if it weren't for the fact that i was busy preparing for the pride parade, i would've mailed out my broken canon camera and lens saturday morning. but i woke up early (8am) this monday to finally ship it out after i packaged everything up last night in a small box padded with bubble wrap. i got the monotone bearded clerk at the porter square post office. though he's high on efficiency, he's low on people skills, and i wonder now if he's on the spectrum. he always says the same thing, like from a script, and says them so fast it's sometimes hard to understand. the shipping itself wasn't too expensive (for a 3-1/2 lbs. box), just $11.10 for 2-day delivery to canon factory service center in virginia. however, i added $780 worth of insurance (which was the price i found for a used 60D and a used EF-S 18-200mm lens) which cost $12.05, for a total of $23.15. afterwards i biked home, passing by the torrent of commuting cyclists and pedestrians.

i went to the community garden to water my plants since i neglected them over the weekend and it was very hot and dry. since i just set everything up on thursday, i'm still in that honeymoon phase of a new garden where i'm very diligent about plant care; ask me again in august when i'm more negligent. i'm never in the garden that early and the morning sun was just starting to hit my plot. i'm happy to report that all my plants look fine and healthy, no critter damage, no wilting. the showcase tomato and eggplant in their individual grow bags seem to be doing the best. with the rain scheduled for later tonight, i actually could've skipped watering today. i watered EJ's plot as well, i mistakenly watered it all last week, only to discover that they're actually on vacation this week. in the back of the garden are a collection of surplus plants; i managed to haul away a large pot of lily-of-the-valleys and a zucchini seedling. because i was riding my fuji bike, there was no place to put the places, so i balanced everything on my handlebar and carefully pushed the bike home instead.

i didn't think annie was home but when i left the house earlier i saw that her shoes were still in the foyer and when i got back i noticed her thermos was on the kitchen counter. her bedroom door was opened but that didn't mean she was gone, because the same thing happened saturday morning and she was still home. i didn't want to pry, but i finally took a quick peek in her room and she was definitely not here. but who knows if she only stepped out briefly, and i kept thinking maybe she went out for a run and might come back. so far since she's been here she's been pretty good about her schedule, leaving very early and returning somewhat late.

after using the bathroom and taking a shower, there was nothing left to do but go to belmont were my parents were planning another supply run. i left by 9:50am, arrived 10:10am. i took the bicycle because i checked the weather and they said the rain might start as early as 6pm. i covered up the motorcycle before i left.

i brought the zucchini seedling which i planted as soon as i arrived in belmont. the seedling gives me a few weeks head start on our squash growing season. i put it in RB3, digging out the zucchini seeds i planted just yesterday and moved them to the western side of the house where there was a sunny open spot between the lilacs and the raspberries. it was the former home of a small dahlia tuber, not even sure if it'll survive; i ended up relocating the tuber to the other side of the lilacs, between the rose bushes (unfortunately it was very rooty, not a good spot for the dahlia). i also checked on my lotus seedlings, one of them was already poking out of the jar. my father told me that the power strip wasn't turned on last night, so the water heater wasn't working, and the temperature in the sunroom probably dropped to 60°F.

my mother made my some chicken noodles but just when i was about to eat, we heard the doorbell. a repairman was standing outside, i thought he must've gone to the wrong house, but when he told me he was here from the water department, i suddenly remembered the 10:30am appointment i made last week to replace the water meter. it didn't take long, about 15 minutes, made easier because our pipes were working and the main shutoff valve shutoff as intended. he said he just came from a house that didn't have a working shutoff so he couldn't replace the meter. the old meter worked via radio signal, and the water department had to drive around the neighborhood to collect the data. these new meters can send their data to a collection site, sparing the need for manual remote visits. the old meter operated on a battery that was designed to last 20 years and they're currently approaching their end-of-life date. these new meters also have a battery, but a fancy lithium ion that will last just as long. the new meter will also allow belmont water department to bill monthly instead of quarterly like they do now.

after the meter man left i was finally able to eat my noodles. as soon as i finished, we headed out on the supply run by 11am. we'd be hitting harbor freight and the medford OSJL first, before heading to the everett gateway center to visit michael's, bath & body works, and finally costco.

at harbor freight my father wanted to buy a new pressure washer, after unsuccessfully trying to unplug the spray nozzle of our broken washer. the washer itself was still relatively new, purchased from harbor freight back in spring 2017 (we even got a price adjustment a few days later, from $100 to just $80), so there was no good reason why it should break. what we were missing was a special wire tool used for poking through the nozzle hole. he tried with various gauges of wires but they were all too soft. finally he decided to just buy a new one, used the provided tool to unclog the old nozzle, and if everything works out, he'd give the new washer to matthew. that was the plan anyway, but when we arrived at the store we discovered they were all sold out of washers because there was a sale this past weekend. the last box went out this morning. so instead we each used a 20% off coupon to get some small parts: my father got some wire leads, i got some wire brushes.

we met my mother at OSJL, where we got another shepherd hook ($11) for creating a makeshift outdoor clothes dryer and a large plastic whiskey barrel ($20) to supplement the one we already have. we were at michael's so my mother could use some 55% off ac moore coupons to score some yarn. i saw some LED neon ornaments on sale that looked really cool, didn't even realize these things existed. now i'm thinking about making my own LED neon signs.

the store i was most looking forward to visiting was bath & body works with their semi-annual sale. i was hoping to stock up on foaming hand soaps but found out that all the good soaps were still $5+, while the unwanted scents were the ones that were $3. my mother still bought $30 worth of soaps while i left empty-handed, biding my time for an even bigger sale (perhaps black friday, i'm a patient person). at costco1 my parents got a few supplies, with my mother getting a few supplements on sale, including megared krill oil, align daily probiotic, and trunature CoQ10. after paying, we got some food at the costco cafeteria before finally leaving.

we went to the cafe to drop off the supplies. my father showed my 2nd aunt how to use the new kyocera S1370 phone for my 2nd uncle. afterwards we returned to belmont.

the first thing my father and i was to grab a bucket and a shovel and go across the street to dig up some clay soil from the neighbor's dirt hill. we started off digging indiscriminately, but that was before my father identified large clumps of tan rocks to be lumps of clay. instead of digging, we simply picked up the dried lumps and put them in the bucket. i hauled the heavy load back across the street into our backyard, perhaps pulling my back in the process.

we put a lump of clay in a plastic basin and wet it down to turn it into clay mud. my father used a steel tamper to break apart the dried clay bits. there were some rocks, some plant roots, some actual soil, but for the most part it was pure clay. we got it to the consistency of lumpy diarrhea before scooping the wet clay into our pots. earlier we taped up the few drainage holes so the clay won't run out and future lotus rhizomes won't try to burrow out of the pots. i thought it was still too lumpy, but my father said the clay would turn soft once it absorbs enough water. my father wanted to put some gravel rocks on top to keep the clay from leeching into the larger water container, but the proper medium was sand, so i volunteered to drive down to home depot and grab a bag.

it was around 4:30pm, beginning the start of peak rush hour, but i made it to and back in pretty good time, about 20 minutes. i got a bag of natural play sand for $5. even though it looked like a small bag, it was actually pretty heavy. returning to the backyard, i put in 1/3 sand for every 2/3 clay. the sand had the consistency of soft brown sugar and it made me hungry scooping the sand into the clay-filled pots. my father had earlier filled 3 pots with clay, though we only needed 2 for the time being because we only have 2 seedlings big enough for planting.

i submerged the sand-clay pots in the large plastic whiskey barrel filled with water that i set out this morning (so it could warm up in the sun and then treated with mosquito bits microbial insecticide and amquel plus2 chlorine remover). we actually switched out whiskey barrels when we discovered that the one we just bought from OSJL is wider, and would fit 6 smaller pots instead of just 3 of the older barrel. once underwater, there was a little bit of clay cloud but the sand kept the clay together and the water cleared up seconds later. i planted the two lotus seedlings, pushing the seeds about a centimeter into the soft sand. it was actually kind of exciting seeing the tips of the lotus stems poking out of the water, ready to open up their first coin leaves. this is my first foray in the exciting world of aquatic gardening!

later my father and i went back to our neighbor's backyard to collect some more dried clay nuggets. sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between a piece of clay and a piece of rock; but the clay can be crumbled into smaller bits, while the rock is just a rock. this is actually very good clay and if we filtered out the impurities, it'd be good enough to make pottery with. i suddenly have flashback of elementary art classes where we made ugly mugs and ashtrays out of clay.

while i was busy in the back planting my lotus seedlings, my father was out front trying to fix the pressure washer. using a thin piece of wire, he managed to work its way through the nozzle to unclog it. he tried a few times, whatever the obstruction was kept coming back. eventually he got it work and ended up washing the cars while he was at it. later when i tried the power washer it clogged up again. when my father finally removed the obstruction one last time, he said he noticed a considerable pressure increase, and chances are it'd been partially blocked for a while and we never noticed because it was still working.

after dinner i returned home. reports of the rainstorm beginning around 6pm was grossly inaccurate: the latest forecast said rain not until later in the evening, after 10pm or later. it was still bright enough outside that i didn't turn on my wheel lights even though i just charged up the batteries today. i was transporting back the remaining lotus seeds that haven't germinated yet, figured i had more time to take better care of them than my father (like daily water changes and adding dechlorination drops). i poured out half the water and put the jar on even though i knew it wasn't airtight, the key was keeping the jar upright. by the time i arrived home i felt drops of water on the back of my ankles. that can't be good. turns out there was too much sloshing and most of the water had spilled out, soaking the bottom of my backpack. fortunately my laptop and camera were okay. i stashed the bike in the basement to keep it out of the eventual rain.

annie was already home, studying in her room with the door open. i took the chance to ask her about the rent, that she could give me a check if she wanted instead of cash, which is usually how i take my payment. she said she went to the bank this past weekend and discovered there wasn't enough money. she's since wired a transfer from her parents, but it'll take a few days before it goes through, so she asked if she could pay me this weekend. i said sure, but by this saturday she will have stayed here for more than half the month without paying her rent. i'll ask if she could pay everything in a lump sum if she can, so i won't have to nag her about it come july and august.

today was sunny and hot but also cloudy, though the wispy transparent kind and not the puffy eclipsing kind. under these conditions we managed to make 48.98kWh, the first time since friday where we didn't break 50kWh. i'm not expecting any record production tomorrow, with rain scheduled for much of the day.

my rotary switches arrived in the mail today. not sure what i was expecting, but i didn't imagine them to be this long, since i usually just see the knob dials, and not all the components that go behind it.

there was an exciting red sox game against the texas rangers that went into extra innings. boston was only up 2-0 for much of the game. in the 6th inning texas scored, cutting the lead by half. red sox still had the lead going into the 9th, but the rangers scored 2 runs, making the score 3-2. but boston managed to score 1 run of their own at the bottom of the 9th, taking the game into extra innings. it was a game boston should've won, and they had plenty of chances, but ended up stranding a handful of men. the rangers managed to score in the 11th and that's all they needed to finally win the game, 4-3.

after the red sox game, i switched over to ABC to watch game 5 of the NBA finals between golden state warriors and toronto raptors. i was rooting for the raptors, nothing would make me happier than seeing the warriors lose. the series was at 3-1 with toronto in the lead, a win tonight would make them champions. when i first saw the score it looked like golden state would win with a lead of about 15 points. but then toronto came back to take the lead with just a few minutes remaining in the 4th quarter. it was so exciting i got goosebumps. i've never really seen the raptors play this season, kawhi leonard was a force of nature, the man seemed unstoppable. but there was simply too much time on the clock, and most of these raptors were young and didn't have much finals experience, and i think all that waiting around during a time out got to them, and after that they became cold, while the warriors showed everyone why they're still the defending champs, and are a fearsome team even without kevin durant, who apparently came back to play tonight but then reinjured himself. golden state warriors ended up winning, the series return to california for game 6 on thursday.

tonight i finally learned the difference between lotus and water lilies. lotuses used to be classified in the same family as water lilies (nymphaeaceae) but now they have their own separate unique family. lotus leaves and flowers actually grow in the air from stalks, while hardy waterlilies have both leaves and flowers floating on the water surface. tropical waterlilies is a bit of both, leaves float on the water but the flowers grow on airborne stalks. tropical waterlilies also have the most colors, including blue.

something i didn't really read about when i was researching growing lotus seeds was just how much they bubble. watching them in the jar, they're constantly releasing tiny streams of bubbles, as if they're breathing, which i guess they are. i suppose that's another way you can tell if your lotus seeds are viable or not.

1 they had large plastic whiskey barrels at costco as well for $15. a good bargain, but these were too narrow and deep and we wanted something that was shorter and wider. the costco barrels are the ones we used for our raspberry canes.

2 i prefer seachem prime over amquel plus. amquel has a stronger sulfury odor which i don't like. amquel also doesn't seem to be as concentrated, requiring 5mL for every 40L of water, compared to prime which is 5mL for every 200L. the reason i switched was because i couldn't find my bottle of amquel when i was setting up this current aquarium with fish 2 years ago. later i found it at my parents' place (they took it when i moved my old aquarium to belmont when i left for china back in 2013-2014).