i woke up at 7:20am, hoping to catch joseph to discuss gutter repairs. annie was already gone, her blinds raised all the way to the top, but her window thankfully closed. i thought i saw joseph and went out back to greet him and give him a map i drew of where on the gutters it leaked the most and also my contact info. but the guy i spoke with wasn't joseph (i got them confused), but rather alejandro (he looks like vincent piazza), one of the workers. he said he'd give it to his boss, who was coming around at 1-2pm.

i went down to the community garden to water my plants, having neglected it over the weekend and haven't been back since the 10th. the last time i was there i left a letter for a gardening neighbor to let them know that some of my invasive milkweeds have shown up in their plot and asking if they wanted me to get rid of it for them. it was also a subtle dig at the fact that they're always digging up parts of my plot whenever they do any work along our shared border and they never ask for permission. anyway, said gardener already wrote me back, and it sounded like they were going to keep the milkweeds, but after i told them how invasive they were, they ended up digging them out.

my community garden plot is a real jungle now. lemon balm takes up most of the front of the garden, while striped mallows take up the rest. i don't have the heart to pull them out even though i should and at this point it's more of a mallow hording issue. i wanted to transplant them, some to my front yard, some to my parents' backyard, but they have shallow roots and don't take well to being moved. i think i will have no choice but to remove some as they're blocking sunlight from getting onto my pepper plants, which are stunted at the moment.

the weather was actually very nice today, maybe it was just because it's the morning and the full force of the sun hasn't been beating on the landscape just yet. temperature was in the 70's with a very comfortable sea breeze.

i left shortly after returning home, to intercept my parents before they came to get me at 10am. we had another errand run, first to assembly square to return the columbia interchange jacket, then to costco to return some vitamins. the car was missing and i thought i'd missed them but the front door was still open. my father went to my aunt's house to help them water their yard.

while my parents had breakfast (i wasn't hungry), i went to the belmont post office to mail off my mother's passport renewal documents. what i thought would be a quick trip ended up taking my 30 minutes as there were 8 people in front of me in line and only one postal clerk. and since everyone's on a schedule, there were other postal workers walking around but nobody came out to man additional registers. and it seems everyone had a unique issue: there was one woman who's package never got delivered even though USPS said it did but she didn't have her tracking number; another woman wanted to report a lose package. there were just as many people behind me the longer i waited. finally when it was almost my turn, two more clerks showed up. my clerk saw that i was mailing a passport and suggested i use priority express for better protection. "only a few dollars more," he said. few dollars meant $5 more (maybe in belmont $5 is a few dollars), and i had to dig up more cash from my pocket, as i was only expecting the postage to be $1-2 at most. outside the post office was a flower garden, but somebody had also grown a squash that we sending out vines over the mulch bed.

there are a few possible lotus aerial leaf candidates. there's also no reason why there should be aerial leaves at all, it's more of a developmental milestone. the lotuses would grow just as well producing only floating coin leaves. aerial leaves are also the signal to begin fertilizing. there's conflicting advice, some say not to fertilize at all the first year, while others say to fertilize but not too soon or too much or it could ruin the lotuses.

we left for somerville-everett around 11am, taking the usual route which involved driving by my house, so i could've been picked up as part of the original plan. we took a shortcut to assembly row which involved the access road by stop & shop that ran parallel to I-93. things were quiet enough when we arrived that drove into assembly row (didn't realize thee was car access) and found a sweet parking spot right in front of the columbia store. my mother and i got off to return the jacket while my father stayed in the car. but it seemed like my mother wanted to stay longer and shop, and needed my father to try on some clothes, so i went out and put some money in the fancy meter that also accepts credit cards: just $1 for an hour of parking (only later did i realize there's free 3 hour parking in the garage).

my father and i went to check out the MBTA station before going into columbia. we were behind two mothers pushing baby strollers. i thought they were also heading to the T but turns out they were residents, swiping their card to enter a fancy apartment building. my father wasn't interested in getting any new clothes so we left columbia, walking down the length of the street towards mystic river to check out what other stores and restaurants they had to offer. as there was major ongoing construction just next door, a large percentage of the shoppers there were also construction guys on their lunch break.

bath & body works was still having a sale on hand soaps, this time 6 for $18. i asked one of the sales woman standing by the entrance if they had any honeysuckle scented soaps, she shook her and said no. but minutes later we spotted some in front of the store. we ended up taking most of it, as my sister's godmother had asked for them.

down by mystic river there were large patches of water lilies floating on the surface. as it was already noontime, the flowers were closed. instead of walking back on the same road we took, we took a path along the river and by the subway/train tracks. that's when we came across a ramen shop hidden one of the side streets. we finally left by 12:30pm with about 20 minutes left on the meter.

we went to the everett costco. while my father returned the vitamins, my mother and i browsed the aisles. costco can get crazy but weekday afternoons are a good time to shop, although the checkout lines can still get crowded. afterwards we had costco hot dogs before finally leaving around 1:30pm.

back in belmont, i did some more yard work. i inspected all the squash plants for vine borer eggs. i pruned off any spent daisies and tied a bunch together so they weren't falling apart. i noticed some critter (i'm thinking rabbits) had chewed up some of my nasturtiums and most of my ground level dill. i found a new hole underneath the southern fence where i blocked it off yesterday, so i had to seal it again, this time with a long piece of fencing plank and some rocks.

my mother called me in to check on the status of plane tickets they were trying to buy. my father was purchasing them but on the final screen it got stuck and crashed out. japan airline sent them the proper e-mails, and when i checked the reservation number it said the tickets were already purchased. only concern was when buying the tickets they weren't allowed to choose their seats, and that was important for my mother, who had the same thing happen to her last time when she flew back to taiwan solo and was stuck in the middle seat between two other passengers (one was sick, the other hated to be disturbed whenever my mother wanted to use the bathroom).

so i called japan airline, and after a brief period of holding, got an agent. she told me yes in fact seat selection isn't available because of the class of tickets they bought (economy special). however, they still could select seats, but only 24 hours before departure, by which time all the good seats were probably gone anyway. i asked her how much it'd cost to upgrade the tickets. she did some calculations, and said $1500 per ticket, in addition to the already $1000 price. she said it was such a straight face (if i could see her face) i thought it was a joke. ticket price for economy class tickets (which does allow seat selection) was only $30 more. i told her in that case we'd cancel the tickets and buy them again. she agreed that was the better option, even though she didn't offer that option to me, but instead gave me the choice of upgrading for $3000, the price of another round trip tickets for two. the only downside was the cancelled tickets could take as long as a month to be reimbursed. so i cancelled the tickets, which fortunately there weren't any fees because it was done within 24 hours.

we went back online to buy new tickets, this time economy class. but after making all the selections, we got to the payment page without ever being given the option of seat selection. apparently all the selectable seats (airline companies can all die in hell for all i care) were selected, and the only nonselectable seats left. so my parents decided to hold off on buying the tickets today, weighing their options. their whole reason for going back to taiwan was to vote in the presidential election, but i told them their candidate was very likely to lose. they kind of took that to heart and were deciding not to go back after all, but instead my mother would returned solo again maybe sometime in september to visit my grandmother. i felt kind of bad because they seemed really interested in taiwanese politics, and i kind of deflated their interest.

after dinner i went back outside to continue digging out the garlics from RB4. RB4 was the last garlic bed i prepared back in fall 2018, and it was populated with small cloves from a batch that originally came from my community garden which i grew for one season in the backyard and got a lot of small garlics, which i then replanted. not only where the cloves to begin with, but they were also planted close together. the leaves had all withered which meant harvesting was part due. when we dug them out, the garlics were still small but bigger than last year's garlic.