i found my parents hanging out in the newly-cleaned sunroom when i arrived in belmont this morning. unlike yesterday, today was a sunny day, and the sunroom was actually starting to warm up, while the rest of the house stayed cool. today would've been the better day to have an outdoor barbecue, but my mother said it was too sunny. it got so hot she moved back into the shadier living room.

first thing i did was to take a survey of the backyard: once the patriots-dolphins game started at 1pm, i won't be able to go anywhere until 4pm. after my parents gave away 3 squashes last night, we now only have 11 left. true, i can easily buy them from any asian supermarket, but these have sentimental value. after i went home last night, it rained a little bit more, enough so that it filled up all our rain barrels to maximum capacity. the next rainstorm forecast isn't until next week, but we should have enough rain water to last us until then. the garden is at a stage anyway when things are slowly winding down, and now that we've pulled up all our squashes, watering the backyard isn't that critical.

my father collected a bucket of wood ash from the backyard fire pit we were running all of yesterday. he knew it can be used as fertilizer but he didn't know. i did some research and found out that wood ash is a good source of potassium and calcium carbonate, but it can be applied directly to vegetable soil as too much will produce excess salts and lye. a better way to use it is to add it to a compost bin, where natural decomposition will neutralize any harmful agents, leaving just nutrients behind.

since i pruned back all the iris leaves yesterday, there was nothing holding up the patch of goldenrod by the southwestern corner of the house so they were flopping over; i got some string and tied them together. all sorts of insects were visiting the yellow flowers. most of them were bumblebees, but i also saw flies, solitary bees, a locust borer, and a goldenrod hooded owlet moth caterpillar. the caterpillar was so well camouflaged it actually gave me a scare when i suddenly saw it, rather long at 3 inches. strangely enough, honeybees tend to stay away from the goldenrods. instead, they prefer the fragrant white flowers of garlic chives, also in bloom this time of year.

i didn't notice it at first, only when i was about to go back inside the house, but there seems to be a bonafide aerial leaf candidate emerging from the lotus barrel. it's unmistakable, standing straight out of the water, not requiring any support from neighboring floating leaves. though i'm glad to see another aerial leaf, it comes a little late; the weather forecast for this week is 70's daytime but 50/40's nighttime. with that kind of low temperature, it won't be long for the lotus leaves to shrivel up and die in preparation for winter.