i went to nearest lowe's home improvement store in saugus to see what i could redeem with the $50 gift certificate my aunt gave me for my birthday. i knew i wanted to get a new pair of pruning shearers, to replace the crappy one i currently have that's already fallen apart. although only 8.3 miles away, it takes out half an hour to ride there, through thickly settled commercial streets. it's too far to get to by bicycle, so i've been waiting months for the weather to warm up so i could motorcycle there. where i live, home depot seems to have a monopoly (somerville, watertown, everett). to get to a lowe's i have to venture further out.

i used to think lowe's was better than home depot in terms of selections, but now i think otherwise. their garden department was kind of sparse, and they didn't have any bulbs. the prices on stainless steel nuts and screws are higher than at home depot. a lot of similar items, just different brands. i'm also not familiar with the layout of the store, which made it frustrating to find things. the only thing they have that i can't find at home depot are a line of cabot wood stains (including australian timber oil). i couldn't find any lambswool stain applicator, and i couldn't find any L-brackets (because they happened to be rearranging that one particular aisle).

i ended up getting a pair of fiskars bypass hand pruner (model 8109, $15.98), which is more expensive than your typical hand pruner, but it's the version with ultra blade technology (stays 5x sharper!), and actually cheaper than what i could find online (amazon sells it for $17.24). i was hoping to completely use up the gift card, but instead of buying something i don't need, i'll wait for another occasion to come back (i might get a coil of 60"x50ft wire fencing next time, for the victory garden, where we're still using the cheap plastic fencing).

it'd been 8 days that my kombucha tea has been fermenting and it was time to take out the scoby. i tasted a spoonful, tart but still a little bland, but hopefully a few days of oxygen-free carbonation fermentation will add some more kick to the tea. i took out the scobies, which now number 3: the original mother, the baby that formed at my parents' place, and the latest baby that formed here.

using the 2nd fermenting jar as a measuring cup, i emptied about 2 jar worth of water (2 gallons) into my stock pot and began brewing the next batch of sweet tea. i was doubling the portions because this time i'd be fermenting 2 jars: one jar to drink, the other jar as a scoby hotel to hold my extra scobies.

i took out the scobies and put them in a porcelain bowl so i could separate them. the topmost scoby actually did have a hole in the middle from the bottom scoby poking out from the tea, something i couldn't see when they were all in the jar. while i was at it, i also removed the folding lids from the gallon jars, since i don't need them for the fermentation, and without the lids make the jars easier to work with.

i managed to collect about 4 jars of kombucha tea (using a funnel and carefully pouring in the sink): 3 32 oz. (quart size AKA 4 cups) ball mason jars, 1 24 oz. atlas mason jar (pasta jar), and some left over to drink. all the jostling was creating tiny carbonation bubbles in the tea. i emptied one of the quart jars into the scoby bowl, to keep it submerged until it came time to put them into the fermenting jars. the leftover kombucha tea came from the bottom, and because of that it was very sweet. that means there was still plenty of sugar in the tea to continue the fermentation, and in the future i should swirl the tea a little bit before pouring out just to mix everything together.

it took a long time for the sweet tea to cool down to room temperature. i brewed the tea around 7:30, and by 10:30 it was still 99°F, too hot for the scobies. i decided to transfer the sweet tea from the stock pot into the gallon jars, hoping that might speed up the cooling. finally around midnight the tea was cool enough.

i added the newest scoby into the jar that will be making kombucha for drinking; into the other jar i added the other 2 scobies and this jar will be the scoby hotel to keep extra kombucha culture. i'm essentially running 2 kombucha fermentation, and after a week both jars will have drinking tea, but i don't intend to drink from the scoby hotel, and over time, the tea will turn sour enough that it won't be drinkable anymore (just enough nutrients to keep the scobies alive).

with my usual parking spots taken, i ended up parking my motorcycle in front of my house. the reason i don't like doing that is because with all the incessant parallel parking that goes on, somebody is bound to ding my bike, especially when they can't gauge how much space is available. anyway, heavy rain is supposed to arrive late at night, so i decided to cover up the motorcycle and temporarily store my bicycle in the basement.

walking through the backyard, that's when i noticed somebody had been landscaping, if you can call ripping out all the perennial plants along the edge of the garden landscaping. gone where wood poppies, solomon's seals, astilbes, rue anemones, sensitive ferns, and a few other plants i don't know the names of. in its place, some ferns and a clutch of impatiens. in a trash barrel were all my favorite perennials. it was too dark to do anything about it, but i pulled everything out from the trash and hurried back inside to write any angry e-mail to my upstairs neighbors.

turns out this was paul's handiwork. he was pretty defensive to the point of being sarcastic, "sorry i screwed up, i thought i was doing us a favor, you're welcome." he pulled out the wood poppies thinking they were invasive celandines, and got rid of the rest because they looked like a mess. but that's the thing with perennial gardens: very low maintenance, and different flowers keep on popping up. or at least they used to, before paul pulled them all out. hopefully i can replant most of them, but this should've never happened in the first place if paul would leave the gardening to somebody who knows what he's doing.

for lunch i had an egg and bacon english muffin sandwich, while dinner came in the form of a tuna fish sandwich (with the leftover canned tuna i had in the fridge). i've been watching sin nombre (2009) throughout the day in bits and pieces. i haven't finished yet but it's a great film, about central americans crossing the border into the US as well as the mara salvatrucha (MS-13) gang life.