i was searching for mung bean sprouts this morning. my mother needed them to make pad thai. normally market basket sells them in their produce department but every once in a while, they run out, and only have soybean sprouts, which are different. usually when MB runs out, that means all the other local supermarkets don't have them either, including star market and whole foods (i know, from personal experience). there's a place in chinatown to buy them in bulk (a tofu manufacturer, actually), but mung bean sprouts don't keep very well and go bad quickly. i'd already gone to both star and MB yesterday, neither of which carried any. i went back to MB this morning in the hopes that they might've restocked their shelves, but i didn't have any luck. i then suddenly remembered the korean grocery store a few blocks away in union square, and decided to pay them a quick visit. to my surprise, they actually had mung bean sprouts in stock - maybe because they have a different supplier, since i've never seen the brand before. i bought a bag, went back to my place to gather my stuff, and went to the cafe to make a delivery before going to belmont to wait for dinner.

the rainy and overcast weather siege continues, and the next few days looks like there's going to be even more rain. this has been the gloomiest stretch of new england weather that i can recall. i keep on thinking we're due for some good weather but this stretch of bad weather continues with no end in sight. since today wasn't as rainy as yesterday (at least during the afternoon), i had a longer period to inspect the vegetables growing in the belmont garden.

the corn seem to be doing well, despite the lack of sunshine. i measured one of the tallest stalks today, about 19" tall (over 2 feet if i stretch out one of the leaves). i wonder if corn is somehow related to grass (and possibly bamboo), because they sort of look alike. with 13 plants and maybe 2 ears per stalk, we're looking at a haul of 2 dozen corncobs by season's end. seems like a lot of work to grow our own corn when this past weekend star market had a $2-for-10-ears-of-corn sale. still, it's a nice experiment if nothing else, we've never grown corn before. unlike the corn, the tomatoes seem to be stunted by the perpetually cloudy weather. they're all growing, but not as fast as in past seasons.

elsewhere in the garden - i saw this yesterday - my father has planted some sweet potatoes in the empty plot across from the old cherry tree (which we chopped down george washington style last year). sweet potatoes need a long growing season - 100 to 150 days - so we're not going to be harvesting any sweet potatoes this year. they also don't overwinter (sweet potatoes are native to the tropics) and will die once the ground freezes. my father is growing them in the hopes that at least we can get some leaves, which are edible (unlike regular potato leaves, which are poisonous). speaking of long growing seasons, the bottle gourds also require approximately 100 days to mature (the seedlings have just sprouted within this past week). that'll take us into november, but hopefully we won't get a killing frost until december.

from what i've been reading, gladiolus is a high-maintenance perennial. our new england winter will kill these plants so the corms need to be dug out before the ground freezes. in my opinion, any perennial that requires uprooting and winter storage isn't fit to be called a perennial. gladioli also require staking, otherwise they're tip over once they're top heavy with flowers. i'm curious to see how many gladiolus will actually germinate, since of the 32 i got, a few of them looked to be dead already. i counted 5 gladioli today.

caladiums are another high-maintenance bulbs. they too require winterizing indoors, at room temperature if possible (leaving them in an unheated garage will kill them). next year i plan on putting the caladiums in flower pots, which is the usually method people keep them in the northeast. i couldn't find any mention of caladiums in any of my gardening books (purchased in the 1990's), which makes me wonder whether this is a recently introduced perennial. i like the caladiums more than i do the gladioli; i respect any plant that can thrive in the shade (caladiums) and do it with such a flare for the theatrical. all 7 of my mixed assortment of caladiums have sprouted by the hostas and the ferns, and about half of the 14 mixed caladiums (john peed + white queen varieties) by the bamboo grove have sprouted as well. in fact, one of the sprouts has the hallmarks of a 'white queen' variety.

since my father's injury, my mother has been helping with his shift at the cafe. they came back home in the early evening and we had some barbecue: corn, buffalo wings, grilled shrimp, and french fries. somebody was talking about getting a new picnic table for the backyard, to replace the one that we used to have but broke apart after too many seasons of neglect. (later, after returning home, i realized instead of buying a picnic table, it wouldn't be very hard to build one from scratch, and i found a bunch of DIY plans online).

after dinner my father replaced the dressing on his burned hand (i found some good directions online). i was prepared to see a vomit-inducing wound as he unwrapped the bandage, but turned out it wasn't as bad as i'd imagined (i'd envisioned the bene gesserit pain box scene from the 1984 dune movie). nevertheless, it was still gross looking, with an area of missing skin, several large blisters, and a few dark spots where he just suffered 1st degree burns (graphic 2nd degree burn photo for those who can stomach it). his whole hand was also swollen, but he didn't seem to be in much pain. after rinsing the hand and letting it air dry, my father slathered on the antibacterial silver sulfadiazine cream with a sterilized butter knife (we cleaned it with alcohol before searing it with a lighter flame). my father is scheduled for a follow-up appointment with his doctor on tuesday.

it was raining when i left for cambridge. the constant seepage of rain into my mouth as i sped home felt like a mild form of water boarding. oh, the disadvantage of the open-faced helmet!