it rained earlier this morning, while everyone was still asleep. i had my bedroom open last night despite the AC noises, simply because it was so much cooler outside. the sound of thundering woke me up, and soon afterwards i heard the soft patter of rainfall. i dreamed of filled rain barrels as i went back to bed. when i woke up, the sky was clear and the only hint that it'd rained was some puddles in the streets, otherwise everything looked dry.
i went to inspect the backyard as soon as i arrived. my parents have a neighbor across the street that's moving out and they've been tossing out a bunch of stuff. my father collected about 8 wire plant stands. these are great because we can put them with our medium-sized potted plants and have them scattered about the backyard without being worried that the feet will kill the grass. a plant that's isolated from other plants get the maximum amount of sunlight, have excellent air circulation, don't have to worry about contracting some plant disease or pest (like mealybugs), and are easier to inspect. the only downside i can think of is if there's a strong wind, it might blow over the wire plant stand.
for lunch my mother made thin noodles with slow-cooked pork. she also cut up the 2 guavas i bought. she said they tasted terrible compared to fresh taiwanese guava. they tasted bland and a bit mushy in the center.
after i finished eating, i joined my mother for a walk. we went to the new glacken field, now completely opened to the public. the park itself has a terrible design, a jumble of cement pillars that's just begging for a lawsuit when a child injures himself hopping from one to the other, and an artificial hill that follows a windy spiral route to summit. instead of bleachers (to watch the baseball game on the two new diamonds that were converted from a previous soccer field), they build this wooden structure that looked like a ship, but with half the seating facing the field, and half facing the street.
from there we went down holworthy street. we were hoping to see some interesting flowers, but either they weren't in season, or the neighbors there simply didn't plant very many. we came out at sofra bakery, then walked belmont street back home.
i put back the webcam that faces the street from the living room window. we had to take it down when my father used that window for the floor AC exhaust. i bought some double-sided nano tape to stuff the mounting plate onto the top of the window, but when i tested the footage, there was too much blocking from nearby shrubbery. so we put it back where it used to be. there's a lot of visible window sash, but it's a more workable angle, one that can see the driveway, sidewalk, and the street.
it was supposed to rain today, but the sky said otherwise. despite a mix of clouds, the day was mostly sunny. i spent the rest of the day in the backyard. while my father was busy tying the squash vines to the bamboo trellises, i was inspecting the stems for vine borer eggs. we even saw a vine borer moth but it was too quick and we didn't manage to kill it. i ended up collecting about 40 eggs - stuck onto a piece of sticky duct tape.
my mother told me friday that the two gardenia flower buds have finally blossomed. she snipped one for the cafe, and was saving the other one so i could see, but that i have, she ended up cutting that one off as well. it's for the best, now it'll allow us to prune the gardenia into a small plant, and allow next season's flower buds to form.
we did prune the home depot osmanthus. we cut it back down to half its original size. my father originally thought about propagating some more plants with the cuttings, but this is not the osmanthus we want - that one - the fudingzhu osmanthus - seems to be thoroughly dead at this point. we'll need to buy another one at some point.
i started some eggplant and pepper seeds last weekend using the wet napkin technique. my father completely forgot about them. when i found the ziploc bag containing the seeds, the 4 pepper plants had sprouted, but only one of the eggplants. i ended up planting them all, it's sort of late in the season, but if we can get an eggplant or a few peppers, it'll be worth it. we still have 2 more months left in the summer.
last season we seemed to have a lot of male squash flowers and hardly any female flowers. this year seems to be the opposite: the female flowers came out first, but all of them withered on the vine when there wasn't any male flowers to pollinate them. but now that both types of flowers are blooming, a few of the female flowers seemed to have pollinated successfully, based on the swollen fruits. all the action seems to be in RB1 for the time being, while the squashes we've planted elsewhere is like 2-3 weeks behind. it could be a good year for squash, as we ended up planting more than planned to compensate for all the long bean plants that were eaten by rabbits.
my favorite part of the backyard this season is the rudbeckia field in RB3. the yellow flowers with dark centers are very striking, and it was just a happy accident that rabbits tend to avoid them for other plants. last year we didn't get any flowers because the plants were all growing too close together. this season - back in the spring - we divided the plants, and now they're growing very well. being perennials, we hope to see them every year.
for dinner we grilled some porterhouse steaks. this was also the time when we were finally going to get some rain, as the sky darkened. my mother didn't believe me when i said it'd rain, but told us to go outside and grill the steaks just in case. it doesn't take long to prepare steaks on the barbecue - a few minutes on each side - and we managed to grill them all before the storm. we ended up doing 5 minutes per side. we took out the steaks 30 minutes before grilling, and my mother seasoned them with montreal steak seasoning that i bought from home. before putting on the grill, my father brushed the steaks with some melted butter on both sides. there was of course fire flare ups - both from the accumulation of grease on the burners and rendered beef fat. so we ended up having to move the steaks around to avoid charring, but probably contributed to a lackluster crust.
5 minutes on each side turned out to be not a good idea, as the steaks came out medium to medium well done. last time we just grilled 2-3 minutes each side, but i figured with these thicker cuts, we needed more time, but i was wrong. next time we'll go for fewer minutes. regardless, the steaks were good. we can't eat steaks every weekend, but it's a good occasional treat, especially when there's a sale at the super markets.
while we were eating it finally started to rain. it seemed like a few sprinkles at best, but it developed into a medium-size rain, one that was on course to fill up our rain barrels, which were down to 2/3 capacity. if we can get one big rainstorm every week, we'll never have to worry about the barrels going empty again.
for dessert, my father cut up one of the pineapples i bought yesterday. it's always a crapshoot with pineapples, they can either be sour (which seems like most of the time) or the occasional very sweet pineapple. i lucked out, the one that got was very sweet, even my mother agreed, and she's normally very picky about her fruits.
my father gave me a ride home at 7:50pm. the storm had finished and the clouds were receding to the east, out to the ocean. with the sun slowly setting in the west, this was the same exact scenario last monday, when there was that double rainbow over boston followed by an amazing sunset. it was my father we first spotted the rainbow, out on the eastern horizon. the weather conditions wasn't optimal, and it was just a partial rainbow. there was also no brilliant sunset afterwards, even though i went out and checked.
because of the rain i was able to check our gutters. that handyman we hired is either a crook or incompetent, as both gutters are leaking. the one facing renee's alley isn't too bad - just drips - but the one facing our alley is a steady stream of water. however, the gutter above the front porch seems to be okay, because i was able to caulk it myself with silicone a few months ago.
it was warm inside the house - 81 degrees - while it was 74 degrees and dropping outside. because i had the AC in the window, i couldn't just open the window to get in some cool breeze. instead i ran my air purifier, which managed to circulate the air inside the house which made it feel better. in hindsight i should've turned on the AC, but it feels wrong to turn on the AC when it's already so cool outside. i just need a better system to get that cool air into the house.