i got to the cafe by 9:30am this morning to wait for the fedex redelivery of the vevor ice maker. there was no promise it'd arrive while i was there, but better to have some at the cafe just in case, so the package won't get undelivered like it did yesterday. while that was going on, my parents were doing a waltham supply run, to costco and market basket.

i brought my laptop, and it was a good opportunity for me to do some retroactive blog filling.

my parents showed up around noontime to drop off the supplies. my mother though we'd be at the cafe the entire day (until the fedex package arrived) but i told her i was leaving soon afterwards. just by coincidence, the fedex delivery van did show up at the same time. the delivery guy managed to lift the entire package on his own - all 80 lbs. of it.

my father and i wheeled it down to the basement via the side entrance using a handtruck. we already knew the dimensions of the ice machine but seeing it in person, it was even smaller than i imagined. it stands at 31 inches - our old ice maker, just the bottom of the ice storage door was at 31 inches. at some point we'll need to elevate the new ice machine by about 11 inches. we didn't plug it in just yet - the instructions said to wait 24 hours to let the coolant settle.

there was a dent on the back of the machine (that can be hammered out), and the bracket holding the pump inside the machine was bent somehow, but we managed to bend it back. ice makers are simple machines, it's a mystery why they're so expensive. a "waterfall" trickles water over an ice tray that gradually freezes into cubes before being released into a storage bin. the vevor machine itself seems cheaply made, but we're definitely getting what be pay for, with typical ice machines in the thousands and we only paid $500 for this one. as long as it makes a decent amount of ice cubes, it'll be fine. this new ice machine also uses electronics to control the ice making, while our old machine was more mechanical, less precise.

we checked the plumbing for the ice machine, everything looks compatible, all we have to do is hook it up using the same setup from the old machine. that'll be something my father does tomorrow morning.

we left the cafe by 1pm, after my parents divided the pork portions and marinated them in charsiu spices.

my sister had left hailey at my parents' place. my parents made garlic toaste for lunch and bought a bowl of costco cocktail shrimps. i don't like the taste - too fishy - but i added some chinese fried chili oil i bought from chinatown on friday which made it more palatable.

afterwards my father and i spent the rest of the afternoon working in the backyard. we finally have enough green grass to mow. while my father did that, i went around the lawn digging up the weeds. we also moved some plants and plant stands so we could mow underneath. after that my father cut up the dragon fruit cactuses; he decided it's not worth keeping them anymore, especially since our summers aren't long enough for the cactuses to fruit, and they're difficult to take care of and move due to all the spikes. he decided to just leave one plant, while chopping up the rest. i was busy dethatching the lawn, in preparing for a round of fall reseeding. the backyard looks more promising because over the summer my father had been watering it to some extent; the front lawn on the other hand is a dried up desert of dead yellow grass, it's going to take a lot more work to revive it to its former glory. dethatching is probably going to take a few days, i stopped after it tired me out, especially in the hot afternoon sun.

for dinner i made some soybean sprout banchan with a mixture of salt, scallions, garlic, sesame oil, korean pepper flakes, korean gochujang, and some fried chili oil. my mother made a slow-cooked pork stew with blue bean pods from the garden.

while waiting for dinner, i spotted an unusual bird in the backyard (i have an eye for noticing out of ordinary wildlife). i grabbed the binoculars and spied a tiny bird perched on the bamboo pole, flitting around the backyard. i'd never seen it before, but my birding instinct told me it was a type of warbler. i called my mother to quickly come and see this bird. it flew away when she came to the living room window, but came back a few minutes later. apparently it was catching dinner in the setting late afternoon sun, snatching mosquitoes out of the air. while my mother watched with the binoculars, i managed to get some photos through the window with my telephoto lens. i consulted the bird guide, it seemed to match with a northern parula female, with the grey top and yellow under the wings. i learned that parula don't breed in massachusetts, but go further north; they only migrate through the state, so it was a rare sight. later i went outside and hid behind the bean vines to get some clearer photos and a video.

much later (after carefully examining the photos i took) i'd realize it wasn't a parula after all. what gave it away was the flashes of orange/yellow in the wings and tail, something lacking in parula. turns out it was actually a female redstart. i've seen a male before a long time ago, still remember it to this day. redstarts do breed in new england, but like most warblers, migrate to the tropics during the winter. like parulas though, they're also insectivores.

after dinner i went down into the basement grow room to check on my hydroponic mustards. i removed the paper wrappers around the jars to examine the nutrient solution levels and test the pH and EC. now all three plants had extensive roots growing in the water, with the large jar mustard with the most roots but it's also the healthiest plant out of the three. the nutrient solution was below the net cups again in the mason jars, so i had to add more nutrients. i took measurements from all three jars: pH 7 and 900ppm for the mason jars while 600ppm for the large jar. i was going to add more nutrients but since the concentration in the mason jars were already so high, i decided to just add water instead to 1) dilute the concentration and 2) decrease the pH. i filled 500ml of tap water, pH 8.75 with 100ppm. i added one drop of pH down and the pH dropped to 6.5. i poured the slightly acidic water into the two mason jars, waiting them from the top to wash away some nutrient deposits on the leca balls. the mason jar nutrient solution was now pH 6.7. one thing i noticed is when i remove the net pot from the jars, the wet roots will all coalesce into a single root bundle, so i only lifted the net cups briefly, didn't want to damage the delicate roots.

i made it home by 7:40pm, later coming out to cover the bike since it's going to be raining tomorrow. after a shower, i watched the broncos-seahawks game. this game was important because it's the first game russell wilson plays in seattle after signing with denver in the off-season. the seahawk fans showed zero sympathy for wilson, booing him when he appeared on the practice field. i was rooting for the broncos, and they were the better team, though the score didn't show it because it blew something like 3 red zone plays that should've been touchdowns but ended up being costly turnovers. seahawks ended up winning 17-16, only because the clock ran out, and denver's coach decided to kick a crazy long 60+ yard field goal instead of giving the ball to wilson with the final down to see if they could score a touchdown.