Year-end update for 2014

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.


January

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:

Pomegranate smashing on New Year’s Day.

Shortly thereafter, we were home and dealing with one of the many, many snow storms that were to visit us in 2014:

January 2 snowstorm

The view out of our front door right after that (apologies in advance; there will be lots of snow pictures in this post):

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Looking out our front door on January 3.

We took a trip to Mohonk Mountain House shortly after this, for our 14th wedding anniversary. Was it cold? See for yourself:

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A windswept Marianne in front of the frozen Mohonk Mountain House lake. January 12.
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Frozen Mohonk Mountain House lake from the porch of the main building. January 12.

Yes, what you see on top of the lake is ice. ICE. We had a lot of that in January and February.

Finally, here is another chilly photo from Mohonk, as I posted it on Google+.

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:
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Temple University train station, January 21.
The next day our back yard looked like this (you can just feel the cold in the photo):
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Freezing back yard on January 22.
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:
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Birthday poem by Philip Jones.
And then it was time to celebrate this birthday at Dominique and Steve’s, together with their incredibly cute daughters:
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D, M, and C. January 29.
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A and D. January 29.

February

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:
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Tree in neighbor’s yard on February 3.
And three days into the power outage, this was the temperature in our house:
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Temperature inside our house at 9:27 am on February 7. Power was eventually restored that evening. The thermostat runs on a battery and the heating on gas, but it does not work when there is no electricity to power the blower.
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:
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Brunch:
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March

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
The first memorable event from April was early on, when M had some of the pieces she created for her mosaics class exhibited at the Abington Arts Center.
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:
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A curiously shaped tree branch I like to call the “eye of the needle” in the Morris Arboretum, on April 6.
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A fallen branch in the Morris Arboretum, exaggerated by a photo filter, on April 13.
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:
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On a walk in our neighborhood, April 19.
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:
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We spent Easter at Suzanne and Kevin’s, as we have done many a year, with lovely friends.

May
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:
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M in Ocean City, NJ, on May 17. We visited OC to attend a department party by M’s colleagues.
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M in a speedboat tour of Ocean City, NJ, on Memorial Day weekend, May 23. We visited OC then with N and C, and discovered that May 23 was the very first day that this company was doing boat tours for the season. We were their first customers for 2014.
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:
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I like to think of this tree in Ocean City as the “dancing tree”. May 23.

June

Lots of photography early on in June, from a trip to Alverthorpe Park. This may be my best photo from this year:
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Great Green Gradations is how I titled this photo of mine on Google+, where it got a very warm reception. Alverthorpe Park, June 8.
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:
Sunset on Lake Ontario from Niagara on the Lake 2014-06-14 20.42.29
Sunset on Lake Ontario from Niagara on the Lake 2014-06-14.

July
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:
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Ocean City amusement park Wonderland, July 1.
And here we are at the end of this vacation:
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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?

August
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:
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Post-storm Elbow Beach, Bermuda, August 7.
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:
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Marianne in the Morris Arboretum, August 27.

September
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
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:
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Pre-Lyric-Fest-concert cocktails and brunch at Continental in Philadelphia, October 5.
A few of the photos I took on a visit to the Morris Arboretum follow. This was a great year for autumn foliage!
Patchwork quilt of leaves in Autumn 2014-10-18 15.25.50
Patchwork quilt of leaves in Autumn 2014-10-18 in the Morris Arboretum.
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Marble gazebo and pond in the Morris Arboretum, October 18.
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Marianne under glorious foliage, Morris Arboretum, October 18.
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.

November
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:
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Gazebo and Pond 2014-11-25. Morris Arboretum.

December

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:

Conservatory decoration Longwood Gardens 2014-12-21 16.05.05