i arrived in belmont around 10:45am, to go on a costco/market basket supply run with my parents. we finally left around 11:30am, and didn't get back until after 2pm, after making a stop at the cafe to drop off the supplies. at costco we bought a large bag (25lbs) of scotts ez seed patch & repair for something like $50. they also started selling david's butter pecan meltaways, which is my father's favorite cookies, so we bought two tins of it. at market basket i got myself some rooibos tea and a few packages of korean ramen. they sold little pots of african violets for $3.50 each and i was tempted to get one, but they weren't in very good shape (broken stems), so i'll look elsewhere for my african violets.
back in belmont my mother boiled some frozen leftover homemade chinese dumplings for lunch. my father tore into one of the meltaways immediately afterwards. we also made another batch of baked nachos. these were very soggy this time, a combination of too much ingredients on the chips and possibly contributed by the already soggy salsa. for best nachos, you really need to use a bigger oven, not just a toaster oven.
i went down to the basement grow room to check on hydroponic chinese mustards. i noticed one of the mustards in the mason jars was wilting, the healthier of the two. i removed the paper wrapper and was amazed by the amount of roots that'd grown; it was wilting because it'd used up all the nutrient solution. i ended up mixing a 2L batch of new nutrients and watering all the jars up to the halfway mark, still leaving some roots exposed so they can take in oxygen. i accidentally broke off a leaf and tasted it: crunchy, a slight mustard taste, but not as spicy as the japanese red mustard, with a slightly bitter aftertaste. these hydroponic jars are proof that i can successfully grow plants without soil. the next stage is to build my aeroponic setup, which i almost did today, but once again it didn't happen. maybe next weekend.
in the late afternoon i went outside to adjust the front lawn sprinkler. instead of horizontal, i placed it vertically on the lawn, to get a larger spray pattern. i turned it off afterwards because rain was forecasted for later tonight.
we had sour and spicy fish stew again for dinner. i left soon after eating, to beat the line of storm showing on the doppler radar. it didn't rain until 8:30pm, it was strong enough that it was beating against my east-facing window, but lasted half an hour at most. later on the news they said 0.3" of rain fell, which is not an insignificant amount, even though the meteorologist made it sound like it wasn't going to rain in boston at all.
i bought a jellas-brand orbital jig saw tonight ($36, but i used reward points to lower it down to $27 after taxes). this is for my year-overdue bathroom remodeling project, to make the cutout in the baseboard and the sheetrock. i also realized i could cut a 45° bevel on the wooden baseboard for the corner. originally i thought i also had to buy a compound miter saw to achieve similar results.
i really have to get this finished within the next few weeks, before the weather turns too cold that i can't paint the bathroom and leave the window open to air our the fumes. in my mind i see the project to completion, but i've been paralyzed with either laziness or indecision, and haven't been able to get started on it, even though it's going to be october soon.
anyway, it was one of the cheapest jigsaws i could find but still had a bunch of features. i liked that it's 6.7A (800W of power), features an LED light (though not a laser guide) and dust collection. it comes with a guide ruler, for making straight cuts, which was the feature i wanted most (with some other name brand jigsaws, you pay extra for the guide). it also comes with an assortment of replacement t-shank blades. basically all the woodworking skills i know i learned from wood shop in middle school. nearly 4 decades later, those are still some valuable skills. i remember we had a band saw (which we called a jig saw) to make special cuts for our various projects. i remember i made a folding tabletop bookcase with teddy bear silhouette book ends, including holes for eyes. it may still exist somewhere in my parents' basement.
it's already close to my bedtime and i still don't have internet service. it started this morning, when i noticed my phone was on data instead of wifi. i checked the modem in the closet and sure enough, the lights were not normal: power light solid, upstream light blinking, and none of the other lights were on. so i called up comcast (xfinity) and spoke with an agent after navigating through the phone tree maze. he wasn't very helpful, but i did get confirmation that something was going on (even though the online outage map said everything was normal), because he couldn't book a house visit because there was a report of a technician working in the area. so i figured by the time i get home later this evening, everything will be fixed anyway (as it usually happens whenever there's an outage), so i didn't give it much though. i did get a $2 discount on my internet bill though, so it wasn't a total waste of time calling.
however, i knew throughout the day that my home wifi was still down because i couldn't access the webcam nor any of the smart plugs. that wasn't a good sign, meant the outage was more serious.
when i came home around 7:30pm, i actually saw an xfinity van with a cherry picker working on one of the utility poles on my street. this was a rare sight on a sunday evening. i thought maybe the internet was fixed but i still had no service at home. at least now the outage map said, "technician in your area" and further detail of "1-50" subscribers affected by "brief interruptions to your service."
after i finished my shower, i was surprised to discover my wifi was back on (because my phone was no longer using data). i ran a quick speedtest, 257/21 Mbps, not bad. unfortunately the service was shortlived and by 9:30pm it was down again. when i checked the outage map again, it said "legacy TV, X1 TV, internet, voice, internet TV outage detected" with 51-500 subscribers affected this time. when i checked the outage map again 30 minutes later, it said "everything looks good" despite no internet service.
i spent the rest of the evening in communique with comcast/xfinity, whether through their online chat, automated help line, or live calling with an agent. having dealt with cable companies for decades, i can tell you it's usually pretty futile calling, and most problems don't get fixed, the best they can do is make an appointment with a technician. which is what happened to me, though my appointment isn't until tuesday morning, so technically i can be without internet service for another 2 days. i'm hoping this gets resolved before then, hopefully other neighbors are also calling comcast/xfinity tonight.
fortunately i was watching sunday night football, which i can get through my HDTV antenna (local channel 15). and i still have internet service on my phone, unlimited data plan. but not having internet puts a damper on my usual computer activities. for one thing my local blog page loads very slowly (i think because it's trying to unsuccessfully load some internet services). i also can't surf the web like i normally can, so i find myself thinking about going to bed early. so i completely blame the internet for making me stay up so late every night.
anyway, today i was at my parents' place. my father microwaved a bowl of instant shrimp wontons in the microwave for me to eat. i moved out all the houseplants that were in the sunroom, to take advantage of the warming weather. i'll have to keep an eye on the night time temperatures: if it drops into the 40's again, i'll have to bring all the plants back inside.
after i finished lunch we were outside repairing the busted cloche with the soft vinyl material i bought months ago. it involved removed rivets from the old plastic sheet and then securing them onto the vinyl sheet with new rivets, then assembling the rest of the cloche. we started working around noontime, and we didn't finish until nearly 4pm. i'd missed most of the patriots game which started at 1pm, and my mother kept coming out asking when i'd be done so i could make the nachos (she ended up making her own).
removing the old rivets was a pain, and involved a myriad of tools, from electric drills, to chisel bits, to pliers. when it came time to secure the metal braces with new rivets, it was an opportunity to use a manual rivet gun i'd bought many years ago but never used. turns out either we needed to practice or the rivet gun was simply a ripoff because it didn't really work. i also managed to clog the gun by using a rivet to knock out another rivet, but ended up getting that rivet stuck in the gun. it seems to be designed so rivets can only go in one way. so my father ended up securing the metal braces with screws and nuts instead, which should've been our first option.
dare i say the rivet work was the easy part? because then piecing the whole cloche together was the greater challenge. the original cover for the cloche was a rigid sheet of clear thick plastic (the material you use to make clear visors, or face shields). i couldn't source this material so i got the next best thing, which was a soft vinyl sheet, the kind of material they use for making boat windows, or shower curtains. working with the soft vinyl was like trying to build something with cooked noodles. it was challenging trying to put them into the metal brace and secure them. but eventually we got it done, even though the cloche now sort of sags because i'm using a soft cover instead of a rigid cover. but it sort of works, and at least that's one project i can finally clear off my plate (and declutter the sunroom, where these cloche parts had been sitting unassembled).
like i said, my mother made some nachos earlier, but then made a second batch when i came back inside with my guidance. i told her about the jar of salsa, as she added the refried beans, the jalapeno pepper, onions, and shredded nacho cheese. the only thing we forgot were the olives. my mother stacked the corn chips too high, so all the ones at the bottom had no toppings, and even some of the chips on top were missing toppings as well. plus she cooked everything in the small toaster oven, a plate of nachos demand the dignity of the big oven to properly cook! they were good though, the salsa i got super hot for some reason even though it said they were medium hotness.
i watched the end of the patriots game, the vikings beat us by two touchdowns, it was close there for a split second, before minnesota pulled away. to make matters worse, an opposing player rolled on top of mac jones ankle and he hopped off the field in pain before the game ended. tough times for new england sports fans! first all the ime idoka drama, and now mac jones might be sidelined for a while.
my parents made hot and sour fish stew for dinner again. they love it so much, we eat it practically every other week it seems. after dinner i returned home, but not before adjusting the sprinkler timer: now it runs twice a day, 6am and 6pm, watering for 10 minutes each.
when i came home i saw the xfinity truck on my street. i went to take a short walk because earlier this morning i saw somebody had thrown out a nice porcelain-vase-base lamp with a good lampshade. my sister said something about wanting a lampshade. however when i went back to that location, the lamp was already gone. instead, coming back, i found a small cache of pots on the sidewalk. they looked good in the dark, but when i brought them home i noticed one of the bigger pots had a crack on the side so i threw it out. there was a bottle of rooting hormone though, i'll put that to good use.
my weldiea USB-C to USB adapters ($8) arrived today. i'm hoping it'll allow me to connect an old (2015) transcend USB 3.0 card reader ($6) to my phone so i can copy over photos if i run out of space (storage is 64GB, but i usually only have 2-3GB or less of free space). when i first tried it using my camera memory card as a test, it didn't work; i found out the card is actually formatted in exFAT, while my pixel 3XL android phone will only read FAT32 formatted cards. i did try another photo card and that worked. later when i got back home, i put in a fresh blank 64GB microSDHC card. the phone was able to read the card, but i had a few issues. for one thing, i couldn't copy anything onto the card. i could see preexisting image files, and open movies, but mkv files didn't have audio, only mp4 would work. i tried opening the movies in the VLC app, but android wouldn't allow it. i was able to finally figure out how to copy photos onto the card using a generic file management app instead of google file. however, for some reason it'd strip out all the gps data. i'll have to look into this issue. if i can't copy files onto the card, i may just return the adapters. it's not an adapter issue, it's more of an android security issue.
because my internet was down, i wasn't able to grab the latest episode of house of the dragon. when i finally went to bed around 2:30am, i managed to stream the latest episode from a pirate tv/movie streaming app on my phone using data. i ended up watching the whole episode and didn't go to sleep until 3:30am.
the overnight temperature dropped to 45 degrees. i'd switched to my winter blankets for the first time this year. given the choice, i prefer sleeping in the cold than the hot. but it's harder to get out of bed when it's cold.
today at the cafe we sold 10 bento boxes (2 by way of grubhub) and 15 boba teas; most popular bento was char siu (3) and minced pork (3), with sausage (2) and chicken (2) tying for second; most popular boba flavor was mango (4), followed by lychees (3) and taro (3); we had 6 beef noodle soup sales which by far was the most popular single item of the day (something about the cold weather makes people want to eat chunk of beef with noodles); i air fried a container of marinate char siu but managed to burn my hand in the process; i managed to leave one of the basement upright freezer door open for more than a hour, only noticed it when i went down to the basement and heard the warm temperature alarm; a customer sitting outside forgot his fanny pack, we managed to find his MIT and i was able to track down his e-mail address, but he called a bit later asking if we saw his pack, and came by to pick it up, turns out he was actually a post-doc electrical engineering researcher from taiwan, i was able to deduce it from the wades-giles mandarin romanization of his chinese name.
i made it to belmont by 4:30pm. i was making my instant pot pork bone century egg rice porridge for dinner tonight, using the large 8qt classic instant pot my parents have stashed in the basement that goes mostly unused. i've had rice porridge most of the week, so you'd think i'd be sick of it, but i was actually excited to eat it again, and see how my parents like my recipe. right away they said i didn't put enough rice (only 3/4 cup) and had too much pork. my mother said i should take out some of the pork and eat it with a soy sauce dip. we also didn't have any zha cai (pickled mustard stem), only some 4-year-expired suan cai (pickled chinese mustard leaves). i use the zha cai to make the porridge both salty with a bit of crunch, so the porridge came out a little bland. i added some expired suan cai, it actually wasn't that bad, though there was a slight metallic taste. i also added a teaspoon of fried chili oil, which made it super savory and spicy. i didn't think it was too bad - best porridge i've had in a while - but i don't think my parents were impressed. in fact, my mother cooked some pickled radish with eggs as a side dish because she was afraid the rice porridge wouldn't be filling enough.
my sister dropped off hailey around 5pm. i let hailey outside so she could use the bathroom, the only time i was in the backyard today. inside the sunroom it felt like a suana, especially since it was very hot inside from all the trapped heat. night time temperatures are going back up again, it'll be safe to move out all the houseplants tomorrow. october is around the corner, but there's at least a few more weeks of proper outdoor sunshine for the plants to enjoy before we move them inside permanently for the winter.
i got home by 8pm. maybe it's a sign of the weather getting colder, but i had an irresistible urge to snack. the only thing i had in the house was some watermelon seeds, some move theater popcorn, and some fruit. i sampled all three options, none were very satisfying. my room temperature is now consistently at 68°; i plugged in my aquarium heater this morning, my tetra likes it around 70°.
after waking up this morning, i scrambled to get ready because my mother told me yesterday my father needed drumsticks. star market was having a sale this week, 97¢/lb. with digital coupon. decided to go via motorcycle, so i could also go to whole foods and return a pair of sunglasses my mother didn't want, followed by a stop at market basket. star market drumsticks are notoriously large (they must be from genetically-modified steroid chicken), but those were the ones my father wanted, as he could flay them himself, and cheaper than thighs. after a quick stop at whole foods, i was at market basket. for some reason it was very crowded for a late weekday morning, maybe people were just stocking up on groceries for the upcoming weekend. i grabbed what i needed (mostly ingredients for making nachos) and quickly checked out at the 12-items-or-less line.
since there was a 2-item limit for the star market drumsticks, i planned on going to the porter square star market to get more chicken using a different account. but i didn't have anymore space in my saddlebags, so i first had to stop at the house to grab a messenger bag before heading out again.
after procuring my drumsticks from the porter square star market, i went to the cafe to drop them off. my mother was actually surprised to see me, she didn't seem to remember telling me yesterday the drumstick urgency. but fortunately i had other reasons to be out, the most important which was to go to belmont and move in all the houseplants. the forecast for tonight is a temperature drop to 45°F; maybe all the plants will survive the night, but i didn't want to take that risk.
i arrived in belmont around 1pm. the brass garden hose splitters ($13) and the melnor turbo oscillating sprinkler with flow control (home depot $25) had been delivered. i swapped out the hose splitter (returning the one i bought from home depot for $10) and turned on the water to check for leaks. my father's convinced the rudimentary packing i did a few days ago would hold, but i can see it's still dripping a little bit from the faucet handle; i'll need to repack it again.
i replaced the old sprinkler with the new melnor. it felt a little cheap - all plastic materials - they do sell one with a metal base but at twice the price. design-wise though, it's very user friendly. you can adjust for 3 settings: front and back, side to side, and volume of water. i set it up so it watered most of the front lawn, along with a small side sprinkler to water the small lawn on the opposite side of the driveway. the timer should fire off tomorrow morning at 7am for 20 minutes.
i then spent the rest of my time - up until 5pm - moving the houseplants into the house. before i could do that though, i needed to clean both the sunroom and the basement grow room. i moved most of the baby pileas into the grow room, along with the orchids, putting them on the shelves. i mostly adjusted the lights. the sunroom took longer to clean, a combination of decluttering and vacuuming. i've been meaning to clean up the sunroom all year long, finally getting around to it. the actual moving of plants probably only took 10 minutes at most. by the end you couldn't tell how clean the sunroom was because i cluttered it back up with plants. it was like being in a jungle. this is only a temporary measure. this cold snap will only last for 2 nights, and then all these plants will go back to living outside again.
i got home by 5:30pm. i ran into our moroccan mailman. i hadn't seen him in weeks, figured he went on vacation. actually he was on paternity leave, but only for 3 weeks, the birth of his son. when i asked him if it was his first child, he said he already has 2, a boy and a girl. he seems kind of young to have so many kids, if i had to guess i'd say he's 27 years old.
i walked down to the community garden. i didn't have to water given how much rain had fallen over the past few days. the last time i was there was almost 2 weeks ago. the hyacinth beans had basically taken over half my plot, tendrils climbing the nearby tomato cages. my yellow goldenrods have also partially started to bloom. there was a faint fragrance, from the hyacinth bean flowers, garlic chives, and goldenrods. what was most amazing were the number of purple hyacinth bean pods. i collected them all, harvested about 3 lbs. worth of beans. i also harvested 2 small-medium bitter melons, a handle of long beans, a few small tomatoes, and an assortment of hot peppers (thai chili, serrano, habanero). what's crazy is the garden is poised to produce even more, with a flush of green tomatoes and peppers, as well as new hyacinth bean flowers.
for dinner i didn't make my usual korean ramen. instead i heated up a pizza in the oven, which not only cooked my food but warmed the house (room temperature dropped down to 68°F tonight).
it was still dark when i got out of bed even though it was late morning. earlier i heard the rumbling of thunder and the rain was still pouring outside when i looked out the living room window. there was a brief lull and i thought maybe i could sneak in a run, but the sky went dark again and the rain began anew. by the end of the day, the official rainfall amount for boston was 0.75".
i made an omelette for lunch, using mostly leftover ingredients: frozen diced ham, old refrigerated garden tomatoes, onions, parmesan cheese, hot pepper rings, and of course eggs. i like to add a dash of half & half into my eggs to make them puffier, and a healthy drizzle of sriracha sauce.
i didn't go out today, the weather was such that it was a good day to stay inside. besides doing some retroactive blog updating, the only other constructive thing i day today was to book my new york city hotel after frances was asking me when and where i'd be staying. my default was always flushing, but the hotel i stayed at the last few times was kind of gross. besides, even though flushing is closer to all the foods i like to eat, it's far away from the bus station, like a 45 minute subway ride far. from a logistical vantage point, it'd make more sense if i stayed around midtown, provided i could find a cheap enough hotel.
booking.com showed me the cheapest hotel in that area was the manhattan at time square, with a price of $120/night. i ended up finding a different place through hotwire.com for $112/night, so i thought i scored a bargain. hotwire wouldn't tell me the name of the hotel until i paid, but it was around midtown and 3-stars. i was all ready to check out until i saw the final price: $330. first there was taxes ($78), then a hotel fee ($30), then another hotel fee ($30). so on top of the price for the 2-night stay, i ended up paying an additional $140 in fees and taxes. it seemed like a ripoff, but most hotels in that area were even more expensive (a few hundred a night), so i ate the cost.
after i paid, the name of the hotel was finally revealed: casamia 36 hotel on 449 W 36th street. one good thing about the hotel - besides being close to my bus stop - is that it's also within walking distance to koreatown. i'm definitely going to go there for korean fried chicken one of these nights. much later, when i searched for the hotel itself, i found out i could've gotten the room for even less, $83/night, with a final total of just $230 after fees and taxes. unfortunately hotwire doesn't allow cancellations and all bookings are final. mark this as a valuable life lesson: there are so many hotels in NYC, you can find one for any price point, do some more comparison shopping.
my mother called to let me know the thermos bottle i switched with them was broken as well, didn't retain any heat, all of it leaked out and the outside was just as hot as the inside. i told her i could buy them a new one but she said not to bother, that they'd use a used thermal carafe from the cafe, which works just as well. i'm wondering if i didn't accidentally take the wrong thermos, and that the one i took might not be their old thermos that broke?
the rain finally stopped around 4-5pm. the sun actually came out, setting the landscape aglow.
for dinner i ate the last of my leftover rice porridge. even though it was the third day and usually i'd be sick of it, because it was kind of a cold night, that hot congee really hit the spot. i watched while watching thursday night football on amazon prime. browns beat the steelers, 29-17. originally i was going to root for pittsburgh (cleveland is such a dumpster fire), but when i found out former patriots jacoby brissett was the QB, i immediately started rooting for the browns.
temperature tonight was going to drop into the 50's, maybe lower. fearing for my plants, i brought them all inside. i need to do the same tomorrow at my parents' place, where it's going to be even colder tomorrow night, temperature in the 40's.
the weather today was on the cool side, 60's, cool enough that i wore a long-sleeved pullover and pants when i biked to the cafe this morning with the produce supplies i bought from market basket late yesterday afternoon. it was overcast and at times it looked like it might rain (never did), while there were occasionally very brief breaks of sun.
things that happened today at the cafe: i took an abbott covid-19 test because i felt a little weird and the result was negative, so only just fall allergies; i made tea eggs again; state representative for our area steven owens stopped by to have lunch and introduce himself (only my sister lives in this district and can vote for him); i spent some time in the basement tidying up the mess of boxes; i added a smart plug to the ice machine so we can see how much electricity it uses when we run it; a woman came in to buy a set of earrings and tried to trick my mother by telling her they were $20 when my sister specifically said $25 and she left angrily afterwards after paying and said she'd never come back; internet went down briefly, my father accidentally charged an order on the wrong customer but we issued a refund via square.
i returned home by 6pm. my upstairs neighbors had returned from their vacation, i noticed their blue minivan with all the different bumper stickers parked outside. i was surprised to discover that it's actually going to rain again tomorrow, so later in the evening i put the cover over my motorcycle.
i came home eager to watch the premiere 3 episodes of andor. i like it, but the episodes seem too short, just 30 minutes long. i would've never though diego luna leading man material, but he pulls it off, his gaunt-frame and all.
for dinner i had some leftover congee. my mother said she wants the same congee this weekend, but i don't know if i can eat it over the weekend after eating it this entire week. i'm kind of rice porridged out already!
after my morning run, i showered then rode the motorcycle to belmont to do some yard work. my stomach was grumbling from hunger but i figured i'd be back home in an hour or two.
first item on the agenda was to try and fix the leaking faucet in front of the house. there's a shutoff switch but that thing hasn't worked in years so i ended up turning off the water completely in order to remove the spigot stem. i brought my 8in. crescent wrench and my combination wrench set, but none of them was big enough to remove the head, so i ended up using a larger pipe wrench. the faucet was leaking from the handle, which means a washer issue, but when i examined the cartridge, it looked worn enough that it'd be easier to simply replace it.
i went to home depot looking for the replacement part. unfortunately none of them were a match, the outdoor spigot was simply too old, an antique. i left with a 3lbs. bag of scotts sun and shade mix grass seeds ($20) and a melnor hose splitter ($10).
i went and tried the watertown FW Webb plumbing supply store just a short distance away. i ended up waiting 15 minutes to service because they were busy, then waited an additional 15 minutes while the guy i spoke to took my old faucet cartridge and replaced the bottom washer for me. he seemed like a veteran employee, and went above and beyond to help me out, even replacing the missing screw holding the washer in place. i also bought a package of graphite packing string ($4), which he said to replace the old packing material inside the nut.
i finally returned to my parents' place around 1:30pm. i tried removing the old packing material but it'd already hardened from decades of service. i managed to chip away a little bit but ended up packing in the new graphite string. i used enough to make 2 loops on the stem before closing up the cartridge. i thought the graphite would be like a putty, but it was more like straw, and hard to wrap.
i installed the rebuilt cartridge back onto the faucet and went down into the basement to turn on the water main. the faucet was still leaking from the handle, even though i tried tightening the nut. i think it just needs to be repacked with graphite string (fortunately there's a lot of it, 24in. worth, i only used about 4-5 inches). i did test the faucet with the watering timer and the hose splitter, it works, watering two separate areas of the front lawn.
by that point it was already 2:30pm. the weather forecast said rain would be starting around 3pm. all day long the sky was grey and occasionally i felt drops.
my work wasn't done yet, i still had to reseed the backyard lawn. i nearly used up the entire bag of new grass seeds but managed to cover the entire backyard, before going back once more and raking in the seeds with a wire rake. i didn't bother watering since i figured the rain would take care of it. i finally left by 3:15pm.
i'd replaced my parents' stanley thermos with my old thermos-brand thermos since my mother doesn't like the heavier stanley design (even if it's more insulating). i went to the cafe to drop off my leftover fresh dill and to report the faucet repair progress to my father. everyone was there - my 2nd aunt, my godmother, and my other aunt. i left a short time later.
after dropping off the motorcycle at my place, i switched to the bicycle and went down to market basket to get a few things for the cafe. once i came back home, i finally had something to eat around 4:30pm: an instant bowl of tonkotsu ramen.
i backed up my computer today. i tried doing it last time but time machine was taking too long so i cancelled the backup. i tried again this morning, and left the machine running all day. when i got back home i was happy to learn it'd successfully backed up. the last time i did a backup was back in july.
for dinner i made my instant pot century egg & pork bone congee, haven't made that since may. with the weather turning colder, it's perfect for hot rice porridge. i didn't eat until 9:30pm, had enough leftovers for two more nights of feasting.
i heard the call of the cambridge street sweeping announcement truck this morning. by sheer luck, last night i parked in a spot that wasn't getting swept, so i had nothing to worry about and went back to sleep. by the time i woke up and looked outside my living room window, i saw several cars in the process of getting towed. welcome to cambridge!
it was supposed to rain today, but probably not until the late afternoon early evening, so i could still ride to belmont. i took my fuji bike, in case i couldn't ride back, i wouldn't mind leaving it behind in my parents' garage. i left by 10:30am, since my parents were going on a baifu supply run in south boston. when i arrived, my mother had made some pan-fried raviolis, but she forgot about them on the stove and they were all burnt on one side (i ate them anyway).
afterwards my father and i did some more work preparing the lawn for reseeding. we continued dethatching the backyard before my father took one more pass with the lawnmower to trim what grass we do have, which now seem to be growing much faster.
we left for baifu a bit before noontime, catching a bit of queen elizabeth's funeral on tv. we drove onto storrow drive, exiting by fenway/kenmore and continuing onwards to south boston via mas ave. the area was conspicuously absent of homeless drug users, there must've been a recent sweep. the parking lot to baifu even opened on both ends (normally it's locked on one end, the side facing methadone mile).
we ended up spending $800 on supplies. they didn't have everything we wanted so we needed to take a detour to an asian supermarket in chinatown. the route according to google maps seemed very straight-forward, but the roads leading up to the access road was a real mess, and one wrong turn and you're either on the turnpike, on the interstate, or heading to logan airport via one of the tunnels. my phone also decided it wasn't able to get any gps access, so i was operating blind. we ended up driving the south boston bypass road, into the seaport district, had no idea where we were, everything looked unfamiliar, while i kept trying to find my bearing through google maps minus gps. we looped back, and managed to get onto west fourth street, which connected to east berkeley, and finally to c-mart. what should've taken us 7 minutes to drive took up 24 minutes.
c-mart was crowded for a monday afternoon, but we were lucky to find a vacated spot in their cramped parking lot. i was just here last thursday, but my parents - especially my mother - probably haven't been here in years. we were here for a good half hour, and while my mother could've spent more time browsing the aisles, my father was in a hurry to leave and was already paying at one of the checkout lines.
by the time we left c-mart, the parking lot had cleared out. the drive to the cafe was quicker than our south boston seaport detour, at only 23 minutes via storrow drive through backbay. my mother had a hankering for bonchon fried chicken and had me put in an order so we could go pick it up. the next available delivery window wasn't until 35 minutes later, so we went to the cafe first to drop off the supplies. as soon as we arrived, i got a bonchon text saying our food was already ready for pickup.
my parents dropped me off on eliot street (so i could run up winthrop to bonchon) while they circled around onto bennett (across the charles hotel). i grabbed the order and ran back to the car, utilizing my newfound running skill (though i was still out of breath afterwards).
we finally made it back to belmont by 3pm. i order 8-pieces of spicy wings ($12 lunch special price) and 8-pieces of soy garlic ($12). i like both, even though i think the spicy is way too hot. i got the pickled radish as a side.
afterwards my father and i were back outside. we were about to dethatch the front lawn one more time, but decided to leave it as is before reseeding; that way the seed can fall beneath some of the loose thatch. even under the best condition the lawn is usually too compact to aerate with a coring tool, i think maybe next year we might rent a motorized aerator, or maybe do some simple aerating with the pitchfork. my father wanted to handcast the grass seeds, but i wanted to use the drop spreader i got this past spring. the instruction said to set the spreader to 17-1/2 for reseeding, but the holes seemed too large, so i went with the 12-1/2 setting, which is for overseeding an established lawn. we made a test patch, the dropped seeds amount wasn't too bad, so we decided to use the spreader for the rest of the front lawn. i did the spreading, while my father raked the seeds into the soil. afterwards he took what was left of the grass seeds and reseeded the area fron the back stairwell to a bit of the back lawn, while i went ahead and raked in the rest of the seeds. it was easy to see where we seeded because these scott seeds have a blue coating. i'll need to buy another bag of grass seeds to fill in the rest of the backyard.
we also tested the watering timer on the front spigot. the timer works, we did a trial run of 5 minutes, it stopped on schedule. however, the front spigot has a leaking coming from the stem, and even after my father tightened it with a plumber's wrench, it still kept leaking, so we'll need to replace the spigot. i'm going to try coming back tomorrow early afternoon and see if i can fix that and also seed the backyard. the latest weather forecast says it might rain again a little bit tomorrow around 3pm.
once again, this weekend i didn't have time to build my aeroponic setup. hopefully i can do it next weekend. hydroponic jar mustards continue to grow. the leaves are yellow which concerns me, could be many reasons: too much fertilizer, or maybe too much light. using the jar setup, i don't think i'm going to be able to grow a full head of asian mustard. particularly the mason jars, which are just too small. the grow light also gives off too much heat, which dries the nutrient solution much quicker than normal.
for dinner my parents made homemade dumplings with chinese celery and ginger. when it comes to dumplings, i can probably eat two plates worth, i don't have any portion control.
i was prepared to be given a ride back to cambridge, but there was still a window before the rainstorm arrived so i pulled my fuji bike back out from the garage and pedaled home as fast as i could. it was already lightly raining, not even enough to dampen clothes, but i didn't want to find out what might come afterwards, so it pushed me to pedal even faster to get home so i wouldn't get soaked. only later in the evening was there a very short period of heavy storms, the rain crashing against my eastern windows, and there were even a few rumbles and flashes of lightning and thunder. all this rain will be very good for the newly-seeded lawn (provided it didn't wash the seeds away).
i bought my bus tickets to new york city. the pandemic killed off a bunch of bus companies - megabus, lucky star, world wide bus - but it a created a vacuum and new companies have taken their place. i booked with flixbus which i've never heard of before. the ticket for monday morning (october 3rd) leaving 7:30am and arriving 11:45am was just $22.39, and the ride back on wednesday 6:45pm arriving in boston 11:10pm was $19.99. there was also a $3.99 service fee, and the seats seem to be assigned.
if i'm not mistaken, i think the last time i went down to new york city was october 2016, nearly 6 years ago the last time i went to new york was july 2018, more than 4 years ago. it's going to be my first time going out of state since the pandemic began, and the first time traveling more than 10 miles away from boston. i'll shop for a hotel tomorrow, most likely around the flushing area, with its proximity to delicious foods!
this morning i ran some errands: went to walgreens to pick up a prescription, went to market basket to grab some dill for my pickles and bean sprouts for the cafe. along the way i came across a house on harrison street throwing out some plant pots. i picked those up, along with a 3/4L fido jar, and a wicker basket. there was also a large blue carboy-style glass jar wrapped in a macrame netting that originally caught my attention, but i didn't like the shape, so ended up not taking it.
i made it to belmont a bit after 11am. i noticed the smell yesterday, thought maybe an animal had died in the bushes. but my father told me it was the next door neighbors (the german-chinese couple), who hired a company to spray their lawn with "organic" fertilizer. apparently that meant raw manure because it smells like living next to a farm. the odor was so foul i closed a bunch of windows so the stench wouldn't get into the house.
i had some mung bean rice porridge along with a some pork floss wrapped in a crispy pancake.
after i finished eating, i went with my mother on a walk. yesterday was in the 60's, today temperature was in the 80's. we walked uphill, revisiting that place we saw the open house at on van ness street a few months ago. it was listed for $1.35 million, it sold a month later fo $1.4 million. we didn't visit any new streets today, went as far as the benton library before turning back. even blocks away, we could smell the neighbor's organic fertilizer treatment.
walking the neighborhood was a reminder to work on the lawn. out of all the lawns i saw today, ours has got to be the worst, with grass completely brown. the start of fall is normally the time when people reseed their lawn, so my father and i were outside today trying to revive our grass. it was simply too dry to try and reseed at the moment, so first we dethatched, then afterwards we watered the lawn for 20 minutes, bring back some moisture into the soil. the small patches we used water from our rain barrels, but the largest area we used town water, the higher pressure allowing us to use an old oscillating sprinkler that basically covered the entire front of the house.
to make it easier for us to water, we decided to install a watering timer on the outdoor faucet. we actually have 3 timers, two are old, and a third one i bought a few years ago ($20), originally intended to water my aunt and uncle's house in arlington when they were away on vacation, but we never used it. it's a pretty good timer at the time, but nowadays they sell fancy wifi watering timers you can control with a phone app from anywhere in the world.
i watered the orchids in the backyard. the goldenrods in the southwestern corner of the house have started to bloom. makes me wonder if the goldenrods in my community garden have bloomed as well, i haven't been to the garden in over i week.
i helped my father buy a replacement motion sensor security light for the cafe back entrance, the UME smart wifi LED security light ($30). it's wifi-enabled, so we can adjust it remotely with an app, set up special timers (to override the automatic sensing), changing the color (2700-6500K), adjust the brightness (up to 2500LM) and timer durations. it's compatible with the smart life app, which is what we already use to control a few smart plugs.
in the early evening i started fermenting two new batches of long beans. they managed to fit into 2 single quart wide-mouth mason jars. i boiled 1.25L of water and mixed it with 50g of salt to make the brine. once the brine cooled to room temperature, i poured it into the jars and added some sichuan peppercorns, rock sugar, and a dash of chinese baijiu.
dinner was more of last night's leftover sour bamboo with pork. my mother also cooked a tofu stirfry, but the long green peppers she used was very spicy to the point where we could hardly eat the tofu. i returned home by 7:30pm.
coming into the house, i saw a mosquito follow me inside. i've always wondered how they got in - thinking maybe they crawled through the not-well-insulated sides of the air conditioner - but apparently they just follow me inside the house like a stalker. i tried to slap it and it disappeared, so i thought nothing of it. after i took a shower, i came back into the living room, and i heard the mosquito buzzing in my ear. for whatever reason, this mosquito was extremely aggressive. i sat on the couch with the lights on, using my body as bait. sure enough, i saw it flying over my torso and i slapped at it once more. once again it disappeared. i then went to the bathroom, and saw it on my leg, seemingly attached, unwilling to let go. this time when i slapped it i made sure it was dead. once the cold weather arrives, i look forward to seeing all our local mosquitoes dying.
i cleaned the found fido jar, using a brillo pad, which works excellently on glassware. the jar itself looked pretty nasty when i found it, but after giving it a good cleaning, and replacing the rubber gasket (i had spares), it looks brand new.
next i made my half sour pickles, following the recipe i used almost exactly a year ago. i only had 11 persian cucumbers, but they could barely fit inside of the
quart half-gallon mason jar (i'll need to invest in a larger jar if i'm going to be making more pickles). after cramming the cucumbers into the jar, i filled it with water then poured the water out to figure out how much brine i needed. i ended up boiling 1.2L of water combined with 48g of salt (4% brine solution). once the water came to room temperature, i added fresh dill leaves, chopped garlic and several dry spices into the jar before filling it up with brine. after giving the jar a good shake, now all i have to do is wait for it to properly ferment.
oh right, there was some football today. patriots beat the steelers, i missed the first half of the game, and only intermittently watched the second half. without QB ben roethlisberger, pittsburgh is just a shell of its former self. they're in that place that new england was that first season when tom brady left for tampa bay. so it wasn't a surprise that the patriots beat them. i didn't learn this news until later in the evening, but 49ers QB trey lance suffered a season ending injury (broken ankle), so now jimmy garoppolo is back being the starting QB, after the team tried to trade him unsuccessfully after drafting a newer younger QB and demoted garoppolo to a backup. i'm rooting for jimmy, so he can stick it to san francisco's management. the sunday night football game was between the bears and packers. green bay actually lost last sunday, which was a surprise. no way they'd lose tonight, to start their season 0-2. naturally, they ending up winning.
i thought i could wake up early enough that i had time to ride to market basket and get some fresh dill, but it was almost nearly 10am by the time i got out of bed. i had less than 30 minutes to use the bathroom and take a shower before i needed to be at the cafe. before i left the house, my 2nd aunt called me, said her new HDTV was broken, and asked me to go over to her place and fix it. i told her i was about to leave for the cafe, and that we could do it afterwards.
temperature was in the 60's this morning, i wore a light jacket riding to the cafe. when i arrived i called my 2nd aunt and told her to send me photos of her tv screen so i could debug her problem. turns out she was stuck on the license agreement page, which asked her for an e-mail address in order to put her on the mailing list, and unless you clicked to opt out, you couldn't clear the screen until you inputed your e-mail. she couldn't fix it right away because she was also on her way to the cafe.
today started off very slow. i put a fresh batch of tea eggs (from the fridge) into the slow cooker. i could tell these were new because the tea brine had yet to penetrate into the eggs, or they weren't cracked hard enough. regardless, i made another fresh batch. my sister cooked 5 cups of rice but we were afraid there'd be tons leftover because nobody was buying bento boxes. nobody was buying the dark noodles either, they're usually a hot item.
the most popular thing customers ask for? can i use your bathroom. the answer being no because of health code reasons. we had all sorts, from people flat out asking to use the bathroom, to others saying they want to buy something but can they use the bathroom first. we even let a chinese guy wash his hands in the front sink, even though that's kind of a no-no as well.
it started to get busier after 1pm, we made the most profit around 2pm, and starting at 3pm, there was a non-stop hour of order taking for an hour before we closed. we got 2 large orders, one of them a total of 4 different noodles, a bento box, a chicken platter, and some dumplings. the other large order was a dine-in party, an asian family, who ate and then their trash for us to clean up afterwards, even though we have trash cans, and it's a cafe not a restaurant. that made me so angry, if i ever see that family again, i'd murder them. working at the cafe also makes me hate small children, they're nothing but trouble. i can't count the number of times children spill their food all over the place, or try to wander into the kitchen. i guess i really shouldn't blame the kids, it's their parents i should be hating, thinking it's okay for their spawns to make a mess of the world. if they only knew what i do to little kids that annoy me!
i didn't really eat anything all day but i wasn't really hungry either. i did eat a tea egg that had lost its shell and turned completely black after sitting in the tea brine for a few days. it didn't look so good, but was super tasty, having absorbed all that flavor. i also ate a few leftover pieces of chicken.
our fear of not being able to use the rice was unfounded, as we managed to use all 5 cups completely, yet at the same time didn't have to cook anymore. a lot of dumpling sales today, we boiled to order since any dumplings left over on saturdays either go in the trash or my sister takes them home to eat.
a busy day goes by much faster and i was surprised when i looked at the clock and realized it was almost closing time. i couldn't wait to turn off the lights and have my sister lock the front door. the air conditioner never went on today, it's set to 78 degrees, but it was already 74 degrees indoors, and still in the 60's outside (sunny though, many customers opted to eat out on the back deck).
i didn't get to my parents' place until almost 5pm. i was there just long enough to go down to the basement to check on my hydroponic mustards and to have dinner. i also saw the new 100W aluminum frame solar panel we ordered. it was actually heavier than i imagined, not something we could simply hang off of the side of the house, more like something we'd just angle on the ground and have it pointed towards the sun.
my mother made a sour bamboo shoots stew with pork while my father made a bitter melon salad. i didn't even get a chance to go into the backyard, i'll do that tomorrow. i returned home by 8pm. my upstairs neighbors still have yet to return from their mysterious 2 weeks vacation.