Thursday, February 02, 2006

Happy New Year (please pass me a tissue)

Well, it's official: the Year of the Dog has commenced. Cole and Nora both have a fever and cough, and my nose is driving me nuts, but hey, we're on vacation, the weather's been great – it could be worse.

We only had a smattering of fireworks in our village this year, but an unbelievable amount of traffic. The holiday follows a strict heirarchy of family visits – driving on New Year's eve to spend New Year's day with the husband's family, then driving, sometimes across the country, to spend the next couple days with the in-laws (the husband's in-laws, that is – the Chinese always lose a daughter, never gain a son). The flow of people has been uneven, with one side of the freeway crawling along while the other direction is wide open; when we've had to go out, we use surface streets and avoid the worst intersections. I don't think people here are big on shortcuts. Everyone seems to stay on the main roads, even when everyone, literally, is on the road. Most foreigners stay home over the holiday; it's not a good time to go sight-seeing.

Last Saturday we did venture out with our friends, the Pinkertons, to the New Year's market. (I took tons of photos, but have had difficulty loading them – check the photos link in a day or two.) The market is open all year as the dry market – dried mushrooms, beans, fish, tea, assorted grasses and grains, powdered who-knows-what – but I haven't gone before, so I don't know what distinguishes it as the New Year's market right now. There were stalls selling red banners, tassles, envelopes, and so on, and a man creating large calligraphy banners, but otherwise it seemed to be a pretty normal dry market. Just very, very crowded.

My parents will be here in two (two!) days, so I'm going to keep this short and get back to my to-do list. Our study is slowly being transformed into a guest room, thanks to Tim. The rest of the house needs a little attention, though, so off I go. My dirty windows beckon.

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