my mother called me at 10am, requesting that i get some potatoes since they were making chicken curry at the cafe and had none. that meant i basically had to leave immediately, first going to the community garden to water my plants. i hadn't been in the gardens since sunday evening. there were few more red tomatoes (i didn't have the storage space to pick them) and to my surprise a yellow bitter melon on the ground, looked like it was chewed instead of bursting on its own. there were also a lot of long bean flowers, i think i'm going to get a good crop of them. i left with some dried hyacinth beans, don't know if the beans are viable.

next i went to the porter square star market. i was going to go there anyway - to pick up more boneless chicken breasts on sale - but i also got some potatoes ($1.29/lbs) as well as baby cucumbers ($4/package).

finally i stopped by the speedway gas station to fuel up my motorcycle. for some reason they don't give out receipts anymore, i paid $10 for 2.1 gallons of regular unleaded. only then was i able to arrive at the cafe by 10:45am.

i'd already used the levoit cordless vacuum yesterday to clean the kitchen area. since there wasn't any customers out front, today i also vacuumed the rest of the cafe. cordless vacuums are fun to use, not having a cord offers unparalleled freedom to clean where ever i want to. i was surprised my parents hadn't used the vacuum yet. the way they were cleaning before, it was either sweeping with a broom into a dustpan, or wet mopping. they had an old 200W canister vacuum that belonged to my grandmother but that thing seemed to have come from the 90's if not earlier and doesn't really clean.

i also took the opportunity to check on the filters of our honeywell HPA300 air purifier. we got it back in december and i don't think anyone's ever checked the filters even though you're suppose to do it every 3 months or sooner. when i opened up the case, i saw a large white filter with dark dust along the sides. only when i removed it did i realize the filter was actually black and all that white was really dust. this was actually the carbon pre-filter, which is designed to collect large dust particles and also remove odors.

behind the pre-filter were 3 HEPA filters that look like white boxes with accordion meshwork inside. i took out all the filters and cleaned them with a vacuum before putting then back inside. the HPA300 also has 2 check filter lights which i never noticed, which i only learned when i went back home and read the manual. the pre-filter is supposed to be replaced every 3 months, while the 3 HEPA filters are replaced annually. fortunately we bought a 2-year supply of pre-filters and filters when we got the purifier, so i'll replace the pre-filter tomorrow.

the question that needs to be asked is: does the HPA300 air purifier really do anything? it's easier to run during the summer because the purifier acts like a cooling fan as it circulates the air. there hasn't been any smells in front of the cafe, don't know if it's because of the air purifier, or that its naturally odorless. the HPA300 supposedly can clean a 465 square feet room, changing the air 4.8 times every hour. but the real reason we got the purifier was because of covid, and that's harder to tell. so far nobody in my immediate family has gotten covid yet, but can't say it's because of the air purifier. it could just be pandemic theater, and gives people a sense of security, whether real or not.

starting at 11:30am there was an hour where we had zero customers, which is unusual, because typically that's the busiest time of the day. i managed to have some lunch - a broken hard-boiled egg (the discard from a fresh batch of tea eggs). it reminded me of my time spent in changshou, where my typical morning breakfast was a hard-boiled egg that i'd make while taking a shower and getting ready for work. when 12:30pm came around however, it got really busy, a few online orders (including 2-3 grubhub orders) and a large eat-in order of bento boxes and noodles and drinks.

we dug up one of those wheeled collapsible shopping carts from the cafe basement. after cleaning it up a bit (covered in dust and cobwebs and the wheels needed some oiling), i delivered it to the toolshed behind my sister's place, so the chinese tenants upstairs can use it when they go grocery shopping. i saw them over the weekend taking a bike out, and i thought it was weird that only one of them had a bike while the other person just walked. my suspicions were confirmed when feifei came to the cafe today and i asked her about it: apparently they use the rear basket on the bike like a cart for carrying heavier groceries. the collapsible shopping cart will be much more useful. it's actually one of the smaller ones, we have a larger one as well.

i unpeeled the dried up hyacinth beans i collected from my garden earlier. the beans looked very much dead, and i wasn't expecting good results, but when i unshelled them, inside were perfect hyacinth beans (in that distinctive black and white pattern), ready for planting next season. unfortunately (or fortunately) we still have hundreds of leftover seeds from last season. these seeds i got from my garden are particularly healthy; many of the seeds we got from last year, the beans were harvested before they were fully ripened, so the seeds were brownish-white instead of black-white.

around 2:45pm during another lull, my mother made some zhajiang noodles for everyone. i ate it at first as-is (with cucumber slices and chopped scallions) before my mother reminded me that everything tastes better with hot sauce.

my sister returned from lunch with her korean friend, who gave her some plants to take care of while she's away: a jade plant, a zebra haworthia, and a tradescantia. all three plants appeared pretty dry, don't know how well they'll survive at my sister's place which is nearly devoid of any sun. the tradescantia is especially pretty, i was tempted to take a cutting so i can propagate my own. looks like a trip to a neighboring plant shop is in order!

around 4pm - during yet another lull in customer traffic - i went outside with my gardening gloves to do some sidewalk cleanup. there are several sidewalk trees that i mulched back in the spring, but apparently i didn't do a good job (or didn't take time to upkeep them) because now they're chock full of weeds and trash. so i spent nearly an hour in the heat (though it wasn't too humid), pulling up the weeds, covering myself with soil dust. at some point i may also add some more mulch dressing. one good thing about this drought: even some of the weeds can't survive the lack of water. i also did some sweeping of my sister's backyard, she hasn't done any cleaning, it walkway areas look like a real dump.

i finally returned home by 5pm. paul's been bugging me about going into their house and looking to see if they have any mail while jeff and melissa are away. fortunately the housekeeper was there when i got back home, and she went upstairs to look for letters, which there were none.

it wasn't too hot inside the house today (81 degrees inside and outside), i didn't need to turn on the AC. when evening came and the temperature dropped into the 70's, once again i opened up all my windows and use the kitchen window fan to blow hot air out while aiming the vornado air recirculator across my living room up to a ceiling corner.

i didn't have dinner until almost 10pm (spanish time) - heated up a paul newman pizza in the oven. in hindsight it seemed like a bad thing to do, to add more heat inside the house. the instruction was unique in that it recommended baking the pizza on the rack, not on top of a baking tray. the pizza was good, and i ended up eating the whole thing, didn't realize i was pretty hungry.