i had two things to ferment today: the long beans from my parents' backyard and the small cucumbers i got from haymarket on friday (when i also got a flat tire)
. the beans i was going to ferment in a glass cookie jar; the cucumbers it was either a plastic jar (#1 PET) or possibly a half gallon wide-mouth glass mason jar, neither choices were appealing for me. the plastic was risky because it wasn't marked as food grade even though it used to contain chinese pork floss (rousong). the half gallon tall mason jar was my fallback, but i wasn't even sure if all the cucumbers would fit inside, and aesthetically it didn't look good. what i wanted was a shorter wider jar, one with a metal clamp lid. i also had 4L fido jars, but they were too big for the amount of cucumbers i had.
for lunch i put a chicken bake in the oven for 40 minutes. i also used up a few distressed cucumbers that were slightly rotten on one end; i sliced off the soft bits, smashed them up with a meat hammer, then salted and sugared them.
i went out to gather my fermentation material by 1pm. first stop was home depot, to pick up some composite shims for leveling my new refrigerator. i'm currently using a combination of stacked cardboard and wooden shims, but that's just a temporary solution. wooden can crack under the weight, and the cardboard layer gives an unnecessary bounce.
next i rode to the christmas tree shop to look for a suitable jar. on their website they said they carried an assortment of fido jars ranging from 1-4L ($4-7). however when i got there, all the fido jars seemed to be sold out, and all that were left were smaller glass jars. there was a half gallon jar ($7) that looked promising, but it had a dented metal lid (i prefer plastic or glass lids). after circling the store a few more times (in the chance that maybe the jars were placed elsewhere), i left empty-handed.
i walked next door to trader joe's, to pick up some fresh dill for the half sour pickles i was making.
i decided to visit the everett michaels with the hopes that they might carry the jar i wanted. i haven't been to this particular michaels in a while. there was a time when i came every other week, picking up yarn for my mother, before michaels opened stores in porter square and fresh pond. that was also during a golden period when ac moore was still around, and there was an ac moore store in assembly square (currently occupied by trader joe's). anyway, this store looked particularly sparse, maybe not all their seasonal merchandise have arrived there. they were also pushing online pickup.
i checked out their jar selection, they had more than the christmas tree shop (TCTS), but i didn't like the prices. a 3L glass clamp jar for $13.50? when TCTS sells a 3L fido jar for $6? that was just too much. they also carried short half gallon with metal lids - the same kind at TCTS - but i didn't like the metal lid. i finally ended up just getting a tall half gallon wide-mouth mason jar, the kind that i already have at home, for $6 after a 20% off coupon. i figured i could ferment the long beans in one of these tall mason jars, and maybe make the pickles in the shorter cookie jar.
out of curiosity, i went next door to bath & body works, to see what kind of hand soaps they carried. they had a sale, 4/$20 or 6/$27. doesn't compare to their annual june sale (did they even have one this year?), which is $2.50 for a bottle, but sale price is better than their normal price, which is $6.50 for a bottle.
since i was already in the area, i decided to visit malden 88 to look for kikkoman tonkatsu sauce. they didn't have it, which makes me think kikkoman doesn't make it anymore, since i've been to 4 different supermarkets (ming's market, c-mart, h-mart, malden 88) and none of them carried it. the only other nearby place i've yet to visit is the super 88 in allston-brighton. i called my mother asking her if she needed anything, she told me to get half a dozen packages of three deer brand suancai ($1.49, slightly more expensive than ming's market $1.29). she also asked me to get a particular type of rice noodles, but when i didn't understand what she was asking, she told me never mind. i paid using the cafe debit card.
i started off this morning by watering my houseplants. i mixed a gallon of fertilizer (1/2 tsp of blue miracle-gro powder) and a tsp of mosquito bits. i watered my pileas, my scroll plants, my umbrella plants, and my thanksgiving cactus.
i left for belmont around 11:15am. my father had the sprinkler running out on the front lawn. i warmed up some instant chongqing-style shrimp wontons in the microwave for lunch. soon after i finished eating, we left the house for a burlington supply run.
first stop was bin bin's place to pick up her mail. ever since she was late in paying her condo fees and utilities bills, we're afraid one of these days when we go to the house the locks will be changed, or the electricity/gas turned off. it's been nearly 2 years since they returned to china, still not sure when they'll be back. i was busy readjusting the timers and using the vacuum to clean up some mouse droppings (weeks ago i went online and downloaded the vacuum manual to figure out how to use it).
we left by 1:15pm, drove to the burlington h-mart. the place has a strong fishy smell, or it could just be the kimchi. you notice it at first, but then you get used to it. things at h-mart can be expensive, even korean staples you'd imagine would be the cheapest here. for example, buldak stir-fried noodles. at h-mart it's $8.99 for a 5-pak, while at market basket it's only $5.99. what it lacks in affordability, it makes up for in selection. something seems to be a little off with this burlington h-mart. boxes clog aisles, there's a leak in one of the frozen foods department that they just taped off instead of trying to fix, and i saw cartons of filipino ice cream that were all broken apart and expired but nobody seemed to care. are they having a hard time finding workers? let's just say this h-mart has seen better days. i wouldn't mind if it went out of business and maybe a ranch 99 takes its place, that'd be my dream-come-true.
after h-mart, we went next door to market basket by 2:30pm. my mother and i were only getting a few times, so my father elected to stay in the car instead. we got some korean gojuchang, which was $4.50 for the cheapest carton, but just $3.50 at market basket. sure, there's only one brand, but it's just another example of the price disparity.
we left burlington by 3pm, got back home 25 minutes later. i was out in the backyard watering the lawn by hand. later my father came out to trim the cactuses and squash vines. i cut back some of the non-flowering morning glories and moonflowers. when i examined some of the vines, i saw buds, so hopefully they'll start flowering in a week or so. we also collected some more long beans, which they gave all to me so i can work my fermentation magic. lacking a proper container, i took a glass cookie jar. i also added a memory card to the basement webcam. i noticed it last night when playback didn't work, i must've taken out the memory card at some point, used it on another device.
my mother made korean soondubu jjigae (korean tofu stew) for dinner, that was another reason for going to h-mart today, to collect some additional ingredients (like dried anchovy for the broth, and a choice cut of beef). the silken tofu was courtesy of russo's. it was good for a first try, but next time: less sugar, as it masked the other flavors; more kimchi - we used half a jar of old kimchi that'd been sitting in the fridge - sour and savory, but it could've used even more of it; we cooked the beef beforehand, but i wonder if it wouldn't have been even more tender if we just left it to cook in the broth? overall the soondubu jjigae was a little bland. next time, maybe saltier, more sour, more spicy.
tonight was the harvest moon. when i rode home last night, the moon was already full, seemed to take up most of the sky. tonight was the official date for the full moon, and i was hoping to get some photos. moon photography is tricky: either it's over exposed and the moon is just a white circle in the night sky, or too underexposed and all you see is the moon while everything else is black.
moonrise was officially at 7:02pm, i decided to launch the drone into the sky first from the backyard to see if i can see the moon with zero obstruction. it was coming up just to the left of boston. my father was outside with me, and used a flashlight as a beacon when i brought down the drone. he was also in charge of slapping the mosquitoes off of me as they swarmed around.
after i came back inside, i convinced everyone to go to the nearby park to see the harvest moon. at first we thought it was still below our horizon, but as we got closer to the park, we saw the moon in the sky, next to the 700 huron avenue apartment building.
the tennis court was unlocked and we went inside to take photos. one good thing about standing in the tennis court was no mosquitoes. i was having a hard time getting any good moon photos with my dSLR 55-250mm lens. i had better luck with my google pixel phone, using the night sight setting. i took some photos of my parents, illuminating by the glow of my mother's phone.
after we returned home, we each had a brown sugar boba samanco (taiyaki) fish ice cream sandwich. they had a bunch of green tea samanco at h-mart, but just a single package of brown sugar boba which i quickly snagged.
because of street cleaning, half of my street was empty of cars. i had to park 2 blocks away, in my reserve spot whenever i can't find anywhere else to park that's closer to my house. when i got inside, i was relieved to see that my credit cards and id was at home. i thought i lost them because i couldn't find them anywhere in belmont, but i just forgot to bring them.
i went to belmont a little early today so i could make omelettes for my mother. i packed my leftover cubed ham, gorgonzola cheese, and half & half. i wasn't very familiar with the pan and how hot the stove was so the first omelette was slightly burnt (my mother's), the second was the best (after my mother cleaned the pan), and the third was cooked in brown burnt butter so it looked the dirtiest. my parents also didn't have sriracha sauce and that's like the secret ingredient to make an omelette really pop (although when we were nearly finished eating i found some sriracha in the back of the fridge).
i was surprised we got so much rain late last night. but that was a gift, because it meant we could aerate the lawn (which should only be done when the soil is wet) and then reseed and fertilize. unfortunately the manual core lawn aerator tool we have kept on clogging. i tried dousing it with some WD40 lubrication, which worked for a minute before the holes got plugged up again. finally we just gave it, figured the dethatching we didn't yesterday was enough.
we overseeded the lawn with the scotts drop spreader. that thing is old, and the metal holes at the bottom have corroded and gotten bigger than their specified size. for overseeding, the instruction said to set the drop spreader at 10 1/2, but we reduced that by half to 5. even then, it seemed to go through the grass seeds at a pretty good clip, and we ended up using about half the 15 lbs. bag of scotts sun & shade mix grass seed we bought from costco last monday.
once the seeds were in place, we fertilized with scotts lawn food. the instruction on the bag said to set the spread at 6 1/2, so we put it at 3. that turned out to be too little, but after we walked the entire lawn, we still had a lot of fertilizer left over. the fertilize also was very fine granules, that even with the spreader closed, fertilizer would still leak out. eventually i increased the holes to 4 1/2 to give it a proper coverage, but i still had some lawn food left over.
my father watered the front lawn but we didn't water the backyard because it was too sunny. we'll water it tomorrow morning when the weather's cooler. the key now is to key the lawn wet for a week to germinate the grass seeds. we're due for some rain thursday-friday, so we need to water until then.
we also cleaned out the basement growroom, in preparation for the eventual move of all our currently outdoor houseplants. we're thinking of moving the wooden plant stand into the basement. we threw away all the cactus tentacles that we cut off back in the spring in order to move out the cactuses. the weird thing is even though they had no light exposure for the past 5-6 months, these cactus branches were still green and alive.
there were some blue beans on the dining table. at first i thought they were jelly beans, but when i looked again i realized they were actual beans. my father said my mother collected them. when i asked her where from, she said, "the place where all the butterflies." the watertown community garden? she secretly picked a few pods last weekend and only now found them in her purse. these blue beans might be nonna agnes' blue beans. as for the other seed pods with the splotching shells, they might be dragon tongue beans. we might try growing some of these blue beans next season. they're Phaseolus vulgaris so they shouldn't cross-pollinate with the long beans (Vigna unguiculata) or hyacinth beans (Lablab purpurea).
my mother asked me to check the webcam videos to see who rang their doorbell last night at 10:30pm. my parents heard giggling and thought maybe it was some girls, but when i scrubbed the video and saw what happened, it was half a dozen adolescent boys running around the street. i got a pretty good look at the culprit, a boy wearing a vineyard vines t-shirt (distinctive whale logo), it wouldn't be hard to track him down if he lived in the neighborhood. this was a wyze cam so the quality isn't that great; the next time a eufy 2k goes on sale on amazon, i'll buy another one for the front door.
my sister dropped off hailey at my parents' place before noontime and then came to pick her up in the afternoon.
after dinner i returned to belmont. there was a patriots-jets game in the early afternoon that i missed because i was in the backyard working on the lawn. i caught the final few minutes, happy to see new england with a win. after a shower, i watched sunday night football between the chiefs and the ravens. i didn't think it was worth watching until i remembered who the two quarterbacks were, two of the most dynamic QB's in the NFL. i watched the end of it after the emmy's award ceremony got a little boring. it turned out to be an exciting game, baltimore came from behind to win it.
i looked out my window this morning, 3 blue cars parked outside. obviously a glitch in the matrix. it's rare enough to have just one blue car, even more so with two, but three? all next to each other? it was weird to say the least.
i haven't been to my community garden since wednesday (today being saturday). that bitter melon? it burst, spilling its seeds onto the ground. that was actually a good thing, because the slimy red seed coat seemed to have washed off and all i had to do was collect the seeds themselves. i seem to have a profusion of violet colored flowers in my plot: the hyacinth beans, the chinese asters, the regular asters (a migrant), and my striped mallows (which miraculously continue to flower). there are also white garlic chive flowers (though they're season are coming to an end), yellow goldenrods, and red nasturtiums. late in the season, my garden seems to have a second life. the hyacinth beans are doing especially well, a happy accident. i believe i'm the only gardener who's growing these beans this year. i wasn't planning on eating them, but i'm growing enough that i'll have more seeds than i know what to do with, so if i collected some to eat i still have plenty left over.
getting ready to leave for belmont, franz chatted with me. they're thinking about doing a big condo renovation and he asked if he could see my place one of these days because he really liked the open kitchen layout. so in a short period of time i'm getting all these visitors.
i arrived in belmont around noontime. my mother was out, taking hailey out for a while, while my sister and 2nd aunt were working at the cafe. the thing i noticed first about the backyard was the abundance of jasmine flowers. flowers bloom every night, but sometimes there's an explosion of flowers, especially on an overcast day like today, when the flowers keep on for a bit longer.
for lunch i had some tangbao and then later we tried a bubble milk mochi.
rest of the afternoon my father and i were outside dethatching the lawn, starting from the back, working our way to the front. he used a metal rack with thin arms that was better at uprooting the bottom thatch, while i used a plastic rake, which pulled out in bigger clumps, but i raked so vigorously, i still managed to remove a lot of thatch. i threw all the thatch into the compost bin, which surprisingly didn't smell since i filled it up with grass clippings on tuesday. i did hollow out the center to give it more circulation, but my father thinks it's because of the cooler and wetter weather that kept the grass from rotting.
i also moved the pure white violets from the eastern side of the house to the southwestern corner, near the garlic chive patch. we're going to prune more of the maple tree in february-march, to give that corner of the backyard more sunlight, so it'll be a good spot for the violet.
i noticed the paocai jar had a layer of mold floating on top. most likely because my mother added some more long beans, and they weren't all submerged, which caused the breakout. it's not actually mold, but a layer of yeast, which occasionally happens during fermentation and it's harmless, though it looks gross. i mixed 3 cups of boiling water with 1 ounce (measured) of sea salt. once the brine cooled to room temperature, i poured it into the jar to submerge the beans. i then skimmed off the yeast as much as i could.
my aunt told my parents yesterday that today is russo's last day. my mother kept wanting to go to pick up some bargains, but we couldn't leave until my sister came to pick up hailey around 4:30pm. leaving hailey home alone now that her hearing is starting to go makes me scared and liable to barking.
we got to russo's in watertown by around 5:10pm, less than an hour before those close for good. a nondescript sign outside casually said there was a store closing customer appreciation sale 50% off. i didn't believe it at first until i asked another customer who confirmed it. inside was mobbed with customers. everyone had a shopping cart filled with food. the line stretched from one of the store to the other, but it moved along very quickly thanks to an open register director. my mother and i kept getting the same thing: she picked up a jar of salsa, i did the same; she grabbed some asian pears, so did i; she bought some dried cherries, i did too. $170 worth of groceries ended up costing just $85.
our shopping spree wasn't over, as we continued to nearby ocean state job lot. my mother primarily wanted to come to check out their yarn selection on sale. i didn't get anything other than a bag of spicy pork rinds.
afterwards we went next door and got some subs from subway with an $18 coupon for 3 foot-long subs. at that price, i can't imagine they'd be making any money, since we didn't order anything else. i got the chicken teriyaki, my mother the spicy italian, my father the steak and cheese. the weakest sub was the steak and cheese, since there's barely any steak and barely any cheese. the best S&C is still from any greasy local pizza & sub shop.
using just ingredients i had in my fridge, i made a very tasty blue cheese and ham omelette for lunch today. i even had some half & half which i mixed with 2 eggs for a fluffier omelette, and chopped some scallions for added flavors.
i bumped into renee who asked to see my new fridge, after i mentioned it to her more than a month ago that i was thinking about getting a new one. she was interested because her fridge is starting to go, and better to replace it while the old one still works, instead of waiting for it to die completely. she wanted to see the inside and took some photos. later i discovered she tracked mud all over my house, but i was able to vacuum it up after it dried.
as is the friday custom, i made a trip to chinatown and haymarket in the afternoon. i was surprised to learn this was my first trip to chinatown/haymarket this month, and i haven't been there since the end of august. in fact, i haven't been to haymarket in nearly 1-1/2 months, the last time was early august. so i was overdue.
i pumped up my tires and left around 2pm, arriving by 2:30pm. i went to ming's market first, my mother asked me to pick up a few packages of three deer brand suancai (pickled sour mustard). i noticed a new store sign outside - it's now called lotus food (百合超市) - but everything inside was still the same.
next i went to c-mart down the street. they had more selection, i got some green plums ($1.98) which had a more evocative chinese name - 青蛇蛋 "green snake eggs." they reminded me of the cherry plums, or possibly pluots. i looked for kikkoman tonkatsu sauce, they're still out. they did have 3 flavors of buldak in stock - carbonara, (regular) spicy, and 2x spicy - but more expensive than the market basket price ($5.99 to $6.88). i find it a little ironic when non-asian supermarkets can sell asian products at a cheaper price.
final stop was haymarket. i used to get there from chinatown via different routes (following the greenway was a popular method), but now i take the most direct path, which is to cut through downtown crossing. they made it a lot easier ever since they installed dedicated bike paths, and the crowd size in DTX is still not back to pre-pandemic level, so it's easy to ride through. from downtown crossing i drop down to post office square (even more empty) before arriving at haymarket, about a 12 minute ride with traffic.
after i engorged myself on cherries during the summer, i basically stopped coming to haymarket as there was nothing i wanted anymore. i still managed to pick up a few things: $2 worth of long horn peppers, 2 fyffes pineapples ($3), 4 boxes of strawberries ($3), 5 limes ($1), and 3 packages of mini cucumbers ($3).
i left haymarket a bit after 3:30pm. i cycled for 12 minutes- 1.8 miles - arriving at kendall square, before i started noticing something was off with my bike. it felt like a flat tire, but when i looked back, it seemed fine. but a few blocks later i dismounted and saw that the tire was completely flat. i blame myself: that tire had ruptured once before and had a dangerous looking bulge. i already got a replacement tire, but was too lazy to fix it because it still seemed to ride okay, until today. there was nothing i could but walk the bike home. i still had 1.8 miles to go before i got home, and i thought about calling my father to see if he could come out and give me a ride, provided he drove the honda element today and not the toyota. when i checked the cafe webcams, i saw they were busy, so i decided to just walk it.
it ended up taking me 38 minutes to walk back home, 3x longer than if i was on the bike. after putting stuff away in the fridge, i gathered up my tools and proceded to fix the flat tire. pushing the flat tire for nearly 2 miles had basically damaged the tire, like shredded sidewalls, but i wasn't going to reuse that tire anyway, so it wasn't a big deal. my biggest concern was if it rim got damaged, but i checked, it was fine. i took off the tire and inner tube and brought the tube into the bathtub to check where it was leaking. this was a brand new tube that i just replaced back in july when i burst the previous tube. even though i had additional spare tubes, i was glad to see the tube itself was in good condition, just a tiny puncture hole on the opposite side of the inflation valve. it was a simply matter of roughing up the area with a steel brush, applying some rubber cement, than sticking on a rubber patch. i put the patched tube into the new tire and attached it to the rear wheel rim. it was just a good fit, i didn't even need tire levers. and with that i'm as good as new. the only other thing i need to install is the new chainwheel, which i bought back in march but still haven't replaced it yet.
while fixing the bike i discovered my glass phone screen protector is cracked again. the last time i replaced it was the end of july, so it didn't take long to crack it again. not sure how i did it, i think i must've pressed up against the bike with the phone in my pocket. fortunately i have a bunch of spare screen protectors, i'll put on a new one at some point.
once again i fell asleep at 6pm, waking up at 7pm. for dinner i made a bowl of luxurious korean ramen: a tbsp of kewpie mayo, a tbsp of gojuchang, minced garlic, chopped cilantro, chopped scallions, tofu wedges, sichuan zha cai, fried shallots.
i thought the rainstorm that was forecasted for late yesterday had skipped us completely, but overnight while everyone was asleep, it suddenly started to rain. by the time i got up this morning the rain had stopped, but it was still very dark for some reason.
kevin's returning to china tomorrow, i sent him a farewell message via wechat. i heard he's flying to los angeles first, where he'll spend 3 days getting his covid test, before continuing onwards to xiamen, china, where he'll be quarantined for 2 weeks, before continuing to his home city of taiyuan, where he'll be quarantined for another week, before finally going home.
in the afternoon i went to the huron veterinary hospital on beacon street to pick up hailey's dog medicine. afterwards i went to the nearby walgreens to get some special gum renewal toothpaste that was on sale. that was followed by a stop at market basket on my way back to get some butcher shop half sour pickles.
when i came back home i tried my new toothpaste. it was a choice between the colgate renewal or the crest gum detoxify. i couldn't decide, but went with the colgate because it advertised sensitivity repair. later i compared the two ingredients online, they both contained 0.454% stannous (tin) fluoride as the active ingredient, so they're basically the same toothpaste. stannous fluoride is more potent than the typical sodium fluoride found in regular toothpaste. i read it's 3x more effective in preventing plaque build-up, repairs early stages tooth decay, reduced cavities, and fight gingivitis. i should've been using stannous fluoride a long time ago! as for the colgate renewal, it was a clear blue gel with a minty taste. my teeth felt cleaner afterwards, but i think it was probably just a placebo effect. we'll see how my teeth are after a week of using this special toothpaste.
i finally did finish watching come and see, it wasn't scary at all, not sure what all those horror movie reviewers were talking about. it did show the horrors of war, what anyone who's read history of conquests knows the kind of awful things that happen during wartime.
2 cups water
1/4 tsp hondashi powder
1 clump of dried seaweed
2-1/2 tbsp gochujang paste
1/2 tbsp hot pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp karo dark corn syrup
10 oz. frozen rice cakes
(1/3 2 lbs. package)
7 oz. fried tofu wedges
2 scallions, chopped
|make broth over medium heat 15 minutes combining water with hondashi and dried seaweed. discard seaweed, add hot pepper paste mixture, along with rice cakes. stir constantly to keep rice cakes from sticking to pan. midway through add tofu wedges. done when liquid reduced to shiny sauce (about 7 minutes). add scallions.|
for dinner i made some korean rice cakes, as it was a chilly day, worthy of a hearty and spicy meal. i really just needed to use up some old tofu i had in the fridge, which most likely has gone bad because it tasted a bit sour. i figured maybe i'd have tteokbokki again tomorrow, but i'm all rice caked out. i'm just going to cook some simply ramen tomorrow and throw in the leftover tofu wedges as extra proteins.
i ate while watching the thursday night football game between the giants and the washington football team. it wasn't a marquee matchup but it turned out to be a great game. washington's backup QB taylor heinicke only started because ryan fitzpatrick got injured on sunday. heinicke was also the QB during the playoffs after alex smith got injured, and nearly beat tom brady and the buccaneers. this from a guy who thought his NFL playing days were over and went back to school to get a math degree. heinicke is now one of my favorite QB's, his performance tonight (washington won) will make people wonder if he shouldn't be the starter once fitzpatrick heals up.
a simple day: barbecue corn for lunch, then in the afternoon i reinstalled the motorcycle battery which had been trickle charging indoors; went to take a look at my community garden plot; before heading to market basket for some groceries. i got a greek salad as a snack, whipped up my own greek dressing. i didn't leave the house the rest of the day, fell asleep on the couch around 6:20pm, woke up at 8pm. for dinner i finished the rest of the scallion bread and ate two leftover barbecue drumsticks.
|greek salad dressing|
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp oregano
instead of using the food processor, i just mixed the dressing ingredients by hand by shaking in a tight-lid container. you can't get that same level of emulsion compared to a blender, so the dressing came out in chunks, didn't really mix well. the salad was still good though, but next time i'll use the processor. (i also forgot to add the lemon juice, but i don't think it matters since the vinegar already brought the sourness)
the last of my community garden bitter melon is ready to harvest. it hasn't split open yet, but it's turned yellow and there's a tear at the end which shows red seeds on the inside. i'll go pick it up tomorrow. the biggest growth are my hyacinth beans. if i don't take care of it, it could easily overrun my garden, as well as nearby gardens as well. i have plenty of flowers, i wonder if anyone else is appreciating my bean show?
today was a hot and humid day, with heat index the temperature felt like it was in the 90's. it wasn't that much cooler inside the house but at least it was dry.
i've been trying to watch come and see (1985), a soviet-era anti-war movie that i read is one of the most disturbing films ever made and many who've watched it are scarred by it forever. i steeled myself for the worst, every scene a potential graphic death, a rape, or animal mutilation. i'm already 1 hour and 24 minutes into the movie, and honestly, it hasn't been that bad, even though the sense of impending doom is pervasive.
after finishing off a leftover barbecued corn, i rode the motorcycle to belmont in the late morning for a day of yardwork.
after wheeling out the gas mower from the garage, i lowered the mower height 1-1/2 position. before i started mowing, i pruned the yew bush and weeded any crabgrass i saw on the lawn. for the sidewalk grass i used the mulch setting since i didn't want to keep any of the contaminate grass/soil. i then started to mow the grass. the mower was low enough that it cut close to the roots so afterwards the lawn looked a bit yellow instead of green. at one point my sister brought home hailey because she said her dog was barking at home all day. hailey continued to bark in the backyard while i finished mowing the front lawn. once i moved into the backyard so stopped barking, unless i went into the front yard, in which chase she started looking for me and would start barking again.
since i was cutting 1-1/2 position lower, i ended up collecting a lot of grass, enough to fill up half the compost bin. afterwards i dug a hole in the center so the compost could at least breathe since there was too much grass for me to properly mix everything.
next came the dethatching. i heard they have machines that can do this, but i do it the old-fashion way, manually with a rake. even though i wore gloves, my vigorous raking made a blister on my left thumb. thatch is a good source of "brown" material so i collected all the dead grass and added it to the compost.
during that time hailey would wander around the backyard, occasionally lying in the sun, or in the shade, and every once in a while go inside, only to come out again a few minutes later. also one of the backyard neighbors is having their house planted, so i kept hearing the clanging of ladders all day.
we're expecting some rainstorms tomorrow night, so i didn't have to worry about conserving any rain barrel water as i watered the backyard, including reseeded grass patches and garden beds. i wanted to water the front yard as well but i knew if i left the backyard hailey would start barking again so i didn't.
i was finished by 3:30pm so decided to do some drone flying to get some photos of the garden from above. using my mother's old samsung S9+ i didn't experience any problems. the compass might need to be recalibrated though, it had my location set incorrectly, but that's an easy fix to make. the only problem i had was when i tried to land: hailey kept wanting to chase after the drone. i tried to grab ahold of her with one hand while trying to land with the other. i ended up trapping her between my legs as i quickly landed the drone. it was already giving me the low battery beeping warning.
i knew i couldn't leave hailey home alone since she'd bark, so i had my mother ask my sister to come and pick up her dog before i left. i also took the leftover barbecue from yesterday, while my sister delivered some freshly baked scallion bread.
i was about to leave when i couldn't find my motorcycle key. then i realized it was still in the ignition, i never took it off. while meant the headlight had been on for nearly 5 hours. i tried to start the ignition but everything was dead. i went back inside the house and grabbed the jump starter. i was glad to see the mechanics didn't remove my jump starter wire. i couldn't start it at first, until i discovered it's better to connect the leads to the bike first before attaching the battery. i managed to start the bike a few times but the engine always died after a few seconds. on my last attempt, i revved the engine to few times to trickle enough electricity into the battery to keep the engine running. i quickly put everything back and rode home.
once i got back, i removed the battery so i could fully charge it indoors. the mechanics really tightened the screws on the battery leads, they also look new, maybe they replaced them.
i had an early dinner, at around 6pm. i had some scallion bread along with the lamb steak. this particular piece was thicker than the rest, so it was rare at best, which is a polite way to say certain parts were still raw. i ate what i could but spit out a few pieces because it wasn't edible.
later in the evening - after 10pm - i got hungry so i made myself an indomie mi goreng. i poached an egg and boiled the noodles for 3 minutes. i also chopped some cilantro and scallions. it took me all but 30 seconds to eat the whole thing, it's not really a meal, more like a snack.
some news today: norm macdonald passed away today at age 61, after quietly living with cancer for the past 9 years. he had his moments, but i don't know if i'd call myself a fan, he had a weird comic style. california governor newsom defeats recall vote by a factor of 2:1, showing that california is very strongly democratic. finally, in boston's mayoral race, frontrunner michelle wu won, while annissa essaibi george captured the second position, for a november runoff. both andrea campbell and kim janey conceded. i wonder if they didn't split the black vote, having two qualified black candidates (actually three if you also include john barros). i'm not a big fan of essaibi george, she seems fake. looking at her old photos, she's undergone a total makeover, from losing a lot of weight to going from brunette to blonde to enhance her whiteness while at the same time identifying as a minority (arabic). she also plays up her boston accent in her political ad: "i'll be the teaCHAH, and the moTHAH, and the maYAH." i'm surprised she didn't throw in some "pAHK your CAH in HAHvAHD YAHD" while she was at it.
my parents came to pick me up around 10:20am this morning for an everett-chelsea supply run. before they arrived, i got a package on my doorstep. it was the 2 piece velvet tub chair slipcover ($35) i ordered a few days ago. i got it in turquoise since that was the closest match to the old blue ikea slipcover. i didn't have time to put it on the chair itself, but i did cover the seat cushion. the seat cover doesn't completely wrap the cushion, it's more like a fitted elastic-band bedsheet where the very bottom is still exposed, but doesn't affect the appearance. it has a stretchy velvet fabric which feels nice to touch.
we arrived first at costco by 10:45am. they were pretty busy for a monday, felt like a weekend crowd, which makes me think the weekend must've been crazier. i suppose now with the influx of college kids back in town, there are even more customers. my father returned a large bag of rice they bought (actually bought 2, decided to return one when they discovered it doesn't have the right cooked rice consistency) and later i went back out and had a price adjustment on a box of solar string light for my sister (paid $40, now $30). just like at the waltham costco nearly 2 weeks ago, the everett costco also did not carry anymore boba popsicles. they had a bunch of fall lawn care products, we bought a large bag 15lbs. of scotts turf builder sun & shade grass seeds ($35, normally $43), enough to cover 6000 square feet (we could reseed our entire lawn with that amount). my mother wanted to get a ninja foodi air fryer oven but the cooking capacity was just two small (built more for two flat pizzas, its unique feature is the ability to stand up when not in use). we also saw a large (microwave-size) air fryer toaster oven with french doors.
after costco, we stopped by the home depot next door (11:45am) so i could pick up some lawn fertilizer. we already purchased our end-of-season grass fertilizer last week (scotts winterguard fall lawn food 32-0-10), but this was early fall season fertilizer for the new grass we plan on growing. we picked up a bag of scotts lawn food ($17 12.6 lbs. 32-0-4) which is enough for 5000 sq.ft.1 it was located in their outside storage, covered in a combination of spilled fertilizer and rat poison. afterwards my hands were dirty and i had no way to clean them until i got back to the house.
next stop was restaurant depot (12pm), since it was next to the chelsea market basket, our final destination. my father just wanted to check if they had clear plastic containers. it was pretty busy, as mondays are a traditional when restaurants close (those that aren't opened 7-days a week). they were still out of all the containers we wanted. the workers have been using the empty spaces to store flattened cardboard boxes. we did buy some clear plastic cup lids and cardboard coffee holders. the checkout lines were long but we lucked out waiting in one that moved pretty fast.
at 12:30pm we were at market basket. it too was pretty crowded. we come here especially to find diet stewart's root beer for a regular customer, but they were all out. instead we got some virgil diet root beer. we used to get IBC diet root beer but we haven't seen it in stock anywhere since the pandemic started. and before that it was jones' diet root beer, but that's been off the shelves for years now.
we finally left by 1pm, heading back to the cafe to drop off the supplies. my sister happened to be in the parking lot and we gave her the things she wanted from costco. we returned to belmont by 2pm.
i ate some market basket wings before i went outside around 3pm for some yard work. i did some dethatching of the lawn before i decided to mix a few buckets of miracle-gro fertilizer and feed the plants. acid-loving fertilizer for the gardenia, hydrangea, and raspberries, regular miracle-gro for all the other. i also mixed a gallon solution in the sprayer and did a foliar treatment of the squashes and bitter melons. my father came out later to fix a broken handle on one of our rakes (now it's 8" shorter) and tried to remove the old wood handle from a broken shovel head before giving up to start the barbecue to cook some dinner.
my parents bought some costco lamb steaks. my mother coated it with salt, cumin, and ground chili powder before we grilled it outside. we waited for the barbecue to reach 550 degrees before putting on the steaks. we cooked each side just 4 minutes before they were ready (medium). because there was a lot of fat on the outer edges of the steaks, they curled up a bit and also there were flare ups from the fat drippings, but i personally think a touch of fire adds additional flavor (not too much or it'll char).
the lamb had a great flavor, although i couldn't chew some of the fattier portions and it made me gag. we also had barbecued corn, zucchinis, and some leftover meats (like the wings we bought earlier) that we also grilled. my sister also left some sesame mochi in the freezer.
after dinner my father and i went to my sister's godmother's apartment in central square to help her install her new moen smart toilet seat cover with bidet and heat warmer.
the install was pretty easy, the only tools we needed was a screwdriver, a wrench (for tightening some of the plumbing fixtures, though hand tightening would've been fine, they all had rubber gaskets on the inside), and some plumbing tape. midway through my stomach started grumbling and i thought i might have explosive diarrhea but i was able to hold it until my father drove me back home. not sure what i ate. could it've been the mochi ice cream? but i just ate one.
there was a monday night football game between the ravens and raiders in las vegas. this game also featured the manning brothers providing secondary commentary on the game. i watched 10 minutes of it before i got bored, i prefer the regular broadcasters much better. there's definitely a difference between the pros and the amateurs when it comes to commentary. you'd think two former quarterbacks would provide a wealth of info, but there were a dead air when they were just watching the game, or when they were talking it was something unrelated to the play. it turned out to be an amazing game that ran into overtime. the raiders won, but it felt like a fight between two equally matched heavyweights.
1 scotts winterguard fall lawn food (32-0-10) and scotts basic lawn food (32-0-4) seem nearly the same. so what's the difference? i checked out the labels, the basic lawn food contains 2% iron, which acts to make grass greener. the winterguard does not have iron. they also both contain sulfur in nearly equal amounts.
i almost forgot that the cambridge carnival was today, i only realized this last night. it's been 3 year since the last cambridge carnival celebration: 2019 was cancelled due to gang violence, and 2020 was still in the midst of the pandemic. there was an unofficial gathering of caribbean revelers last month in dorchester that i only found out afterwards but i'm not sure i would've gone even if i'd known ahead of time.
it's been nearly 2 years since i attended a parade of any kind. i packed my mountainsmith lumbar pack with my canon dSLR fitted the 55-250mm lens along with the 18-200mm lens in case i needed a wider view. i also brought along my fuji 3D camera and a frozen bottle of water in one of the side pockets. i wore my white polo and a pair of khaki shorts.
the parade didn't start until 12:30pm, i left the house by 11:45am. i did think about taking my motorcycle, but the bike is more maneuverable, and i could park it anywhere, and get out of a crowd easier. i arrived in central square by 12pm, parked on mass ave near h-mart, then walked 15 minutes down to riverside to the start of the parade. given the expected crowd of people, i wore a mask the whole time.
however the thing i noticed immediately was how few people were on the streets while i was walking. usually there'd be groups of carnival attendees and spectators, but i saw very little of that, which wasn't a good sign. when i arrived at the staging area, there was only a single group of mixed costumed marchers, about 100 or so.
to the organizer's credit, the parade began on time. miss massachusetts was sitting on top of the backseat of a small convertible, leading the procession. behind her was denise simmons, cambridge city councilor and former mayor. from her i received several different colored beads, i almost forgot about the necklaces. then came the cambridge mardi gras revelers, which were a handful of adults and mostly children. finally at the end was a single speaker truck with the rest of the parade participants following behind. honestly, it was a little sad, and i looked at my watch, figured i'd be home by 1pm since there wasn't much to see.
i followed the procession, walking ahead of it, stopping occasionally to take photos behind me, until i got where river street meets up with western avenue, outside of the central square church. i stepped on top of an empty bench so i'd get some elevation when the procession passed me by. there was definitely more people in the parade, i estimate close to 250 by that point, but still a farcry from a typical carnival parade.
i walked up to mass ave and found a ledge by the MBTA entrance i could stand on to get some elevation as the procession passed me by once more. after that i didn't follow them. unlike in past years, the parade route would end at university park. i biked back home around 1:30pm. once i got back, i changed into some pants and rode the motorcycle to belmont.
arriving at my parents' place around 2pm, i had some leftover ground beef & fermented long beans mixed with rice porridge for lunch.
watertown was holding its life-friendly garden tour today. 13 gardens across watertown, the theme being chemical-free gardening. the first one we went to was on marlboro street, actually in belmont. the sign said it was the right place, but there was nobody around, and it looked more like a weed garden more than anything else.
next we went to the grove street community garden, figured we'd at least see some stuff there. once more there was a sign, but the place was empty. it was mostly parking lot, with a section for some gardens. there actually was someone there, a woman named roberta, who had a plot there. she told me this was the last year for the community garden, as the town sold the land to BB&N, who will turn it into a sports stadium for their school.
the problem with having a gardening event this late in the growing season is that there isn't a lot to see. holding it in spring would be better time (actually the garden tour happens twice a year, spring and fall). the community garden was okay but a little sparse, plus also bittersweet as everything will be gone by next year.
i figured third time the charm, so i picked robbins road, which was highlighted as a street with multiple organic front yard gardens. we didn't even bother stopping, yes there were gardens, but nothing approaching what the descriptions advertised.
we were ready to go home, but i said we should visit one last garden, one on grenville road, behind the oakley country club. this garden made it all worthwhile: a sunny front garden followed by a deep shady backyard garden. there was also a large group of people surrounding an elderly couple - the owners of the house. only later did i discover that the woman is actually the organizer of the garden tour. in the front was a japanese snowbell tree and a recently planted catalpa. in the back they recently planted some foxgloves (digitalis) but the most impressive plant was a 30+ year old potted osmanthus AKA sweet olive, tiny flowers in bloom with their unmistakable fragrance. the house itself was also impressive, with a southern facing sunroom that's nearly a greenhouse with the amount of windows and some rooftop solar panels.
we returned home by 4pm, just in time to watch the first football game of the season between the dolphins-patriots in the mac jones era. new england ended up losing, but mac jones was competent and we would've won the game if it weren't for some closely turnovers. elsewhere in the NFL, the saints trounced the packers, 38-3. they even benched aaron rodgers. i know the real reason why he lost his edge: he's too upset about his ex-girlfriend olivia munn carrying john mulaney's
rehab rebound love child. the browns almost beat the chiefs, final score 33-29, cleveland's going to be a team to watch. steelers also beat the bills, 23-16, not a lot of attention has been paid to pittsburgh this season but their victory over buffalo makes them legit contenders.
i made it back home so late yesterday and then went to go pick up my motorcycle, i didn't really have time to survey the backyard. not much as changed as the season winds down. my father has been diligently watering our seeded patches on the lawn and new grasses are already growing. one bit of surprise is despite the grapevines succumbing to diseases yet again, some of the grapes are still managing to reach maturity. i tried a few, some are sweet before turning sweet, while others are just sour, but all have a strong grape flavor. not sure how much pectin there is in concord grapes, but i imagine they'd make a great grape jelly if you can somehow extract the seeds.
my father did some light grilling for dinner: some leftover drumsticks, steaks, swordfish, and some zucchini. after dinner i rode back home.