i stopped by the cafe on my way to belmont, to fix the problem internet. i had a feeling it was probably something minor, but it was easier to do it myself than trying to give me mother directions over the phone. the wireless router was working fine, the cablemodem just needed to be unplugged and plugged back in. once i did that everything was back to normal.

i was in belmont for many reasons, one of them was to further examine the plastic barrels. apparently they were manufactured in greece (from the engraving on the side of the barrel), and probably used to store something grecian like olives. these barrels are also rated as having a 220 liter capacity, which is 58 gallons, a little more than the typical 55 gallon plastic blue barrels.

i was checking out where exactly i could attach a spigot. the only bad thing about these terracotta barrels is the rounded bottoms, which makes it hard to affix a faucet without having it look awkward. the lids come in two pieces (similar to a canning jar), and i managed to add a mosquito screen using just the outer ring to secure the netting. the corners of the screen sort of poke up but i'm sure i can trim them off if they bother me aesthetically.

another reason to be in belmont is so i can visit hillside garden on blanchard road, to check out the prices on bulk soil:

hemlock mulch $37/cubic yard
pine mulch $32/cubic yard
salt marsh grass $10/bale
top soil $27/cubic yard

they actually didn't have any soil, and didn't know when it'd be available. maybe they meant top soil (the good stuff), because i saw they had piles of "dirty" soil that looked like it might've come from a construction site. the price they quoted was just an estimate based on last season's figure. apparently soil cost can fluctuate like oil prices. i also got numbers on the two different kinds of mulch, hemlock (red) and pine (brown). they deliver, but only if you buy at least 3 cubic yard, and the prices might be a wee bit more expensive but not by much.

i was getting ready to ride back to my parents' place when i saw my sister across the street going into the pepperidge farm outlet store. i told her to go across the street with her car after she's done because i wanted to buy some salt marsh grass. i ended up getting two bales. salt marsh grass is a curious thing. it looks just like hay but it's the preferred mulching material for gardens because it doesn't contain seeds like hay might (these seeds might end up sprouting in your garden). i've tried to find them in year's past but they didn't have any and i had to be put on wait list. one spring i remember going to wilson's farm where they were selling a clear trash bag of salt marsh grass for $20. it was hardly enough for a potted plant less a whole garden plot. the one spring that i did manage to get ahold of a whole bale, it'd been sitting out in the rain for months and had grown moldy. i think i got hives working with the stuff.

when i saw hillside garden had salt marsh grass (and at a good price), i immediately perked up. fortunately my sister was there, otherwise i would've had to come back (who knows, they might be sold out by then!). it made a mess of her car, like she'd been transporting farm animals; i tried to brush out as much as the grass debris as i can, but there will probably be salt marsh grass in her car for a long time. one bale is for my own cambridge community garden, while the other bale is for belmont. i put them underneath a tarp on top of an elevated ladder.

since my sister was home, i asked her to drive me to home depot so i could check out possible spigots for the rain barrels. i think the official name for such a thing is a brass no-kink 3/4" hose bibb [sic]. i was hoping for a selection but they only had a single choice, an ugly looking thing with a t-shaped handle (i wanted a circular handwheel). it also cost a lot more than i expected, $7 (i was thinking $2-3). i figured i'd have to go the internet route if i wanted to find a spigot i liked.

i also checked out the dirt/mulch prices, figuring anything bagged would cost more than buying in bulk:

black mulch $3.48/2 cubic feet
cedar mulch $3.33/2 cubic feet
manure $5.77/25 lbs.
generic top soil $1.15/40 lbs.

40 lbs. of dirt is about 0.5 cubic foot. at that price, a single cubic yard (27 cubic feet) would cost $62, about 2.3x more expensive (based on estimates) than the bulk price.

i left empty-handed, while my sister got a jug of simple green and a few packets of zinnias.

the final reason i was in belmont was to clean up the house. with my californian relatives visiting us this weekend, i was helping my parents spruce up the place. it should've been my sister's job but she's not known for her cleaning skills (she's kind of a hoarder, but don't tell her that or she'll get angry). i think it's easier for me to clean because it's not my stuff, so i don't get lost in the details. the basic strategy is to pile everything into the small bedroom, the one that's supposed to be my sister's office but there's so much junk in that room you might not even know there's a computer sitting in the corner. i actually cleaned out this room last year, so it's kind of amazing to see it back to its antebellum state. we only managed to get the living room 80% done by the time i returned to cambridge, trying to beat the rush hour traffic beginning at 5:00.

victor wasn't home but i had the feeling he might make a late night of it in the office since he's probably leaving early tomorrow to pick up his girlfriend at the airport. i enjoyed one final day of peace and quiet, before 3 weeks' worth of awkward houseguest.

victor didn't get back home until 10:00. i'd already eaten my pulled pork leftover for dinner (for breakfast, i had a ham sandwich, and for lunch i had some curry rice noodles in belmont). he did a load of laundry before going to bed.

grow closet news: the korean cucumbers and the basils have serious viability with a 100% germination rate, even more impressive given that these are 2nd generation "wild" seeds. the tomatoes are pretty good as well (still waiting on 3 containers) but they better be given that there were just a dozen and a half measly seeds in the packet. of the 6 morning glory containers, only 2 have sprouted, so i wonder if the rest are duds. and none of the 6 cypress vines have emerged either. i'm also still waiting on the peppers, none of which have made an appearance either, but i'm pretty confident they'll show when the time is right.

my roommate is a slob. i've been denying myself the truth for far too long. it's been a while since i've had such a messy roommate. it's weird, because he has perfect bathroom habits. he doesn't get water on the shower back counter and he doesn't pee on the floor. there's the occasional hair stubbles in the sink when he shaves, but that doesn't bother me. however, it's his other routines. like he leaves his dirty clothes in a pile on the floor in his room. that's not as big a deal as his kitchen habits.

even after several warnings, he continues to splatter oil on the stove top. i can tolerate splattering, but he doesn't clean up the mess afterwards, or maybe he doesn't consider it a mess. when he does the dishes like the pots and pans, they're never actually clean but still have bits of dried food on them. nevertheless, he's managed to nearly deplete my dishwashing liquid in the time that he's been here, and usually it takes me months to finish a bottle. he's not into paper towel conservation, going through a whole roll in about a week. he eats at the dining table, and the table cloth is spotted with grease stains and crumbs. finally, i noticed something crusty on the kitchen carpet. he must've spilled something on it but never bothered to clean it up. i think it's probably milk. i spent some time on my hands and knees with a brush and some warm water trying to get the stains out while washing the table cloth in the washing machine.

i just have to keep in mind that he's only here for another month and 2 weeks, although half of which (3+ weeks) his girlfriend will be living with us as well. i really don't know what to say. he's not a bad roommate, but the cons are outweighing the pros. he did let me know that he'd pay me for any extra days since he's stay here for a bit more than 3 months.

the only bad thing is i have another roommate immediately after that, arriving on the same day victor is going back to spain. so much for peace and quiet.