today i wrapped up my state taxes, finished my health insurance renewal form, and submitted annual dues for the belmont victory garden1. i was going to finish my 2nd aunt's taxes, but i needed to see her returns from last year2 and she was out today so my mother couldn't get ahold of her. i left my bicycle outside despite the early morning rain, hoping it'd clean off some of the salt. in the afternoon i biked down to the porter square post office to mail off these packets2 and get some stamps while i was at it (chinese new year forever stamps, year of the ram). i went to the nearby true value hardware store to look at their seed selection. i bought some perennials, columbines ("rock mountain blue", $1.89) and snapdragons3 ("magic carpet blend", $1.69). when i returned home i broke down some of the granulated snow pile on the sidewalk and shoveled some onto the street for faster melting. temperature today reached the low 50's with signs of melting everywhere. very soon winter will be behind us, quite literally, as the official start of spring begins in 3 more days.

i went ahead and planted a few other things today: 8 eggplants, 12 hot peppers (mixed), and 8 purple peppers. the purple peppers was from a dried pepper my parents had picked up from a botanical garden. there was just enough seeds to plant one per pot. i'm not sure how viable the seeds are, if they don't germinate in 2 weeks, i'll replant the pot with something else.

i also planted the columbines (10). i knew they were hardy perennials, but i didn't realize how much effort it takes to germinate them. first, the seeds are tiny. second, they require a period of cold stratification. i've done this before, when i grew some milkweeds from seeds. the problem was i don't have too much room in the fridge (although i could just refrigerate the seeds, not the soil). however, since it's still cold outside, i decided to leave the planted seeds outdoors, hoping the next few weeks of cold weather might convince them to germinate.

i finally allowed google to backup the photos on my phone onto google clouds. it still makes me a little nervous, because i can't quite tell what's being uploaded and what's private. i don't mind having a backup, but i don't want to share the photos. but one thing it does that i think is borderline magic is the ability to search my photos. i was confused at first, because i don't tag my photos with any keywords, but then i realized google is actually interpreting the photos! so say i take a photo of a bicycle, google recognizes it as such, and when i type "bicycle" it finds that photo! it's pretty amazing. i wish this sort of search was built into a photo cataloging app.

in the early evening the sky suddenly darkened, the winds picked up, and there were a few quick bouts of tiny hailstones. it was pretty cool but some afterwards the sky cleared up again. supposedly temperature tonight will fall back into the 20's.

i made some tuna fish sandwiches for dinner. it's okay, but on cold days i want something hot to eat. to heck with dieting, maybe some white cheddar shells tomorrow night! i watched the series premiere of izombie. i'm familiar with the comic the show's based on. i'm not sure i would've cast rose mciver in the female lead, but she's serviceable in that cookie cut CW sort of way. the episode had me intrigued though, i'll definitely watch again next week.

1 annual dues for the belmont victory garden has gone up to $65 this season. in past years it was $50, which is still expensive, compared to just the $15 i pay for my cambridge community garden plot. and not all plot are the same size or quality; some legacy plots are big enough you could potentially build a house on. we ourselves have one of the smallest plots, with a tree growing in the center no less. belmont victory garden also has more rules than the cambridge community garden, things like mandatory work days, and garden/fence upkeep. we're thinking about cutting down 2 diseases fruit trees in my parents' backyard; if this gives us more sunshine and a better garden, it might not be worth it to continue at the belmont victory garden next year.

2 normally i do her taxes, but last year i was still in china, so she got somebody else to do them for her. that's why i don't have electronic copies of her 2013 returns. i only really need them so i can get some verification information so i can file her federal taxes electronically.

3 $2.50 for the mass state taxes, which was a thick package (3.2 oz); it comes with free tracking. the health insurance form was standard, just 70¢ (a single pretty spangled fritillary stamp).

4 advertised as an annual, but in my experience it grows as a perennial, or maybe it self-seeds well enough that it keeps coming back. i was surprised to find snapdragons in my parents' garden when i returned from china last fall even though there was no one to replant them. and even when the weather turned cold in early winter (before it started snowing), the snapdragons seemed to be doing fine despite the freezing temperatures. maybe they will come back again, but they're pretty enough that i wouldn't mind growing more.