i went to bed at midnight so it wasn't a big surprise that i woke up around 8 this morning. after using the bathroom and taking a shower, i surfed the web a bit while eating a banana for breakfast before leaving the house around 9. i packed a lot of things on my bike, including the new wheel (carefully wrapped with towels to prevent any damage during transport) which i planned to install once i can remove the old freewheel.

everyone was still asleep except my mother, who started making breakfast (bacon, belgian waffles, blueberries). hailey heard me come in and came upstairs from the basement to greet me before disappearing again.

after we finished eating, my father helped me remove the freewheel using a socket big enough to fit the freewheel remover and a solid wrench (as opposed to a ratchet wrench). we also had a length of pipe that gave us a torquing advantage of several feet. earlier i installed a tire on the old wheel so we could get a better grip (the free kenda komfort tire which i managed to install without any tools). bracing ourselves for the massive opposing torquing forces required to release the freewheel, we were pleasantly surprised when the freewheel simply loosened without incident.

after i cleaned off the grease and dirt from the removed freewheel, it was a simple matter of threading it onto the threaded hub of the new wheel. i removed the spare mountain bike back wheel from my trek and installed the new wheel.

the new wheel doesn't wobble like the spare mountain bike wheel (that may just be a matter of a loose screw somewhere), which is excellent. unfortunately the rim isn't 100% true and rubbed against the brake pads during testing. i fixed the problem by widening the gap between the brakes but the result is diminished stopping power. i'll need to true the wheel at some point, which i'm not looking forward to doing because it's kind of difficult and i'm not quite sure i'm doing it right.

in the backyard garden, the garlic flowers are blooming. also last week i discovered cucumber beetles on my cucumbers and squashes; i thought they were 3-lined potato beetles until i went online and realized they weren't. cucumber beetles are actually pretty smart, going into evasive maneuvers when they sense danger, like hiding on the other side of the stem or leaf or simply flying away. i can tolerate some plant damage, but if they transmit bacterial wilt into the garden it'll mean the early demise of the cucumbers and possibly the squashes as well.

the new lilies we bought this season are also emerging. i sort of lost track of which is which, but all 6 of one variety has emerged, some with flower buds already. the remaining 6 is a different story. squirrels (or possibly rabbits) at one or two, so only 3 have emerged. they seem stunted, but the fact that they're still alive is a gardening miracle. also, many of the caladiums are now emerging. i planted 2 batches at different times, and for a while i thought they were all defective because i hardly saw any, but i think they were just waiting for the weather to get warmer, because now they're growing like crazy. finally, a single calendula plant has flowered, a single wild specimen from last season, with a few more dotting RB2 and RB3.

since today is one of the few days where my father is home for much of the day, i was pretty sure we'd be taking a trip to the victory garden. i was hoping he could see the place around noontime with the soothing shade provided by the black cherry tree, but the weather today was just a humid overcast with no sun.

we went in the afternoon, at the very least water the seeds, check for animal damages, and do some measurements. my father went to the victory garden by himself on thursday to construct a wooden platform sandwiched between the 2 diverging trunks of the tree. he also reinforced some of the raised bed walls with spare metal brackets he had lying around the house. he also said on his last visit he noticed one of the green pegs in the middle box had been uprooted but no visible signs of digging.

the first thing we noticed was many of the seeds we planted had sprouted. then we saw that there was definitely some animal activity in the middle box. once again the middle green peg had been uprooted, and one of the squash seedlings had been chewed up.

all the melon seeds seem to have germinated. likewise, most of the (4) cucumbers. the zucchinis have germinated as well, but the actual percentage is harder to gauge since some might've been eaten by chipmunks/rabbits. the 2 other types of squashes (cocozelle and acorn) have yet to sprout (which is surprising, since cocozelle is a fast early producer).

after some weeding, we took new measurements of the perimeter. the plot is glaringly unsymmetrical: 14'2" x 20'3" x 19'1" x 13'10". that means a perimeter that's 64 feet and 4 inches long, a number that will be useful if and when we decide to buy better fencing to keep out the critters. initially we figured it was chipmunks, but now i think it might be rabbits. our raised beds aren't particularly high - just 6" - compared to the 12" height of our backyard raised beds.

my father watered our new seedlings before we went home.

returning home, i ran into my roommate a few blocks away from the house. she had a blissfully unaware look on her face. i rang my bell a few times but that didn't get her attention. finally i called out to her and she finally saw me.

i'd borrowed my father's cordless drill to make some drainage holes in the wine cask planter. unfortunately i left the 1" drill bit back at my parents' place. figuring i'd get it tomorrow, i took a quick shower before LJ got back. when she didn't return, i figured she went to her favorite after school hangout - the supermarket. since there was still plenty of daylight, i changed into some pants and rode the motorcycle to belmont to retrieve the missing drill bit. i then came home to find LJ back in her room, gnawing on a long baguette.

the first hole took the longest to drill, only because the battery was dying and i didn't know it. once i switched out the battery, things went much quicker. still, the wine cask is about 1.5" thick, so it wasn't that easy to drill. i managed to get through 4 holes before the battery finally gave out on the 5th hole. it was getting late anyway (8:15) and i didn't want to be known as that noisy neighbor who uses his power tools in the evening. i'll finish that last hole tomorrow morning, do it quick before anyone realizes what's going on (and avoid being branded as the noisy neighbor who uses his power tools early sunday morning when everyone else is still asleep).