so much for an early start. i didn't leave until nearly 10am. my roommate also surprised me when she came out from the front door while i was getting the hose. "watering the plants?" she asked, i nodded in agreement, didn't reveal the hose was to remove excrement from the sidewalk. i asked if she was going to the office on a saturday morning (most unusual); she said she was going to explore harvard square.
i made it to the cafe a bit after 10am, about 30 minutes earlier than when i usually arrive. i cooked 5 cups of rice and started making the tea eggs. i was also chatting with alex, who was mumbling from bed, saying how tired he was, but i signed off to concentrate on working.
after we opened, around 11am, i went down to the basement. i heard the beeping of the freezer alarm. that's when i saw that the first freezer door had been left open. everything inside had thawed, and there was water everywhere. this happened at the exact same time a customer came in, and my sister was chatting with her, while i was cooking some soy sauce noodles and preparing the tea eggs, and my 2nd aunt wasn't at the cafe just yet. there was just too much going on, and not enough people to help me. so i called my father to let him know the situation. my mother picked up, i told her somebody had left the freezer door open. i hung up, assuming they'd rush to the cafe to help clean, but when i checked the webcam, my father was still casually eating breakfast. so i called again, to let them know the urgency of the situation. my mother said she was coming.
my 2nd aunt did eventually arrive, my sister did eventually stop chatting with the customer, and i did eventually start cleaning the defrosted freezer. this happens periodically, and it's always a disaster. for some reason my father seems to commit this more than anyone else, to the point where we need to check the freezers every night at closing to make sure he didn't leave the doors open again. a few minutes later i saw my mother show up at the top of the stairs, with my father in tow. while they cleaned the freezer, i went back upstairs to do cafe stuff.
the good news is there wasn't too much stuff in that upright freezer. what happened was when my father was adding the containers of zhajiang sauce for freezing, he failed to make sure the freezer door was closed. there was about a centimeter of gap, but in this summertime heat, that was enough to make the freezer reach 46 degrees inside overnight. my father also decided yesterday to put some frozen dumplings into this freezer (normally dumplings are the chest freezer). all those dumplings ended up thawing out, and once refrozen, they're just going to be a solid frozen chunk of multiple dumplings.
after my parents finished cleaning the freezer, they left around noontime for a supply run (costco, restaurant depot, market basket). we got customers, but it never got too busy. i don't even remember if we had any online orders.
my parents returned a few hours later with a supply haul. they spent some time preparing some charsiu pork (marinating first) before they finally returned home.
by the time we closed around 4pm, i went back down to the basement to check the freezer. it was only down to 34 degrees, will probably be overnight into tomorrow morning before it can finally reach the correct temperature. my sister told me about the turbo freeze function on the freezer, something i'd never even noticed. after looking it up online (to understand what it does), i turned it on. in hindsight, we should've turned on turbo freeze the moment i discovered the freezer door had been left open. it will run for the next 8 hours before shutting off.
it was almost 5pm by the time i left the cafe and went to belmont. when i went into the backyard to survey the plants, i was shocked to find my precious pennywort had all wilted from the heat. my father said he watered yesterday morning, but apparently it wasn't enough, the sphagnum moss was bone dry. likewise, all our potted ground cherries had also wilted, their soil bone dry as well. i wasn't too angry, honest mistake, could always find some pennywort elsewhere. plus, i was hopeful if i reconstituted the sphagnum moss, maybe a few plants might still survive.
i noticed some chinese celery plants had been chewed down to the stalks. it looked like rabbit damage, but the container was too high up for a rabbit to get to, so i took a closer look. i immediately knew what happened: there was a swallowtail butterfly caterpillar feeding on the celery! i'd never seen one before except in photos, but it's so distinctive with its color markings to be unmistakeable. later i found out it's an eastern black swallowtail, and the caterpillar is probably in the 3rd instar (or later). i ended up relocating the caterpillar to another batch of chinese celery near the sunroom. not sure how much it can eat, but we've never had swallowtail caterpillars in the backyard before, so it was worth preserving this caterpillar. when i checked back later, it had moved onto the larger stalk, so that's a good sign.
speaking of caterpillars, the 8 spotted forester caterpillar that i saw last week chew a how on a grape leave was gone. i don't think it moved elsewhere, it might've been taken by a wasp, which eat caterpillars, especially young ones. having said that, i haven't seen a yellow jacket wasp in a long time. i used to see them all the time in the backyard (even got stung by one), before i removed a nest near the eave of the roof.
examining the squash vines - which seem to be growing even more to the point where we don't know where the new vines are coming from - i spotted two large stink bugs hiding on the vines. i dunked them in some water to kill them, hopefully they're just visitors, and not recently hatched, otherwise there's probably more of them hiding in the leaves.
i ended up soaking my pennywort in a barrel of water. it was light enough that the pot just floated on top, so i kept it there for a while, allowing the plants to soak up the water. i'm happy to report a few plants came back to life. unfortunately, about 80% of the remaining plants had wilted beyond saving. hopefully pennyworts grow fast!
despite all the amazing squash vine growth, we've had very little squash fruits. today we spotted 3 potential squash candidates that might make it to maturity. tomorrow when i have time, i need to inspect the vines for borers, since it's very important with upright growing vines to prevent borers from getting into the stems. despite all the squash growing activity, there's only really just a handful of actual squash plants, and should a borer get into the main stem, it'd kill the whole plant.
speaking of fruits, still no maturing bitter melons. i've seen some female flowers, but the immature fruits don't seem to growing. i'm not too worried though, bitter melons are pretty low maintenance. all they need is the occasional vine training, but they don't get pests or diseases, and thrive in good and bad conditions. as for our beans, no long beans! all the flowers we've been seeing are from the blue beans. once again, i'm not too worried, i planted enough long bean seeds to have a bumper crop this season.
my father mowed the lawn wednesday evening but just dumped the grass clippings onto the compost pile without turning it with the old compost. so today the decomposing grass smelled pretty bad, and i ended up turning the compost with a pitch fork, with the hopes of decreasing the foul smell.
while rinsing the outdoor gardenia of mealybugs, i accidentally pulled off a flower bud. i haven't too be careful with this plant: it will drop flower buds all on its own without any help from me, so i need to treat the buds more carefully.
our remaining houseplants love the spot underneath the maple tree on top of the old rotting wooden picnic table. just the perfect amount of rain and sunshine and humidity to make all the plants happy: pileas, tradescantias, prayer plants, jade plant, and orchids. the orchids especially. one of them seems so happy, it grew two more branches from the one flower stalk, so we can look forward to plenty of additional flowers.
my parents installed their AC's a few days ago. not only that, they put up a draft curtain in the corridor that goes to the bedrooms, keeping all the cold air to one side of the house.
for dinner we had some zongzi my mother made: regular savory, taiwanese style, and alkaline zongzi (as a dessert). i went back to cambridge afterwards, getting home around 7:40pm. lauryn was in her bedroom. the room temperature wasn't too bad, but i turned on the AC before jumping into the shower. i left the air conditioning on for a few hours before i couldn't stand the cold and finally turned it off.
my sister called me later in the evening. she said she went to the cafe and saw the upright freezer was sounding the high temperature warning beep again. i was afraid the freezer might be broken, so i had her measure the inside with a temperature gun. it ranged from 8-10 degrees, so we're almost at the set temperature. the alarm was beeping only because the temperature was still above the desired temperature. by later tonight the freezer will be back to normal.