at first i thought nobody was home when i woke up at 9am. but karen's bedroom door was closed, so i wasn't so sure. finally by 10:30am jenny emerged from the bedroom to use the bathroom, only to go back to sleep. jenny eventually did wake up, showered, went to the supermarket, and made herself some lunch. she finally left for boston by 1pm. i gave her some pointers as to where to go. i also let her borrow my portable battery in case she lost power on her phone. i could've gone with her, but i had my own errands to run, and i figured she might have some fun exploring the city on her own.
this morning i learned about the death of roger moore. out of all the actors who played james bond, i like his the best, as his 007 was the one i grew up with. having never read the novels, i didn't realize the actual james bond is supposed to be a stocky man, more like sean connery or daniel craig. besides playing the famous spy, the other thing i know roger moore for is his english narration of the forbidden city audio tour. i've personally never heard it before (and surprised there's no full bootleg of it online), but it's something i always remember.
after deciding what i was going to make for lunch and dinner the rest of the week (chicken caesar salad and grilled ham and cheese sandwich), i biked to market basket to pick up some groceries. after returning home, i went to star market to pick up some more cherries. finally, i biked down to michael's to pick up a skein of caron cakes yarn for my mother. i went to the cafe to drop off the yarn and the cherries, along with a bag of bean sprouts. my 2nd aunt came out to the back while my mother was washing the cherries to complain about the bean sprouts, not taking into consideration that i went out of my way to get it. then it was my mother's turn to complain, she said the cherries were unusually greasy for some reason. i told her it was because of the bowl she was using, but she said i bought some defective cherries and tried to get rid of the oily feel by washing it with baking soda (it didn't help, and made the cherries taste slightly funny).
i returned home soon afterwards. i took advantage of the fact that nobody was home by finishing watching episodes 3 and 4 of the new twin peaks series on the showtime streaming roku channel (my parents get free showtime through their verizon FIOS). i don't know how i feel about the new series. it's definitely interesting and weird and mysterious, but i don't know if i'd say it's good. i watch it because i watched the original series and i'm a david lynch fan, but so far through 4 episodes, i barely know what's going on still. and the cameos! the series has a cast of over 200+ actors, and it's fun to see relatively famous actors playing tiny parts in the series.
for dinner originally i was going to make a chicken caesar salad, but i had some old ingredients in the fridge that needed to be used before they go bad. i had a package of fresh cheese and spinach tortellini that was best used by 5/5, and a bunch of asparagus i got almost 2 weeks ago. i sauteed the asparagus in a large pan on the stove, but it ended up creating a lot of smoke in the kitchen and later when i walked around the floors felt a little oily. despite all that effort, the asparagus weren't that delicious, i think i'm finally over my asparagus obsession.
karen and jenny didn't get back until 11:30pm. all they went was the top-of-the-hub for drinks, and didn't even go out for dinner afterwards (jenny ate a hotdog before they met at 7pm). i asked karen what their plans were for tomorrow. they're leaving around 10am, visiting the wardmap gift shop first on mass avenue, before going to the clinic for some sort of diabetes exposition. jenny's flight is at 4:45pm but they will leave directly from boston. jenny showed me some of the photos she took today. an LGBT sign in front of a church, which one would never see in mexico as they're predominantly roman catholic. some cut tulips sitting on a cafe table, which was special for her because tulips are very expensive back home, and here they're everywhere.
karen finally came home with her friend jenny from the airport at 9:30am, despite the plane having arrived at 7:40am this morning. jenny arrived at newark last night at 2am, managed to get to the complimentary hotel around 2am to take a shower and try to sleep for an hour, before heading back to the airport for her flight to boston. there wasn't much time to rest however as we left by 9:55am for the biannual cambridge bike ride starting at the cambridge public library. i was worried we'd be late, but these events rarely leave on time and we didn't actually set off until almost 10:30am.
this year's theme was women's history. there was a decent amount of people due to the nice weather. although it was sunny, temperature was only in the upper 50's so i wore a light jacket. i also put on some sunblock before i left so i smelled like summer. i rode my trek allant bike, the bike i only ride on special occasions. karen was on the trek mountain bike and jenny was on the fuji. we were the only handful of people who didn't wear helmets, but i figured we weren't traveling very fast and with police escorts to stop car traffic, so the risk of injury was low.
i tried riding with karen and jenny, but having 3 bikes side-by-side presented too much of a road block, so i ended up riding in the front. karen rides slow anyway, so at certain points i decided to ride all the way to the front. i set up the action camera on the handlebar, but i only had an hour of battery life, so i used it sparingly. the glare on the tiny LCD screen was such that i couldn't tell if i was actually recording or not, so capturing videos was mostly hit or miss.
we stopped twice, once at the park at riverside city park (880 memorial drive), the second at north point park. it was at the first stop that jenny wanted to use the bathroom. i was trying to think of the closest possible place and couldn't come up with anywhere other than on mass avenue. we even asked another biker would clearly had even less clue, even suggested we go back to the public library. i thought trader joe down memorial avenue would definitely have a bathroom, but then i recognized where we were and realized there was a whole foods nearby. we biked down blackstone street to whole foods and i went with jenny to find the bathroom while karen was outside watching the bikes. i just so happened to need the bathroom as well so everything worked out. even better, as we were trying to figure out where to rendezvous with the convoy (i was thinking from mass ave), i saw a bike cop at the corner of river and putnam who told us the bike group was minutes away from approaching. so we managed to join them from there, everything working out in the end.
another hot day (officially a may heat wave after hitting 90°F+ again today), so i went back to the community garden to make sure my plants were getting enough water. i managed to dig up 2 perennials (a lemon balm and maybe an oregano) and plant a few zucchini seeds in a dirt mound.
earlier i finished cleaning out my grow closet equipment and putting all the boxes that'd been sitting in my bedroom back into the closet.
i motorcycled to belmont where hailey was home alone. i let her out in the backyard as i watered the garden. later after hailey went back inside, i dug out some more bamboo rhizomes. covered in dirt and sweat, i took a shower (i brought a change of clothes) and stayed until 6pm. i left after feeding hailey.
pokemon go rock event this weekend, i managed to collect a few rock-related mons.
karen was actually home this morning, but she left before i got out of bed. she came back home around 6:30pm. i was surprised because i was just finishing changing in my room and didn't hear her coming into the house. she said today was paula's last day, but unfortunately the job offer she received was rescinded because they didn't want to deal with her visa situation. so now her next option is to marry her boyfriend so she can stay in the US while taking time to find a job that will sponsor her.
karen's friend was supposed to arrive in boston late tonight, but her plane leaving mexico city had mechanical problems and wouldn't leave until 8pm, arriving in newark at 2am. united (the carrier) gave her a voucher for a hotel, but with her flight to boston at 7am and needing to be at the airport by 5am, she will probably just sleep in the airport. the worst part is the moment she arrives in boston, karen plans on taking her on a cambridge bike ride beginning at 10am. i hope her friend doesn't collapse from exhaustion.
cherries are finally on sale at the supermarkets! star market had them for $2.47/lbs. i raced out and got a bag, shared it with karen, where cherries are an expensive delicacy in mexico.
game 2 between cleveland and boston was even more of a disaster than game 1. at certain points the celtics were done more than 50 points. boston has no business facing off against an elite team like the cavaliers.
breaking news this morning: the death of 77 years old roger ailes, disgraced former fox news chief/unrepentant sexual predator, from a head injury sustained from a fall in his house. as if that wasn't enough, 52 years old chris cornell on soundgarden died today as well, from an apparent suicide (hanging). then shortly afterwards there was news about a man on drugs going on a vehicular killing spree in time square (as of now, 1 killed, 23 injured).
even as recent as monday - the middle of may - i had the heat on (30 minutes). and during this past weekend i fired up the furnace for an hour each night. it was really for karen's sake: had i lived alone, the heat would've been off by mid-april and i wouldn't bother turning it on no matter how cold it got. it was just that the past few weeks had been unseasonably cold, although in new england unpredictable weather should come as no surprise to anyone. but today the temperature hit 96°F. all this temperature change in less than a week.
karen wrote me an e-mail in the late morning, telling me that instead of going directly to work when she arrives at south station tomorrow morning at 7:30am (after taking the overnight bus from montreal leaving midnight), she's going to come home first to shower and change her clothes. i wrote to mike our solar energy guy and told him we wouldn't be able to make a decision by the end of this week. direct energy solar contacted me around noontime, some guy asked me if were still on for our 12:30pm appointment. this was news to me, as i haven't received any notification. i informed him that were just looking for an estimate. he said he'd send it within the hour. it never showed up.
after a bowl of cereal and a cold slice of leftover pizza for lunch, i went to the community garden to water my plants. i planted some cupcake cosmos and zinnia seeds, hopefully they'll emerge in about a week, so i won't forget them and accidentally dig up that area. all this recent heat must be great for hot loving plants - eggplants, tomatoes, peppers - and hopefully they can take advantage of these past few days because the forecast for next week is warm weather during the daytime - 60-70's °F - but cold at nights (50's °F).
back at the house i planted a clutch of star-of-bethlehem flowers i pulled out from the community garden DMZ. i also watered the plants.
i left for belmont via motorcycle to water the plants there. while watering the eastern perennial bed, i noticed some new bamboo stalks. i spent some time digging out the rhizomes, but i only managed to finish working a corner before i had to stop because it was getting too hot (even though i was in the shade). i'll come back to it either tomorrow or this weekend. bamboos can grow fast, so the quicker you remove the expanding rhizomes the better it keep them in check.
i planted some zinnias and cosmos seeds in the RB3 perennial flower bed. i also planted some mammoth dill seeds on the left half of the RB2. the only seeds i've yet to plant are the korean melons. i need to find a good spot for them. unfortunately i don't have anymore fertilizer left, but i can just create a pile of manure.
i stopped by the cafe at 3:20pm. my grandmother and aunt were already there. my mother made me a thai bubble ice tea. earlier i'd planted some nasturtium seeds in the parking lot plant, then later i added a gazania daisy seedling (i gave it to my sister yesterday so she could bring it to the cafe). my father showed me the new the sidewalk trees the city planted: a few gingkoes and an armstrong red maple. my sister showed me her backyard garden. it's a lot shadier than i thought, but her plants do well there because of the rich soil. she has a slug and snail problem though. she also proudly showed me her poppy patch, until i told her those were probably poplar seedlings from a nearby poplar tree. i finally returned home by 4:10pm.
i did some sprucing up in anticipation of karen's return tomorrow, including putting away the dishes and washing the dining tablecloth (along with some clothes). i also put away my growhouse gravel into 2 plastic buckets. tomorrow i'll take down all the grow lights and put then away from next year.
for dinner i heated up some of that pozole i made on tuesday. it's edible but has no character, just a mishmash of different ingredients. the hominy itself seemed to have absorbed more of the liquids as there was hardly any left. i have many more servings of this dish, so i'll be eating it the rest of the weekend.
it's definitely easier to wake up early this time of the year, when the weather is warmer and there's more morning daylight. i woke up a bit before 6am to use the bathroom. while i was at it, i also opened some windows to air out the house, get rid of some of the cooking smells from yesterday. doing it in the morning meant fresh cool breeze instead of the hot winds forecasted for later today. it was already light out and behind a bunch of houses in the east i could make out a colorful sunrise. i wasn't particularly sleepy by that point so i could've just stayed up instead, but decided to try and get a few more hours of sleep as i went to bed at 2am last night.
i woke up sometime around 9am, from a phone call. it was direct energy solar, finally getting back to me. the guy i spoke to wanted to set up an appointment to meet; i told him we'd already spoken with other solar energy companies and was just really looking for an estimate. he was fine with that, so later i sent him an electricity bill.
karen got in touch with me today. she said she wouldn't be back until friday morning, and would go directly to work. that was the good news. bad news was she invited her best friend to boston, where she'll be staying for 5 days (actually arriving friday midnight and leaving wednesday afternoon, so 4 days 5 nights). what can i say? i can't really say no, but this will be the 3rd guest she's invited to stay at the house. for this privilege she's not even paying the normal rent! but in 2 more weeks she'll be gone, so i have that to look forward to. these past few days living without a roommate has been a luxury. since august of 2016, i've had a roommate every single month except for october and december. hopefully her friend is cool at least, makes it more bearable.
around 11am i called concord insurance to let my agent know i wanted to adjust my coverage: increase my deductible and get rid of identity theft protection. mark (my agent) said he'd send me a revised premium invoice within the next day or two.
i motorcycled to belmont around noontime after finishing a sesame paste pastry my father brought back from flushing chinatown on monday. i found my father already home pruning some more branches and vines. i was there to plant the seedlings i brought back yesterday afternoon. it was a hot day with the temperature hitting 93°F. there were a few times when i felt light-headed and thought i'd faint from the heat. i planted 6 tomatoes, 4 habanero peppers, 4 mixed hot peppers, 4 japanese eggplants, 3 thai basils, 4 gazanias, 4 cucumbers, and all my snapdragon seedlings (in the form of plugs).
into each hole i scooped some plant-tone fertilizer (i've nearly used up the entire bag). i cut off the bottoms of the plastic cups i used as pots to make makeshift seedling protectors, since in years past we had problems with unknown backyard critters biting the seedlings in half. i also planted some seeds: 2 mounds of zucchini squash, nasturtium in every raised bed corners, and a dozen moonflowers. my father returned to the cafe before i finished planting, but i was done shortly afterwards. i returned home by 2:30pm.
i stopped by my own community garden plot first to water my plants. i was afraid the seedlings i planted yesterday would all be wilted from the tremendous heat, after seeing the seedlings at my parents' place wilting. however, my plants seemed fine, and i wonder if somebody had watered them for me earlier. anyway, i quickly watered them again before finally going home to change out of my sweat-soaked clothes and take a shower.
my sister came to my place around 4pm, along with her dog, my mother, my grandmother, and my aunt. they've been meeting at the cafe this past week and decided to visit my place for a change of scenery. my grandmother wanted to eat domino pizza again so i ordered the same hawaiian and the bacon pizzas from last week from the nearest domino's (davis square). the pizza from last time was so delicious that my grandmother wanted to order a second hawaiian. the pizza shop actually called me back after i made the second order just to confirm i didn't make a mistake. my sister and i went to go pick up the pizzas at 5pm.
the thing with domino's is their pizzas can change from one store to another, and even within a single store the pizza can be different depending on who made it. so today's pizzas had a much thicker (bready) crust, and the ingredients didn't seem so fresh. my grandmother seemed to have remembered more pineapple last time, and they were embedded in the cheese instead of just sprinkled on top. there also wasn't a lot of mushrooms, just some dried pieces. as for my sister, with her supposed gluten-allergy, she went to the nearby thai place to get some takeout instead. as there wasn't anymore room in the living room, she ate in the kitchen with her dog watching nearby.
the justice department today appointed a special prosecutor to investigate whether the trump campaign was in collusion with russia. every day there's some new drama with the trump administration. so long as he's bogged down in all this quagmire, hopefully he'll have less time to enact some of his agenda.
everyone left by 7pm. the evening's highlight was game 1 between the cleveland cavaliers and the boston celtics. despite more than a week of rest, cleveland was not the least bit rusty, dominating boston throughout the game. i think the celtics were just tired from having finished a grueling 7 games series against the wizards less than 48 hours ago. nobody expects boston to win against cleveland, but if boston can win just one game it will be a moral victory that they can hopefully use as motivation for next season.
extratorrent shut down today. good torrent sites are becoming less and less. hopefully some new site will rise from the ashes.
the temperature today almost reached the 80's. it was time to plant my seedlings. i wanted to apply some plant-tone fertilizer but it was in belmont. i would've brought it back the last time i was there but i didn't want to keep it in my backpack and made it stink of excrement. i'd need the car to transport the fertilizer, which would also let me bring all the leftover seedlings to belmont to plant. i moved all the seedlings out onto the backyard porch one final time before they're scattered to the various gardens.
my condo insurance company called me this morning. the annual premium this year ($1129 due in june) has gone up nearly 30% compared to last year's. so all this week i've been contacting other insurance companies (progressive, geico, amica, liberty mutual, allstate, statefarm), looking for someplace cheaper. i use progressive for my motorcycle so i figured they'd give me the best rate with the combined policy discount, but for a similar coverage it'd cost me $1400. all other companies had about the same around, around $1200. it was starting to look like maybe my current company wasn't so bad after all. the only place that was cheaper was geico, with an annual rate of $886, but it was for a lesser coverage. anyway, the call this morning was with an agent looking at ways to reduce my premium. my particular coverage is based on my property value, hence its increase every year. there's $171k in personal property protection, which is an unheard of amount because all my personal property combined is probably no more than $20k. the only thing i can adjust is increase my deduction from $500 to $1000 (saved me $100) and lose identity fraud protection ($30).
in the late morning i went to market basket via bicycle to get a few ingredients so i could make pozole. i'd already soaked the dried hominy overnight. i got some pork sirloin (2 lbs. $3.45). i also got some smoked ham that was on sale ($1.29), figured i could add it to the pozole for some additional flavor. the slow-cooker recipe i found called for 2 cans of enchilada sauce. i've never seen it before, so instead i just got a can of chipotle sauce ($1.89).
after having some cereal for lunch (special K w/almonds $3.99), i began preparing the pozole.
i cut the pork into cubes then seared it in a pan. the pork let out too much juice so it wasn't searing properly until i poured out the liquids. i also added the leftover brussel sprouts karen left me. cooking the pork created a lot of smoke and the house smelled like seared sirloin the rest of the day. once cooked, i added the pork to the slowcooker, along with the other ingredients. i poured enough water into the cooker to cover everything. i also added some leftover barbecue sauce, as i thought it looked a little bland. maybe instead of water i should've used some sort of broth. but i hoped after 7 hours of cooking, the pork and ham would release some flavors into the liquid.
once that was done, i took the motorcycle to belmont (1:30pm) to pick up the plant-tone and switch vehicles. i saw some highway department trucks parked outside my parents' place. i thought nothing of it, until one of the workers suggested i move my motorcycle as they were about to prune the large maple tree in front of the house. i moved the motorcycle as well as the car in the driveway, just in case.
that maple tree is in rough shape. it won't be long until it's completely dead and they'll have to come and chop it down. however for today they were just concerned with removing several of the dead branches. i've called the town tree department in the past about pruning a very long perpendicular branch that hangs over the driveway. the branch is almost as long as the tree is tall. but because that branch is still healthy, they won't cut it. besides, if they were to remove that large branch, then almost half of the tree would be gone, and by that point they might as well chop it down completely and plant a new tree in its place.
i stayed in belmont long enough for the tree guys to finish working, so i could move back the car and motorcycle. i ended up staying there for almost an hour, watering the plants in the backyard before waiting in the living room and playing with my phone.
i finally returned to cambridge by 3pm. it took longer than usual due to the ongoing road work in belmont and cambridge. earlier i'd already picked out the seedlings i wanted to plant and put them in a plastic tray rack. i strapped everything to the back of my bicycle and slowly pedaled by way to the garden.
i ended up planting the following: 2 thai basil, 2 best boy tomatoes, 2 cherry tomatoes, 2 heirloom mortgage lifter tomatoes, 2 cucumbers, 4 japanese eggplants, 4 habanero peppers, and 2 mixed hot peppers. it took a while to figure out where i wanted to plant them, as there are already preexisting perennials in the garden. for this first year in the new plot i'm just going to take an organic approach and improvise, planting where ever there's space. any thoughts of using an organized grid system will have to wait until next season. into each hole i added a scoop of plant-tone fertilizer. i have a good feeling i'm going to get some healthy plants this year. around 3:30pm shadows from the tall maples on the left edge of the community garden started creeping into my plot. by 4pm it was completely in shadows. i never had this problem back in my old plot. but that's still a good amount of sunlight, and a lot better than most of the other plots which have even more shadows.
back at the house, i packed the remaining seedlings into the back of the car and drove back to belmont. i stopped briefly at the cafe, where my grandmother and aunt were there, to drop off the dog food shipment that arrived in belmont earlier. i also gave my father a printout of the NBA conference championship tv schedule for my grand uncle.
it was 5pm by the time i arrived in belmont. i didn't have the energy to figure out where to plant the seedlings, so i left everything in the backyard, will come back tomorrow to finish the job. i got on my motorcycle and returned home to cambridge.
the house was filled with the smell of the slow-cooked pozole. i taste tested the broth and after so many hours, the flavor had improved, and didn't taste like water anymore, but something more savory. it finally finished cooking by 8pm. i scooped out a bowl of pozole garnished with some chopped cilantro. i also added about a teaspoon of salt into the pozole because i felt it was a little bland. it tasted okay, but i don't know if it can compare with traditional pozole. in hindsight, i should've looked for the enchilada sauce, as it would've added more flavor. using just the chipotle sauce gave everything a smoky taste, but also made everything very spicy. i can handle the spiciness, but it's not for everyone. the hominy had finally finished cooking, they were bigger than before, soft and chewy with a sweet taste (from the corn).
i'm a quarter way through brandon sanderson's the way of kings, the first book in a long series. there are several thousand amazon reviews and the average rating for the book is 5 stars. they say it's the next lord of the rings or game of thrones. i'm usually not much of a fantasy genre fan, but it sort of goes hand-in-hand with scifi, so occasionally i dabble. the language isn't as developed as george r.r. martins, but the world building is something else. i keep trying to picture it as a movie or show, and i can't imagine how it could ever possibly be made, as the special effects budget would be unsustainable.
today is the last cold day of spring. beginning tomorrow the chilly legacy of winter will finally be over and i expect warm days from now on. tomorrow is also a big garden day as i plan on transplanting my seedlings. this long stretch of grey and cold weather is terrible for my plants. they can't go back in the closet either since they're already too tall. hopefully they aren't too stunted and the warmth and sun will accelerate their growth.
i left the house just once, in the late afternoon, with a craving for licorice. i went to the local rite aid thinking it was cold (upper 50's) but it felt surprisingly warm, almost humid. when i got there they had none of the licorice i was looking for so instead i came home with some chocolate.
this weekend i've just been binging on junk food. with karen the nutritionist not coming back until thursday night, there's nobody here to judge me if i finish a whole bag of pork rinds or a bar of chocolate. the warm weather can't arrive soon enough as i need to be outside and exercising to worth off all this additional calories.
my father came back from new york city in the afternoon. as long as my grandmother is here in town, my aunt has decided she won't be working, so my parents have to be at the cafe everyday for the next few weeks.
i finally finished the last of my mexican chicken soup for dinner. my adventure in hominy isn't quite over however, as i plan on making pozole tomorrow. i'm soaking a cup of dried hominy overnight. one cup of dried hominy is supposed to give me about 4-1/2 cups of cooked hominy. i'll believe it when i see it.
in the evening i streamed game 7 of the semi-conference NBA championship between the washington wizards and the boston celtics on TNT. i got a good stream this time, only hiccuped a handful of times, not like game 6 on ESPN roku streaming, where it hiccuped practically ever minute. it was a great game, the celtics won it in the end to face a well-rested cleveland cavaliers on wednesday night. the consensus is lebron james and company will win the series, and meet the golden state warriors in the final. but i'm still going to watch all the games. i'll root for lebron if he wins, but while the celtics are still in the playoffs, i'm rooting for boston.