there was a steady rain for pretty much the entire day, a sure sign that spring is almost here. unable/unwilling to bike in this wet weather, i walked down to harvard square to take the bus into belmont, making a point to purposely perambulate through puddles with my protective rubber boots. there was a taiwanese protest over china's ubiquitous missile threats towards the island nation. i spoke with one of the guys in mandarin, asking him what was up. he replied back in taiwanese, until i told him i didn't understand. he then answered in broken mandarin mixed with english. he said he's from taipei, i told him i was too. he told me he'd been in boston a long time, about 50 years. i told him i've been here 35 years, he said that was long time too. before i left, i got one of his protest friends to give me a taiwanese bookmark (with a photo of kaohsiung's glass ceiling subway station).

inside the station i saw some smartly dressed asians. my guess is they were koreans on their way to church in boston (on a saturday though?). the 73 took a long time to arrive. supposedly there was one every 15 minutes, but i waited there 25 minutes. a large vocal black man with a pitbull kept muttering his disbelief, as he'd been waiting there even longer (close to an hour). even though his dog was pretty docile, it still kept people unease as i watched them give the canine a wide berth. a haggard townie lady eating a chocolate donut while eyeballing the pitbull asked, "can your dog eat chocolate?" "no chocolate," the man replied, "he doesn't eat stuff. you shouldn't either. that's all processed." when the bus finally arrived, it was crowded once everyone got onboard. the man took up 3 seats: one for himself, two for dog. his dog almost fell to the ground once the bus started rolling because it was standing on the seats, before it laid down. "does anyone know how long it takes to get to waverley square?" he asked to no one in particular. an older man started chatting with him. apparently the black guy was an animal trainer, taking this service dog to the mclean hospital. the old man said the 71/73 buses weren't running as electrical trolleys because of construction in watertown.

i helped my father replace the light switch in the dining room with a dimmer switch he bought yesterday from home depot. originally the dining room did have a dimmer switch, but when we made the switch to compact fluorescent, a dimmer switch didn't work anymore. now many years later, we replaced the ceiling-mounted flood light with an LED bulb. the light is actually too bright, but since the bulb is dimmable, we're returning to a dimmer switch. dimmer switches are expensive, at $25 a pop. not sure why that is, maybe these new fancy varieties built for LED lights have sophisticated circuitry on the inside.

i also brought to belmont the 1-1/32in. shower socket wrench that finally arrived. when we went to go try it out in the shower however, we discovered that the 1-1/32in. size is actually too big, and could potentially strip the nut. so we had no choice but to buy a 1 in. long socket for a normal wrench to pull out the cartridge. we took a quick trip to the watertown home depot, where i also got a chance to look at seeds. what i really wanted were snapdragon seeds, but i didn't see any. the burpee seed selection this year seems to be lacking. i also didn't see any korean melon seeds. i ended up getting a packet of zinnias (fruit smoothie mix).

with the 1 in. socket in hand, it was a simple matter of removing the shower cartridge. the cartridge itself didn't seem to be in too bad a shape, considering we've never removed it in the 30+ years my parents have had this house. the only thing that needed replacing was the deteriorated washer. at first it didn't seem like the washers we had would fit, but with a little elbow grease we managed to squeeze a washer into the cup. once the cartridge was reassembled back onto the wall, it worked flawlessly. no more having to really turn the knob tight to make sure it doesn't leak. later when my father tried to remove the other cartridge, he discovered a problem: at one point somebody tried to remove it with the wrong sized socket wrench, and it stripped the nut. my father said he could probably remove the cartridge without any problems, but putting it back was a different matter. so we ended up buying a brand new cartridge kit online for $60, waiting for those parts to arrive next week before we can completely fix the tub/shower.

once i got a ride back to cambridge, i began to plant some seeds: 20 delphiniums, 20 lupines, and 10 each of sweet basil and thai basil. originally it was supposed to be 12 pots to a tray, but i wanted to maximize the number of plants so i increased it to the absolute maximum of 20 pots per tray. afterwards i covered them with plastic wrap and put them into the grow closet, lights off because they don't need light to germinate. lupines take 18-21 days to emerge, while delphiniums take even longer, 21-28 days. i've had moderately success raising delphiniums from seeds, but lupines are new to me. as for basils, they emerge in 7-14 days. i always have good success rates with basils, and usually only added 2 seeds per pot, since all the seeds germinate. i was however using an old packet of basil, so i hedged my bets and added 3-4 seeds per pot, just in case.

i will plant peppers and eggplants within the next few days, followed by tomatoes and cucamelons at a later date (end of the month, or possibly the beginning of april). i'm afraid if i start tomatoes now, the ground will still be too cold by the time i'm ready to transplant.