with the threat of spot showers (it'd rained for much of the morning), i went down to the cafe before 1pm for a solar energy consultation with jonathan of direct energy solar. jonathan contacted me earlier and said he'd be running a little late due to traffic. my father and i were familiar with the basics and jonathan himself had spent an hour with me on the phone a few weeks ago talking about it. i was expecting a younger man instead of the 50 year old who showed up, but it's nice to have somebody with more experience.

jonathan surprised us when he told us he'd been to china before, sourcing out solar panel equipment. later he revealed he'd also been to taiwan too, where he spent his graduate school days there learning chinese, and married a woman from shanghai. today he was here to just answer some more questions we had. how will the conduit run? will the panels be angled? how exactly does the SREC program work? what is the $500 critter protection? we ended up chatting for 2 hours and jonathan didn't leave until after 3pm. next step is to get an engineer to come to the house and take some measurements. my father is really pushing for 27-30 panels, when the original specs was just for 16 panels which we later raised to 23. i think he wants to be able to claim to have the most number of panels in the neighborhood (though a 30 panel system would push the cost to $40k).

i biked back home, making a stop at the community garden to inspect my plants. along the way i picked up a pair of earphones on linnaean street.

the gazania still hasn't blossomed yet, even though it's been more than a week since i first spotted that solitary flowerbud. in that time it's not only grown wider but taller as well, so i'm hoping to see something spectacular. as promised, anne marie replaced the broken hose with one just like it. these expanding hoses are a great space saver but they're very delicate and break easily.

elsewhere, in other parts of the garden as well as my own backyard:

the earphones i found were AKG brand, which i've never heard of before. they seemed to be well made, with a reinforced braided cable. they were on the side of the road but must've just fallen out as they weren't crushed yet. though they weren't particularly dirty, i took some cotton balls and swabs and cleaned out the earbuds with alcohol anyway. later i did some online research and discovered that these earphones come packaged with the samsung galaxy S8 (it even says samsung on the plug, as i found out later). i tried them out and they're pretty good. they fit well and sound very clear.

while casually looking at my houseplants, i noticed that the prayer plant actually produced a single flower. i didn't even know prayer plants had flowers. excitedly, i grabbed my camera equipment (including tripod and flash) and went about documenting it. the tiny slightly violet flower has an orchid-like structure on a very long stalk. the flower was pressed up against the glass window of the french door, and i think it affected its growth because the side against the window was slightly underdeveloped.

ricotta spinach pie with ham(6 slices)

pie crust ($2.99/pair)
flour (coating dish)
onion, chopped (67¢)
10 oz. frozen spinach (89¢)
fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional)
15 oz. ricotta cheese ($1.89)
8 oz. mozzarella ($1.99)
3 oz. parmesan (6 oz. $1.99)
blue cheese (optional)
8oz. diced ham (16 oz. $3.69)
3 eggs

GC came home at 7pm, right when i was about to get started on the quiche (last made april 2017). he seemed like he was about to make dinner until i told him there would be enough spinach cheese pie for the both of us. even then he didn't understand what i was saying, and was waiting for me to finish with the kitchen so he could cook, until he finally caught on that the quiche was filling enough on its own to be his dinner.

i did some math and figured out the ingredient cost of making a ricotta spinach pie with ham comes out to around $9.78 ($1.63 a slice), not counting the 3 eggs or small additional ingredients (flour, ground pepper, nutmeg). without the ham the ricotta spinach pie is $7.94.

GC, though in his early 30's, has led a pretty sheltered life. being an astrophysicist usually means leading a cosmopolitan lifestyle, traveling to a lot of cities all over the world to attend conferences. but for GC the only conferences he's attended were all in china. in fact, the only two countries he's ever visited is china and the US. and even in china, he hasn't been to many places, just a few of the larger east coast cities (beijing, shanghai) and even while there he never went on any sightseeing trips. anyway, keeping this in mind, i introduced him to cheeses, as he was completely unfamiliar with all of our common cheeses. i let him taste test the ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, and some blue cheese. he thought the ricotta was kind of like flavorless ice cream, he recognized the mozzarella as stringy pizza cheese, and that the blue cheese was like chinese fermented tofu. i showed him the steps and hopefully he takes this knowledge back with him to alabama and cook some spinach cheese pies himself.

the pie baked for 40 minutes in the oven while we waited in the living room watching the last episodes of PBS's china documentary. the pie was finally done at 8:30pm, we both had 2 slices. i think he liked it, very savory, very filling. after the documentary was over we watched 2 more episodes of breaking bad.