last night i finally managed to declutter my living room coffee table, which was a personal triumph. you can usually tell how cluttered my house is by the condition of the coffee table. however the kitchen still needed work, all the construction material and equipment as well as my indoor gardening items from last season needed to be stowed away. plus i did another load of laundry, washing the sheets from the guest bedroom. finally i had to do another pass-through, vacuuming all the floors, wiping any an last minute dust.
first thing i did was to empty the trash and run to star market to get more kitchen trash bags. i also tossed up some dirty pillows, and filled up another kitchen trash bag worth of garbage that needed to be tossed. it didn't help that by noontime it started to rain again, on a very grey and foggy day.
one shortcut i found to clean the remaining little bits of clutter around the house was using my plastic storage bins, which i still had four. i basically just swept everything into those bins and filed them away into my closet, to be sorted at some future date.
all of that took me until nearly 2pm, before my father arrived to pick me up. we went to the cafe, where my mother was waiting with the other car. my taiwanese relatives were due to arrive at 2:45pm but my father wanted to leave for alewife immediately, in case they arrived early. but with the rainy conditions, most likely they'd be delayed. my father found the flixbus website where they had a live bus tracker. it said they wouldn't arrive until 3:30pm, so it's a good thing my father didn't leave early and spent an hour waiting. later my cousin also sent us a message from line, confirming they'd be delayed by an hour. she said they could already feel the weather getting colder as they made their way up north to new england.
both my parents went to go pick up my relatives at alewife. my 2nd aunt had walked to the cafe by that point. instead of getting ready to welcome our relatives, she was preoccupied with trying to secure an appointment for some dental work, one that would accept her dental insurance.
i saw my parents return to the cafe, bringing with them our guests. i've seen my niece a few years back (when she came over for thanksgiving with her dog phobia), but i haven't seen either my taiwanese aunt nor my eldest cousin in 9 years, not since 2013. they all looked the same. when they came inside the cafe, my 2nd aunt couldn't bother to greet them, but instead continued with her phone call via translator. she was still on the phone by the time we left the cafe, leaving her behind, with instructions for my sister to bring her to my parents' house after she finishes her call.
at the cafe we chatted and ate some snacks, chia te brand biscuits my relatives had brought from taiwan. chia te is famous for their pineapple cakes, but they didn't get any of those, instead opting to get less famous flavors. my cousin seemed to be suffering from a cold, blowing her nose constantly, clearing the phlegm from her throat. having not been sick during the whole pandemic, it made me a little nervous to be so close to someone with symptoms. later she rounded everyone up for a group photo. i used her latest iphone with the fancy ultrawide lens, i really like it. i'd forgotten just how great the camera on the iphone can be, makes me tempted to go back to iphone on my next upgrade.
by 5pm, my father took my relatives to the mt.auburn star market to get some cooked lobsters. i was supposed to drive my mother back to the house in the other car. but at the last minute we changed our plans and decided to rendezvous with our relatives at the supermarket. even though they left before us, we actually go there earlier than them, and started to get worried when we couldn't find them inside the store. when we finally met up, we ended up getting 5 cooked lobsters ($105). i noticed my taiwanese aunt was wearing a face mask (fully vaccinated, she'd also contracted covid a few months ago). my cousin also picked up some cheese and prosciutto, as well as cantaloupes. my parents rushed to pay before my cousin could get out her credit card, lying to her that you need a membership to shop at star market.
we arrived at the house by 5:40pm. my sister wasn't there yet, which could only mean my 2nd aunt still wasn't finished with her 2 hour long phone call. since the lobsters were already cooked, we set them out for our relatives to eat while my parents and i were busy making food preparations. i rolled my blue cheese ground beef mix into 8 balls then flattened them into patties before taking them outside to barbecue. earlier my father had taken our one leaking propane tank and had it exchanged for a replacement full tank at home depot ($23). my sister and my 2nd aunt finally showed up.
when i went to check on our guests, they were feasting on the lobsters. it's a known fact in my family that i can't stand the smell of lobsters (or really, any kind of seafood), so it took a lot of endurance not to retch. on top of that, they were saving the shells to make a seafood broth, so the house reeked of lobster smell. back outside in the dark, the burgers were grilling. my father had sent up a lawn umbrella thinking it might rain, but the rain had actually stopped by the time we left the cafe. now it was foggy, so the air was still wet. surprisingly not cold though. we decided to only cook the burgers, and save the wok-cooked shrimps for another time.
when tang tang saw the blue cheese burgers i brought in, her eyes went wide. before i could even bring in the toasted buns, she'd already finished half a burger. her my mother (my cousin) said her daughter loves beef. by the time we all sat down to eat, tang tang had already eaten two burgers. since i only made a total of 8 (i wasn't expecting someone to hungry hungry hippo them), that meant someone (my mother) didn't get a burger.
i also had the pasta salad i'd made. i didn't think there were any lobsters left, but there were two more, wrapped up in paper like a long warm sub. although i hate the smell of lobster, i do like eating it if it's prepared correctly, or at the very least wanted to try some (been a while since i ate lobster). i had a few pieces dipped in a ginger & vinegar sauce, the traditional chinese way of eating lobsters. i sat next to my 2nd aunt, who kept spilling lobster juice all over the place.
after dinner, my taiwanese aunt was admiring the house plants temporarily in our sunroom. she was most impressed with the prayer plants, which she'd never seen before (at least not with those patterns). my cousin seemed to be going through her cold symptoms in successions, and was at the tired stage, falling asleep on the couch.
as it was getting late and our guests might want to rest, we started heading over to my place, where they'd be spending the night. because there was so many people, we took two cars: my sister drove myself, my 2nd aunt, and tang tang, while my father took everyone else.
we arrived at my place a bit after 8:30pm. we brought in the luggage, each person arriving with one large suitcase. out of our guests, only my taiwanese aunt had seen my place, the first and only time she visited the boston area. it was exactly 20 years ago, shortly after i bought the place, before i even started renovating. i gave them the quick tour, and everyone them congregated in the kitchen area as it was the only room large enough to accomodate so many people. my sister soon left.
everyone sat around, eating more taiwanese pastries, sampling my various teas, some of which have long expired. my cousin was especially enamored with my good earth cinnamon tea, which i can't get anymore, and the last box that i have is one of my most valuable teas. my taiwanese aunt noticed my bag of ponderosa pinecones that i got for free one year from star market, and asked if she could take some for growing aquatic plants (apparently that's a thing in taiwan); i told her she could take the whole bag as i had no use for them, but she was just fine with two of the larger cones.
i saw the itinerary printout for the new england architectural tour my cousin signed them all up for. two days in the boston area, before they head down to connecticut to yale university. the plan is for my cousin and tang tang to continue with the tour on thursday, while my taiwanese aunt leave the tour to spend a week with us before returning to new york city to rendezvous with her daughter and grand daughter. i recognized some of the famous architects, particular moshe safdie, who's office is just a few minutes walk from here.
as the oldest of all my cousins, my taiwanese cousin has a very type-A personality, and some would even say a bully. she always has to get her way, and is used to bossing people around. when they first got here it was 64 degrees inside the house, which for me is fine, but i was worried that it'd be cold for my guests. my cousin initially said we didn't need to turn up the heat, but then changed her mind. later she asked if i could turn it up even more, and i had it up to 72 degrees - the highest i'd ever gone - but i think she would've preferred it to go even higher. i also left the heat on the entire night, something i would normally never do, where i typically lower the thermostat to 60 degrees.
my cousin had to do a conference call to her taiwanese office and went to the living room. she sat in my usual spot, which i later moved all her stuff when she was done with the call, so i could reclaim my sofa chair. since tang tang lives in flushing, i asked her for a list of favorite restaurants, which she sent me. a lot of them were very local, but i wanted to try what the locals eat, since they usually avoid the touristy places, and go for the ones with better value and taste.
everyone finally left by around 11pm, leaving behind our taiwanese guests and myself. tang tang had decided to take the guest bedroom while my cousin and my taiwanese aunt shared the master bedroom. there stuff was everywhere in the house, from the living to the kitchen to the bathroom. i spent all that effort cleaning up the house, and just as quickly it gets cluttered again. they took turns taking showers, as i listened to weird noises coming from the bathroom. my taiwanese aunt isn't used to showers, she takes simple washes with a basin of water; she was afraid of slipping in the tub so she wore her flip flops into the shower. my cousin asked if i had a blow dryer, which i just put away earlier today.
once everyone had showered, it was finally my turn to use the bathroom. i was afraid to see what i'd find, but it wasn't too bad. yes, some wet spots on the bathroom floor, but not too bad. for some strange reason someone had used a brand new roll of toilet paper, leaving just the cardboard core behind. later i was able to piece together that maybe tang tang was on her period and used up all the toilet paper. somebody had also adjusted the shower head so it was pointing straight down. i had to readjust it to my preferred angle.
the guests had all gone to bed by the time i was done showering. for some reason they had their bedroom doors all slightly ajar, maybe it's a taiwanese thing. i was going to do some blogging but found myself nearly dozing off in my chair so i decided to go to sleep. my bed was the couch. the one good thing was because it was so warm inside the house, i hardly needed a blanket.