by the time i woke up this morning (9am), renata was already up, checking her e-mail on the ibook in the living room. since i turn down the heat at nights, i raised it back up, just when renata was saying how cold it was, just when i sat down in the sofa chair briskly rubbing my arms to create some friction heat. we went into the kitchen where i started making breakfast. the stereo was softly playing christmas music from a radio station, each song getting successively sadder. renata, begging for something to do, got the job of peeling the pommelo. i was missing a few ingredients so i went across the street to get some groceries, not before getting renata to write her parents' phone number on my hand so i could call her mother and check to see if she found my cellphone yet. renata's mother told me she looked around the house but didn't see it, i gave her the number of the cellphone so she could call it (to hear it ring), and also suggested a few places i thought i might've dropped it, including out on the sidewalk. i came back home to see the pommelo completely peeled. i cut up some leftover canteloupes, then started making the belgian waffles, the bacon, and the scrambled eggs. renata helped with flipping the bacon as well as the eggs. i had to open the window and turn on a fan to blow out the grease smell from the bacon.
my kitchen is at its best on winter mornings, when the sun is low on the horizon and its rays bask everything in a warm glow. after 2 waffles i was already full. renata seemed like she wanted to hurry up and eat her food so she could start playing with the leftovers. she made a waffle stain glass out of strawberry compote then painted her nails with more of that red stuff. we made new year's resolution for one another, renata said i should eat anymore salt, i said she should stop worrying all the time. i also got to touch her nose, which has always fascinating me in how pointed it is; later renata told me nobody's ever asked to touch her nose before. in the lazy afternoon sun renata also demonstrated some yoga poses; my camera was unfortunately too far away for me to get any photos.
after we cleaned up, i took a shower while renata browsed my recent photos. i got dressed and we drove to renata's place on the other side of cambridge. peter was home, talking to a relative on the phone, when we came in. renata took a quick shower and got changed. when she came back out, she listened to her answering machine messages: one of them was from her mother informing us that she found my phone (out on the street no less). i immediately called her back. she was curious if i could come by and pick it up today, but i didn't have time and asked if i could do it tomorrow morning. her mother was hesitant at first, because she was afraid of leaving the phone outside (no one will be home), but i told her it was okay and i was willing to take full responsbility if it did get stolen. with that out of the way, renata and i went out to do some christmas shopping, leaving peter with his job and apartment hunting.
we went to arlington where renata wanted to visit the monroe salt works, a store of potteries and kitschy items. before we could do that though, we were sucked into a few other stores, a stationary/craft supply store followed by a boutique gifts store. despite all the browsing, neither of us could find anything worth buying as christmas gifts. "we're not doing so well," renata said at one point. our holiday spirits dampened, we went to a pastry shop to drink some tea. we both ordered chai, although renata wanted soy milk in hers (oh la la!), as well as splitting a gingerman cookie.
already 3pm, renata was scheduled to go to a holiday party in brookline at 4pm. "i bet i can persuade you to not go to your party," i told her, half jokingly. "why, because you're going to invite me over to your parents for dinner?" she said, which was exactly what i was going to do, and she had already said yes before i even officially proposed the idea to her. "we're having hot pot tonight," i told her. so just like that a new plan was made up: renata couldn't get out of the party but would visit them briefly, while i couldn't go with her to the party because i had to go home and tell my parents to prepare for an extra dinner guest and to help my mother clean the house, but renata would come by my parents' place around 6pm. instead of dropping renata off, we then drove to trader joe's on arlington heights, where renata wanted to get some flowers (for both her party friends and for my parents). only then did i dropped her off and hurried home. "the girl who lives by the h. is coming over for dinner," i told my mother when i saw her.
renata actually showed up early (i was expecting her to be late, especially since she was coming back from brookline), bearing the flowers which i saw her buy earlier. she had already met my parents before so there wasn't any need for introductions. the other person who showed up for dinner was my sister. not only did renata bring her appetite, she also brought a bunch of questions concerning her trip to china next month, particularly what kinds of gifts to bring. my parents, who are slight experts on the subject through their many trips back to taipei and from the shared knowledge of their chinese friends, were more than happy to offer renata a list of gift ideas, suitable presents to give to people in china, things like cranberry raisins, scented pump-dispensed hand soaps, and omega-3 fish oil. my mother also showed her what to look for in buying jade bracelets.
renata left a little bit before 9pm. i showed my father how to burn vcd's on my sister's pc (for some reason it doesn't work on the mac) before i took one of their cars and drove back to cambridge (i'll need a car for tomorrow, when i drive down to providence to get my cell phone back).