Looking back on 2013

Wow! An entire year has gone by without a post here. This post then had better be good — and it will be long, but fun.

New Year’s fun

Before we get started in earnest, let’s recapture the end of 2012, which we celebrated by attending a great Philadelphia Orchestra concert led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and then having a celebratory dinner at Estia restaurant. You won’t believe what music they played at this Greek restaurant around midnight.

M gives a toast before the concert
M gives a toast before the concert at the Kimmel Center
Going to New Year's Eve dinner
Going to New Year’s Eve dinner

Kitchen remodeling

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:

Kitchen 2013-12-14
Kitchen 2013-12-14

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:

Q's portrait of D from memory
Q’s portrait of D from memory

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).

After the show: Look up at the mirror under the marquee!
After the show: Look up at the mirror under the marquee!

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.

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Kostas in front of Einstein’s house 2013-04-27

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)!

D is honored for his graduate teaching
D is honored for his graduate teaching at the economics department’s honor luncheon in May

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!

M makes a snow angel on the Ocean City boardwalk
M makes a snow angel 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.

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Cat in the Sun; Sunset Beach, Cape May, NJ

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.

Pirate cruise in OC NJ Bay 2013-07-13
Pirate cruise in OC NJ Bay 2013-07-13

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.

Plaque with the story of Bracebridge's founding
Plaque with the story of Bracebridge’s founding
Marianne by the river in Bracebridge
Marianne by the river in Bracebridge
Bracebridge's main street
Bracebridge’s main street
Lake Muskoka from a cruise on the "Lady Muskoka"
Lake Muskoka from a cruise on the “Lady Muskoka”

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.

Toronto City Hall
Toronto City Hall
Toronto's waterfront from Lake Ontario
Toronto’s waterfront from 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.

Lunch at Ravine Vineyard Estates winery
Lunch at Ravine Vineyard Estates winery

Short video of Niagara Falls

SuperMarianne! (Her idea---there was an array of strong colored lights aimed at the falls, and if you positioned yourself just right in front of the camera, you could get this effect)
SuperMarianne! (Her idea—there was an array of strong colored lights aimed at the falls, and if you positioned yourself just right in front of the camera, you could get this effect)

Marianne’s last injection in October

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.

M's last injection for the ovarian cancer vaccine study; at Abington Memorial Hospital
M’s last injection for the ovarian cancer vaccine study; at Abington Memorial Hospital

Small trips

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!