today's cleaning involved hiding all those little things that usually clutter the house, like my assortment of used and new batteries, my pickle jar collection, and my semi-important financial/insurance documents. in the end i just got a big box, threw everything inside, and hid it away in the closet.

i may be imagining it, but the smell in the bathroom just wouldn't go away. while i lit another incense, i went out and got a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner. the odor is definitely not coming from that area (it's actually so clean at this point, you could eat off of it). i finally gave up, shot the bathroom with a few sprays of scented aerosol, and opened the window to let it all vent out.

during that time i also briefly went to harvard square to deposit that work check.

i was hoping that steve's talk earlier this week about replacing the roof was just more talk, but he came to me today with a detailed estimate from a local roofer. cost? nearly $14,000. that figure was so insane, my mind couldn't even make sense of it to be outraged. the price however included the labor and materials cost to replace all 8 of steve's skylights. he has 8 skylights? he has 8 skylights! i've been upstairs a few time, and i thought he had like maybe 4 skylights at the most. you can't even see them from the ground level. i asked him if the caulking fixed the leak. he admitted there was no more leaks, but would need to wait until the next torrential downpour to accurately gauge the holdstrength of the patches. my recommendation to him (the next time we chat) is we wait until next year, until i find a job and can put some money in the bank. i may be able to fund the roof replacement now, but i won't have any money left to continue living here.

my mother came in the late afternoon with my 2nd aunt and uncle in tow. while my aunt and uncle went across the street to do some grocery shopping, my mother stayed behind to inspect the house. she was basically the cleaning nazi, critiquing everything, but i knew the place hasn't been this clean in months. in the end i passed, as she left with my aunt and uncle, leaving behind a container of diced watermelons.

the last thing i did was to clean out the fish tanks, the underwater rooms within a room. i was halfway done with the water change when i realized the water from the "cistern" had bits of debris floating inside (most likely algae). i ended up dumping the whole barrel of water and mixing a new batch. the neutralizer instructions said it needed 24 hours to work, but i filled the last tank (the minibow) with the new water anyway. fish love chlorine!

my neighbor renee's smoke detector was beeping in the evening. the beep that says "i'm out of battery" and not "the house is burning." actually, the sound was coming from an open window of her empty first floor apartment, now that jen and franz had moved out. since i sleep with my windows open at nights, and her house being almost an arm's length away from mine, i knew the sound would drive me crazy (i couldn't close the windows because it'd get too hot). i tried ringing her doorbell and knocking on her door but there was no answer. the beeps were loud enough that i could hear it from outside, taunting me, daring me to do something about it (no other neighbors seemed to be bothered by it). i could see that renee's 3rd floor bedroom lights were on and her car was outside. i wanted to shout to get her attention, but decided that was too crazy of an idea. instead, i attached a note to her windshield wiper, in the oft chance that she wasn't home yet and would see it when she came back. with the incessant intermittent beeping driving me even more insane, i went online hoping to find her telephone number (which i didn't have). to my surprise, it wasn't that hard to dig up (after i spelled her last name right), her digits coming up in multiple places (apparently the woman gets around). an annoyed-sounding renee answered the phone. she said she couldn't quite understand what i was saying and told me to meet her downstairs.

as soon as we entered the empty first floor apartment, we both heard the beep. the problem was these things are notoriously difficult to figure out where they're coming from, and there were several smoke detectors throughout the house. turns out the beeping came from a plugged-in carbon monoxide detector in the kitchen. i removed it from the wall and took out the back-up battery. renee wasn't happy that franz and jen moved out, but i couldn't quite figure out her real reasons. was she unhappy over the abrupt loss of these long-time tenants? outwardly, she seemed irritated that they left the place a mess when they moved out (then they lamented to her that the previous tenants of their new place next door trashed that condo before they left as well - maybe it's a local tradition). "they painted the walls dark grey, can you believe that?" renee asked me. i feigned shock. in the past few days she hired a contractor to repaint the walls back to white. i asked her if she was looking for replacement tenants, hoping that her answer would be nubile lesley coeds. she said her current roommate andrew might be interested in moving downstairs (i've seen him around, he's a likable-enough guy).

my new roommate (chen) arrived late, nearly 11:00. it wasn't that big a deal, that's still early by my usual nocturnal schedule. her advisor dropped her off and left, told her he'd come back tomorrow around noontime to take her to the lab. this marks the 6th astrophysicist researcher to have stayed at chez tony. i couldn't tell how old she was, but young enough to be a phd graduate student back in shanghai (her thesis on the morphology of something something galaxies). after a quick tour of the facilities, we chatted for a few hours: about traveling (she lived in marseille for 8 months, been to england a few times too), about her first visit to the US (she thought it was weird we had time zones, when china only adheres to beijing time), about things to do around boston (museums, historical sites, duck boats), and about things to do beyond boston (trip to new york, washington dc, maybe further if she can get cheap airfare). she seems like a nice enough person, but the only kicker is she's here for 2 months, when i thought it was just one. if she turns out to be the kind of roommate who's never here and doesn't insist on doing any wok cooking, then i have no complaints.

it was a little weird not being able to walk around the house in my underwear, or have to close the door when i used the bathroom. it's going to take some time to adjust to being considerate in my own home. back to civilization, as the case may be.