i woke up this morning in anticipation of mary's return. her plane arrived at 7am, so i figured i'd get up at 8am, even though she told me she wouldn't get to my place until 9am. not knowing when she'd arrive made me anxious, which messed up my morning bathroom routine, which put me further on edge. at 9am exactly a taxi parked in front of my house. after a minute, the driver came out to retrieve the 2 pieces of luggage from the trunk while mary appeared from the back seat. i helped her carry her large suitcase into the house; it was heavy, as if full of books.

i gave her some time to unpack. she made no mention of the new aquarium, or the curtain in her bedroom. i was also afraid she might've noticed somebody had slept on her bed while she was gone but i was careful in covering up my tracks. she asked if she could do some laundry. i told her i had to go out and run some errands (10am), be back in an hour:

1) i went to the UPS store on somerville-park to drop off the malfunctioning foscam camera for return. i would've asked for a receipt as proof, but the single clerk looked busy so i didn't bother.

2) next was the xfinity comcast office on beacon street, to return the gateway equipment from my parents' cafe. this office only handles residential accounts, but will accept returns of business equipment. however, they can't check to see whether or not voice had been deactivated from the account, and could only give me a handwritten receipt.

3) i biked down inman street to cambridge city hall in central square to pay the second half of my property tax. i wasn't sure where the tax office was, but it was conveniently located on the first floor (i guess most people come to city hall to pay their taxes). i spoke with a pretty young clerk. my tax wasn't due until may, but i wanted to see if i could pay in advance since i wouldn't be here. she said i could, but they wouldn't cash the check until may and gave me a receipt.

4) finally i went to the t-mobile store a few blocks down on mass-prospect to see if i can reactivate my nokia phone. when the nokia number was ported over to google voice on monday, the phone immediately went dead. when i tried to log in online (using the former number as the account number), i wasn't able to log in. when i asked about this at the t-mobile office, they said because the account was prepaid, there wasn't nothing i could do to reactivate the account, and all the money i put in was lost. the only way to make the phone work again was to buy a new sim card (apparently sim cards are single use; once activated and deactivated, they're dead to the network); buying the sim card in store was $20, online (via amazon) was just $5. one of the employees there was curious about my google voice setup; when i told him how easy it was and there was no monthly fees after the initial equipment buy, he couldn't believe it.

by the time i returned home an hour later, mary appeared to be sleeping in her room. she also cooked something while i was out, because i could smell noodles. the washer was still running but in the final cycle. i took the opportunity to use the bathroom (still a little anxious, afraid she might need to use the bathroom) and later a shower.

i called comcast business to confirm that the voice portion of the account had been deactivated. the agent said it was pending, but after it's processed, i will retroactively get reimbursed from the time the phone number was ported. i also called my homeowner insurance, to find out what date i have to send out my premium without incurring a late fee (6/9, i will already be back by then). even if i wanted to i couldn't pay them yet because it's still too early for them to give me a premium price quote.

i called my mother at the cafe, to let her know the status on these various bills. this time the call quality was crystal clear, unlike yesterday. google voice VOIP is a good thing after all! now i'm tempted to get an obihai voip telephone adapter for my house as well. i do have another google voice number attached to my gmail account, it'd be convenient for visitors, even though it'd only be for US calls. my house was originally wired for telephone service anyway, so putting a working phone in every room would be easy. maybe when the cost of an obihai200 goes down i might consider getting another one (i bought the last one for just $34; they're currently selling for $48; even at that price it's a good deal since you can get rid of regular monthly voice phone service).

i spent the early afternoon doing my taxes. my aunt's and my sister's godmother's taxes were quite easy after i got over the initial personal info sections (was my aunt filing jointly with her husband? as my sister's godmother marital status single or widow?). neither of them were paying any taxes (and in the case of my sister's godmother, not even state taxes since she didn't live in MA all of last year). i reconfigured my own taxes, and instead of pay $200 federal, i now didn't have to pay anything (but i wasn't getting any state refund either, which i was going to get using my old configuration). now all i have to do is recheck my numbers and print out the forms (or e-file, whichever is cheapest and fastest).

i biked to belmont in the afternoon. only hailey was home, but my sister came by a short time later to take her out for a walk in winchester. i busied myself pruning the stack of dead branches and cutting them down to size so they can fit in garden refuse bins. it reminds me of those nature documentaries that show an army of ants systemically disassembling a large insect prey to take back to the colony. there's something kind of tranquil and soothing cutting all those branches down to size. i managed to get 2 bins filled before my parents came home around 3:30pm.

for the next 2 hours my father and i were busy pruning the rest of the maple tree, cutting down all the suckers that'd grown over the past few years, since the last time we gave the tree a thorough pruning. he was up on the ladder cutting down the branches, gently passing them down so as to not damage some neighboring trees and plants and fences. my job was to then take these branches and stack them up neatly in a pile, cutting off any stray branches with an industrial-size lopper. there were also a few tricky spots that were hard for us to set up the ladder. it really is a 2-person job, as we found creative ways to snake the ladder through the branches, occasionally requiring some branch trimming in order to make the ladder fit. we ended up cutting so much, there will hardly be any maple leaves this season. however, that means more sun in the backyard, which will be good for the garden.

after chinese dumpling dinner i printed out my sister's godmother's tax forms. my father's in a hurry to get these, so he can put in the paperwork so she can get health insurance. my grand uncle called while we were having dinner, something wrong with his television. i made a detour to his place on my way back home. it was a weird glitch, cable had audio but no video, and i couldn't change the channels. i ended up just resetting the cable box, which worked fine after that. i went to the back, to my sister's bedroom, and let out hailey in the backyard so she can urinate before letting her back inside the house.

mary was still asleep when i got back home, but the dryer was running on a gentle cycle. had she been doing laundry the entire day? i used the bathroom and took a shower, replacing my stinky clothes.

mary got up around 11pm. she looked a little puffy, maybe it was just from sleeping all day, but i could've sworn she'd been crying too, although i couldn't hear it in her voice. she asked if it'd be okay if she made some late night dinner ("yes, of course"). i asked her about her trip back, which i realized meant she had to sleep overnight at the new york airport because her [delta] flight from shanghai arrived at 11pm, and her morning flight to boston was 6am. i told her i was leaving for china myself, in a few weeks, and wouldn't be back until june. i also asked her when she was planning to invite her husband and son here for summer vacation. she said not until july or august, and only for 10-15 days. she was also thinking about inviting her parents as well, but she'd have to do the math, figure out how much it'd all cost. they'd only be in boston for a few days, before doing some traveling to various parts of america (i'd imagine a bit of east and west coasts).

i don't know what possessed me, but i was feeling especially generous. at first i told her she could stay throughout june as well, but once i found out her family would only be here for a little while, i said they could stay at my place, and i'd vacate my bedroom for the few days that they're here, and either go sleep at my parents, or maybe i go on a vacation that week or two. and then i did something that in hindsight seemed absolutely crazy, but i asked her that if she wanted to, she could live at my place until her visiting scholar assignment expired, which wouldn't be until the end of november. i think i was seeing more as a financial benefit for me, overlooking the fact that i've never lived with anyone for this long a period, essentially the rest of the year, minus 2 months when i'm in china. but that means 8 months worth of rent, which is easy money, and i've gotten used to mary, in all her weird ways. she said it was a great idea, because she didn't want to move anyway, and she likes living here, close to everything.

i know i promised to look for a full-time job when i got back from china, but with mary staying here until the end of the year, i have a bit of a financial cushion to fall back on, and won't be in such a state of financial dispair when i get back. even though it seems daunting, i think it's the right decision. it's china money anyway, so it's my patriotic duty to chip away at the deficit.

i finally asked her if she liked the bedroom curtain, she was especially thankful for my thoughtful gesture. she didn't seem to notice the new fish tank, but did notice it was brighter than before. it didn't seem to bother her that it was right outside her bedroom, maybe having a light source peeking through the door cracks is comforting for her in some ways.

i was surprised when it began to rain in the late evening, hearing the patter of a shower hitting the window. i thought the rain wouldn't arrive until tomorrow, but when i checked the doppler radar, i was surprised to see a large swath of rain passing through the area. unfortunately my bike was locked outside, too late to move it down to the basement. hopefully all those special lights on the fuji won't short-circuit!