i dug out my lotus plants today, figured better to do it on a nice day then wait until the weather gets colder and i'm working in freezing conditions. there were no tubers, just rhizome stems. i think one reason why they didn't do so well this summer was because the clay medium i was growing them in was too dense. this wasn't a soupy clay that you can finger through, but rather a dense clay, dry enough that you could mold it into shapes. moving the containers around was backbreaking work, i have no doubt i'll feel it tomorrow. and digging through the clay mud was terrible for my hands, my fingertips all worn down, clay still trapped underneath my fingernails. i saved the clay, to be reused again next season, moved them into the garage for drying.
i mixed a quart solution of neem oil and sprayed the outdoor jasmines and the gardenia. i noticed the single gardenia flower bud had fallen off. it didn't seem like an accident, looks more like the plant purposely aborted the bud for whatever reason. my father told me yesterday he saw mealybugs on the gardenia, and i ended up spraying all the plants with insecticidal soap, but he said he's going to take the gardenia to the cafe so it can be quarantined from the other plants and won't spread the mealybugs. i'm just afraid once at the cafe i won't be able to keep an eye on it and mealybugs could spread until it becomes an infestation. i already noticed a few fungus gnats on the yellow sticky traps in have the basement grow room. got to keep vigilant over these pests.
in the backyard there's not much left to do. my father disconnected the rain barrel downspouts for the front of the house and the one barrel in the back; the only barrels still collecting are the ones by the sun room and basement. he also mowed the front lawn today. all that's left to do is drain the rain barrels before before winter, wait for the maple tree to shed its leaves so we can run them with the mower and use the shredded leaves for compost, and fertilize the lawn after the last mow of the season.
my father put the sweet fermented rice into the extra large sichuan paocai jar. he was making it for my godmother but something went wrong and it's not sweet at all, actually very sour. i think the reason is because they put too much jiu qu (shanghai yeast balls); typically my father uses 2 balls but this time he added 4. my father thinks the reason is because he used some kind of korean rice, when usually we use glutinous rice. it's definitely fermenting though, and it smells like alcohol. putting it into the glass paocai jar allows us to see the fermentation. in fact, we can hear it too, every 8 seconds or so it bubbles and shakes the glass lid above.
for dinner we barbecued the steaks i got yesterday. steaks are one of the quintessential american foods. these are angus beef underblade steaks, a relatively new cut in the meat processing industry. underblade beef used to be sold for slow cooking, but they introduced these cuts for steaks. i got these because i noticed the marbling, but they also had a few thicker bands of fat. i took them out of the fridge more than an hour before we cooked them to let them come to room temperature. i also coated both sides with cooking oil and sprinkled sea salt and crush pepper on all them. we waited until the grill reached 500°F before putting on the steaks, 5-7 minutes per side. we also grilled some italian sausages. the thick fat streaks melted on the grill, causing at least one of the steaks to break into two smaller pieces.
i won my mother over, she's now a convert when it comes to grilling steaks on the barbecue versus in a frying pan. outdoor grilled steaks taste infinitely better, there's no comparison. the steaks were so flavorful and juicy, we didn't need any sauce, the natural beef flavor was good enough. nevertheless, i still like a little A1 on my steak. there was so much steak, i almost thought i couldn't finish it all, especially since we were also eating it with rice. my parents also made fish head soup; i tried a piece of tofu but it was too fishy so i didn't have any more.
after dinner i returned home. my parents gave me the italian sausages. i also brought home my lotus rhizomes packed up in a large ziploc freezer bag (they're going to live in my fridge until next spring). even though the outdoor temperature today hit 70's again, the night time temperature can drop very quickly. like yesterday, there was a layer of condensation all over my motorcycle. i ended up wiping down the seat with the sleeve of my jacket.
when i got home i was happy to see my upstairs neighbors weren't home. my new motorcycle registration and sticker arrived in the mail. there was also a check from the city of cambridge, reimbursing me for the hot water tank disposal sticker i purchased ($25) because some other scrap metal people took it instead of the city.
after a shower, i settled in to watch the patriots-jets game. new england at 2-5 was facing the 0-8 new york. if the patriots lost to a winless team, not only would it be major embarrassing, but most likely there would be no chance getting into the post-season. the game was a lot more competitive than it should be. pats lead in the first quarter with a score of 7-3 but then trailed the rest of the way, only to come from behind and win it in the final seconds with a 51-yard field goal kick.