The year started with a clean bill of health for M after the usual tests. We spent our anniversary in Princeton, doing the things we love doing there (a meal at Mediterra, a visit to the Lindt chocolate shop and to the Labyrinth bookstore). D started teaching a brand new undergraduate course, on the economics of inequality. It’s the hot topic of the day, of course, and it is remarkable that D’s department had never offered a course on it. The course was well attended and well received. D is planning to apply to make it formally a part of the economics department’s course offerings. He also has started writing a book to serve as the text for such a course, based on the lecture notes he made while teaching.
In February, notable events included a visit to a hugely photogenic Longwood Gardens and D’s second appearance in the Meet Me at the Music event at the university. This time D sang Prince Gremin’s aria from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and the “La ci darem la mano” duet from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, joined by an undergraduate voice student and an undergraduate pianist. It was fun as usual.
In March, M had two of her photographs included in an exhibit about flowers in the Philadelphia Sketch Club.
In April, both M and D had photos of birds exhibited at the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove, not too far from our house.
April also saw D’s first ever participation in a rally, the Philadelphia March for Science, on Earth Day, April 22. He marched with three Temple University undergraduate students. The crowd marching was substantial and only started to disperse when a downpour started.
April was also when M was approached by a publishing company that wanted to produce a new edition of her Personality textbook. This was welcome news, as her previous publisher had decided against producing a new edition. The new publisher found that there was keen interest by many professors who had adopted the textbook to continue using it, so they made M a nice offer. As of today, December 31, M is doing the last bit of proofreading, and the book will be available to be used in teaching in the spring as an e-book and from the fall and later as both a hard-bound book and an e-book.
May saw D perform his last official act as director of graduate studies in his department; he is vastly relieved to not have to continue in this burdensome role, so he can spend more time in his scholarly writing. May also saw Temple U’s graduation and a sendoff of a graduating advisee of D’s who is going on to pursue her PhD in economics. She has done some projects with D starting in 2014, and was instrumental in inspiring him to create and helping him teach the economics of inequality course. D is happy to see her spread her wings, having flown the coop, and is glad to be in touch with her as she moves to higher achievements.
M and D each had two photos included in the Philadelphia Sketch Club’s New Member exhibit in June, with the opening day of the exhibit the day before our departure for the adventure described next.
June saw us visiting Ireland and Northern Ireland for a momentous event in the life of our good friend Rob: his wedding. Five years ago, Rob met Jelena, who had just arrived to teach at his university. On June 23d, they were married in Belfast; Rob asked D to be his witness, an honor D was very happy to accept. Here is the happy couple seconds after being proclaimed husband and wife:
It was really nice to have a chance to explore Dublin, where our visit to the Emerald Isle started, then go to Belfast and see again Rob’s parents after 15 years, and meet his sister and aunt, as well as Jelena’s brother and her lively and lovely witness, and of course celebrate their wedding. We still have not dared watch ourselves in a short video the brother made of our blind tasting of whiskeys. We were pretty buzzed by the end of that event! Also notable was a visit to the Belfast Botanic Gardens, where we saw an amazing collection of roses. You can see one rose below, and more here.
Just a week after we were back from Belfast, M visited Greece for a week. She spent a quality week with my mother, brother, and my brother’s family, and got to see just how nice it is to swim in the Aegean Sea.
The rest of the summer felt like it went by very quickly. We did not rent a big house in Ocean City this year, preferring to spend the money on the big trip to Ireland, but we missed spending two weeks surrounded by our friends at the shore house. Mid-August found us visiting the Woodloch Lodge and Spa for a few days. On August 21, we headed to Princeton to catch the solar eclipse. While this location did not get 100% occlusion, it did get 79%, and the town turned the occasion into an outdoor party, complete with a telescope for everyone to use for a brief glimpse of the event and free safety glasses.
In September and October, we had our second photography exhibit at Elcy’s coffee shop in Glenside. We were happy with the success of the exhibit. All in all, a good year for our photography! To bring the year to a good conclusion in that area of our lives, M took an intense landscape photography class during a weekend in October, in Chanticleer Gardens, and came back with new tricks and great photos. It was a good conclusion to a year of photography classes to which M dedicated many a Tuesday evening, when she was not taking her other art class, that is! Tuesdays were art evenings for M for most of the year. Here is a photo M made in Chanticleer Gardens:
In early November, D’s brother paid a quick, almost-one-week-long, visit to a coauthor of his in Princeton. It was nice to have the chance to see him.
M had another routine battery of tests in mid-December to close the year, with excellent news.
To cap the year in style and comfort, and to add to our photography œuvre, we travelled to Captiva Island, Florida, for an almost week-long stay spanning Christmas. This is now the third year that we’ve spent Christmas in the subtropical weather of the Captiva / Sanibel islands. We had a lovely time, enjoyed the warmth while our own neighborhood was freezing, and made some photos. We paid two visits to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge this year (up from one last year), and also rented a telephoto lens to help us photograph birds there. Here is a selection of our photos, starting with four of D’s and ending with three of M’s. You can see more of our photos on Facebook, of course, and M has not finished editing her complete set, so look out for more later.
We celebrated our anniversary in Philadelphia, with a tasty dinner at the chef’s table in a.kitchen.
Later in the month, we visited Baltimore, MD, with nephew Dominick and his wife Margherita and their daughter Caterina. I was lucky enough to capture a nice image of the Inner Harbor, which became part of our first joint photo exhibit (about which you can read a bit later in this post):
Near the end of the month, we had a substantial snowstorm that forced Lyric Fest’s Brahms concert to be rescheduled. As it happened, we then attended that great concert on D’s birthday, and at the reception he (and Laura Ward, the Lyric Fest cofounder and brilliant accompanist who shares her birthday with D) were serenaded by some superb singers and offered delicious cakes. No photos to share from the reception, but here is one to indicate the snow level (that is our car there in the driveway under a mound of snow):
Snow does make for some nice glowing sunrises though:
The big event on February came on the 25th, when D sang in an event sponsored by the Temple University Honors program and organized by Temple University Honors music students. The event is called Meet me at the Music, and it brings together Temple University faculty members who have some performing skills and Temple Honors music students for brief performances on the stage of Rock Hall. D was hesitant to accept the invitation to participate, as he had not sang in public since 2010, but he did accept, had a voice lesson with Suzanne to dust off some technique, warmed up his voice every morning for a few weeks, and did sing well two pieces, a song by Schubert from the Winterreise song cycle, and a really fun aria from the Abduction from the Seraglio by Mozart, “O wie will ich triumphieren!”. D is really proud to have (1) made the audience laugh at the end of the Mozart aria, and (2) to be told by the soon-to-retire former Honors Program head, Dieter, that he has such a deep voice that Dieter would hire D as his henchman, should the need for a henchman arise.
March – April
Starting in January, a very time-consuming aspect of D’s role as the graduate director of the economics department of his university really heated up in February and March and caused him stress: admissions. It is perhaps surprising for those not in the know how hard it is to attract a good cohort of graduate students when one has only a very few teaching assistant positions to offer. After causing D a lot of stress (along with some other, very unpleasant, aspects of the graduate directorship), most of the admissions job was finally done by mid-April.
May saw the end of the Spring semester for both M and D. One more academic year became a memory. M had her graduating students over for a backyard party, which was a very nice occasion, as they were nice, sociable, and interesting people, even from the point of view of D, as an outsider.
D continued to sporadically make photos of the sunset from the back windows, keeping up his photography skills. Here is a decent one:
May was also when we discovered a new place to visit nature and make photos, Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve. A couple of sample images D made:
And here is a yellow lady slipper orchid, captured by M:
Near the end of May, we had a wonderful lunch in Center City, and on the way back to the train station the sky presented an irresistible spectacle that D captured with his iPhone, not having the big camera with him. This photo was well liked online and was even selected out of thousands of entries to be part of an iPhone photo exhibit and competition a few months later.
For Memorial Day we spent a few days in Ocean City, NJ. Here is a street musician on the boardwalk, by M:
June saw the beginning of a still secret online writing project by D, which will take years to complete. The mystery will be lifted in good time. But we can reveal already that the project will be an effort to convey some of the hard-won knowledge of economics D has acquired over the decades in a form easily digestible by everyone.
June also saw a momentous even in our new and ardent hobby of photography: our first joint photography exhibit! This was the outcome of chance conversations D had with the good people who run and work in Elcy’s Cafe in Glenside, where D often takes a few minutes to enjoy a coffee before taking a train to the office on weekdays. To cut the story short, we knew that Elcy’s often runs art shows, and indeed we purchased a beautiful collage of Philadelphia several months ago from one such show. So D asked and found out who is in charge of these shows, back in March, we met with her, and together we all decided on 25 photos by M and D to be shown from June 24 to early August. It was a bit hectic getting the photos printed and preparing our artists’ statements, SmugMug accounts, and business cards (!) and M did a tremendous amount of work framing photos. We were ready on time (with not a day to spare).
This album, captured in haste under difficult lighting conditions, shows the show right after it was set up, while this album shows photos from the opening party on June 26, taken by friends. The party was a blast, and several of our photos were sold. During the rest of the time the show was open, several of the notecards with M’s photos that were part of the show sold as well.
We also enjoyed the backyard gazebo with the good weather of June. Here is a sneaky capture by M of D reading there in the evening:
July started with us and friends and family spending two weeks in Ocean City, NJ. We had a great time, felt refreshed, and also had the chance to make some good photos (sense a theme?). The sunset of July 5 proved especially beautiful:
After our return home, D moved to a great big office that will be his until he steps down as graduate director of his department at the end of June 2017 (he cannot wait, despite the niceness of this office, as the job is just too tedious and stressful, as he never tires telling people, and he has a very capable colleague ready to take the reins).
For M, it was a very exciting time, with her having two photos accepted for an exhibit at the venerable Philadelphia Sketch Club. Here are her two photos and M at the awards party, where she inexplicably (says D emphatically) did not receive any award.
Rarely has a month started as well as this one. On August 2, M went for one of her periodic checkups with Dr. Hanjani, who, for the first time ever, said that it “may be that you are cured”. He has been studiously avoiding even hinting at such a possibility since M was diagnosed in 2000, and he was careful to insert that “may”, but we certainly took heart from this statement and went off to celebrate a bit (at Krater, in New Hope):
The month continued to offer goodness, with a road trip to Quebec City in Canada, to visit Dominick, Margherita, and Caterina in their apartment there. On the way to Canada, we stopped for two days in Lake George, where we had a nice time and photo opportunities, before our few days of running around Quebec City and the Ile d’Orleans, with some seriously delicious eats and beautiful views. M caught a great image of the bounty of the earth:
Another academic year started. We had a fun weekend in Ocean City with Dominique, Steve, and their girls. This was the weekend of the annual air show that is held there, and D was lucky enough to catch a clear photo of two Navy jets:
At the end of the month we visited Maryland for a baby shower for Marianne’s niece Christina and a small Miserandino family reunion.
Work continued to keep us busy, but we had time to enjoy some great concerts by Lyric Fest and Piffaro. Late in the month we escaped to the Eastern shore of Maryland for a weekend of exploration, where we were able to see some beautiful nature, such as this beautiful butterfly that M captured:
November was the month M’s photography class at the University of the Arts ended. M’s final project was a documentary photo essay about Elcy’s coffee shop, the very one where we had our joint photo exhibit in the summer. Here is one M’s photos for her final project:
We joined Suzanne and her family and our mutual friends for Thanksgiving, having a fantastic time as always catching up with dear people and meeting new friends. The Saturday after we paid a visit to Dominique and Steve’s in Jersey City, where we had a “leftovers dinner” with them, M’s brother Anthony and his wife Barbara and daughter April, as well as nephew Dominick and Margherita and Caterina, whom we had visited in Quebec City in August.
The last month of 2016 was a bit hectic until just about Christmas, as both of our academic schedules had us grading exams and papers right up to the 22nd. But we were able to make our escape to Florida’s Sanibel Island from the 23d to the 28th, where we enjoyed catching up with some sunny warmth, the beach, and dolphins and beautiful birds.
We are looking forward to 2017 hoping it will bring us and everyone continuing good health and our country and the world less acrimony and more freedom and progress, especially in human rights and the environment.
As mentioned at the end of the previous post, we paid a visit to Florida, namely Captiva Island, from December 23 to 28. It was really relaxing, and filled with beautiful sights. We were both happy to have our cameras with us. Without further ado, here are a couple of ways to view my album of “only” 74 photos I made and edited (if you think that’s too many, it is a small subset of the 889 photos I actually shot with my camera, and there were also a couple of dozen with my iPhone which are not in this album). Both links have the same photos, but the Dropbox one has my quirky names of the photos, too. Both links will let you download photos if you want to. Oh, and enjoy this little animation of a jumping dolphin.
We celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary with a great dinner at La Croix.
The weather was snowy for much of the month.
Our semesters started uneventfully this time, in contrast to the weather disaster that greeted the first day of school for Dimitrios last year.
We celebrated Dimitrios’s birthday both with an intimate dinner at Suzanne and Kevin’s and then a small gathering of good friend at our house. The following mirthful “selfie^2” from the latter gathering makes us smile every time we see it again.
February – March
We finally took the plunge and arranged with a travel agent the longest and most expensive vacation trip of our lives so far. In the spirit of seizing the day and overcoming inhibitions (D’s dread of long airplane flights), we planned a trip to Sonoma, CA, Oahu, HI, and Bali, Indonesia, with short stops at Narita, Japan, on the way to and from Bali. We coordinated with our photographer friend, Novita Listyani, who lives in Bali via the Web, and were hoping we would not be too much of a burden to her and her family when we arrived in Bali. Although we had been considering her a good friend for some time, we still had never met face to face.
Another important event happened in late March: a young man Dimitrios knows since he was a baby had his graduation recital at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, where Marianne was an undergraduate and Dimitrios was a PhD student. We flew to Rochester for a couple of days and had an excellent time reconnecting with good friends, attending the recital, and also visiting for the first time ever (!) the Eastman Kodak museum. Oh, and we had a little snow storm there too, naturally.
April’s notable events included a nice Easter celebration at Suzanne’s, but then a stomach virus attack on Dimitrios. The weekend after Easter we were able to spend a few days with our good friends in Ocean City.
The latter half of May and the first 10 days of June are when our big trip happened. Brace yourself: this section of the retrospective is long!
Dimitrios’s digestion was giving him trouble, usually in the form of pain in the middle of the night, but also frequently after meals. There was a veritable paroxysm of this right before we left on our grand vacation, but the GI specialist gave Dimitrios just the right medicine the day before departure. To this day, the medicine is doing its job and Dimitrios’s health is back to a good steady state.
On May 17, very early in the morning, we got on a plane to San Francisco at the Philadelphia airport. Although we had packed everything (!) in carry-on bags, the flight was so full that the airline asked for volunteers to check bags free of charge, so we did that.
Once in Sonoma, we started the process of unwinding from the stress of the academic year that just ended and Dimitrios’s GI troubles (which we were not quite sure yet were ending). Scenery like this helped:
Visits to various wineries and excellent restaurants also helped us unwind.
After Sonoma, we flew to Oahu for a week in Waikiki Beach in the Royal Hawaiian hotel. We had an excellent time in Oahu, starting with a sobering visit to the Pearl Harbor memorial.
The oil still seeping from the submerged USS Arizona gives a special somber note to the memorial.
We took part in two tours of note while in Oahu. The first was a photography tour. The second was a food tour. Both were great, but the photo tour gave us more opportunities for photo-taking, naturally, so here is a tiny sample of the ones we made on that tour.
In the rest of our stay in Waikiki beach we had some fabulous dinners, walks on the beach and a some swimming, and a nice sunset cruise on a catamaran.
After that sunset, we got on a plane to Narita, the large airport near Tokyo. Our friend Mike Leeds met us there, which was a great comfort especially given the culture shock. We went to visit a shrine in Narita and spent the night at the Narita Hilton, where we also experienced an earthquake, which was not severe, but was large enough to wake us at 2 am. The next morning, we boarded a Garuda Indonesia flight to Bali, and discovered that Garuda’s economy class richly deserves the international accolades it has received.
The second morning in Sanur we were picked up by our friend Novita and her daughter Seraphine for a sunrise photo shoot in Serangan Island, a short drive from our hotel. Seraphine, Novita and later her hubby were extremely nice to us and we can honestly say we fell in love with that family during our trip to Bali, where they drove us everywhere and endured all sorts of hardships like very early mornings and traffic jams to show us Bali from the eyes of artistically super-talented insiders. We have now a lingering nostalgia for those days of bonding with them.
Dogs are free to roam everywhere in Bali, and are quite nice to strangers. Here is a photo of a horse rider with horse and curious dogs in Kuta Beach:
On the next day, we were in Kuta beach for an afternoon swim and sunset photography. That was one spectacular sunset. Here are only two views of it; it was really hard to select only two.
Sunrise was often stunning when viewed from our hotel balcony, too:
The banner image of this blog is also taken from a photo of the same sunrise.
Our visit to Bali came at the end of the Durian season. This famously ill-smelling fruit (although we did not think it smelled all that badly) is a surprisingly delicious treat, with the texture of soft-serve ice cream, once you get inside its prickly, hard shell. Where do you find it? At roadside, in the evening. Novita’s hubby drove up and down Denpasar, the capital of Bali, several times until he spotted this vendor’s truck and we all split one Durian. Here is a photo of us that Novita took with my iPhone, which clearly had some focusing issues in the low light.
And here is Marianne with an expression of sheer delight doing some body surfing:
After five nights in the Fairmount Sanur hotel, we went to Ubud and checked in at the Maya resort for four nights. Here is a photo of us Novita took in front of the rice terraces of Ubud.
Later that same afternoon, we went to a rice field to see the arrival of thousands of white cattle herons to net on the treetops after a long day of flying all over the island in search of food. Novita let me use her camera and instructed me on the use of the servo auto-focus mode so I could capture the birds flying overhead. Here is one of the hundreds of photos of herons I made that afternoon.
And here is Dimitrios ready for action:
During our wait in the field for the arrival of the herons, Novita made some fabulous portraits of Marianne. Example:
And when I was photographing herons flying overhead, Marianne was photographing two charming boys who were playing with a kite that was bigger than themselves.
The next day our indefatigable hosts drove us to Bedugul Botanical Gardens, a gigantic garden at the top of a mountain.
The gardens have an extensive orchid exhibit and Seraphine, being a big fan of orchids and an avid learner of anything nature-related, taught us a lot of things about orchids we did not know.
Before we left the gardens, we had a picnic on a grassy slope overlooking one of the three lakes in the immediate area where we saw a monkey cavorting in the trees in the distance. Even though there were clouds over the lake, it still was quite the sight to behold.
The next day was a Saturday. Our hosts took a break from driving us around Bali and we took the hotel shuttle to the town of Ubud where we wandered about, had a nice dinner, and attended a classical dance performance accompanied by a gamelan orchestra, before taking a cab back to the hotel.
The next day we visited Tulamben for snorkeling and, on the way back, stopped at a tourist attraction built about 50 years ago, the Water Castle.
The next day we all went to Tanah Lot, where Novita had booked a double suite for all of us for our last night in Bali.
Our last day in Bali was June 9th. We spent the morning at the Tanah Lot resort, with Marianne and Seraphine having fun in the pool and water slide, and Dimitrios and Novita taking it easy but also making photos and videos. We caught one more sunset in the Club 66 area of the long beach that contains Kuta beach and Seminyak. Here is Novita’s capture of that sunset and warm words of farewell: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+NovitaListyani/posts/LLXtqJxGmFS
Our flight to Tokyo left at 12:30 am (!) on June 10. It was hard to stay awake at the airport but we managed. On arrival we were greeted by our friend Eva, Mike’s wife, who had by now joined Mike in Tokyo. She guided us to Tokyo on the train, we visited their apartment for a quick lunch, and then we visited the Mori tower and the Imperial Gardens, had a light dinner nearby, and managed (after some trouble; Japanese addresses are practically indecipherable to anyone who is not a trained Japanese postal service worker) to find Yuga Kurita‘s photo exhibit at the Island Gallery, where we admired the amazing photos of Fuji and nightscape this photographer has created and bought a small print to bring home. If it were not for Novita’s notice to us via Google+ which we read on arrival in Narita, we would not have known about this exhibit at all.
Shortly after returning home, we bought a new car, about a year ahead of schedule. Our old car was involved in an accident while parked (nobody was hurt) the day before we left on our big trip, so it was time to replace it.
At the end of June we started a two-week stay at a big rental beach house in Ocean City, NJ, with many friends, continuing a tradition we started in 2007. A great time was had by all and our eyes and cameras feasted on some more good views.
As a belated birthday present, I got Marianne a big girl camera. Here she is on our first photography excursion with the new camera.
During August and also September and October, we kept doing excursions for photography to hone our skills, and we also took photography classes. Since this post is already photo-heavy, here are some of our social media posts with our photography from this period. The one from August 7 is special: our first photo walk, in Philadelphia, organized by Trey Ratcliff, a very successful globe-trotting photographer.
October started with a very nice event for Dimitrios. His first doctoral student, Jeff Coons, has succeeded very well in finance, having become president of a successful financial institution. Temple University honored Jeff in its annual Gallery of Success event that honors alumni that make the university proud.
The big event every November is the Thanksgiving dinner at Suzanne and Kevin’s. This year was no different, but on November 15 there was a new kind of happy event involving Suzanne: she had her first solo exhibit of her oil paintings at the Jenkins Arboretum and Gardens. We were delighted to attend and to be able to buy some of her beautiful artwork. We also took the opportunity to make some photos in the arboretum, and some of them turned out OK, despite the lateness of the season.
After Thanksgiving, we were again able to go for a long weekend in Ocean City with good friends. Some photos from this follow. The deserted beach and boardwalk are quite strikingly different from what we normally see in Ocean City.
December came with exceptionally warm weather, as did November as a matter of fact. We finally wrapped up our courses for the semester and, as I am writing these words, Marianne is doing some final grading. Tomorrow we are scheduled to fly to Florida for a first for us: a Christmas in a warm place, just the two of us. I expect to make another post here before the year is out with some photos from this trip.
For now, I leave you with this photo of a tree decorated with beautiful light spheres in Longwood Gardens, taken a couple of weeks ago.
Starting a series of nostalgic posts — this blog has been neglected long enough!
In March of 2004 Marianne and I went to Austria for a week in Spring Break. Marianne was taking a group of her students on a tour of Vienna, as part of her course on the Viennese psychologists Freud, Adler, and Frankl. Near the end of the week, we had a quick excursion to Salzburg. The day we were to return to Vienna we had some time to kill and we wandered with a few students to the shore of the lake at Mondsee. We saw a sign for lake tours. There was snow on the ground, but Marianne sought out the guy dressed as a captain and asked if tours were offered. He said yes, and we hopped on the boat. Once safely far from the shore, he locked the steering wheel at a fairly steep left turn angle, put on some waltzes on the audio system, and came up on the deck to dance with people! Here he is, dancing with Marianne. Photo taken with the Gateway (!) digital camera we owned at the time.
Another year has gone by since the previous post here. And what a year! Gentle reader, settle in for a long retrospective, replete with news, good and bad, and lots and lots of pictures. This was the year that we both got into photography seriously, and the evidence is pretty extensive below.
The year started with really, really cold weather. The American Social Science Association meetings were in Philadelphia in early January, but D only went one day, as it was too much to brave temperatures hovering around 3 F (-15 C)! M came later in the day and met D at the hotel, and we both then went to dinner in South Philly at a pig roast that D’s former graduate student Erin had organized.
Before that, though, by a couple of days, we spent New Year’s with Dominick, Margherita, and Caterina in Long Island. Here is Caterina enacting a Greek New Year’s custom, the smashing of a pomegranate against the front door, for good luck, by the youngest member of the household:
Since we are professors, we have to jumpstart ourselves for the Spring semester, no matter how bad the weather is. But the 2014 winter made a mockery of the start of the Spring 2014 semester at Temple University, D’s place of employment. On the very first day of the semester, January 21st, there was a nasty snow storm that convinced the university to close. D had to miss his classes, walk VERY carefully on slippery snow to the train station, and then freeze half to death waiting for a train home. It turns out the city’s businesses all closed down at the same time and trains were coming to Temple University station full. After 90 minutes of freezing at the open-air Temple train station, D finally figured how to save himself: take a train in the other direction, then fight his way into a train home in a covered station (and fight is an accurate statement; elbows were involved and insane crowding). Here’s what it looked like at the Temple station before the epiphany to go the other way:
The next day our back yard looked like this (you can just feel the cold in the photo):
Near the end of the month, it was time to celebrate D’s 55th birthday. Lots of friends braved the elements and the party was wonderful. Phil Jones wrote a poem in his card, which is well worth immortalizing:
And then it was time to celebrate this birthday at Dominique and Steve’s, together with their incredibly cute daughters:
The second month of the year started with a Superbowl gathering with some of Marianne’s colleagues. The very next day we had a bad snow storm and the next day, February 4th, an ice storm that resulted in an epic power outage to about three quarters of a million electric utility customers in our area, us included.
It looked like this the day before we lost power:
And three days into the power outage, this was the temperature in our house:
Luckily for us, we were able to stay with Dominique and Steve and the girls for the time our house had no power; they lived then in Philadelphia proper, in an area where the electric wires are underground, so they never lost power. We would visit our house daily, and the photo above was taken during the last such visit before power was restored.
In the middle of February, we had tickets for an Academy of Vocal Arts opera for Valentine’s Day. We made the excellent decision to reserve a room in the Rittenhouse Hotel, very near the performance venue. Even so, it was tricky to walk to the opera and back on icy sidewalks. But the view or Rittenhouse Square was nice from our room, and the brunch the next morning amazing. View:
Having survived the weather in February, we had some more of it in March, but gradually things starting warming up again. Our Spring breaks did not coincide this year, but we did have a weekend in between to spend away. We went to Cape May and had a nice time, except we caught a stomach virus and our return home and the next two days were miserable. We recovered though and life went on.
April was the month that spurred us on to taking photography more seriously. I’d been posting iPhone photos on Google+ and getting some unexpected encouragement from a really wonderful photographer active on that network (who’s become our best friend we have not met yet, but perhaps this can be corrected in 2015). M and I decided to take a short (two meetings) iPhone photography class offered at the Morris Arboretum, and this started a flurry of activity in taking, editing, and posting photos online. Some of the best photos:
OK, I may have gone a little overboard with using a filter on the second one. But the next one, taken during our afternoon walk the day before Easter, needed no editing at all; the sky’s color really was this purple:
Meanwhile, M became very fond of an iPhone app, “Waterlogue”, that creates watercolor effects our of photos. Here is her rendition, using this app, of the previous photo:
We spent Easter at Suzanne and Kevin’s, as we have done many a year, with lovely friends.
May saw the end of the Spring semester for both of us and the purchase of a camera for me. You will see samples of what I did with it below. The first one comes right now: a happy M in Ocean City, NJ, twice, the second time on a speedboat:
And, because I can’t resist, here is a cool dancing tree in Ocean City that I caught on the same trip as the boat picture:
Lots of photography early on in June, from a trip to Alverthorpe Park. This may be my best photo from this year:
In the middle of June, we took a trip to Rochester, NY, to celebrate my dissertation advisor’s 65th birthday. We did this by flying to Rochester well ahead of time, renting a car, and driving to Niagara-on-the-Lake in Canada to spend a few days. It was a great idea: we saw a play in the Shaw festival there, visited some excellent wineries, and managed to take some photos. Here’s a sunset shot from the shore of Lake Ontario:
We spent two weeks in Ocean City with friends and family in a big rental house, as we have done in the last several years. It was as great as always! Lots of fun was had by all, on the beach and in the amusement arcade, that also looked good at night:
And here we are at the end of this vacation:
Not too long after the vacation ended, M had a CT scan, part of her regular monitoring regimen. The scan confirmed that a small region of concern since January had grown enough to warrant a biopsy. This was quickly scheduled for August 6, and then we impulsively booked a trip to Bermuda for August 7-12. Why not spend some time by the beach on an island we love, as we wait for the results of the biopsy?
The biopsy was done on August 6. The next day we were in a rainy Bermuda. There had been a hurricane that passed nearby. It did make for some interesting skies:
And since this post is already overly heavy with photos, here is an album of ten more photos from Bermuda as posted on Google+.
Upon our return home, we got the results of the biopsy, which confirmed what we had feared: M’s cancer was back and a plan for treatment was needed. After some meetings with Dr. Hanjani, the course of treatment was decided: surgery on September 12, and then chemotherapy as needed afterwards. If you want the blow-by-blow account of how it all went, we made a blog just for this medical episode, which you can find here. If you visit, scroll to the bottom to find the earliest posts, and then gradually up to read about events in the order they happened. The first post, which gives the background history, is here.
Near the end of August we visited the Morris Arboretum again for one of their “date night” events. I took a photo of M then that I want to share here, as it shows her amazing positive attitude in the face of impending surgery and (as we were expecting) chemotherapy:
Of course, the dominant event of the month was M’s surgery on September 12. It went fabulously well! Photos and details are on the separate blog I just listed above. With the help of some wonderful friends, the days in the hospital went fast and M’s recovery at home was excellent. At her University, her Dean assigned her to non-teaching duties for the part of the semester that would not be covered by medical leave, to safeguard continuity for the students. This was also a great arrangement for M, who was able to spend her gradually increasing energy on work tasks without being stressed.
Two more September events worth mentioning are the planting of some new trees and bushes in your back yard that had lost many trees to disease and hurricane Sandy over the last few years, and a thorough renewal of our roof which should allow us to get through the next winter without worrying about the fact that our house had an old roof even when we bought it in 2000.
October was a month of recovering energy and going for walks in nature, as well as a special treat, a visit to the Lodge at Woodloch in Hawley, PA. But first, we attended the first Lyric Fest concert of the season and had our traditional for us lavish brunch at Continental beforehand:
A few of the photos I took on a visit to the Morris Arboretum follow. This was a great year for autumn foliage!
Just look at the happy, healthy M in this last one! There are several other photos from that visit that turned out good, and you can see them here, here, and here.
The visit to the Lodge at Woodloch was excellent, for foliage photos but also for food and wine related events. As I have already overwhelmed you with photos, I am only sharing links to relevant posts I have made to Google+: here, here, here, and here.
After studying carefully the biopsy from the surgery and the baseline CT scan done in November, and after consulting with colleagues, Dr. Hanjani decided that chemotherapy was not indicated at this time, after all. This was a great surprise for us and very, very welcome news.
We continued visiting the Morris Arboretum regularly and I kept taking photos; one of the best from November is next:
Highlights of December included the ending of the Fall semester for D (a little rough, due to having to teach a principles class at the last moment when a graduate course got cancelled due to low enrollment, but also due to the mental toll taken by the medical adventures in the middle of the semester). Christmas eve with friends and Christmas at Suzanne’s followed. Leading to these, we had two more trips to Longwood Gardens, one with a side trip to Winterthur to take in the seasonal decorations. Enjoy some photos here, here, and here. And I leave you with one of these photos from Longwood Gardens with our best wishes for a great 2015:
Last December’s end-of-year post ended by looking forward to a kitchen remodeling and a trip down the Rhône. The first of these did come to pass. After a few weeks of making coffee and washing dishes in the bathroom, not to mention eating meals in the living room, we started enjoying a beautiful new kitchen from the middle of March onwards. Here’s a view from December 14:
But our vacation plans for the summer were altered, because of unexpected opportunities for Marianne to present her work at two conferences. More on this in a while.
D’s birthday and new course
January saw D celebrate his 54th birthday at Ann and Phil’s house, who generously hosted the celebration since we had no functioning kitchen and our house was a mess with the ongoing kitchen work. Much fun was had with our hosts and R, T, Q and C and J, J, M and S. One of the gifts was this portrait by Quinlan:
The start of the year also found D teaching a new undergraduate course, the Economic Theory of Networks. That was exciting, even if it meant a lot of extra work preparing lectures and grading the course blog written by the students (for the curious, the blog is here, but be warned that the quality of the posts and comments is variable, as can be expected.) D is gearing up to teach this course again in Spring 2014, and by now he knows how to do a few things better.
Matilda on Broadway
Ellen organized two trips to NYC to see Matilda before it officially opened. We joined in on March 23 and had a great time (despite D’s almost overwhelming feeling of being crushed by the rushing crowds and slow traffic every time he is in Manhattan).
Visit by Kostas
D’s brother, Kostas, visited the US for four weeks, from mid-April to mid-May. He came on a short sabbatical from his polytechnic to collaborate on a book proposal with his former dissertation advisor in Princeton. While there, he also started two research papers with current graduate students in the Electrical Engineering department. Meanwhile, we were able to do fun things with him every weekend while he was around, ranging from dinners with friends and family to a Lyric Fest concert to celebrating Greek Easter at Estia restaurant in Philly on May 5.
D honored by his department
One fine day in May, Marianne finagled her way into the economics department award luncheon, or so D thought, only to find that she was in on the surprise the whole time. He only realized what the program said about Outstanding Graduate Teacher of the Year the second time he looked at it. Truly an honor (the selection is made jointly by the graduate students and the department)!
Trip to Rochester, NY
Marianne got invited to participate in two conferences in the summer. The first was in our old stomping grounds, Rochester, NY, where she studied at the University of Rochester for her BA and I studied for my PhD a few years later. The conference was held at a hotel by the Genesee river, so we did not get a chance to visit the campus. But it was a good venue for Marianne to present, and I got a chance to have lunch with my doctoral dissertation advisor, which was extra nice.
Ocean City vacation(s)
We managed to visit Ocean City four times in 2013, in February, June, July, and September. The July visit was the longest one by far, two weeks, with lots of friend and family visiting. The February visit was the most unusual, since it snowed. It’s not every day that one can make snow angels on the Ocean City boardwalk!
In case this photo was just a bit too chilly, here’s a cat basking in the sun from our visit to Cape May (yes, one more shore visit in the year) in March for Spring Break.
But for a really warm photo, here’s one from July, when a whole big group of us took a “pirate cruise” in one scorching afternoon and had lots of fun.
Canada in August
The second conference Marianne participated in was in Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada. Bracebridge is a small town about two and a half hours’s drive north of Toronto, in an area called cottage country because of the many summer homes well-to-do Canadians and others have in that area, among the many lakes. Bracebridge is by a river and lake Muskoka. Although we had not heard of this place at all, it proved to be charming and it also proved to contain a formidable coffee shop and a couple of first-class restaurants.
After the conference was over, we spent a few more days in Bracebridge and then drove to Toronto, where we spent five days. We had a centrally located hotel, so we walked around a lot. We had some fabulous meals and had a very pleasant visit to the island right across from Toronto on Lake Ontario.
After Toronto, we visited (all too briefly) Niagara Falls. After sampling the winery offerings (Ravine Winery and Reif Estate Winery), we determined that a repeat visit in the Niagara area of Ontario is warranted.
The vaccination study (please refer to our 2012 retrospective post, the previous post on this blog) is now over! Marianne had the last injection in the chemo suite in October. Now she will continue to be closely monitored for a long time, which is an important benefit from participating in the study. So far, all blood tests and CT scans have been clear! We are immensely happy about this.
We kept taking short, weekend trips by car in the fall. Two memorable ones were: to Gettysburg in late September and to Woodloch Pines in mid October. Then we took an unusual day trip to New York City to see Twelfth Night, with Stephen Fry as Malvolio, as part of a two-production Shakespeare on Broadway, imported from London. It was an authenticity-minded performance, with male actors in all roles and Elizabethan music performed by a live band (which included two Piffaro musicians, Priscilla Herreid and Greg Ingles). This was so much fun (and the same goes for the excellent dinner we had at our favorite New York restaurant, Molyvos), that we decided to do it again, this time for both productions, Twelfth Night and Richard III. The second time we found Twelfth Night a little better even, which we could hardly believe. We were a little puzzled by the vaudeville quality of some moments in Richard III, however; presumably, this artistic choice of the excellent Mark Rylance was made to keep an American audience engaged and/or to differentiate from previous performances.
Off to celebrate holidays with merriment and good cheer. See you in the new year!
It’s time again to review the year that’s ending; hurray to the blog version of the Christmas letter! It has been a good year. This year had to be better than 2011, of course, since the latter was dominated by Marianne’s cancer recurrence and the necessary chemo treatments and surgery. If you read our retrospective of 2011 below, you will see it says near the top that we were ready to see 2012. Happily, 2012 did not disappoint us, so on with our reminiscing!
Teaching from her own book
After a long recovery from her December 2, 2011 operation, Marianne got enough energy back in time for full-time teaching in the spring semester. What was special about it was that she was able to teach her personality psychology course out of her own published textbook in the spring semester. She had done this once before with a pre-publication rough draft of her book, but this was the real thing. The class went very well. Marianne also has a website now about her book, which Dimitrios set up for her as a Valentine’s day gift (yes, we are nerds; why do you ask?).
Right after the semester was over, we headed to Bermuda, one of our favorite vacation spots. It’s such a favorite that we are not sure how many times we have been there. We think this was the fifth time. It was also a different visit — our friend Rob, who left Blacksburg, VA, for Belfast, North Ireland, a few short years ago for a new academic position, joined us in Bermuda. He turned 50 this year, so this was a celebratory vacation, and he had never been to Bermuda, a problem that has now been rectified.
We stayed at our previously favorite hotel, the Elbow Beach Hotel. It occupies a commanding position over Elbow Beach (what else?) and used to be a huge complex of a large hotel building and many smaller units that have 4 rooms each, with balconies and gardens and views of the ocean or flower gardens or both. Last time we were there, all buildings were in use and we had some excellent meals in the main restaurant of the large building. Imagine our surprise to arrive and find out that the main building was for some years now degraded to just a shadow of its former self, with no active guest rooms, no active restaurants, and only the lobby and concierge service fully functional. Clearly the owner of the hotel, Mandarin Oriental, is suffering some financial difficulty and/or is seeing a lucrative future only in smaller, bungalow-like units for the guest rooms. Our room was excellent, however, and so were the surviving restaurants, both on the beach. Our room also introduced us to our new addiction: a Nespresso machine. I do mean addiction: we returned to our house on May 31st and bought a Nespresso machine of our own on June 1st. We have enjoyed many espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes since.
For posts we made from Bermuda, complete with photos, please click on “May 2012” on the right or here. If you click on “June 2012” or here, you will also see, near the bottom, two nice photos of the two of us created by Rob.
Out with the old (pool), in with the new (gazebo)
When we bought our house in 2000, it came with a then one-summer old pool. Since then, we have had many a fun-filled pool party with our friends of all ages (I think the age range of all our pool party participants extends from 2 months old to 84 years old). But the pool was getting old and creaky (it had a visibly patched hole in the bottom for several years neat the end of its life) and eventually we decided that it was too much to maintain. Our wonderful neighbors got together and dismantled it, in return to being given the aluminum from the pool frame to sell, and we were ready to get our new yard toy, a gazebo. No sooner had it been installed, we were having breakfast in it. The next order of business: we will find ways to integrate the gazebo into our future garden parties and barbecues. We are not going to give up one gathering our friends frequently when the weather is good, even now that there is no pool to make the gatherings into pool parties. We have already had some gazebo parties so the testing phase is over.
Ocean City vacation
We had a New Jersey shore vacation in Ocean City, as in the previous several years, for two weeks in August. We rented a five-bedroom house (the same we had rented in 2010 and liked then) and were joined by lots of friends and relatives. It was an excellent time at the ocean. Next time we do this, however, we will not schedule it too close to the start of the fall semester. Coming back to the classroom just a couple of days after returning from vacation was a little hectic. Some photos follow. (There are several hundred photos to choose from; we are preparing a selection to be shared online with the people who joined us on this vacation; we are behind schedule on this but we will do it.)
Marianne’s new teaching in the fall semester
After teaching the same courses at her University for 20 years, Marianne got to teach the senior seminar (capstone course for psychology majors) in the fall and will continue in the spring (it is a two-semester sequence). This was exciting and at the same time it made the semester very busy. As some faculty members who have been teaching the senior seminar retire in the next year or two, Marianne will become the main coordinator of the seminar.
Marianne’s start in the vaccine study in March and her good health exams
In March, Marianne became a participant in a study of a vaccine intended to prevent further recurrences of ovarian cancer that has already recurred at least once. The principal investigator of the study is an oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the doctor we have gone to twice for second opinions over the years; Dr. Hanjani is a co-investigator. The idea is to see which of two ways of strengthening one’s own immune system against ovarian cancer cells is more effective. The study involves a sparse but complicated schedule of injections, blood tests, CT scans, and physical examinations by Dr. Hanjani. The injections are much easier to take than chemotherapy and all the tests have been wonderfully reassuring. A few days ago, during one of the examinations, Dr. Hanjani told Marianne it is time to forget about the cancer and go on with her life. He also indicated he is ready to have the chemo port removed. We are elated by his confidence, based as it is on such good evidence.
We were far from the only people affected when Hurricane Sandy came around in the end of October. The eye of the storm came directly over our house. We were lucky that the rain that came with it was not as heavy as predicted in our area, otherwise we would have had a flooded basement, as we were left without electricity for 24 hours and our sump pump that keeps the basement dry when it rains heavily is electricity-powered. Also, right after the eye of the storm had passed, we heard a huge thump that turned out to be a large branch of a tree falling on the house next to us (the tree is in between that house and ours, on the verge of our driveway). All in all, we were truly lucky. So many other people lost their houses and all their possessions from this storm, and of course many lost their lives.
The house the tree branch fell on changed owners very recently and the first order of business of the new owners was to remove the branch and the rest of the tree the branch fell from. It took a while for this to happen, but at least now we are no longer afraid to park our car in our driveway. Pictures from the tree removal:
Odds and Ends
Dimitrios has nothing too special to report regarding work; teaching went well and he presented in his departmental seminar a new paper he is writing with old friend and coauthor Rob. Worth mentioning is the publication, early in 2012, of a book review by Dimitrios in the Journal of Economic Psychology. Those who know the kind of economics he studied in graduate school will have a grin in their faces. Also remarkable about this story: he was invited to write the review for that journal after the book review editor of the journal came across a posting D had made on the Google+ social network. D intends to use this to justify his obsession with participating in Google+ for some years to come.
We are looking forward to remodeling our kitchen early in 2013 and to taking a wine cruise down the Rhône some time in the summer. We considered this cruise this year also, but ran out of time to fit it into our summer. The trick will be to do it without compromising our vacation at the shore. Ocean City, while damaged by hurricane Sandy, still is the place we would like to go to for our beach vacation with friends, to continue our tradition of doing so almost every summer since 2007.
We hope everybody who reads this has a happy and healthy 2013!
All of a sudden, I had the urge to visit Barnes & Noble yesterday afternoon. M agreed and we bought three novels, after which we had a mediocre dinner at a nearby Mad Mex. But the really memorable thing is that I started one of the novels yesterday and finished today, which is pretty fast for me. Also, I finished it with tears in my eyes. The reviewer in The Guardian thinks The Absolutist is too direct and possibly more apt for young readers than mature ones. This made my day: I am in some sense young enough to get such a big emotional charge from this novel, then! I highly recommend it. The author, John Boyne, already has had a mega-selling success with The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. I can imagine reading that one soon, too. Even if it is more explicitly a Young Adult novel. Especially because of this, in fact.