the best thing about christmas for someone who doesn't celebrate the holiday is how quiet it is. since pretty much everything is closed, there's a beautiful stark desolation befitting the end of the year. i slept until 10am then got ready to leave for my parents' place. there was hardly any people nor cars outside. even on the main drag, storefronts were dark. i saw groups of people strolling the streets, taking in the novelty of everything being closed.

on my way riding pass fresh pond, i spotted a red-bellied woodpecker clinging to a utility pole. by the time i got my camera out of the bag, it was already gone. the last time i saw one was back in early spring when i visited the arnold arboretum. instead i spotted some downy woodpeckers, which i've seen at the feeders, but snapped a few photos anyway as a consolation prize.

having a holiday in the middle of the week messed with my sense of timing so today felt like a sunday. the only thing worth watching on television were the annual christmas basketball games. the NBA was especially greedy this year, scheduling a total of 5 games starting with a celtics-raptors matchup in toronto. since my mother was watching the stack of murdoch mysteries episodes i downloaded for her (season 11 and 12), i watched the game either on my laptop or my phone via youtube tv.

celtics ending up winning, they were up by 20 points for most of the second half. the people making up the schedule were probably hoping for a better matchup, but the fact that it was the early game showed their lack of confidence. the primetime game slated for later in the evening is between the lakers and the clippers.

when my sister came home in the late afternoon and let out hailey into the backyard to use the bathroom, she discovered that the oil deliveryman who came early yesterday to fill up our tank had spilled oil in the backyard and the bottom of the staircase reeked of heating oil. we ended up cleaning the tainted flagstones with some dawn detergent and a scrubbing brush, then i rinsed everything off with a large bucket of water. the deliveryman also didn't fill the tank, only up to 7/8th capacity. later i checked the backyard camera which i'd just set up on monday. i couldn't find where he made the delivery, even though my parents said he came early, before 8:30am. could it be he came in the very early morning? sure enough, around 5:09am, somebody came into our backyard wearing a headlamp, dragging a fuel hose. everything seemed fine until he finished, when we could plainly see him dripping a few drops onto the ground before leaving.

my sister came home because she wanted to eat hot pot. i've been trying to get my mother to agree to hot pot for years, but she's always refused, but when my sister brings it up, we have it immediately. because it was so impromptu, and all the supermarkets were closed, we only had a limited amount of ingredients. i also wasn't mentally ready for hot pot. we had some sichuan hot pot soup base but it wasn't very good, made the broth turn nearly black and wasn't spicy nor numbing, the hallmark of good sichuan hot pot. i was also worried that the house would reek of hot pot (which ended up being the case). since my sister can't eat spicy, she had her own induction cooker with her own pot. her broth was taking forever to heat up while ours was already boiling. she discovered she didn't turn on the cooker, then had to wait nearly half an hour for her broth to come to a boil, by which point we were already done eating.

i returned home close to 8pm, to enjoy my final night of solo living for the next few months. my clothes reeked so much of hot pot i had to throw them all into the hamper for laundry tomorrow. during halftime (of the clippers-lakers game), i went to the kitchen and put new heavy duty tinfoil on the burner stove before throwing out the trash. whatever little cleanup i can do tonight means i don't have to do it tomorrow morning.