just as i'd hoped, most of the snow that fell last night melted by this morning. i woke up after seeing an e-mail from spanish david. the last i heard from him 3 years ago he'd moved to london to edit an engineering magazine. now he and his wife have moved back to madrid and he's working for a telecommunication company using deep learning to analyze data. he wrote asking if my spare bedroom was available, as his wife knows a PhD candidate (a hong kong woman who grew up in the UK) looking to do some research at the harvard-smithsonian center for 3 months beginning in january.
i woke up with pain in the outer edge of my left foot. i can't put weight on it and flexing the foot would also cause it to hurt. i thought about visiting the doctor but i'll give it a few more days, hopefully it'll clear up. i can't think of what i did to damage that area (like rolling an ankle). maybe it's my old cuboid bone fracture recovery area combined with the cold, that sort of weird weather related bone aches.
my father came to pick me up so we could go turkey shopping after i suggested we get a bird now instead of waiting until next week. my sister's godmother tagged along as well. market basket was surprisingly busy in the early afternoon, folks already ramping up for their thanksgiving supply shopping. as in recent years, we got a fresh turkey. unfortunately the largest size i could find was 20.5 lbs. but we took it anyway. as for me, i got some milk and eggs for my flan recipe.
i was hoping to see some sun but the weather remained grey for the rest of the day. we only generated 2.33 kWh of electricity, the least amount this month. i watched the ballad of buster scruggs on netflix, the new coens brothers film. it's an anthology of short western stories, each one ending in a character's death. it's the sort of movie i wouldn't have liked in the past, but i can better appreciate more character driven storylines, even if some of the shorts seem a little random.
the period between 4:30pm to 6pm is like the bermuda triangle of consciousness for me. at 4pm i watch the early evening news, but from that point onwards to 6pm, there's nothing else to watch on tv. it's also when it gets dark and i'm felling particularly cold after spending a day in a lowly heated house. i find myself lying on the couch with the laptop on my stomach, and soon i struggle to stay awake and quickly fall asleep. i tried to fight it this time around, and was successful for the most part, but i did doze off for a few minutes.
early today i made an omelette and a coffee for lunch. for dinner i finished the last of my arugula salad. about an hour later i was hungry again and i made an italian sub. either some of the deli meats have gone bad or i should've washed the lettuce, because afterwards i felt a little weird in my digestive tracts. nothing that a trip to the bathroom couldn't fix.
my parents were scheduled to be back in boston at 5:05pm but the japan airline flight was delayed by nearly half an hour. i left at 4:30pm, figured even with traffic, an hour should be plenty of time to get to logan airport. i took storrow drive instead of the turnpike since according to google map there was only a 6 minutes difference. everything was fine until i got close to the mass ave bridge, when inbound traffic slowed to a halt. i had the garmin gps running but it kept rerouting me through the city instead of on the highway, so i just ignored it's voice directions because i couldn't figure out how to turn it off. leverett circle is always a mess, you have people trying to get onto I-93 go right while others getting onto the tobin bridge going left. plus, the tunnel going onto the interstate is two lanes merging into one. underground, i saw the exit for the airport. thankfully most people were heading further south, so once i got off the exit, the traffic cleared up.
i arrived by 5:30pm, navigating to the cell phone lot, where it was completely full, which i'd never seen before. i was prepared to park illegally off to the side when i saw a space open up and grabbed up. the cell phone lot at night can be a creepy place, dozens of cars parked, each with a driver waiting inside. some people had their lights on because they turned on their cars to keep warm, even though that's a no-no according to the rules (can't leave you engine on when parked). i wore enough to keep myself warm but could feel temperature in the car slowly dropping. thankfully i didn't have to wait long, just half an hour before my father called to let me know they were ready.
even though terminal E is right next to the cell phone lot, the roads are designed such that i could only go counterclockwise, which meant make a large loop through the airport to get to E terminal. i went to the spot at the end of the terminal where i thought my parents would be waiting but i didn't see them; turned out they were on an island, and where i went was probably for buses only. my father spotted me and they pushed their luggages to where i was parked. my father drove us back via storrow drive, no traffic going outbound.
we got back to belmont around 6:40pm. my sister had told me she was going to make rice porridge for my parents but she was nowhere to be seen. later she called and said she was coughing up blood so she decided not to come. i ate a bowl of instant noodles my parents got in japan before i got a ride back to cambridge around 8pm. by that point it'd already started snowing.
it ended up not snowing all that much here in cambridge. by the time i went to bed, it'd already transitioned to rain, turning everything into slush. i was more concerned about the new layer of locust leaves on the sidewalk after i just cleaned it up this morning.
i went to market basket this morning to pick up some groceries. i was kind of dreading it because with the snowstorm coming tonight, i knew the supermarket would be a mess. however, it was surprisingly quiet when i arrived. the milk supply was still at 2/3 (my aunt asked me to get a gallon for the cafe), but i didn't check the bread aisle. by the time i left however, i could see it starting to fill up, checkout lines getting longer and cars circling the parking lot for spots.
since there wasn't anything to eat at my parents' place, i had some breakfast-lunch first: a cup of hazelnut cream coffee, a pineapple greek yogurt, and a salad. i finally left by 12:30pm, stopping by the cafe briefly to drop off supplies, before heading to belmont where i'd wait the rest of the day before going to logan airport to pick up my parents in the evening.
before i got to belmont i took a detour to the watertown home depot to return the two tubes of unused bathroom/kitchen caulk. i was there right when they were unloading a flatbed-truckload of fresh christmas trees. 'tis time!
it's been so cold the past few days that the temperature inside the house had dropped down to 50 degrees, the lowest it'd go on the nest thermostat. i turned it up so the house would be warm when my parents came back. yesterday i sprinkled some deodorizing powder on the living room rug, which actually stunk up the house with its artificial fragrance. i vacuumed the rug once more then vacuumed the rest of the house.
i went out into the backyard to do some yard work. the highway department still hadn't picked up the yard waste yet. i even had to call them just to make sure they were coming. the woman on the phone told me they're running on a delayed schedule due to the holiday, but also because they were running behind. they finally by around 4pm. in the meantime, whatever yard waste i collected i still had time to bring out to the curb for disposal. i ended up collecting a bin full of raspberry canes. i also put up the suet feeder. my sister stopped by briefly to let hailey go to the bathroom in the backyard before taking her for a walk around fresh pond.
in the late morning i drove out to get some gasoline in the fuel can. it seems a little strange to be pumping gas not into a vehicle but rather just a plastic container. i got about 2 gallons worth of unleaded, put it in a box so it wouldn't tip over while i was driving.
i then made a stop at burger king on my way to belmont. they had a 2 for $6 special on 2 sandwiches, i got a whopper and a spicy chicken. i also got an order of 10 pieces chicken nuggets for just $1. they seemed very busy, but more than half of the cars in the parking lot didn't belong to customers (nearby construction site might be sharing the lot). close to lunchtime, it seems to be a popular place for local contractors. i counted at least six people working, all hispanic. they had a staffing issue a while back (that time my father and i came and could only order from the drive-through because there weren't enough people to work the register) but they seemed to have taken care of it by hiring all new people.
first thing i did when i got to belmont was bring out all the garden refuse bins. garden refuse collection is typically late (3-4pm) so i still had time. then i had lunch. i ate the spicy chicken sandwich, saving the whopper for dinner. the burger king spicy chicken is not very good, a farcry from the one true spicy chicken sandwich from wendy's. i still mourn the lose of the central square wendy's; now the closest wendy's to me is the one in malden.
i'd planned on finally taking out the motorcycle from the garage. it's been almost a month since i last rode the bike (doesn't feel that long), i stored it in the garage shortly after my parents left on vacation. i put the new registration inside my helmet and put on the new 2019 registration sticker. however, i suddenly remembered that we're due to have some snow thursday night into friday. wouldn't it be better if i kept the bike here until all the snow has melted? chances are there won't even be any accumulation, but why take the risk? what's a few more days? besides, as a rule, i usually put the bike away for the season when we get our first big snowstorm. this one isn't it, but the season looks to be winding down.
while in the garage i repaired the the lawn mower cover with some superglue. i ended up mowing the front lawn once more, just to clean up the leaves. i dumped the shredded leaves in the compost bin. there wasn't enough leaves in the backyard for mowing.
in the backyard i started cutting down all the leftover perennial leaves down to the roots: ornamental grass, lilies, irises, gladiolas. it might've been easier with a pair of hedge shears but all i had was a knife which worked just as well with a little more work.
next project was repairing the raised beds. since the old wood screws were still in very good condition, i decided to reuse them. i had the correct star bit and was able to remove the old screws. i then added a corner brace block and screws the planks back onto the brace. ideally i would've wanted to repair all the raised beds, but i could only fix RB4 because it was just so cold outside. RB4 was high priority because i wanted to set up a small garlic bed. i took all the small leftover garlic bulbs from this summer, broke them down into cloves, and planted all of them. i read that these smaller garlics would take too long to grow into larger garlics, but they do make nice spring garlics (like scallions) come spring time. i added some organic fertilizer along with some blood meal before covering over everything with some salt marsh hay and a wire screen to prevent squirrels from getting to the garlic. RB4 gets very little sunlight so i don't know how many of these small garlics while emerge, but better than to have them sit around and dry up.
i found my package of hollyhock seeds i'd saved up some years back. these were actually treated in the freezer to kill the weevils. i had so much, i just sort of sprinkled it into RB3 and then worked the seeds into the soil. not sure if they'll germinate but worth a try. this year we didn't get any hollyhocks, they were favorite by rabbits who ate them all.
although the sun was out today, it was so cold (temperature in the 30's) that i wasn't able to strip down to my t-shirt and work outdoors. i did take off my jacket at one point because it was getting in the way but put it back on 20 minutes later because i was getting cold.
i left belmont by 3pm, didn't want to wait for the refuse trucks to arrive. when i got home, i put out the large bag of dead leaves i collected over the weekend.
later in the evening my parents contacted me from the taipei airport to confirm their arrival time back to boston tomorrow evening. they're scheduled to come back on japan airline at 5pm, which is a terrible time to be driving in or out of the city. there's also a forecast of snow for tomorrow night, but thankfully not at the same time.
i read that the correct amount of coffee to use to brew is 20g. but that was with 380g of water; my moka pot can only hold 145g of water. but i was curious how much coffee the moka funnel could actually hold. i discovered it can take 17g of ground coffee, probably closer to 20g if i use a finer ground. with the moka pot, the portion is more concentrated, making less than a cup but using enough ground coffee to make 2 cups.
i was expecting it to stop raining by the afternoon and maybe even go out and run some errands, but it rain pretty much for most of the day. i even had to go outside at one point with a shovel and clear the blockage of wet leaves covering the sewer grate. i will run my errands tomorrow, enough things to do that i actually had to make a list. i saw on the webcam that my sister actually closed the cafe today even though i told her to open it. i decided to leave it alone as i saw her making some decorations.
i don't get a lot of sun but for some reason conditions are ideal that every year in late november to december i get an explosion of christmas cactus flowers. this year especially, because i actually left the plant outside on the backyard deck during the summer where it seemed to thrive in the fresh air, natural rain water, and dappled sunlight. plus i replanted it with new soil. i noticed my pachira money tree plant had some aphids; i moved it to the bathtub and washed them off of the leaves.
i wasn't particularly hungry when evening came around. of course maybe all the snacking i did (pita bread with tzatziki, malt vinegar potato chips, sour patch kids, clementine oranges, plum) might've something to do with it. not in the mood for sandwiches, i ended up just heating some canned soup and added some frozen kale to make it healthier.
after a cup of hazelnut cream coffee i drove to belmont around 10:40am to do some yard work. i mowed the leaves on the front yard before moving to the back.
surprisingly, there were still plenty of late season golden raspberries. the next round of yard work would be to prune all the canes and cut down the perennials like irises and lilies. i need to get a pair of hedge shears.
i read you can plant the smaller garlic cloves in tight rows for some spring onions. all the raised beds are occupied except for RB4. RB4 is not the ideal candidate because during the winter and spring it gets the least amount of sunlight, but it's the only available bed i can use to make a new garlic patch. but before i could do that i needed to repair the wooden box as it was falling apart. my original idea was to put new corner posts and nail the planks to that, but that was before i realized there were already long screws in the corners and they couldn't be removed because i didn't have the right star bit (T-20). so i ended up just nailing the planks to each other, before some of them started crumbling. now i'm hoping to find the right bit so i can remove the old screws and put in new ones.
i left for the cafe by 12:40pm. my sister asked me to come by and rake the leaves in the parking lot. when i got there my 2nd aunt and my sister's godmother were there helping my sister clean the cafe. they'd stripped the old caulk from the countertop and my sister was going to caulk it herself with a small tube of caulk. since she never caulked before, i ended up taking over the caulking project. she also wanted to put marble-patterned liner paper on the countertop, but i said it looked cheap and was hard to apply without looking terrible.
i took a 30 minute roundtrip to home depot to get 3 tubes of caulk before coming back to the cafe to work. my sister had disappeared by that point, angry over my criticism of her liner paper idea, angry that i wouldn't allow her to continue closing the store for renovation work that seemed like it'd never get done. it didn't take me long to caulk the countertop, about half an hour. i only ended up using half a tube, i'll return the rest tomorrow. i didn't think i did a very good caulking job, but the gap was wide which make it hard to work. i left by 3:30pm, my sister and her team of helpers still cleaning up.
back at home, i did some more raking of both the front and back yard. i raked 3 days ago but in that time everything was covered in leaves again. today's a good day to rake since it's supposed to rain overnight and into tomorrow afternoon. i also brought back the empty gasoline canister, i'll fill it up the next time i go to belmont. i left it outside as it smelled of gasoline.
having not eaten the whole day, i finally had a greek yogurt and a plum. later in the evening i made another italian sub for dinner.
i biked to belmont at 10am to turn off the foyer light my sister left on when she visited the house on saturday. temperature was in the upper 30's, a little cold but i warmed up soon enough. there wasn't a cloud in the sky. i noticed panel 23 was making 50Wh less production than neighboring panels. i climbed a ladder to inspect the panel, it looked okay, not sure what's causing the lower production. i didn't have time today, but i'll come back tomorrow to do some more leaf cleaning.
i left by 10:40am. when i got back home, i switched to my utility bike and went to market basket to get a few grocery items, including some better coffee. i had a choice of new england coffee colombian supremo and french vanilla ($3.99/bag sale), but decided on hazelnut creme.
i wasn't planning on it but i ended up making a large breakfast for myself: omelette, basil pesto chicken sausage, salad, and coffee. besides onion and scallions, i also added some garden tomato ripen on my countertop to my omelette. the salad i used some of the garden arugula i picked on friday, along with some mini sweet peppers, parmesan cheese, and italian dressing. the chicken sausage i just grilled in a frying pan. finally, i brewed some hazelnut creme with the moka pot. the resulting coffee had no bitterness, very mellow, with a delicious sweetness. i'll need to go back and get some more while they're on sale over the next 2 weeks.
i ate while watching the NFL preshow. the patriots-titans game was at 1pm. it was a disaster for new england, patriots lost 10-34. new england went scoreless in the 2nd half but the game was already lost in the first quarter when tennessee already scored 17 points. good thing patriots have a bye next week, they could use the time to recuperate and reevaluate their strategy.
in the late afternoon i was catching up on my backlog of movies. i'm on a undead girl kick this weekend, with dead girl and the autopsy of jane doe.
i had another italian sub for dinner. i feel like i'm starting to hit my limit for subs, but i still have enough ingredients for 3 more sandwiches. i ate a honeycrisp apple for dessert and drank 2 mugs of eggnog before calling it a night.
i went to bed early again last night, waking up early yet again. i had nothing planned, maybe go down to chinatown and haymarket a little bit later. last night's rain had stopped, but it was still very wet and dark and cold outside, the roads covered with mashed up leaves. it looked like a day better spent indoors.
my sister texted me, said "they" (her godmother and my aunt) were doing clean-up at the cafe, said i could come help if i wanted. i don't like it when people ask me to do stuff out of the blue, particularly if it involves work. had she told me yesterday i would've considered it, but i decided to ignore her message out of principle. i'd already been doing paint work for her for weeks, and now she expects me to do more free work over the weekend on short notice? earlier last week she said she wanted to close the cafe for 9 days for renovations. when i asked her why so long and what sort of work she was doing, she couldn't give me a straight answer. even if the cafe closed for a whole month, with my sister in change, very little work would get done. i managed to talk her out of it, but she still threatened to close the cafe at anytime while my parents are away.
i made a fluffy omelette for lunch, 2 eggs, some milk, a handful of chopped scallions, and some goat cheese spread. cooked in butter, i drizzled some sriracha sauce to give it more flavor. because i didn't have any other coffee, i made a cup of café bustelo. even with plenty of half & half and sugar added it was still bitter like a dark roast, with a flavor somewhat reminiscent of licorice. it wasn't good, i'll try to pick up some better coffee tomorrow.
by early afternoon the sky began to clear up and the sun came out. i would be able to bike to boston after all. getting my ride from the basement, i noticed some gaps in the brick wall that could use some mortar repair, another home maintenance project on my list. temperature was in the 40's but warmer in the sun, though uncomfortably strong winds that blew leaves all over the streets.
my original plan was to go to chinatown first and get some vietnamese takeout before go to haymarket for some cheap produce. but i already have so much food at home, i opted to skip chinatown and go straight to haymarket and back. there was very little selection at haymarket. none of the vendors had yellow dragon fruits or figs. i left with: 9 plums ($2), 4 fuyu persimmons ($1), bag of clementines ($1), and bag of mini sweet peppers ($2, price increase). it was so windy it threatened to tear the roofs off of the vendor tents so some vendors opted not to set up their tents today.
returning home, i noticed some brilliant fall foliage in the late afternoon sun with boston as a backdrop. i had to make a detour to take some photos. i finally made it home a bit after 3pm.
one of the persimmons had some freeze damage so i decided to eat it first. fuyu persimmons are edible right away (unlike hachiya persimmons), don't need additional ripening to get rid of the astringent taste. this particular fuyu was supersweet.
for dinner i made an italian sub. to be honest, i've been waiting the whole day to eat a sub. i added everything from yesterday plus some pepper rings, for another level of flavor.
korean-subtitled the predator became available via torrent a few days ago. i watched it overnight. written and directed by shane black, it's actually pretty good. i read some online discussions and fans of the old predator films seem to hate this latest sequel. i think the problem is they're hoping to see a serious scifi/action. i went into the movie looking to find a shane black flick and it delivered. action, yes, but there were also plenty of laughs and witty banter between the actors. i would gladly watch a series following the "loonies" as they go off on different missions and adventures (kind of like the A-team). olivia munn plays the token female, and normally i'm so-so about her performances, but i really like her in this film. her role was that of a real character, not eye candy. the movie is refreshingly sexist-free despite so much testosterone being tossed around.
i went to bed relatively early last night, around 12:30am (typically i don't go to sleep until 2-3am). i woke up at 7am but forced myself to sleep a bit more until 8:30am. i've been really tired the past few days. lounging on the couch, i can quickly doze off. it's a great feeling to be up so early, feels like i have plenty of time to do all the things i want.
i made myself a cup of coffee using the can of café bustelo i bought. made for espressos, i found the grounds to be too fine; i prefer a course to medium ground, so the grounds don't leech into the coffee during the brewing. but the coffee came out fine, no more grounds than usual. i don't like the taste though: no real flavor other than coffee, and more bitter. i still prefer what i was using before, new england coffee's colombian supremo, which has a courser ground. afterwards i was all jittery from the caffeine, which got me ready to start my day.
after making a grocery list, i drove to market basket to pick up a few things for the cafe and some stuff for myself. i decided i'd be eating italian subs for the next few days so i bought some deli meats. next i drove to the gas station to fuel up the car, which had been running on near empty. then i went to the cafe to drop off the supplies. it was strange to be going there and not painting (though even if i wanted to i wouldn't be able since it'd be raining later in the evening). i told my aunt i ordered a new charging cable for her xiaomi fit band (around 75¢; she told me yesterday she lost hers) but it's going to take a few weeks before it arrives; in the meantime, she could borrow my sister's godmother's charging cable or wait until my mother returns next week. next stop was the watertown home depot to pick up my online order of jobe's blood meal ($9.75). finally i went to belmont to do some yard work.
i mowed the lawn 4 days ago and already it's covered in new leaves. while pushing out the mower from the garage i accidentally knocked over a metal post which smashed into the mower, knocking off a section of the plastic covering (nothing that can't be superglued back). i was lucky it didn't fall onto the motorcycle or ripped the battery charging cables. i put in the last of the gasoline supply. today was a good day to shred the leaves as it'd be raining later. i even ended up raking the leaves from the side of the street, figured better to do it now than over the weekend when they'd all be soggy from the rain.
i then moved to the backyard. the only tree we have left is the large maple, with a circle of dead yellow leaves. i ran the mower across the leaves, making sure not to go over too large a pile or risk the mower blade jamming again.
i bought the blood meal to add to the garlic beds because i read the extra nitrogen helps them to grow bigger. i never used blood meal before. a 3 lbs. bag is actually a lot smaller than i'd imagined. blood meal has an awful smell, like rotten bone marrow. i thought it'd be granules but it was more of a black powder. i rolled up the salt marsh grass cover so i could sprinkle the blood meal into the soil. in RB0, half of the bed (right) i didn't see any garlic sprouts, while the other half (left) did have them. mades me think that maybe squirrels had gotten to the cloves before i added the chickenwire screen. not too big a deal because i still have plenty of other cloves in the other garlic beds. RB0 was the only bed where i saw sprouts, since it was the first bed i created. all other beds i didn't see any emerging garlic. in RB2 there was a layer of fine mycelium when i rolled off the salt marsh grass. don't know if this is good or bad for the garlics.
i stored the dahlia tubers in a box of slightly damp peat moss. trying to moisten the peat moss is an exercise in futility as it can absorb a lot of water. i misted the peat moss with the sprayer a few times but every time i mixed the peat moss the water disappeared. but hopefully whatever amount of moisture i added with keep the tubers from drying out completely. i just need a place to store them over the winter. the garage might be too cold, the only other place is the basement.
the only raised bed that hasn't been amended yet was RB3. RB3 is unique in that half of the bed has been taken over by foxgloves (with a smattering of snapdragons, hollyhocks, and daisies). i ended up adding 2 cu.ft. of peat moss and 50 lbs. of composted manure. peat moss is great as a filler; the soil of the raised bed only ever came up half way up the box, but after i mixed in the peat moss, it was nearly filled. peat moss of course has no nutritional value, but it makes the soil softer and easier to work with. i also don't know if autumn is the best time to amend the soil (seems like spring like would be the better time); my fear is any nutrients will leech away but next year's growing season.
after finishing up in belmont, i left and got back to cambridge by 3pm. my day of yard work wasn't done yet as i still had to rake the leaves around my own house. i finished by 4pm. only then was i able to get something to eat, the last of the pastries my sister gave me on sunday.
for dinner i made an italian sub: sub bread drizzled with apple cider vinegar, topped with some provolone cheese then toasted in the oven, prosciutto, salami, capicola, shredded lettuce, garden tomato slices, and onions. it tasted pretty good. i also collected the arugula leaves from the plants i brought back from belmont, washed them, and put them in fridge for a future salad.
the rain started in the evening, an incessant drumming of raindrops. the storm will last overnight, but by tomorrow morning everything will be dry and we may even see some sunshine. the forecast says temperature in the 40's with strong northern winds.