Thursday, December 27, 2012

Warm, Sandy Beaches...

"Warm, sandy beaches, tropical fruit drinks with little umbrellas in them,"" is Don's mantra ever since we arrived in Oklahoma for Christmas last Sunday. The first weather reports we got while in Miami were just that it would probably get very cold, going as low as 18 degrees. Then came predictions of 'light' snow flurries. The Saturday before we left, my sister Janet called with the more ominous update. A big snow storm was heading to Oklahoma so while she'd still be coming up to OKC for early afternoon Christmas Eve, we'd be skipping the 5:30pm church service Mother wanted to attend and instead all of us would head back to Janet's farm outside of Apache and then we'd have to see if we could venture out on Christmas Day to see my Uncle Johnny & Aunt Paula.

Janet arrived, we had our roast beef dinner, opened presents, and then set out for Caddo County. Janet's back was hurting so Don offered to drive her car after his 100th muttering of "Warm sandy beaches..." and I rode with Mother in the new Cadillac DTS (2011) she'd just picked up on Saturday (talk about a Christmas present to yourself!). We left OKC in good form since nothing was happening with the weather. On the way down Mother and I caught up on family matters; we didn't see Janet's car on the HE Bailey Turnpike right away but we passed it around Chickasha so we called them. Janet needed to gas up in the city but also wanted a fountain Dr. Pepper. The convenience store where she got her gas didn't have her preferred beverage so they took a bit long getting to the turnpike and stopped at an additional store to get her soda.

We arrived at Janet's farm and glimpsed her 2 horses, Magic and Kissy, who were waiting for supper. Inside we met Lady, the lab Janet took in last year as a 2nd dog. Janet lost Elke to old age at the start of 2012 so Lady was an immediate companion. She is sweet and affectionate though Don's height and deep voice sometimes made her cower. She likes to jump up against you. She's not as vocal as Flash nor Elke (my 2 canine nieces of the past) but implores you with her eyes. Mercifully, she hasn't picked up on the tradition of going to Aunt Gayle at 5am to be let out as was the case in days of old with Flash and Elke. She was insistent on sharing Janet's bed which Janet shared with Mother while we took the guestroom. However, Lady apparently doesn't always understand about making room in bed for everyone!

Christmas Day started rather calmly but there was snow on the ground; Oklahoma City was getting hit far worse that morning so it was better that we got to Janet's the evening before. (Yes, Don once again muttered about "warm, sandy beaches..." and why we just didn't stay put in Miami.) Paula called and we decided based on her observation of the snow that we could still venture out for the 40 miles over to their place. We got in the Caddy and though the snow was coming down, we made it in good shape to see Johnny and Paula and enjoy Paula's beef stew and cowboy soup. They'd had Christmas the evening before with my cousins and their children but Darrell and his sons Connor and Braden stopped in after feeding the cattle. The boys have grown even more since I last saw them; Braden is the youngest and is now headed to 6'4", taller than his dad and brother! Darrell brought Oklahoma lottery tickets as part of our presents but scratching them off brought no winings. In the meantime the snow was coming down harder so it was time to take our leave. We got back to Janet's to stay in for the rest of the afternoon except for Janet who had to bundle up to feed the horses.

While we didn't get snowed in for several days as happened with me at Christmas 2009, the next day did pose transportation issues. Daddy's van got stuck when he drove over from Mountain View to have lunch with us and he called from Janet's mailbox at the main road. She was going to use the Caddy to just drive down and get him back to the house but miscalculated the snow drifts that'd built up in the driveway by her house. Mother's car also got stuck. Janet's neighbor was ill so he couldn't get on his tractor to clear the driveway. Her friend Pete came by and cleared the driveway and got both vehicles in good shape. Daddy is now 82 so his hearing is going so shouting becomes part of communication. We'd eaten but sat around the table with Daddy while he then had his lunch. We gave him his presents and he took off before it got dark. Leftovers last night (Don's offer of using the ground hamburger to fix supper for everyone was rejected) and then we watched the Kennedy Center honors. Lady went outside and for the first time, I could hear her barking. There was probably a coyote or other animal in the vicinity.

This morning we packed up, bid Janet farewell, and have returned to OKC. Mother's at her nail salon (a casualty to dealing with the snow under her Caddy) and though he's watching TV, I think Don is once again muttering, "Warm sandy beaches, tropical fruit drinks with little umbrellas in them." but I'll counter back as I keep doing, "Next week in Miami!"

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Zorro Is in the Building

Tuesday morning was the first day of the bookfair´s Jornadas profesionales for librarian, publishers, and bookdealers. Angela, Adán and I shared a cab over to La Rural and got our credentials and bookfair bag in due time. As we finished, Jorge Gutiérrez came up so we were able to express our thanks for the bookfair´s continued willingness to host US librarians. Adán made introductions and I remember Jorge from past fairs. He smiled and remarked how he remembered my name and I assumed he meant because it`s not a Romance language based set of appellations ending in vowels, or at least because Williams is not too foreign in a country that saw its share of British and Welsh immigrants. However, it turns out he associates my name with Guy Williams of Disney Zorro fame (or head of the Robinson family on Lost in Space for those who´re a little younger)! I watched my share of Zorro episodes on TV as a child and remembered being amazed to learn that when Guy Williams passed away in 1989 he was living in Argentina (Recoleta per IMDB). Evidently he was born Armand Catalano in 1924 in New York to Italian parents who came there from Argentina. He travelled to Argentina in 1973 and liked the country and found he had a fan base there so he moved there in the early 1980s. He´s buried in the US.
Many things at the bookfair looked the same, the Centro Naval´s stand is always in the same corner but I couldn´t help noticing the Hermana Bernarda monopoloy on cookbooks and video seems to have been taken over by Doña Patrona whose photo on the books suggests a 1960´s era Betty Crocker. Is the Doña real or not? Further investigation awaits. Another change in the four years since my last bookfair is the notable absence of pens and other swag. Probably evidence of everyone´s economic struggles.
This first day it appeared my university credit card was going to be declined for a purchase and I´ve realized some of the publishers aren´t stocking the titles I saw online that fit in my purchasing plan. Plan B goes into effect where I´ll go through the list of publishers who indicate they specialize in journalism titles and visit those stands. I´d started some preliminary grouping of them according to location by pabellón but only did a small portion of the list before leaving Miami. If you haven´t been here, then you might not realize the bookfair is spread out over a good deal of real estate. The building is divided into zones (called pabellonespavillions) with banners indicating streets (one direction runs odd numbers, the other even) and the stands have individual numbers for identification. Some publishers stands are huge and you can´t help but see them. Some small stands stand out with a distinct display (I believe there´s an award given for best stand) and others stand alone, tiny and indiscript but you don´t want to pass them by in case they hold real treasures. Sometimes I wish I had inline skates or wheelie shoes to get around. I haven´t seen any Segways but the congestion would probably make them too dangerous!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Back in Buenos Aires

My last visit to the Buenos Aires Feria de Libros was in 2008. My Title VI budget this year is designated for FIU´s Spanish Language Journalism major which has not gotten much library support. As I was looking into program needs, I realized coming to the bookfair would be a good approach!

Courtesy of the FIU Latin American & Caribbean Center, I was able to use one of their complimentary tickets from TAM Airlines. I left Miami on an 11am flight, arrived in São Paulo around 8pm for a 10:45pm connecting flight to Buenos Aires. I expected to arrive in SP at 1:30 in the morning. Alas, for various reasons, our flight took off an hour late. Once I got through immigration (and didn`t know until I had to pay it right there about Argentina`s new $140.00 visa), getting my bag, and going through the customs x-ray, and then got a cab to the hotel, I was able to go to bed at 4:50am. Not surprisingly, I slept until 1:30 that afternoon.

We`re back at the NH Florida but my ro0m looked onto an interior courtyard and was about as bright as a tomb (I´ve started rereading Edgar Allan Poe), felt very small, and the TV didn`t work. I asked at the desk to change, they advised I´d have to wait until the 3pm checkout to see what would be available. I had lunch in the hotel dining room and then found I could move to the 7th floor overlooking Tres Sargentos street and the Inversiones Federales building as I had in 2004. To the left I can also look to see the long-shuttered Harrod`s. I remain intrigued that you can see some open windows on its top floors.

Once moved into the new digs, I went out to buy water for the room and coffee for Don. Adán Griego and Angela Carreño are also staying here so I sent out an e-mail seeing who might want to get together for dinner. Angela called me so we went across the street and shared pizza and salad. A final check of e-mail for the evening brought a message from Hortensia Calvo that she´s also here for the bookfair but at a different NH location. Phil MacLeod is also staying at a different NH. My first day in Buenos Aires didn`t quite go as planned but it`s still good to be here.