all i had to do today was to get myself to belmont for a 4th of july barbecue. now that my parents have a brand new picnic table, they can once more hold backyard family events. on the guest list were my aunt lili and uncle matthew, my 2nd aunt and her husband, and my godmother. i was going to bicycle there, but with the start of the heat wave, i decided to motorcycle instead, so i wouldn't arrive entirely sweat-soaked. the barbecue wasn't until 5:00, so there was still plenty of time to clean the house (despite the fact that we'd be outside most of the time) and for my sister to get on everyone involved in her drama (something about making a few dishes but creating a mess in the kitchen).

on my now what seems to be a daily survey of the garden, i came across a few invaders. first was the hairy white caterpillar crawling on the nasturtiums. something that hairy made me immediately think it'd be poisonous, so i used a stick to tap it into a plastic cup. it was a fat caterpillar, so i inspected the nearby leaves for damages but couldn't see anything. my father did say a week ago that he saw caterpillar droppings. after some research, i found out it was a yellow woolly bear (Spilosoma virginica). as a whole i have no beef with woolly bears, and despite the fact that their indiscriminate feeders, normally they just dine innocuously on lawn clovers. i ended up releasing the caterpillar in a safe area of the yard.

next came my gardening coup: the capture of the squash vine borer. it's like the garden equivalent of apprehending osama bin laden. just by chance i saw it flying about the vines, landing to deposit eggs. i grabbed another plastic cup (they seem to be everywhere in the backyard, although i did have to dump out all the stones inside) and hurried attempted to swat the moth into the container. it was dodgy, but probably wasn't expecting to be imprisoned, and i finally managed to detain it. my only hope is that this is the only SVB visiting the garden and i managed to end the danger (at least until any undiscovered eggs hatch and start attacking the vines).

having said that, the boring has already begun. i found my first squash vine borer worm inside the petiole of a squash leaf. reports of borers attacking the base of the squash stems don't seem to match my observations (although to be fair not all the eggs have hatched yet). i've found eggs everywhere but the base, and they don't seem to be too picky as to where they tunnel into the stems. i first noticed the leaf, which was yellow (although not droopy). further inspection revealed a hole on the stem. after snipping off the leaf, i sliced open the stem to reveal a small worm inside.

our backyard barbecue coincided with a massive play date of our next door neighbors. their own two children were part of a party of kids numbering close to a dozen, laughing and screaming in their backyard until it got dark, in the unrelenting way little boys and girls play. the parents refereed from the deck, occasionally issuing new orders.

hailey for the most part was accepting of the influx of relative strangers. she'd seen lili and matthew a few times before, but she did bark at my 2nd aunt and uncle. my godmother though, hailey was absolutely suspicious. something about her hat, or her white hair, but she'd bark and growl when my godmother went anywhere.

despite the july heat, it was actually pretty cool under the shade of the backyard maple tree with the slight breeze. in fact, it was more comfortable outside than it was inside. we stayed outside well past sunset, lighting citronella candles to chase off the mosquitoes. i put a headlamp around hailey's neck so we could spot the black dog in the night. my 2nd aunt and uncle were the first to leave, my father driving them back to cambridge. next was my godmother, followed by matthew and lili.

i stayed long enough to catch a bit of the boston firework boston on HDTV. the digital clarity wasn't anything noteworthy; fireworks demand to be experienced live in person. return home, i caught the tail end of the light show from the summit of concord avenue near the harvard-smithsonian astronomy center, large colorful explosions on the horizon.