Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Had a nice time, back to work

Today is my first day of work for the spring semester after the holiday break. The students don't start until the day after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday (January 16). So, we have two interim weeks of work in which I will try to get some small projects done before classes start, and things get busy for me. As a note, as of today, I already have two requests for library instruction.

This year, we did manage to make it up to Fort Worth to spend some time with family. Last year, someone got the flu (I think it was up there), and we stayed away. Since the better half had to work on Christmas Eve, it meant we did not go upstate until the 26th. My daughter and I spent a good part of the night tracking Santa on the Norad website (see my holiday post for link) We were home for the Christmas celebration and exchanging of gifts. We then went upstate and stayed through Friday the 29th. It was all good. We got to spend some time with my parents. My younger brother and his wife came over with their baby, so I got to see my 7-month old nephew. I also got to see my first grader nephew. Mom, who suffers from lupus, was looking a bit on the frail side, but she is as optimistic as ever. This is the woman, who when diagnosed, was told she only had about six or seven years left to live (I was probably very young when she was diagnosed as I vaguely recall it), and she has been going strong for a lot more than that. This is also the woman who, when I was going to get married, took a trip to Six Flags to ride roller coasters. She spent some time seriously sore, but she was not about to let anyone tell her she had to stay in a bed. Dad was doing well. We took a short shopping trip to some outlet mall not far from their home (I can't recall the name now); of course, it is a good time to go shopping, even if it is just window shopping, on the days after Christmas. Evening dinners with family were good as well. In fact, a big part of getting together in our family is sharing good meals together. On the last night, my parents made some very nice empanadas.

The better half and I also got some time to go visit the Stockyards. We have been there before, but we always enjoy taking a walk in the historical area as well as going to the shops. My personal reason to go there was to visit Lonestar Wines to do some wine tasting and buy some Texas wine. While I enjoy wines from around the world (Chileans are one of my favorites), I am also a believer in consuming the local products. When I lived in Indiana, we bought Indiana wines. So, we are in Texas now, we buy Texas wines. By the way, Texas does produce some excellent wines, so if you are interested, here is some information. I like going to Lone Star because they carry wines from all over the state, so I can get items from wineries that I would not be able to visit right away. We tend to like buying at the winery, but hey, Texas is a big state. It may take us a while to get to some places. On an interesting note to wine enthusiasts, I have noticed that wineries here are more likely to charge a fee for wine tasting; a few bucks for anywhere from 5 to 8 tastes is not uncommon. Back in Indiana, and in other Midwestern states I have visited (Illinois and Michigan; I think the one I went to in Wisconsin may have charged, but that was eons ago), the wine tastings are usually free. Actually, over there, a winery that charges was very rare. I guess the sense of hospitality differs, or it may be something to do with local laws. Anyhow, just an observation.

Since the better half had to work again for New Year's eve, we were home for that celebration, and we popped the champagne at midnight. Actually, a very nice and simple sparkling white zinfandel. For the little one, we had some sparkling grape juice on hand as well. We hope that 2007 will turn out to be a better year than 2006. 2006 had a couple of bad moments that we would soon rather forget. But, as my father would say, we all have our health, and we are together, so in the end, things turned out well.

So now, I am back at work. By the way, we are not quite done celebrating in my household, as we will be receiving the Three Kings this weekend for the Epiphany celebration. While we are pretty secular in our home, the celebration is a very significant one in Puerto Rico, so this is one of the traditions I bring in so to speak. My daughter gets a kick out of it because the Three Kings bring presents too. As tradition dictates, we will leave our shoeboxes filled with some grass for the camels to feed on the night before. In our home, we have a little addition to the holiday traditions. We do put out a little creche scene. The way it works, sometime in December, we set up the stable. Then Mary and Joseph, with their donkey, set out in their travel towards Bethlehem and the stable. So, Mary and Joseph start at one end of the apartment, and they gradually move closer until they get there. Our daughter gets very excited when she sees that they have moved when she gets up in the mornings. Of course, it is slow travel, since Mary and Joseph were on foot, and the young bride was pregnant. Once the couple got the stable, they would wait for the baby to be born, and the baby arrives on Christmas morning. Since we celebrate Epiphany as well, it means the Three Kings are travelling now from the Far East to bring their presents to the baby. The idea comes from a tradition that my cousins back in Puerto Rico do with their nativity scene where they do not put the baby in the manger until Christmas. We added the notion of the characters traveling. As a note, in Puerto Rico, the "big" holiday is Epiphany. Christmas, with Santa Claus, as it is mostly known in the States was something the Americans brought to Puerto Rico, and it stuck. Actually, the celebrations back home are something I sorely miss. While I am mostly settled up in the States, I still think that being in Puerto Rico for the holiday season is probably the best place to be. Maybe writing about that would make a nice post in the future.

Anyhow, I am back at work today. Mostly a day to see what has filled up the inbox. I worked the reference desk in the afternoon, and at this point, business is mostly some people applying for admission and so on (we are open admissions) for whom we provide computer access if they show a valid ID. Otherwise, it is pretty quiet. I will be catching up with my feed reader, another thing I unplugged during the holiday. Well, I just did not feel like reading LIS related posts for one. For us, the holidays are about family and being together with the ones you love. The feeds, the inbox, so on are not going anywhere.

So, Happy New Year 2007.

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