was surprised when i saw it'd already been delivered at 11:20am. wayfair finally noticed me by e-mail and text message 40 minutes later that the sofa was delivered. both my sister and mother contacted my sister's godmother to ask her to go downstairs and check. after a length of time she finally found the sofa.
my father, my sister, and i ended up going to my sister's godmother's apartment to help bring up the sofa and install it. the delivery company basically just left the sofa box in the entrance, blocking the exit. we ended up dragging it into the elevator and hauling it upstairs. the sofa was designed to be installed with the included tool, but it would've been quicker if we brought our own socket wrenches. after we finished installing the sofa, we left by 2:15pm.
back at the house, we tried the strawberry rhubarb pie. i got it because we have a rhubarb plant and i never had rhubarb before. the pie was okay - tartness from the rhubarb, sweetness from the strawberry - but it wasn't anything spectacular. i think getting the pecan sweet potato pie would've been the better choice!
my father continued mowing the lawn while i mixed up half a gallon of neem oil solution and sprayed the jasmines and gardenia. every one of them had mealybugs, some worse than others. at one point some neem oil mist got in my eye and i had to go inside and wash it out in the sink. we also put in a new trellis in raised bed 4 using the final 2 u-posts and 8ft worth of 4ft tall wire fencing.
in honor of mother's day, my sister ordered chinese takeout for dinner from joyful garden in the watertown mall. we waited hungrily as she left to go pick it up. she came back with enough food to eat for 3 days. i sipped some japanese plum wine before eating so i was already drunk. after i finished, i lay down on the zero gravity chair and fell asleep for a few minutes.
i motorcycled back to cambridge. later i went out to put the cover on the bike since it'd be raining later in the evening. i ate a sumo orange and a orri orange while waiting for the latest episode of the never to finish downloading. i watched another episode of the legend of the seeker before finally watching the never.
since it's not going to rain until late sunday night into monday morning and i didn't go yesterday, i went to my community garden this morning to water my plants. i haven't really planted anything, but i wanted to see how my uprooted and replanted monkshood were doing. maybe because it was a grey day, but there was just one other gardener there. the monkshood seemed okay, but when i replanted them some of the stalks were crooked so they're growing out in multiple different directions. my potted herbs were revived, even though i left my mints in the sun for 3 hours until they were all wilted, but mints are hardy, it'd take more than that to kill them.
when i returned home by 11:30am, i noticed trucks were blocking the end of my street. turned out my neighbors were cutting down their flowering pear tree, which had been there for nearly 20 years. i went inside the house and watched them work from my living room. i was mesmerized, it took them less than 10 minutes to reduce a 2 decade old tree into wood chips. the man working the chainsaw seemed like a real character, never once smiled, smoking and chewing gum at the same time, working the cherry picker while also manning the chainsaw. when he got down to the lower trunk, he switched to a larger chainsaw, then an assistant took over cutting down the remaining trunk. a second assistant fed branches into the wood chipper. they left the stump behind, maybe they'll come back another day to grind it down. i thought cambridge had a moratorium on tree removal, even on private property, but maybe that's changed. it seemed like a perfectly healthy tree (other than that one time a microburst caused the tree to split in half), i wonder why my neighbors decided to get rid of it. also bear in mind i'd already worked on the tree myself, when i secretly cut off a branch in the middle of the night because it as blocking my view of the street. i guess i don't have to worry about that anymore.
my mother made some noodles for lunch when i arrived in belmont. i also had some of the smoked duck i bought yesterday.
i brought the germination heating pads for the dozen hyacinth beans which have yet to sprout. i dumped out all the pots in search of the seeds. most of them had rotted, the few that i managed to salvage ended up being rotten as well. so i was going to repack the pots and start over with a new batch of seeds. before i could do that though, my mother said she was going out for a walk and i went with her.
we went to the cemetery first, to check out the brilliant red azalea bushes and a few large flowering kwanzan cherry trees. i was there to sample the different lilac bushes growing along the border, but when we walked by them i couldn't smell a thing because they were above us. i also saw an old lady who had sawed off whole branches of lilacs and taking them back to her car.
from there we walked down cushing street to belmont street, coming out near sofra bakery. there were some really nice houses on cushing street, with matching nice gardens.
we then walked back via belmont street, passing by shangri-la, which was closing by month's end. they still seemed busy though, bags of takeout waiting by a table near the front of the restaurant. we took oxford avenue before turning down unity avenue. we were admiring the perennial flowers in a front yard garden opposite our old house, when a woman (karen) invited us to walk through her garden then came out of the house to give us a tour. she had some amazing specimens of tulips, multi-colored with different leaf patterns. she had these leafy greens which she let us sample, she thought they were rockets, but later when we got back home with a sample leaf for my father to try, i figured out it was some of mustard, mostly likely japanese red mustard, with a very pungent taste reminiscent of wasabi. karen also took out to the other side of her house where she had a shade garden of wild ginger, trilliums, and lily-of-the-valley.
we left at 1pm and didn't come back until 2:45pm. i went into the backyard to continue repotting the hyacinth beans. i think my father might've packed the soil too tightly and watered it too much. i pack the soil loosely, and i water from the bottom, then using a spray bottle to wet the top. i plant the seeds so they're barely covered in the soil, so they don't have to push too hard to emerge from the dirt. i planted two seeds per pot, for a total of 12. i then brought it inside so we could put it on a heating pad. the pad uses 24W of electricity. it took 20 minutes for the temperature to jump from 65°F (room temperature) to nearly 85°F.
these longer day lengths is still taking some getting used to, as i didn't realize it was already dinner time because it was still light out. after dinner i rode the motorcycle back to cambridge.
i got back home by 7:40pm then spent the next 1-1/2 hours working in my grow closet. i watered the seedlings, and discovered i forgot to turn on my fans. i plugged in my second heating mat, and put the larkspurs and rudbeckia seed starter containers, which have yet to sprout a single seedling. i added the 3 remaining hyacinth beans that haven't germinated yet. finally, i put 4 thai basil pots. this will let me know if the heating pad is really working or not, since i have 4 thai basil pots in the grow closet. another bitter melon has sprouted, and i checked the other pots. 2 more will sprout in a day or two, but one of the pots the bitter melon seed has rotted, so i replanted a new seed. i squeezed that bitter melon onto the heating pad as well.
then came time to remove additional seedlings and transfer them to their own pots. one of the hyacinth beans had two sprouts, while 3 more buttercup squash had germinated their 2nd seed. it's easier to do this surgery when the seedlings are still young, not a lot of roots that might potentially get damaged. one thing i noticed about the hyacinth beans is they rot easily. on one seedling, one half of the cotyledon fell off because of rot. in another, the cotyledons never opened and the first leaves was struggling to through, and managed to poke through a rotten spot in the cotyledon. maybe the seeds had too much mold on them, making them more susceptible to rot.
only then was i able to use the bathroom and take a shower.
after a matcha latte and the last piece of fried chicken (thigh) for lunch, i was ready to head out to chinatown then haymarket for the third consecutive friday. i was just looking for an excuse to log in some biking, and with the weather today on the dry side, i grabbed the opportunity. it was however still a bit cold, temperature in the upper 50's with some wind. i wore a light jacket but it was cold riding in the shadows, and took a while before i warmed up from the pedalling.
i arrived in chinatown by 1:45pm. i went to ming's market first, to get some watermelon seeds. i called my mother asking if she needed sichuan peppercorn, she also told me to get some sour mustards. i bought enough cafe supplies to use the cafe debit card to pay. next i went to c-mart, i search of buldak ramen. they had them but only sold them in 5-packs instead of individual servings, so i left with some heysong sarsaparilla on sale.
from chinatown i cut across downtown crossing and post office square to haymarket. i got there by 2:30pm. i was hoping to get more cara cara oranges, but the vendor i bought them from last week were only selling regular navel oranges, and now they were 7 for $2 (not 9 for $2 from last week). so instead of juicing oranges, i bought some peeling oranges instead. one vendor was selling "shalom" oranges for 5/$2. i asked them how they were, he said very sweet, which convinced me to get 10 instead (he gave me 11 as a bonus). i also bought from another vendor that was selling "sweet" oranges for 5/$1 (bought 10) which later i discovered were just sumo oranges.
i left haymarket by 2:50pm and crossed the longfellow bridge into cambridge.
my final stop was to mulan on broadway, to get some smoked duck for my mother in honor of mother's day this weekend. while waiting for my order, i noticed a sign for "suanmeitang". after that i pedaled the 2.8 miles to the cafe to drop off the supplies.
my 2nd aunt was there, knitting at the table. we tried the two types of oranges. first the shalom oranges, which the sticker said were shoham (israeli) orri (a type of mandarin orange). they were easy to peel, had thin skin, flatter (like a persimmon) instead of round, and were pretty sweet and juicy, though my mother thought they weren't sweet enough. next we tried a sumo orange: they had thicker skin and the flesh inside seemed a little dry but still juicy. they were okay, slightly tart, definitely not as sweet as the orri oranges.
my mother also prepared the sichuan peppercorn by first roasting them in a pan before pulverizing them into a fine powder with the electric grinder. my father realized how dangerous it was after we finished grinding, because the grinder was still plugged there. there are no safety features with the grinder, had we accidentally pressed the button, it would've chopped our fingers off. the grinder is not a toy!
i returned home by 4:45pm. i thought about going to the community garden to water my plants, but it was getting colder (temperature dropping down to the lower 50's) and i'd been cycling all day, it was time for a rest. waiting on my doorstep was the pair of vivosun seedling heat mats. i was going to try it out with some of my ungerminated seedlings, but when i looked in my grow closet, i was surprised to find 3 of the hyacinth beans had sprouted. i'd planted them on april 27th, and just 10 days later they germinated. compared that to my father, who's hyacinth beans are heading into the 4th week waiting to sprout. i moved the germinated beans to the lighted shelves. also a second bitter melon had sprouted.
i didn't start making dinner until 9:30pm. once again i was having luxury korean ramen. i had some baby bokchoi and bean sprouts that my mother gave me earlier, and i also added some tofu wedges this time. depending on whether or not you count an egg as meat, i inadvertently made myself a big bowl of vegetarian ramen. i tried one of the tiger sugar drinks (2/$5); it tasted just like milk tea, nothing particularly special about it other than the brand.
i spent the rest of the evening watching more legend of the seeker episodes.
i just can't resist the lure of cheap fried chicken whenever star market has it on sale. i biked down to the porter square star in the late morning to get some (it's not available at the smaller beacon street store). when i went to the self checkout lane to ring it up, it wasn't giving me the discount. i think the problem was the deli counter guy put the fried chicken in a grilled chicken bag. fortunately the checkout attendant subtracted $2 from my total.
i went home to feast on my fried chicken. i also made a matcha latte, pouring the matcha powder out of the foil ziploc bag into a glass jar. i had a breast, a wing, and a drumstick. by the time i was finished i felt gross, hitting that fried oil threshold.
by 1pm i biked down to the community garden to work on my plot. i chatted with a 2nd year gardener - gail - who had my old plot by the new access road to sacramento field. i told her she had a great plot, very sunny. she was hoping to upgrade because a lot of people don't realize her plot is an actual garden and not a footpath and end up trampling her plants. later after i thought she'd left, she came back and asked if i was "tony yang." i said yes, surprised that she seemed to know me or know of me. she asked if i worked on the census last summer, i said yes. turns out she's the field supervisor for the area, the boss of my boss, and i actually had another interaction with her back when i worked the census and was chatting with her on the street before i realized who she was. small world! she told me she too had ptsd with certain addresses.
i started by digging up the creeping buttercups in the northeastern corner. i pulled out a few goldenrods, i almost consider them an invasive weed. i replanted two daylilies that seemed to be bulging out of the dirt. i moved the forget-me-nots that self-sprouted in one of the grow bags to the northeast corner. i started filling my 5 grow bags with new garden soil. i was in the garden for nearly an hour before i noticed that my garden neighbor had chopped down all the garlic chive borders in the northwestern corner. i took another look and discovered he'd also completely uprooted one of my prized monkshoods! i went digging in the garbage refuse bins and found them all there. fortunately monkshood plants are pretty hardy, and i was able to retrieve most of them and replant them later after i finished filling the grow bags. i relocated carpets of sedum to the edges of my plot. i relocated wild seedlings: moneyplants, striped mallows, forget-me-nots, garlic chives. finally i watered everything. 2 hours later and covered in dirt, i was finally finished by 3pm.
i returned home to help my mother order new furniture for my sister's godmother, but when i saw they didn't forward me anything, i decided to go down to the cafe and do it in person. besides, i needed to go there to install the new eufy 2k indoor webcam i got last week.
first i called the gardeners in the plot next to mine, who dug up my monkshood. i was ready to chew them out, but they were very apologetic, said they wanted to get ahold of me (but didn't have my number) to say sorry, and was willing to replace the lost plants. i told them i fished out my monkshood from the garbage and replanted them, no harm no foul. i think if they were being assholes about it i would've made them pay for a new plant, but they were pretty contrite, i was satisfied with their apology. after that i finally left for the cafe.
my sister's godmother had been browsing wayfair and decided on a new tv stand (smaller) and a couch. she was at the cafe, i helped her order her furniture as well as a pedestal swivel base for her HDTV. i think the only other thing she needs now is a nice carpet for her living room, but taiwanese people can't normally conceptualize carpets since nobody in taiwan has carpets.
my father helped me take down the old wyze panning webcam and install the new eufy webcam. i went with the eufy because of it's higher resolution (2k vs 1080p) and overall better image quality. the wyze was good for its time, but the 5-minute delay between notifications (which can be removed with a paid subscription) negated the usefulness of uploading video snippets to a free cloud server. i consider the eufy a 3rd generation webcam (the wyze being 2nd generation, and our old foscam webcams 1st generation). the default configuration for the eufy is to just record onto the memory card, but it also has a paid subscription service for cloud storage, and an RTSP option for saving to a local NAS. the eufy has a more robust AI when it comes to recognizing human motions (free), the wyze human detection is now a paid service. the only things i don't like about the eufy is encrypted videos, which can only be downloaded through the phone app, doesn't have a standard mount (uses nail hooks instead), instead designed to be placed outside.
i finally left the cafe by 5pm. i decided to revisit the community garden with some empty pots so i can collect some herb plants and grow them in containers instead. i bumped into the gardeners who uprooted my monkshood, a senior couple. they apologized once more.
afterwards i potted 2 mints and an oregano. i also potted a purple deadnettle, not an herb, but i wanted to relocate it. i chatted with renee, then chatted with david (the married david with the kid), before chatting with anne marie. renee was tending to her plot, but only half of it. i thought it was something she was doing on purpose but she was penalized for not using her plot, which have of it going to a gardener on the long wait list. i also bumped into mark, who i noticed already planted cucumbers. when anne marie heard this, she warned him that they might die because we're due for some cold weather next week (30's). mark revealed that he started the seedlings indoors.
i finally left the community garden an hour later, wasn't planning on staying so long. i did a load of laundry to wash off the dirt i'd accumulated on my t-shirt and jeans, and took a shower afterwards to rinse off the filth. i ate a fried chicken thigh, then later had a breast, a wing, and a drumstick. i had a cosmic crisp apple for dessert, washed it all down with some seltzer and gatorade and celestial seasonings begnal spice tea.
i continued watching episodes of legend of the seeker, down to episode 10 of the first season, the one where kahlan dresses up as a mord-sith (which by the way, is probably one of the best representation of BDSM culture in the fantasy genre). i can't believe how perfect bridget regan would've been as wonder woman. too bad they didn't make the movie when she was in her 20's, but the time they finally got around to it, she was already in his mid-30's. but gal gadot isn't very much younger, only by 3 years. from what i gather online, a lot of people agree that regan would've been a much better wonder woman.
my father called me at 10am, said he was going to market basket and could drop off the two large bags of organic garden soil we got from home depot on monday. he arrived 10 minutes later. he came inside to pick up most of my seedlings. i selected 4 tomatoes and 2 ground cherries, but the rest (including 15 asian long beans) he took away to belmont. i got in the car and we drove to the community garden, where he helped me unload the bags of soil. i told him my idea of building a trellis for some long beans and bitter melons using u-posts. he dropped my off back at my house before leaving.
i would've stayed behind and did some gardening but i still hadn't used the bathroom yet. after a shower, i spent the rest of the morning organizing my grow closet, finally finishing by 12:30pm. instead of 2 rows of strip lights per shelves, i reconfigured the lights so it was 3 lights per shelves for a total of 2 shelves, with the hopes that there'd be more light so the seedlings won't grow as leggy, which has started to happen to the tomatoes and ground cherries.
i also noticed last night that one of the bitter melons had finally germinated after more than 2 weeks. i moved all 6 pots into the grow closet, maybe the warmth will further induce the rest to sprout. i actually dug into the soil to check on the remaining seeds, they seem viable, already sprouted their root tail, just another 2-3 days before they emerge as well.
i made a cup of matcha latte for lunch. i headed back out into the garden by 2pm, hoping to get some nice garden photos before it started raining. i bumped into susan, who was describing the total basement teardown they were doing after the first floor heater broke because it'd melted. i felt a little weird because i decided to go out without my mask, which seemed transgressive somehow, even though since friday it's allowed. i also ran into beth walking her dog. i saw her pulled her neck gaiter up when she saw me heading her way.
there was another person in the community garden, someone i'd never seen before. she seemed busy with her plot, we both ignored each other until she left a few minutes later and i had the whole place to myself. i took some photos of my own plot before going around looking for additional photo ops. i had planned on doing some garden organizing, but i'll wait until tomorrow when the weather's better (warmer, sunnier). it started to drizzle and i opened my umbrella. i left by 2:30pm.
i went out one more time, to star market, to get a few items on sale: mangoes (17¢ maximum of 5) and classico pasta sauce (97¢ maximum of 2 jars). when i went to pay, it rang up just $2.79, even the cashier was surprised by the bargain.
i spent the rest of the afternoon watching legend of the seeker (2008) episodes. they're so good, i miss the bygone days of syndicated shows. now every network has their prestige series, and a season doesn't last as long.
for dinner i heated up some frozen french bread pizza in the oven. i watched the celtics game against the orlando magic, it was a rare blowout win. the celtics were in 7th place for the playoffs, but with the victory tonight they move up to 6. this season they have a complicated system where there are also 9th and 10th seeds, who play the loser of the 7th and 8th seed, with the winner of the 7-8th matchup faces the 2nd seed. it's totally stupid, i don't know why they do it that way. let's hope the celtics can remain in the 6th seed so they don't have to play extra games.
it was pouring rain this morning, but luckily my sister volunteered to drive me to her godmother's house for the internet installation between 12-2pm. she came shortly after 11:40am. while we were driving there, my mother called to let us know that the cable guy was already there.
i figured it'd be a quick installation, 5-minutes tops, just enough time to connect the comcast xfinity gateway to the wall outlet. but by the time we made it upstairs to the apartment, the cable guy (a big russian fellow with a neck gaiter) was telling us some bad news: none of the connections were working, there was no signal, and he had to get access to the cable room to troubleshoot the problem. the cable room could be anywhere in the building, though typically it'd be located on the same floor. while he went searching, my sister called the maintenance people and went downstairs to their office even though technically they were closed.
a few minutes later my sister called me from downstairs, said she found someone would could take the cable guy to the control room. i went in search of the cable guy but couldn't find him, but eventually he stepped out of the elevator, where i relayed the message to go downstairs to access the cable room. my sister returned to the apartment. i helped my sister's godmother finish assembling a few ikea chairs she bought by tightening the screws.
it took the cable guy a long time to return, but finally he did. he said the cable room wasn't in the basement but rather on the second floor. someone how found someone who not only knew where it was but could get him inside. he said all the connections were messed up (because they were installed by the electrician, not an authorized comcast technician), but he managed to fix the cable for my sister's godmother's apartment.
from that point on things moved ahead quickly. my sister's godmother had to slip out a bit before 1pm for a 2pm doctor's appointment near south station. my sister and i stayed in the apartment, waiting for the cable guy to finish up. they do a new thing now where they have you set up the network name and password. the first time the new network showed up it didn't have internet access, but the cable guy rebooted the gateway and the second time we managed to get online. he left soon after that, reminded us to fill out the customer survey.
i ran a speedtest, the wifi speed was 60Mbps. i tried setting up the android tv but it required my sister's godmother to input an authentication code with her phone, but since she wasn't there, we couldn't complete the setup. the tv could still get online, but it just wasn't tied into a google account.
my sister and i rearranged some of her godmother's living room furniture. with the dining table and the HDTV, and a tv stand followed by a future sofa, there wasn't enough space for all the furnitures. the table by the window is a nice place to eat or work on the computer, with a great view of boston. we tried putting the HDTV by the wall near the bedroom where there's an existing alcove space, but the HDTV was too wide for that area, the only way would be to put it on a slant. we ended up moving the table so the long side was up against the window, and taking two chairs and turning them into a makeshift HDTV stand. it didn't seem like we were there for very long, but we didn't leave until 2pm.
by then the rain had stopped. my sister drove me to h-mart. while she sat in the car, i went in to get some fish ice cream sandwiches (brown sugar boba flavor), and some crackers that my sister wanted. she described it as "yellow, with a picture of a girl on a bicycle" but i couldn't find anything that matched the description. i ended up calling her to ask if it was in a bag or a box, she walked me through the store to tell me where to find it, turns out i was standing right in front of it, though somebody had flipped the box over so i didn't see the bicycling girl (actually she's on a scooter).
my sister stopped by the vet to get some drugs for hailey before finally dropping me off. i gave her a fish ice cream sandwich while i took 2 packages of cookies.
i felt a little motion sick while i was at my sister's godmother's apartment. i think it was just because i didn't have anything to eat today. when i finally made it back home by 2:30pm, i made myself a matcha latte. it was my first time using the whole foods matcha, i couldn't really tell a difference from my previous matcha, so that's a good sign. i think whole foods groceries are expensive, but you can't beat them in terms of quality (as well as it should be, since you're paying premium price).
i ended up cancelling my sister's godmother's tv stand from wayfair. she needs to properly measure her living room space before getting anymore furniture because i'm afraid she doesn't have the space for everything (table, HDTV, tv stand, sofa). i was afraid wayfair wouldn't let me cancel the order because it'd already been updated on their website as delivered, but they were pretty cool about it, it seems like it happens often enough that it's fairly routine to cancel a disappeared delivery.
i started making dinner around 8pm, some korean rice cakes. first step was to make the seaweed broth, which requires 15 minutes of simmering. while i waited, i split apart 3 potted buttercup squashes that had double seedlings. i should've done this a long time ago, but only got more potting soil yesterday. the seedlings that i removed might not too well since the roots were damaged during the removal, but if they surprise we'll have some bonus squashes.
i had some leftover frozen rice cakes as well a container of leftover frozen tofu. i left them cooking in the spicy tteokbokki sauce while i took care of the grow closet, watering some gravel trays as well as potted seedlings.
it was nearly 9pm before i finally ate. the rice cakes was delicious as always, the sauce a little soupy because i simmered them with the lid one so it wasn't able to reduce and thicken. i had dinner while watching legend of the seeker, the 2008 syndicated fantasy series that lasted 2 seasons. for a show this old, the quality is amazingly good, because they had the foresight of shooting it entirely in HD.
later in the evening i finally tried one of the brown sugar boba fish ice cream sandwiches. maureen had asked me to do a reaction video, so i spent a lot of time in the kitchen setting up my camera, my light, and my microphone. i used my external zoom mic, but because i had it attached to the top of the camera, it picked up the autofocusing vibration sounds of my 28mm lens, which was pretty loud; next time i should have the mic separate, then add the external audio in post-production, something i've never done before. as for ice cream sandwich, it was delicious. the bobas were a bit hard, not as soft as real bobas, more like gelatin, but i think that's because of the frozen nature of the ingredients. but from now on i will eat nothing but brown sugar boba flavored ice cream sandwiches, i can't go back to normal ice cream sandwiches.
i juiced the last of my oranges this morning. i came across one that had a sticker, found out these were cara cara oranges, that's why they had a characteristic red flesh. makes me want to go back to haymarket next friday and get some more, since usually you'd pay extra for these compared to normal navel oranges. it's almost a waste to juice them, since the pulp probably contains a lot of additional flavors.
i had some leftover squid nuggets for lunch, mixed with some rice noodles. i then spent most of the day working in the backyard. i helped my father readjusted the wire climbing trellises behind RB0 and RB1. we pulled out the old posts - which were just old pipes and pieces of bamboos and metal bars - and replaced them with 7ft u-posts. at some point we heard a bunch of helicopters overhead so i sent up my drone as well, hoping to catch whatever was happening, but i didn't see anything. the DJI fly app did crash a few times, but i was patient, and instead of restarting my pixel 3XL phone, i waited for the app to recover, which took about a minute. i did fly above our lilac bushes, which are huge from seen from the sky at about 100ft.
around 2:30pm we went to home depot to pick up a few things: two large bags of garden soil for the grow bags in my community garden; a bag of potting soil; a watering wand; and some jiffy pots. we also visited the new roche bros. supermarket, parked in their upstairs parking garage. the place had that nice clean new supermarket quality. i'd never been to a roche bros. before, the selection and prices reminded me of star market, in that it was expensive. we did buy some eggs, which were on sale for $3/2, but still more expensive than market basket, which last week had a dozen eggs for 99¢.
we came back around 3pm. in the backyard we started filling the peat jiffy pots (30) with potting soil, then planting a wild cherry tomato seedlings into each one. they were kind of difficult to water, the potting soil seemed to contain some peat, which strange enough prevent the water from soaking into the soil. the jiffy pots were also dry, and we watered them with a combination of misting from the hose sprayer and soaking them in a bucket full of water. instead of raising them indoors, we put them outside underneath a row cover. once they get big enough, we'll give them away for free at the cafe.
the 33" 8-pattern melnor watering wand ($10) was a pleasure to use. we used to have a watering wand but it broke. the replacement wand we later bought from OSJL also broke after one season; we still use it (for the front lawn) but the shutoff valve no longer works (we did attach a hose shutdown valve at the base as a hack-fix). hopefully this melnor will last a bit longer. i like how the spray head can be adjusted to various angles. the wand gives us better reach when watering.
while my father went back inside the house, i was doing one final round of watering. that's when i noticed the water pressure on the mist setting was really low to the point of usable. i thought there was something wrong with the on-demand pump because the other patterns also seemed weak. my father came out to check and he said there might be something stuck in the spray head. sure enough, when we took it apart, there was a little piece of wood mulch stuck inside the mist pattern hole. once we dig it out with a safety pin and reassembled the spray head, we were back in business. compared to our usual sprayer, the pressure with the watering wand is slightly less. not sure why that is, but most of the time when we're watering with the spray wand, we're directly the water downwards, not horizontally like the spray gun.
for dinner my parents made noodle nuggets. i was the first to finish. i left about 7pm, get home before the rainstorm that was supposed to arrive later in the evening. i brought in my seedlings, which i set up this morning. while it was in the 60's during the early daytime, but late afternoon the temperature had dropped into the 50's.
i brought back some potting soil so i could plant 8 thai basils. afterwards i went back outside to put the cover over the motorcycle.
temperature today was going to reach the 70's so i brought out some seedlings and put them on my back porch for the very first time. out were all the tomatoes, eggplants, and ground cherries. my only concern are the squirrels who like to dig in the dirt, although i haven't seen squirrels in the backyard for quite some time (but i'm sure they're around). i also shut down one of my grow closet shelves temporarily, and moved all the remaining plants so they only take up 2 shelves.
i also juiced another half dozen navel oranges. like yesterday, i came across half an orange that had some black mold on the inside, even though it looked perfectly fine from the outside. fortunately the mold didn't get into the juice and i threw away the diseased orange as soon as i found out.
i made it to belmont around 12:15pm and had a reuben sandwich for lunch (my parents already had their second reuben sandwiches earlier). this time around we toasted the rye bread in the toaster oven, which was much faster. the leftover corned beef was cold though, i would've preferred to have it heated in the microwave first.
my father had already brought out all our grow room houseplants. my job was to spray them with neem oil and inspect them for mealybugs. it won't be long now, looking at the long range weather forecast, in about 10 days the average nighttime temperature will be in the 50's, which i think is warm enough to leave the jasmines and gardenia outside. once they're out in the elements, natural predators (ladybugs, hoverflies) will take care of the mealybugs and aphids. i noticed the gardenia plant had especially large flower buds, i wouldn't be surprised if a few of them bloomed within the next few weeks. i did fertilize the gardenia with some acid-loving water soluble fertilizer 3 weeks ago, not sure if that had anything to do with the flowerbuds swelling.
after i finished spraying with neem oil, i mixed up a gallon of spectracide immunox multi-purpose fungicide. this was for the grapes, to control the black rot that seems to kill the fruits every season before we can harvest them. i've tried more organic solutions - from copper to serenade biofungicide - and i've finally worked my way up to a more artificial fungicide. it didn't have a terrible smell, and mixed with a gallon of rain water, the odor was diluted even more. i got on a ladder and sprayed the grapevines multiple times wearing a mask and gloves. the rule is once new grape shoots are about 2-4" long, that's when you start spraying.
my father set up the climbing trellis for the new southern border bed as we planted all 6 long beans seedlings and all 7 hyacinth bean seedlings. the 16 hyacinth beans my father planted over 2 weeks ago still haven't germinated. i started half a dozen myself. will we get anymore hyacinth beans besides the 7 that i germinated back in mid-march? they could definitely do with some germination heating pad. my father doesn't know if they'll survive the cold nights; i think they will, but if it gets too cold, it stunts their growth and they'll remain small. we didn't really have a choice though, the bean plants were already sending out climbing stalks, so they needed to be planted right away.
on top of everything else, we also mowed the lawn because the grass started to look a bit shaggy. we mowed it just last weekend, i think all that raining plus the fertilizer in the soil is making our lawn grow a lot faster than usual. like last time, we shredded the grass clippings and pulverized it back onto the lawn as fertilizer. we'll do this for the time being, but later in the summer we'll start collecting the clippings for our compost pile.
i noticed it yesterday but we have a nearly completely white violet growing in the backyard. i think it's a hitchhiker from my community garden, because there are a bunch of white violets there. i've always wanted one, and i've often thought about asking other gardeners for a plant swap. we have tons of violets in my parent's backyard, but they're either completely purple or they're white with purple veiny centers. this white variety is nearly entirely white, with some faint purple veins on the lower petals.
also noticed yesterday were our lilacs are blooming. we pruned them two years ago, in the fall, which removed all the branches that were due to form buds the following spring. so last year we only got a little bit of flowers. but this year we had the most lilacs we've had in a long time. we just need to remember to prune them again once all the flowers have faded. lilacs only form flowers on the very tops of the bush, so in order to get the flowers lower so we can smell them, we need to prune accordingly. anyway, the lilac scent is intoxicating! that area of the garden is the most fragrant, from lilacs to honeysuckles. we also have other fragrant flowers in the backyard, like peonies and lily-of-the-valley.
my mother made squid nuggets for dinner. that alone would've been enough, but she considered it a soup, so she cooked up some rice as well and made two additional dishes: chicken with salty scallion dipping sauce and tofu and long horn pepper stirfry. my father was drinking some my overly fermented sweet rice. i tried it sip, all the sugars have been converted into alcohol, it just has that bitter alcohol taste, none of the sweetness. in fact, it tastes exactly like japanese sake.
i left before 7pm. on the motorcycle i can get back home in almost half the time it takes me to ride the bicycle. i took a shower to wash off the stink from working in the backyard all day - it was actually warm enough that i actually started to sweat. i waited until later in the evening to download and watch the latest episode of the nevers.
i juiced 6 oranges before i left for belmont. the oranges this time had an amazingly dark color, and for a second i thought they were pink grapefruits instead of navel oranges. my mother called to ask if i had an cilantro. i took a quick trip to star market to get some ($1.50/bunch).
this was my first time riding to my parents' place after getting the motorcycle out last weekend. MA lifted its mandatory outdoor mask mandate yesterday, but i still wore my mask out of habit. plus it kept the pollen out. when i arrived i noticed two large holes dug into the front lawn. they didn't look man-made, more like the work of some animal. the holes were deep, almost like the animal was trying to dig a tunnel. i filled it up with some extra dirt and tried replanting some of the grass sods.
my mother had a bowl of wonton soup waiting for me by the time i arrived. my parents also made chinese-style pancakes which we ate with braised beef. after lunch we cooked up the corned beef in the slow cooker. it came with a small packet of pickling spices but i added more of my own. later the kitchen would be filled with the scent of delicious corned beef.
in the early afternoon my mother and i went for a walk around belmont. we went maskless, and the people we met on the streets, half of them still wore their masks, while half didn't. we went up to burbank school, went behind it to see a large tent with socially distant desks for students. from there we climb the hill and went down to concord avenue near the high school, before coming back up along orchard street and stone road. my mother had never walked here before but i was intimately familiar with this route since this used to be how i'd walk to the high school.
i helped my father set up our portable battery case so it could run our old 12v transfer pump so we could use it to draw water from the rain barrels located at the front of the house. instead of a 100ft hose we used a shorter length, which gave us more pressure at the output end. we attached a rotating sprinkler as a test, it worked well enough to water a quarter of our front lawn.
the next problem was where to mount the 50w solar panel. since this was the north-facing front of the house, our options were limited. my father originally wanted to just put the panel on top of one of the bushes, but i thought it was a bad idea since it'd block the bush from getting any sunlight. the cord for the solar panel was too short anyway, so we decided to swap it out. about 2ft of the cord was also damaged; at first we thought maybe some animal had chewed through the cable, but it was actually from the wire fence that sliced through the rubber coating. we made new cables, reusing our old MC4 waterproof solar panel connectors but using new leads. the new wires for the solar panel was long enough that we simply placed the solar panel at the back of the house and ran the cable along the ground out from the garage.
we turned off the slow cooker by 6pm and started making reuben sandwiches with our corned beef. i tried toasting the rye bread in some butter in a frying pan but it was taking forever - it would've been easier to toast them in the toaster oven. my sister dropped by to pick up hailey and managed to have a reuben sandwich as well before she left.
i was preparing to go home but i noticed there was some really good light 30 minutes before sunset so i went into the backyard and released the drone into the air. the trees during springtime are just as colorful as autumn trees, in various shades of yellow and green, with flowers adding oranges, reds, and pinks. it was easy to spot the kwanzan cherries from the sky, differentiated from pink dogwoods in that dogwoods are more transparent. that fun was spoiled once the DJI fly app began crashing. i couldn't regain control of the app and i ended up force restarting my phone at least 3 times. finally the battery was so depleted the controller started beeping to warning me to return. the app froze once again, but i could see the drone above me and i brought it down for a landing manually.
the first day of may - may day - we had the most production so far this year at 54.43kWh. i returned to cambridge around dusk, got by back 8:30pm. i heard the furnace fire up and i turned off the heat. not just for tonight, but for the season. i can't stand the fact that the heat has been on since october, nearly 8 months. if it gets cold i'll just wear more clothes, but the heat is off until the fall.
so much for 48 hours of having the house to myself: around noontime today i heard someone walking up the front steps and then proceded to go upstairs. the new tenant - david - had arrived a day early. i missed him when he went inside the house, but finally saw him when he came back out. it wasn't the black guy i saw a few weeks ago, but rather a tall and thin man in his mid-to-late-20's with a frizzy sideshow bob hairdo. i watched from my living room window as he slowly moved his things from a minivan parked a few cars down the street. he did a weird thing where he'd lock the door every time he left the house then unlock it when he came back in, that seemed overly cautious.
i left for chinatown a bit before 2pm. i bumped into david because i was getting my bike and said his name as he was coming out of the house, which surprised him. turns out he was already living in cambridge - on spark street - but decided to move to a place where he could live by himself because of the pandemic. i did notice he was wearing a KN95 mask. a little strange, since the pandemic feels like its soon winding down as more people are getting vaccinated. today was even the first day of lifted mask wearing outdoors if you've already received your shots.
david didn't think he could afford a new apartment, especially one for just a short period of time (this summer), but said he lucked out when he found this place. he decided to dip into his savings so he could live on his own. it makes me wonder if he doesn't know paul and steve, or at least a referral from a friend or family. i also wonder if he's not getting a discount. i was surprised when steve told me they'd found a tenant to rent out the place for the summer, so maybe this was a personal referral. renting it out for some money is a better option versus leaving it empty all summer and not earning any income.
david did ask me if he was being too loud with his moving. i said no. he didn't have much stuff, just some backpack and duffle bags stuffed with clothes. i did see him bring in a small cycling exercise machine though, and he asked if he could put some stuff in the basement as well.
by the afternoon there were intermittent breaks of sun. it was warm but very windy (gusts of 50mph), i wore a fleece jacket which kept me comfortable, but by the time i reached the boston garden, i was hot enough to remove the jacket, where i had a long-sleeved pullover underneath.
i visited c-mart first, where i bought the bulk of my groceries: korean rice cakes, bok choy, long horn peppers, ginger slices, package of nongshim korean ramen. while outside organizing my groceries, it was so windy one of my canvas grocery bags nearly flew away, and i nearly tipped over a few times. from there i went to c-mart to get some deer brand sour mustard greens and some watermelon seeds.
i left chinatown by 3pm, pedalling across downtown crossing and post office square to haymarket. i came hear for the oranges. the place i bought last time had upped their prices, now it was just 6 oranges for $2. a nearby vendor was selling 9 for $2 so i bought from him, $4 worth. he told me i could pick 19 oranges. i also bought 3 boxes of strawberries ($1.50/each) and i told the guy i'd gave him $5 if he added a few plums in my bag, which he did.
i left haymarket by 3:30pm. my two rear racks were full and so was my messenger bag, where i carried the strawberries so they wouldn't get bashed during the trip home. there was a strong head wind and i think i swore the entire way home, pulling down my mask on a few occasions to breathe better, like pedalling in quicksand. passing by whole foods, i saw david walking and called out his name as i passed by, scaring him again.
i finally made it back by 4pm. out of curiosity i weighed myself, down to 151 lbs. i think by next week i can finally get back to the 140+ lbs. range. i finished the rest of my celery and hummus as a late afternoon snack.
i thought our april 2021 production would be much higher. however, after a prolonged period of drought, this past week has been very rainy, and that cut into our final monthly production number. nevertheless, we did break the 1000kWh milestone, which has never happened before in april, and typically occurs in the summer months. next month will be a challenge: may 2020 was our highest monthly production during a long stretch of abnormally sunny and dry weather. i don't mind the sun, but if it can somehow only rain at nights (when the sun has already set), that would be much appreciated.
for dinner i made a bowl of emmymade luxurious spicy korean ramen with a broth consisting of 1 raw egg, 1 tbsp of mayonnaise, 1 tbsp of gojuchang, and all contents from the spice packets. i added some lettuce just because i had some on hand, as well as some sichuan pickled radishes. it was very filling and i drank all the broth despite it being very spicy. once again i forgot to add the tofu, and i also didn't remember to chop some scallions.
i checked my grow closet in the late evening. i have a few squash pots that have double seedlings, i have to move out the extra ones soon. i checked the weather for next week: though daytime temperature will hover in the 60's, there seems to be a few cool nights where temperature dip into the lower 40's, still too cold to transplant my tomatoes and eggplants.
a test of whether an upstairs tenant is good or not is to see if they're noisy. for the most part david was a light stepper, not a stomper like paul and steve. he watched some television in the living room and i could hear a tiny amount of muffled audio, but enough to be annoying, and certainly not as loud and paul and steve. he also didn't watch long, maybe an hour at most. he used the second floor bathroom a few times because i can hear the pipes rattling in my walls whenever he flushes the toilet. the last time was around midnight, after that it was quiet. so he seemed to have passed that test, at least for his first night.