my parents decided they would have a barbecue tomorrow saturday. partly to celebrate both my 2nd aunt's birthday (which is today) and my sister's godmother's birthday as well, but also because they haven't had anyone over for a barbecue in a while. apart from thanksgiving (which is always celebrated at my parents' place), july 4th 2017 was the last time they had a backyard barbecue. and that time they only invited my 2nd aunt and my sister's godmother; the last time my aunt and uncle were here for a barbecue was 2016. the last time my aunt and uncle were here for a barbecue was 2016. we did have a barbecue last year (coincidentally in september as well) but it was in my sister's backyard, and that time we invited the two upstairs astrophysicist tenants.
my job today was to collect the necessary food ingredients: trader joe's for some cheap wine to make sangria, market basket for some sausages, and haymarket to gather some inexpensive fruits and vegetables. but the first thing i did this morning was to do a load of laundry so they could have the entire day to hang dry outside. i only hang my shirts and pants; underwears and socks i dry indoors, drape across chair backs. i like the novelty of hang drying my clothes, i also like that it's totally free, like solar power. this is just the second time i've hung up my clothes, after successfully drying them the first time a few weeks ago. i can do this while the weather stays warm (and while i don't have a roommate); once we get into late fall and temperature drops close to freezing, i'll go back to my dryer.
i woke up later that i'd liked, close to 10am, and didn't set out on my errands until around 11am. i decided to hit the allston trader joe's first, the only TJ's within the vicinity that sells alcohol (the one on memorial drive sold their liquor license in order so that another one of their stores could sell alcohol, as there's a massachusetts law that says chain supermarkets can only have so many licenses). it was a little cold and i wore jeans and a pullover henley. i ended up getting some vegetable ingredients as well (red onion, shallot) as well as a package of chicken sausage. i got two bottles of white zinfandel (better than merlot for sangrias) and one bottle of sauvignon blanc (for cooking). i took off my pullover before riding back home, as i was starting to warm up.
when i got back home it was nearly noontime, so i decided to eat something first before continuing with my errands. i finished my box of mixed granola mixed with some yogurt while watching the news. i went out again by 12:40pm, this time changing into a pair of shorts and just a t-shirt.
i went to family dollar first, taking a circuitous detour as the underpass shortcut is still under renovations. i was looking for some decorative copper wire LED string lights. when i stepped to the entrance i was shocked that the store was closed. even though the lights were on inside, handwritten signs on the door said they wouldn't be opened until monday. shocked but not surprised, as the employees there were always kind of sketchy, and the customer base not that far removed.
i continued on my way to market basket, where i realized i left my grocery list at home. this happens a lot, like half of the time i make a list i end up forgetting to bring it. but i remembered most of it, feta cheese, some italian sausages, a case of seltzer.
returning home, i put the groceries away temporarily, before walking down to the nearby liquor store and picking out a six-pack. after a length selection process, i finally decided on the paulaner oktoberfest märzen ($12.99). not a beer i'd drink myself (i like light fruity beers, which a hint of sweetness), but something matthew would like, as he's the only one who drinks beer, other than my father on occasions.
soon afterwards i was out again, finally heading into boston to hay market. it'd be a quick trip since i wasn't hitting chinatown, and i made good time, a roundtrip of about an hour. i left with 6 limes ($1), 4 lemons ($1), nearly 2lbs. of long hot peppers ($2), 2lbs. of yam ($2), a bundle of asparagus ($1.50), 2 pineapples ($3), a clutch of baby bananas ($1), 2 english cucumbers ($2), and 2 bundles of cilantro ($1.50).
i got back home by 2:40pm. i packed everything onto the back of my rear bicycle rack and rode to the cafe. my original plan was to go to belmont and make the sangria for tomorrow, but i was already feeling pretty tired from all the riding since this morning, so i gave my parents instructions on how to make the sangria once they returned home (chop up the fruit, add 1/2 cup of triple sec, 3 tbsp of sugar, whole bottle of red wine, refrigerate overnight). besides feeling tired from all the physical exertion, the lower angle of the sun also made it feel later that it actually was. my parents just happened to be making meat buns and i left with two. my 2nd aunt was also there, as a i mentioned earlier today was her birthday, she turned 70.
i finally returned home for good by 4:20pm. i ate the buns along with a can of polar pomegranate seltzer. an ebay package arrived in the mail, a meter length of waterproof RGB light strip. i wasn't expecting it so soon, but it's an american seller, that's why it got here so quick. i can't use for the time being as my rgb controllers haven't arrived yet, not for another few weeks. it will be like christmas in october when all the things i ordered start arriving next month.
my mother called me at 6:20pm. "bad news," she said, "we can't get home." i didn't understand what she was saying at first, then she told me the car battery died because my father left the car key in the ignition all day. 7 minutes later (via bicycle, easier to dodge any traffic jams) i showed up. my mother was surprised that i didn't come on the motorcycle, thinking i could jump start the car with my motorcycle battery (i don't think that's possible). no, instead i bought the jump starter pack i bought back in february to start up my motorcycle on cold winter mornings. up until this point we'd never used it before: by the time i got it back during the winter, i'd already put the bike away for the season.
this was the moment of truth. connecting the alligator clips attachment (shaped like a car no less) to the lithium ion battery, leds on the attachment starting flashing red and green. once the alligator clips were attached to the car battery, the led was just a steady green. instruction manual said we then had 30 seconds to start the car. my father cranked the ignition and the car started effortlessly. there wasn't even the least bit of struggle as sometimes happens with a stubborn battery. the led turned a steady red at that point and we disconnected the alligator clips. my mother was so impressed, she said we should get a portable jump starter for all our cars. i rode back home.
we finally had a good day of production, 46.33kWh, the highest production this month. it didn't break august's record but that's because the day length is getting shorter now. it is however peaking higher, getting close to 7kW. that's nothing special as we've seen production excede 7kW, but that's because it energy spikes due to special arrangement of clouds that reflect back the sun. it's nice to know that given a nice sunny autumn day, we should be approaching 7kW. i wonder if as the weather gets colder, we might even get higher, as the panels become more efficient.
i didn't eat until almost 10pm, just wasn't very hungry tonight (a good thing?). i reheated the last of my chicken tikka masala. i made some chutney but instead of just cilantro and mint, i also added less than half a red onion. there's a reason why you never find onion chutney, it's pretty awful. it didn't look appetizing at all, a mash of red and green, and a pungent aroma that made me tear up. not wanting it to go to waste, i mixed it into my rice, which made everything smell like onions, and i ate with watery eyes. afterwards i ate the last of my date-filling moon cakes, as today was also the mid-autumn festival.