i had two things to do today: move our basement houseplants outside so they can get some sun on this unusually warm 70's degrees late winter day; and to start cooking the corned beef we bought yesterday. from the house webcams i already knew my father had started moving out the plants. by the time i got to belmont around 11:30am, the only thing i had to do put the 5 lbs. corned beef in the slow cooker along with some pearl onions, baby potatoes, and some cabbage. i also scooped in a tablespoon of pickling spices.
i took apart the squirrel buster bird standard feeder, to clean it thoroughly then look for any ways i can tweak the sensitivity, so that heavier birds like grackles can't eat up all the seeds in a single day. the design is kind of ingenious, no wonder they have a patent on the feeder. everything looked okay, as i reassembled it and filled it with fresh seeds.
there seemed something wrong with the feeder after i reassembled it: it seemed to have lost it's springiness. when the shroud envelops the feeding tray because something heavy is on the perch, it doesn't spring back to its original state, and the tray remains hidden. i ended up dumping back all the seeds to check what was going on. i fixed it by slightly releasing the tension of the 3 bottom screws holding the base to the feeding tube. the springiness returned, though at it's most sensitive setting, it's still not enough to pretend grackles from perching on the feeder. i'll need to call the manufacturer this week to see if they have a solution or maybe i can get a replacement part (the only thing i can think of is the spring, perhaps the wrong tension).
in the late afternoon when the sun began to wane, my father and i moved all the plants back into the basement grow room. by that point i'd already hand inspected all the plants for mealybugs (they seem to prefer the ficus, though a few have migrated to the neighboring jasmines), sprayed with insecticidal soap, and did a soil drench with Bti-infused water. once back in the basement, i also put out a fresh set of yellow sticky traps. this will tell me - after a winter season of soil drenching - how much fungus gnats are still in the soil. i feel like that number should be very low, ideally none. the bigger problem we have now are the aphid infestation on the hot pepper plant, mealybugs, and lack of nutrients.
after 6+ hours of slow cooking on high heat with the kitchen fragrant with pickling spice aroma, we finally fished out the corned beef to let it cool before cutting. my mother who was at the cafe all day waited in the living room for dinner to be ready. while my father toasted in the rye bread in butter and later cut the corned beef, i assembled the reuben sandwiches: rye bread, swiss cheese, russian dressing, sauerkraut, and a thick slab of corned beef. just one sandwich didn't seem like it'd be enough so everyone got two. in hindsight we would've assembled the sandwiches as soon as the bread was toasted in order to keep everything crisp; the way we did it, the bottom bread pieces all became soggy. that was my mother's only complaint, along with the portions, which were much too big, and she only managed to eat one sandwich, leaving the other one for later. they were good, but what a mess to eat. and actually, one sandwich was enough, i had to go into a different gear to finish the second sandwich. corned beef once a year is more than enough, just like thanksgiving turkey.
speaking of st.patrick's traditions, it was announced on the news tonight that the st. patrick's day parade scheduled for next weekend - or the de facto irish parade - would be cancelled due to coronavirus concerns. that begs the question: would the boston marathon then be cancelled as well, in little more than 5 weeks? the marathon has never been cancelled in its history, even having gone through a terrorist attack. but this pandemic is a whole different beast, and with so many people coming in from all over the world, it would be a worst scene scenario of community spread.
there was a supermoon tonight, though impossible to tell just from looking. my father and i were outside using the night sight feature on our google camera app. i returned home soon afterwards. it was still so warm (60°F) that i wore just my shirt, leaving my jacket in the rear basket.