For New Year's, my family went to my brother's house in New Mexico. The flight was long but everyone was friendly, which made for a decent but long trip. George picked me up at the airport in Santa Fe. We went shopping for jeans, because they're a lot cheaper and the selection is better. Later in the evening, Nash and Toby drove up to George's place. Toby got taller in the last five years. Gus, the cat, slept on my legs and later on my right arm.
It was a warm winter day, and we went on a day trip to Bandelier National Monument. It's a twenty-minute drive from central Los Alamos, and the Ancestral Puebloan (sometimes called "Anasazi") ruins are awesome. You can climb up ladders on the sides of the cliff and go in little caves. Later in the day, Betsy and Dex came up from Albuquerque and we all had dinner together.
Cora's birthday is January 1st. Today she is six. We had a birthday party around mid-day, where everyone ate cupcakes. Cora got a lot of presents, including a Jew's harp. Later in the day, she and I performed a small concert. We live-streamed the concert and had four remote viewers, along with our local family audience.
Betsy and Cora and I went to the ice rink. Betsy fell and hit her head on the ice. It looked painful. Cora fell down a lot too, but she's shorter, and in any case she didn't clonk her head.
Cora and I went skiing in the morning. We didn't get too many runs in, but we had fun on the beginner slope for a while, and then later making snow angels. Later, we decided to do some home renovations. George and I took down his old TV antenna from his roof. It was located right next to the telephone and cable lines, and we skillfully avoided dropping the long pipe on them. Then we tore an old pipe containing old power cables off the other side of his house. And around the same time, George went out and got a step ladder and some shears, and I trimmed the pine tree branches that were resting on the cable and telephone wires. That was quite a bit of maintenance for a single morning. Satisfying.
On my last night, George and I went to the local pub for cheeseburgers. It's difficult to get good ground beef in Japan. In fact, I only know of one good hamburger restaurant in Japan—Martiniburger, located in eastern Shinjuku. Here in the U.S., you just go the local place, ask for a cheeseburger, and are typically happy with what you get, which we did, and we were.
The outgoing flight departs from Santa Fe at 6:45. It's a short flight to Dallas and then a 14-hour flight to Narita. Winter vacation is almost over; classes start Tuesday. I feel pretty good about what we got done. Hanging out with the family, playing with Cora, eating a bunch of American food, getting a new pair of jeans and some food to share with people back in Japan, plus whatever other random things we did. It worked out well.