as is customary, i wrote united solar this morning asking for a status update: it's been more than 2 weeks since kevin contacted me, and almost a month since i last brought up the wrong inverter issue with phung. unfortunately once again nobody got in touch with me. in the meantime i did some research on small claims court procedures, in case we needed to get the law involved since they're in breach of contract.

i didn't leave the house at all today, though i was tempted when the weather forecast said it wouldn't start raining until after 3pm. i could get some groceries, or if i was more ambitious, go down to mt.auburn cemetery again and look for more flowering cherry trees. none of that happened though because it began raining in the early afternoon. it rained quite heavily throughout the rest of the day, the sounds of the leaking gutters gave me an idea how much rain was falling. my upstairs neighbors also came back home, stomping up the stairs and slamming their front door.

for lunch i had some more oatmeal, then i snacked on a bunch of junk food throughout the rest of the day. so much for losing weight. for dinner i had a bowl of atonement salad and some heated canned gumbo soup. at 8pm i watched the legends of tomorrow followed by 911.

sandy's undergraduate office mate annie finally contacted me today inquiring about a place to stay for june and july. she also asked if i had rooms for 2 more friends who were also looking to find lodging, except they were only here for june. i told her it was just a single bedroom, but i could ask my parents if they any room (though they usually prefer more long-term tenants). i sent annie some photos, she seemed pleased with the place, but asked if it'd be okay if she only stayed here in july, as she might want to first live with her friends in june. i told her it was okay, but if somebody else wanted to live here during the summer, i would contact her before making a decision.

with temperature in the lower 60's, a hooded sweatshirt was enough to keep me comfortable as i peddled the fuji to belmont for some yard work. the bike makes an annoying creaking sound which has gotten worse now, but i'm too lazy to fix it. also one pair of brakes makes a high-pitched squeal whenever i press it, which sounds scary but can also be used as a deterrent to let cars know i'm in the area.

more and more flowers have blossomed so now it's hard to keep track of the flowering cherries, pears, forsythias and magnolias, each one vying for the spotlight as showiest spring tree. the crabapples aren't even out yet, which will cause additional identification confusion but i look forward to even more colors.

speaking of colors, a nearby neighbor has a dwarf peach growing on their lawn. the tree has been there for many years, protected by a collar of chicken wires to keep rabbits from damaging the bark. but only now did we realize it's a peach tree, and a dwarf one at that since it never seems to grow very big. it was probably purchased as a bareroot and has taken many years to get to this point.

originally i was just going to make some breakfast at home before leaving for belmont but my father said he already made some food: rice porridge, sausages, orange juice, and egg omelettes with garlic chives. hailey was at home, she kept wanting to go outside and i think she wanted someone to play bubbles with her. later when she came back in the home she went to one of the bedrooms to sleep.

more kwanzan cherry blossoms have emerged. their flowers have been mutated so much for maximum impact that judging by flowers alone i wouldn't necessarily identify them as cherries. a single blossom has so many layers (compared to the traditional 5 cherry petals) that they look more like pink carnations. some sources say that kwanzan are fragrant but i noticed no scent. the leaves are already out, which seems unusual compared to other flowering cherries where they flower first. it may be a side effect of where this tree was originally grown (we think it was south), but maybe the flowers will eventually bloom enough that they hide the leaves. we noticed the same thing with our KV plum, that it already leafed out without many flowers.

we started working in the backyard around 1pm but had to take a short break because of an intermittent drizzle. we dug out a wisteria that'd been growing in the middle of the lawn. we tried to save it until we started digging and realized the above ground plant was actually still attached to thick underground roots with 1" diameter. we tried digging out the roots but they were too deep, so we just cut the roots and pulled out as much as we could, hoping the roots will die eventually, but keeping an eye out for future shoots. the above ground portion of the wisteria still had some healthy branches, just no roots. i planted it in a pot anyway, hoping it might survive.

next we dug up the escaping golden raspberry canes growing on the lawn on the western side of the house. it would've been a waste to throw them all away so we decided to replant some in pots. we saved the best canes, throwing out weaker ones. i also relocated some violet clumps. after drilling holes in the bottom of the large plastic pots we got from costco a few weeks ago, we poured a large bag of potting soil into each one, planting the best canes in the process (pour dirt halfway, layer the canes, pour the rest), about half a dozen canes per pot. we still had some leftover canes which we kept alive soaking in a pot. later i replanted half a dozen more canes back to the raspberry patch.

i relocated a few wild lupines into pots, hoping to move them back into the ground once they get big enough. there were a few wild lupines last year that all disappeared due to rabbit predation. we've actually been pretty lucky this year, haven't seen a single rabbit in the backyard for a while now. i have no doubt they could come back as there are still a few places they could sneak in (and they could always dig underneath the fence) but part of the reason we had so much rabbit problems last year was all the brush that were laying around, and there was even a rabbit nest.

i planted 25 hyacinth seeds, after reading the packet instructions saying to plant early in the season after danger of frost. most of them went in the same spots as the snap peas i planted a few days ago (on the back border of the raised beds) but i also planted some along the southern fence. at least two of our peonies haven't sprouted yet (including the deep pink one we purchased last year), so out of curiosity i dug one up to see if there was an activity. the ground tuber seems fine, just no sprouts. maybe they will appear later, or maybe this plant is taking a sabbatical. i accidentally severed one of the tubers while digging, and decided against digging out the other peony as well. peonies are hardy and some believe they're immortal. but starting them takes patience, as they don't like being transplanted, and can take a few years to successfully establish in a new spot. even the peonies that have sprouted shoots this year, i wouldn't hold my breath thinking they'll produce flowers. at most maybe a few flower buds that will simply whither away. finally we moved all the buckets of pruned branches and twigs in anticipation of tuesday morning's trash pickup. the one thing we didn't do today was to reduce the pile of maple and willow branches. that will be next week's yard work.

my father pan-fried some porkchops for dinner, plus roasting the haymarket asparagus i bought on friday. afterwards we ate one of the dragon fruits. this particular one wasn't very sweet, and had an earthy raw taste to it. my father was afraid to eat too much because he said dragon fruits give you diarrhea, so i ended up eating most of it, with no side effects.

on my way home, i watched an animal climb a tree. at first i thought it was a cat, but it took me a few more seconds to realize it was a raccoon. perhaps it was waking up from its nest inside the tree? it spent a long time climb all over the tree, but enough time for me to get off my bike and grab my camera. it was a fat raccoon too, maybe somebody's been feeding it. after a minutes it finally got off the tree and ran across the street to some neighbor's backyard. i've also noticed a profusion of white flowering trees. initially i thought they were all flowering pears, but i think most of them are white-flowering cherries, if i had to guess yoshinos.

back at home i waited for the start of the 2nd episode of game of thrones. still not a lot of action as people got ready for the big battle against the living dead army of the white walkers.

my father was coming to pick me up at 10am but i didn't wake up until 9:50am, fooled by the grey sky outside thinking it was earlier than it actually was. 10 minutes was still enough time for me to get ready though, feed the fish, use the bathroom, pack up my things. at 10am my father called, said he already went to market basket with my sister's godmother, and would swing by my place in 10-15 minutes.

it was pouring rain by the time i got picked up. we stopped off at the cafe to drop of supplies before we drove my sister's godmother to waverley square for a haircut appointment. coming back, we saw red-leaf flowering plums everywhere, an ornamental tree we never really noticed before.

for lunch my father made almond pastries and bought some market basket sandwich wraps. i replaced the rear wiper of the honda with a replacement that had arrived a few days ago. my father noticed that his macbook pro was making a strange noise and listening to it i recognized it as a hard drive click. as you recall, there are two drives inside that laptop, a 500GB SSD drive, and a 500GB platter drive. the platter drive might be close to dying, so i backed up all the files, which wasn't much, just 40GB, to the SSD drive. we now have to decide whether to replace the platter drive with another SSD drive, or put back the original DVD-ROM drive. we also bought a 150A watt meter ($8.55) and a dozen electrical barrier terminal blocks ($1.43) from ebay, for my father's ongoing DIY solar battery charging project.

as it was still raining outside, there was nothing to do but stay indoors, though i did go out into the backyard occasionally whenever there was a lull in the storm to survey emerging plants. our kwanzan has started to blossom, though at this point more leaves than flowers. the blooms look rather wrinkly, perhaps just an effect of having just emerged from flower buds, and will hopefully fill out in the coming days.

later in the afternoon i did some weeding, pulled out as much creeping bellflowers as i could, digging out their tubers whenever possible. it will be many more years before they're completely eradicated from the backyard.

while i was outside weeding my father was already making dinner. i came back inside when the weather changed and started to rain again. we ate early, finished before 6pm. getting a ride back to cambridge, i noticed so many flowering cherry trees i photographed over the past week have already lost most of their blossoms from the rain and especially the strong winds. sakura are ephemeral, and the lesson learned here is document them as quickly as possible, since a single passing storm can quickly reduce them to nothingness.

i came home with my honeywell enviracaire air purifier that i found on the street many years ago. it's so dusty in the house, i wanted some way to treat it. the thing i remember about the purifier is it turns the room a little cold because of the internal air circulating fans. it wasn't too bad and i set it on low so the noise was very minimal.

i actually watched the end of the red sox game against the tampa bay devil rays. i was surprised they had a taiwanese player on their roster, tzu-wei lin. beating the division leader puts boston in the second to last spot in the standing. i haven't watched baseball in a while, not since the playoffs, and even longer before that. despite being rather boring, baseball does have its moments. i look forward to seeing more games throughout the season. i'm also watching the basketball playoffs, celtics are just another victory away from advancing to the conference semi-finals.

with rain not expected to arrive until later tonight, i decided to bike into boston and visit haymarket again. i could also get a vietnamese sandwich from chinatown and check out some flowering cherries along the charles river on my way back.

instead of savory oatmeal, i opted for a prosciutto egg cheese english muffin sandwich with some coffee. i didn't have enough grounds, so i filled the aeropress with half regular and half decaf hazelnut coffee. even at half the dosage, i still felt a little edgy after breakfast. i didn't leave until 1pm though, as the coffee made me want to use the bathroom and i didn't leave until i was sure it cleared my system.

it was an unusually warm 77 degrees april spring day. it was downright balmy, with a touch of humidity. i wore a pullover shirt which i immediately took off once i realized just how warm it was outside. i took the cargo bike as i expected to bring back some haymarket produce.

once i arrived in boston, i decided to make a stop at the public garden to check out some of the flowering cherry trees there. there were a lot of people, a combination of school vacation week and marathon tourists still in town. most trees in the public garden aren't tagged so i could only guess what varieties they were. i also accidentally left my fuji 3D camera at home, though i wasn't sure, and was afraid i might've lost it in transit. that meant no 3D photos of the cherry blossoms.

the light pink flowering tree i first encountered was probably a sargent cherry AKA hill cherry, a large cold hardy and long-living cherry from the japanese northern region. the white/pale pink blossoms were most likely yoshino cherries, the way the flowers are arranged in puffy sleeves are very characteristic of this variety. the nearby pink flower variety i couldn't identity.

there were also a few flowering trees by the entrance facing commonwealth avenue, they also looked like flowering plums because the flowers seemed kind of purply and the leaves were also purplish red, but they were definitely cherries. and down commonwealth avenue were a boulevard of sidewalk magnolias.

i went to chinatown cutting across boston common towards emerson college. i was here just last friday, getting some produce at the lincoln street c-mart. this time i went down lagrange street to the vietnamese sandwich shop on washington. i got a barbecue beef sandwich for $4.75, my dinner.

from there i went down essex to atlantic avenue, following the greenway until i arrived at the north end to haymarket. i didn't buy much, a lot more oranges were on sale but i didn't see any of the blood oranges i got last week. i did buy 4 bags of gold nugget mandarin oranges again ($2/bag). i also bought 2 dragon fruits ($1/each) and a bundle of asparagus ($1).

from new chardon i arrived at cambridge street. instead of crossing the longfellow bridge, i made a detour across the new pedestrian overpass onto the esplanade and the charles river bike path. there was plenty of cherries in bloom, though none were kwanzan, which i now realize bloom the latest of the flowering cherries. many of the white blooms along the charles river lagoon i believe are probably yoshino cherries. i saw a few pinks, which i'm guessing could be autumnalis. i even saw a few flowering plums near the hatch shell, though these seems to be recently planted. as i made my way to cambridge along the bike path, i'd stop frequently to take photos of some cherries i didn't recognize. it was windy though and my bike toppled half a dozen times. i gave advice to a latina girl taking selfies, told her to stand in such a way that she could get both cherries and the hancock tower in her photo; i don't think she understood english.

at the tot lot near the mass ave bridge there was a grove of okame cherries. they bloomed early so now they're getting close to post-peak bloom, though their stems are reddish so even after the petals fall they still remain colorful until the leaves come out. though none of the trees i saw had tags, here was the first one that did. unfortunately the label was pretty much useless, "japanese flowering cherry, prunus serrulata" with no variety name. the esplanade association really need to up their tree game and tag their plants with useful labels.

beyond the mass ave bridge, across from boston university, were even more flowering cherries. here students were out enjoying the overcast but warm day, taking selfies underneath the cherries. here i saw my first kwanzans, spectacular pink canopies of blossoms. i also saw cherries i hadn't seen before, like a deep pink okamesque tree (long slender petals) and smaller white cherry flowers with either pale yellow or deep pink centers. some of these trees weren't in good shape, pruned haphazardly, but even those still flower in the spring.

i purposely crossed storrow drive via a pedestrian overpass. i biked through BU's campus, then crossed the BU bridge so i could be on the memorial drive side of the river, across from microcenter, on magazine beach, where a week ago i already saw some flowering kwanzans. there were more flowers, but they were at peak yet, as there were plenty of buds yet to blossom. i tried taking some photos but it was very windy and the kept on swaying in the wind.

i finally made it home after 4pm. as rain was in the forecast for tomorrow, i stashed my bike in the basement. when evening came i had my barbecued beef vietnamese sandwich. though good, the bread cut the roof of my mouth. next time i'm going to try the barbecued pork, which seems to be their specialty.

there's a 9 day supply gap between my valsartan and my thiazide/amlodipine prescriptions. since my health insurance won't pay for a 90-day supply (only 30-days), i need to visit the pharmacy a dozen times a year to pick up my high blood pressure medications. with the introduction of valsartan, i need to visit an additional 12 times. i am not going to rite aid twice a month just to pick up my drugs. so i'm going to bridge the gap by not taking my thiazide/amlodipine for 9 days, until i can renew and pick up all 3 prescriptions at the same time.

fortunately i have a surplus of thiazide, so the only medication i will go without is the amlodipine. i won't even have to go the full 9 days, i can renew in about a week. of course if my doctor knew what i was doing he'd go crazy. i will monitor my blood pressure next week, if it seems excessively elevated, i will go get my prescriptions immediately. but i'm hoping a week without amlodipine won't affect my BP too much. if anything, if my BP doesn't change, i may be able to ask my doctor if i can stop taking amlodipine all together. that was a drug i added back in china when i took my blood pressure reading and found it abnormally high.

savory chicken sausage oatmeal
(1 serving)

1/4 roasted garlic chicken smoked sausage kielbasa
3/4 cup instant oatmeal
2 cups hot water
1 tsp furikake
1/4 tsp white white pepper
1 tsp fried garlic
1 piece anchovy
1 tbsp black vinegar
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 stalk chopped scallion

grill chicken sausage then chop into pieces. instant oatmeal makes for a better texture. hot water makes for faster cook time. the anchovy is mixed with the oatmeal for an additional umami flavor. worcestershire sauce can be substituted for black vinegar.

i'm very proud of my savory breakfast oatmeal recipe. as far as i know, nobody makes it like i do. it's something i created entirely on my own, inspired by a delicious breakfast porridge i had at the khao yai national park in thailand a decade and a half ago. to create the deluxe version is actually fairly involved, combining 10 ingredients. some of it is a little hard to come by, and might require a visit to the local asian grocery store. things like furikake, white ground pepper, black vinegar and fried garlic. i've found instant oatmeal gives a better texture versus old fashioned rolled oats, which not only takes longer to cook, but still comes out a little hard on the palate. you can use any kind of precooked meat; normally i prefer the al fresco apple maple chicken sausage, but this time i tried the hilshire roasted garlic chicken smoked sausage kielbasa, which works just as well. the meat must be grilled; sometimes i cheat and cook it in the toaster oven but it doesn't taste the same. i use a 20+ year old george foreman grill to prepare the chicken sausage. another new thing i tried this time was adding a piece of anchovy. you could barely taste it in the finished oatmeal, but adds another layer of umami complexity.

i left my house at 1pm, but not before getting intercepted by renee for some forced free IT help with her computer. she didn't know how to navigate the OSX file directory structure and didn't know how to export her pages document into microsoft word so she could attach it to an e-mail.

i briefly went down to beacon street to take photos of the Prunus subhirtella 'Autumnalis' now blooming. it's nice to know that even though i don't have any flowering cherries in my own backyard, there are plenty of varieties around the neighborhood.

i finally made it to belmont by 1:45pm via fuji bike. it was another nice spring day, temperature in the 60's, with a breeze that still required a jacket, but felt much warmer in the afternoon sun. i spent the next 2 hours doing yardwork, mostly reducing the piles of maple branches. i filled two refuse bins, using a combination of anvil pruners, loppers, and pruning saw to cut the branches down to size. in between pruning i weeded some dandelions and creeping bellflowers and tilled the raised beds. the additional manure and peat moss i added to each raised bed made the soil especially fluffy. my seedlings will enjoy growing in this amended soil this season.

i left by 4pm, making a stop at the cafe. earlier i read the e-mail the 3rd party walmart vendor sent me, said that yes the batteries we ordered were sent to the wrong address, and normally it'd take a week to get the refund, but they were refunding me immediately. that wasn't what i wanted, i wanted them to send me the batteries regardless, even if i have to wait for the shipment to be returned and resent.

i found out that a neighbor at the start of my street has a pair of KV plums growing in his front yard. they're a good size, but like our backyard plum, there wasn't a lot of flowers, but still more than what we had. maybe this year none of the KV plums are making a lot of flowers for whatever reason.

when i got back home i wrote back the vendor, who to his credit replied right away. he said he'd be willing to send me the batteries free of charge, but unfortunately they were all out of stock. i wrote back saying that once my original order returned to the warehouse, that please resend it. my suspicion is they never intended us to receive the batteries, not at those prices, $5 for a pair when normally they'd be $90. instead of cancelling the order out right (and be labelled as false advertising), they "mistakenly" send the package to the wrong address, and when it doesn't arrive, just issue me the refund. i don't know what will happen, the original deal was too good to be true, but i'm willing to play e-mail tag a bit longer, so how this will resolve.

i went to star market briefly to pick up some cape cod potato chips on sale ($2/bag). i bumped into jeff while he was on his way to get some groceries as well.

i had a bowl of salad in the early evening before having half of the leftover pasta from yesterday. penne alla vodka doesn't taste so good as leftover, but i heated it over the stove, which beat the microwave at least. i wanted to throw in a piece of anchovy but ended up sprinkling some capers just to add some more flavor.

i called MGH gastroenterology department to schedule an appointment to check my liver. like the dermatologist, they were quite booked, and the earliest day i could get was at the end of may. afterwards i wrote another e-mail to united solar, my weekly ritual of asking them for a status update on our inverter replacement. they do good work, but getting them to actually commit and come out to do something is like pulling teeth.

i spent the morning fixing the front brakes on my cargo bike. the left brake pad had come loose because the thread holding the nut in place had been stripped. the brake pad had wobbled around and there was a deep gash where the pad made contact with the corner of the rim. i ended up having to replace both pads, as replacing one would create an imbalance. fortunately i had some slightly used pads so i didn't have to use new pads on the old rim. unfortunately the rim was in such terrible shape - danger of collapsing in on itself - that i wouldn't be able to ride the bike safely even after replacing the pads. i had to get a new wheel. so after changing out the pads, i put the cargo bike back in the basement.

that's when i got an idea: i could reuse the front wheel from the used mountain bike ed gave me. both were 26" wheels, the replacement wheel had a tiny dish to it, but not enough to rub up against the brake pads. so i brought the cargo bike back out, flipped it upside down, and swapped out the wheel. it would've been easy were it not for the fact that the tube in the replacement wheel was leaking. not a little leak, but a lot, enough that i could see it deflate immediately after i pumped it up. so i had to swap out the tire and the tube. i noticed that the replacement wheel's tube had been patched twice in the past but apparently wasn't enough to fix it. the tire/tube was easy to remove from the replacement wheel but nearly impossible to get off of the old wheel. plastic tire levers didn't work and i had to use my stainless steel ones, which damaged the edge of the tire a bit, but only cosmetic and nobody would see it once i installed it on the replacement wheel.

once the wheel was in place, i reattached the front brakes, readjusting the pads for this new wheel. the bike felt new again, with the kind of braking power i haven't experienced in a while. i just need to do a cabling overhaul at some point in the near future.

in the afternoon i rode the cargo bike to market basket (MB). haven't had good brakes for a while now, i found myself not trusting in the bike's ability to stop in time and out of habit just avoided using the brakes. it's been more than 2 weeks since i last went to MB. i left with $30 worth of groceries, much of that price was for a pound of prosciutto ($5.69) and a bottle of olive oil ($5.49). i decided earlier that i would make a penna alla vodka recipe for dinner.

i found myself stopping and checking out every flowering cherry tree that i came across. i saw the most interesting tree on the corner of properzi way and village street. i've known about the flowering trees that grow there for a while now. originally i thought they were crabapples based on the gnarly bark, but upon closer examination they were a type of prunus. not cherry though but something else: flowering plums. and not just any flowering plums: one tree in particular had been grafted so one branch bloomed dark pink blossoms while the other branch had light pink flowers. the trees seemed neglected next to the loading parking space of the metal stamping factory, but it got plenty of sun and for the time being at least it was putting on a show.

iptv via VLC: (i was up until almost 4am surfing international tv channels)