i spent the day cleaning. why i should be doing more work than annie on the day her mother was due to arrive in town is one of the great mysteries of life. of course annie was totally oblivious, having left for work by the time i woke up this morning. i did a large load of laundry, collected some spare pillows and bedsheets, cleaned the toilet, scrubbed the bathtub tiles, cleaned the kitchen and living room, and vacuumed the house. all of this on another hot 90°F+ day, fortunately i intermittently turned on the AC. i even went outside and swept the backyard, collecting all the fallen acorns.

i had a greek yogurt for lunch along with a magenta dragon fruit, which only last me for about an hour. in the afternoon while folding my clothes i heated up a dozen pizza rolls in the toaster oven.

even though annie didn't tell me, there's only one daily hainan airline direct flight arriving from beijing to boston, scheduled to get here at 3:10pm. when the time came, all i could do was wait anxiously for annie and her mother to show up. i figured with the time going through customs and taking an uber from logan airport to cambridge, they'd probably get here by 5pm.

they didn't arrive until 6pm. i saw annie's mother, who wasn't at all how i pictured her. she looked nothing like annie, more like your typical chinese ah-ma. also for some reason i thought she'd be younger than me but obviously she was older and more matronly. instead of big suitcases her mother arrived with two small ones, one extremely heavy, one extremely light. as this was her first time being in the US, she made the rookie mistake of bringing small suitcases when she should've gotten big ones to bring back all the stuff she's going to buy. our first meeting was a little awkward, she said hello and then came into the house, saying nothing else.

i tried to engage her mother in some small talk, but it was all one sided. i guess that's where annie learned her conversation skills. i asked her mother about the flight, about the weather, whether it was hotter in beijing or boston. she replied to all my questions, but never asked anyone back. she also didn't seem the least curious as to what i do for a living, or perhaps annie had already filled her in. as far as first impressions go, she didn't make a very good one. she seemed unfriendly, and gave me a few furtive glances, as if she was somehow afraid. i've only ever seen this one other time in my life, when i went to an tao's house in shanghai for dinner, and his mother had the strangest uncomfortable demeanor, like she didn't want me there, or forced to being overly polite to the point of being sullen. sometimes i just can't figure chinese people out.

so the first thing annie's mother did - before she even unpacked - was to make dinner. she was chopping up ingredients, including shredded some cauliflower in her hand with my sharpest cutting knife. i told her to be careful, she said nothing. then she asked annie for oil, salt, and soy sauce - all my ingredients as annie didn't have any of these things. her mother was about to cook some stirfry, and to her credit, annie warned her not to splatter, and i told the mother i don't have a hood so any cooking smell will have to be ventilated manually via window fan. she didn't seem to care, told me it was just going to be light cooking. i retreated to the living room and gritted my teeth as the whole became engulfed in chinese cooking smell. as it was still too hot outside and i was running the AC, the windows had to remain closed. to make matters worse, they didn't even come out to ask me to join them for dinner out of courtesy. naturally i would've refused, but it was kind of rude, something i wouldn't forget.

after dinner annie and her mother retreated to the guest bedroom. they closed the door, even though it must've been in the upper 80's, but they did have the fan running, which only circulated the trapped hot air.

i was just really surprised. i thought annie for sure would take her mother out to dinner, to explore harvard square on her first day in the US, since she's only here for a few weeks at most. but they squandered a perfectly good day. annie herself is not the best of tour guide, and would rather stay home instead of going out and experiencing the city. it's kind of a shame.

we had another 40kWh+, the 7th consecutive day. the magic number tomorrow is 36.76kWh: if we can beat that, we set a new monthly record. it's going to difficult though: it's sunny up until noontime, before it becomes cloudy with scattered thunderstorms by the afternoon and into the evening. it's all up to the god of solar power to grant us a favorable outcome.

i've found yet another new show to watch, pennyworth on epix, the same network that brought you perpetual grace ltd. it's the story of young alfred pennyworth, future butler of bruce wayne, AKA batman. but the series has nothing to do with superheroes and more to do with 1960's london, dishonest politicians and shady underworld villains working in cahoots with crooked cops. it has a very distinctive style, a dystopian london where smoke stacks are always billowing, the police carrying semi-automatic weapons, and public hanging are broadcasted on the telly. it's kind of like 1984 mixed with a young 007 mixed with a guy ritchie film. 3 episodes so far, it's been pretty good.

i can't check it all the time but i do occasionally check my parents' backyard wyze cam, especially at nights to see if there are any critters around. motion detection doesn't seem sensitive enough to pick up any animals because since i've installed the camera there's been critter damage but never once has the camera been able to pick it up and alert me (maybe i need to adjust the sensitivity).

anyway, i pulled up the camera tonight from the wyze app and saw something in the backyard. from the distinctive black and white coloration i could tell immediately it was a skunk. how the hell did a skunk get into our backyard? and have we been visited by every single suburban mammal? squirrels, chipmunk, mice, rabbits, raccoon, woodchuck, and now skunk! we're just missing opossum. i called my father to go out into the backyard to see if the skunk had eaten any of the buttercup squash. it was too dark to clearly see, and at one point he thought the skunk was rearing up to spray, so he decided to leave it alone. later i read that even though skunks are omnivores, they eat more pests than vegetables, things like slugs and beetles. they don't climb though but they do dig. i may have to return to belmont tomorrow to reinspect the perimeters.

annie came out of her room later in the evening to ask me if i was going to market basket anytime this week. i knew she was fishing but i wasn't going to bite. "do you need anything?" i asked. she said her mother might be interested in going, that if i could point her out in the right direction that would be great, but she's afraid her mother might get lost. basically, what she wanted was for me to take her mother on a supermarket field trip. but then she added that she hadn't asked her mother yet and she might not want to go (either by herself or with me, she didn't say). "why don't you take her when you get back from work?" i told annie. had her mother made a better first impression i would've jumped on the opportunity to play tour guide. but i'm not feeling particularly generous to babysit somebody's standoffish mother.