i went to the cambridgeside sears and the somerville home depot to pick up a few things; i returned from both place empty-handed, a total fail on both venues.

i did think about biking to the galleria mall, forgetting that i had access to a car. the only reason not to take the car was to avoid paying the $2 indoor garage parking fee, even just for a quick pickup. but i had to move the car anyway, to prevent getting ticketed for parking more than 24-hours on a visitor's permit. turns out driving seemed to be the wrong choice because of the all road repairs currently going on everywhere. i saw many bikers passing me along the way because i was stuck int traffic. when i finally got to the mall, i was hoping for some street parking, as unlikely as that seemed. but i got lucky, and saw several metered parking, even better since none of them required parallel parking. unbeknownst to me, the spot i picked still had 22 minutes left on the meter. i added another quarter just for insurance, for an additional 15 minutes.

my good luck would soon run out. upstairs at the merchandise pickup department, they couldn't find the socket i ordered. "it was just here the other day," one of the guy murmured, as he and his associate searched through all the bins. it was so ridiculous i didn't even get mad. of course they'd lose it. this was my 3rd trip. the first trip, i bought a socket that didn't work (needed to be 6 points, not 12 points). second trip was to return that first socket and pick up one that i ordered online, but what they gave me wasn't what i ordered, so i had to returned that and reorder the socket again. and now today, third trip, they couldn't even find the socket now. the guy made me sign something and gave me two $5-off coupons (expire in 2 months). he said he'd continue looking and call me when they found it. i took the news rather well and left. there was 10 minutes left on the meter.

from the galleria i went to the somerville home depot via bunker hill community college, up route 99, and then around the rutherford avenue rotary. i'd never gone this way before, but this was the fastest and closest way. driving on unfamiliar roads made me anxious, but good to try new things. i was at home depot before i knew it.

right when i arrived at the parking lot, sears merchandise pick-up department called me to let me know they'd found my socket. apparently it had gone downstairs to the hardware department for some reason. i had the option to have it shipped to me for free, but for some reason i didn't want to wait, and was afraid shipping it would give it another chance to get lost, so i opted to come pick it up tomorrow morning.

i first browsed the home depot outdoor garden department, taking inventory of the different lawn fertilizers and their prices. then i got a shopping cart and went to the lighting department. i should've known something was afoot when it took me a long time to find 4ft F32T8 bulbs in daylight deluxe. when i went to go look for the shop light i bought a few days ago, they were all sold out. what happened? my own personal theory is other people in the area are building indoor grow closets and bought out all the cheap shop lights and the corresponding bulbs of the wavelength for best growing.

i returned home briefly, got my things, and drove to the watertown home depot, where they had a better stock of shop lights.

with weather steadily warming, home improvement stores are pushing out their gardening supplies. right now is still a little early, which might explain why the potted vegetables and herbs were heavily discounted, since nobody can grow them outside yet. i picked up 3 healthy rosemaries for just $2/piece. they also had columbines for $7/pot. i'm pessimistic that any of my columbine seeds will germinate. all the online literature i read said columbine seeds were easy to grow, but that usually involves direct sowing in the fall beforehand. still, i have a lot of prennial delphiniums and lupines for this season, columbines will just have to wait until next year. i found the shop light i wanted, along with the corresponding T8 bulbs. i noticed they also sold 4ft F32T8 plant/aquarium bulbs, but they're $10 a piece (a pair of daylight deluxe cost the same). also the brightness rating for these special plant bulbs is only 1400 lumens, compared to the daylight deluxe which has rating of 2850 lumens (more than twice as bright).

i arrived in belmont, where my sister had already dropped off hailey. my original plan was to spend a day of afternoon gardening, but the weather was cloudy and the promise of warmth never came. i did empty 3 bags of premium topsoil in the smaller raised bed (the one that used to house all those mint plants before my father relocated the bed and threw them all out). after that the weather got raw enough that i went back inside.

i also checked on the progress of my father's orchids. one of them had started to flower, and the flower had opened up a bit, but not at maximum display yet.

i made some tea eggs, on the advice of my mother before she left. there was a dozen eggs in the refrigerator and i bought half a dozen more from my own house, for a total of 18. i also bought a box of tea egg flavor packets. using all that i learned from my last attempt at making tea eggs (last month), i put the eggs in a large pot submerged with cold water (barely covering) and a tbsp of sea salt (regular salt is okay, there was a limited supply at my parents' place however). i boiled them for 5-6 minutes before taking out the eggs, rinsing them in cold water, and cracking them. to the boiling water in the pot i added the flavor packets, a large tbsp of sichuan peppercorn, and 3 tbsp of salt. back into the pot went the cracked eggs, with a bit more water just to barely cover them up. i then let everything simmer for 3 hours, before turning off the heat and keeping the eggs marinating in the brine for the next 48 hours.

my sister came home in the late afternoon (4:30pm) to my surprise. i wasn't expecting her to be home until 10:00pm, where she was then supposed to take hailey back home and i could go back to my own place in cambridge. she asked me if i could dogsit hailey overnight. i was angry that she made this request so last minute. yes, i am dogsit overnight, but you have to tell me ahead of time. if i knew, i'd bring my blood pressure pills, and set some timers back at home. but it was just the way she said it, that if i wasn't able to do it, she would just drop off hailey at her friend's anna house. the first and only time she did that, hailey spent the night howling after being abandoned in a stranger's home without her owner. if that was her plan all along, then she wasted me time in asking me to dogsit her dog this afternoon when i could've been back at home. i finally agreed to do it, just because i was already here, but it was in protest, and more for hailey's sake than for my sister's, who is a terrible dog owner.

for dinner i cooked up some instant xi'an mutton paomo. it's an acquired taste, but one that i've totally acquired. it's a far cry from real paomo, but with xi'an more than 7000 miles away, it's better than nothing. later in the evening i was hungry again, and thought about test tasting one of the tea eggs, but i'm a stickler for proper marinating time, and won't eat one until it's finally done, in 2 days.