I managed, in September, to get to London for the first time since 2011 — for a long weekend, after meetings in Amsterdam before flying home to SF. The days were filled with social & cultural events, tennis, and biking around Victoria Park, Hampstead Heath and the Embankment — all with friends from various parts of my life. I didn’t think in terms of photos much, but some of the days were so lovely, or the views so interesting, that I just had to at least use the phone’s camera app briefly. Thus the few shots you see here. The man in orange below is one of those friends (my host; thanks, Stu!) inside an installation in a really cool Olafur Eliasson exhibit at Tate Modern that we managed squeeze in by picking up last-minute early-morning tickets before a pretty darn fine staging of Peer (Peter) Gynt at the National…which we got on the cheap by showing up first thing and seeing what they had.
Clearly, I fly a great deal. And clearly, I like to look out the window, dream, and see the world from a new vantage point. At left: the salt-evaporating ponds full of bacteria along the shores of San Francisco Bay, shortly before landing in April. Below: Hamburg and its major harbor along the Elbe, shortly after takeoff in September. In the three galleries lower down: more of the lovely colorful salty ponds plus a few shots from a late-May flight into SFO when sky was clear enough to see over the peninsular mountains to the Pacific Ocean; more of Hamburg as well as clouds above London and easternmost England, later on that flight; and then a trio taken while flying into SFO again from Dallas, in September. And at the very bottom, a large photo showing both some salt ponds near San Jose, as well as the mountains on the peninsula and the sky over the Pacific Ocean at sunset. There are reasons I’m always happy when I fly home to the Bay Area :-).
My wandering field life passed the ten-year mark earlier this year. That’s ten years of finding my way into a new work environment and getting to know new colleagues once a year or so. In a more mundane way, it’s ten years worth of photo files to keep up-to-date and to try to remember to share on my blog. A cousin (thanks, Juliette!) noticed that the entries from my earliest days had lost their photos: mine was a rather early blog, and the ways of uploading photos have changed since then. (Many of those earliest posts appear frankly so embarrassingly shallow to me now that I’m tempted to simply wave my editorial wand and have done with them…but thus far my sense for historical accuracy is controlling that temptation…) If my continued research succeeds, many of those photos will be directly restored onto the blog as I find their originals in backup hard drives and other obscure locations: ah, new year’s resolutions before the old year has even wrapped up!
In the meantime, I’m uncovering little treasures that never made it up here, while fondly remembering where I’ve been and what I’ve done. I was recently saddened to learn that Nancy Schrom Dye, former president of Oberlin College, had passed this year. During my years of active alumni-association work I greatly appreciated her contributions to my alma mater – so I was proud to join some other colleagues in taking her for an end-of-year meal which, the digital date stamp tells me, occurred in Beijing on December 31, in 2005. Up above are also a few rediscovered December 2005 Beijing-area shots which somehow didn’t get posted at the time. (Posting photos was more challenging in those early days…)
Just below are some previously-unposted 2015 shots: early-morning moonset at my home here in Haiti; me with my brother and a colleague when I gave a talk at Carnegie Mellon University earlier this year; and some shots from the lovely Frick House & museum in Pittsburgh, from the same visit. And since this put me in the mood, I’ve wandered through the many countries & continents, family meals & trips & assignments on four continents that have filled the years between these two sets of photos so very fully. Assembling them’s been fun for me so I hope viewing them is fun for you too :-).
This time last year? In December 2014, I returned from Sierra Leone & later went with great friends to enjoy the Ai WeiWei exhibit on Alcatraz Island (more photos from that one in the original post….though that particular set of great friends – you know who you are! – are remarkably camera-resistant):
Where’d I spend 2013? Living in PNG, participating in meetings in Amsterdam & dive trips in Australia, then celebrating the holidays with Steve & Mom in New Zealand:
I began 2012 in the US (where I visited Washington, DC in cherry-blossom season), turned 50 in the company of Howard & Gene at Kakadu National Park in Australia, and finished the year in PNG:
2011 was mostly Mweso, a little Lamu, a little London and a year-end back home seeing Frank Lloyd Wright homes of Pennsylvania with family:
2010…wow, what a year. Just seeing all the continents and countries where I spent time (actually meaningful time, with friends and family and work) makes my head spin even now. The photos evoked so much for me that I just couldn’t narrow it down to three or four…so I’m giving you a lot from 2010, a mix of Manipur (start of year) and Mweso (end of year), with a sprinkling of Sweden, Berlin, Paris & California in between:
I entered 2009 in Tahiti, yes it’s true: during the year I took off from work to help Mom with her house, I dedicated two months to exploring Australia (and watching the Australian Open!) and New Zealand, flying in via Tahiti with a few nights in Papeete, just because I could. The year ended, of course, in Manipur and included a great trip to see excellent sites of Rajasthan with Howard & Gene:
2008 started in Nigeria, and ended in Tahiti…with a lot of good work in Nigeria, a short assignment for the earthquake in China, visits in Germany with my exchange family friends there….and a good deal of time in and around NYC (Mom, aunt Judy & I enjoyed a harbor trip past Ellis Island where our own immigrant ancestors entered the country, and also a trip to our favorite sculpture park up th Husdon)…with a side trip for some hiking in Sequoia and other California adventures:
2007…I began the year based in Colombo but spend the new year’s period with Mom & Steve at Angkor Wat, returned to Colombo to finish out an assignment, headed on for training in Paris where I also got celebrate Mom’s 71st birthday…back to the US to reorganize my life after my first two years in the field, and then off for a new assignment in Nigeria. At the time it felt big. Now it’s all fond memories:
…which will bring us back to year two of this current phase of life’s great adventure, the lovely year 2006. From Beijing & Yunnan in China, to Polonnaruwa & Sigiriya in Sri Lanka (where I was based at year’s end), with family time on Cumberland Island (Mom’s 70th birthday dinner!) and in Germany in between. With a special souvenir from Seoul, where I had the opportunity to work a bit with the young ladies pictured with their daffodils. In a small-world twist, I had dinner with one of those two young ladies just a few nights ago in Port au Prince, which she visits sometimes in her current work with the CDC. So much small world, so little time for it all. Happy end of 2015, and many good hopes for a 2016 of more peace and health to everyone, everywhere.
As they are annoyingly prone to do, these days of concerts & plays, strolls in the park and vege Vietnamese food on Wardour Street have raced past as though determined to rub my nose in my own impermanence. Yeah, yeah, I get it – I want to say…but can’t I just slow time down a bit, pretty-please? I mean, what person that knows London – as I flatter myself I do, somewhat – would even dream of SEVEN days in a row where the sun shone either most or all of the day?? 🙂 It has been spectacular – and I feel as though I’ve grown to know every blossom and every blade of grass in certain corners of Hyde Park, so much time have I spent there relishing the freedom and peace to amble anonymously among the daffodils and cherry blossoms. Friends have been seen, concerts have been enjoyed, dance and opera have thrilled, and … well, I think I haven’t slept quite enough, which is rather a problem when you consider I’m supposed to be resting. Oh well – que sera sera, and it’ll start sera-ing once I complete the prolonged return journey to Mweso, which begins tomorrow. The good news, the silver lining to the cloud of KLM’s canceled overnight flight to Kigali: I get to spend Wednesday in Amsterdam, and I’ll get to stay & catch up with a friend there as well…then have the daytime view of all that desert in northern Africa as our plane races over southern Europe, the Mediterranean & just about all of Egypt & Sudan on its way to the green hills and mountains of Central Africa. Then, duffel stuffed with legumes (at Waitrose yesterday: Paul bought out the shelf full of Native American loose tobacco – for a colleague, not me; the lady behind the counter rightly guessed that I was going to, as she put it, ‘another country’ – and put a major dent in their yellow split peas, red and green lentils, and mixed-bean soup packets, as well as their vege bouillon cubes…can you tell I’m missing pulses/legumes in Mweso?) and toiletries, I’ll begin that beautiful but painful overland bump-fest back up to Mweso. Wish me well.
Oh, right, about the photos: mostly taken on the South Bank and some in Hyde Park; as you may know I pride myself on not taking the tourist-standard shots of the most famous landmarks (think how James Bond films always tell us we’re in London with a closeup on ol’ Big Ben; I attempt, feebly I know, to distinguish myself at times by my off-center approach), but felt that, after all these years of visiting London, perhaps it’s time for me to take my first photo of such classics as Big Ben and St Paul’s, or such new classics as the Eye. These are mostly South Bank shots, and my love affair with the fish-shape lamp poles on the South Bank, with a few views from Hyde Park. How unusual that I don’t have any flower photos. If you see any in this posting after all, it will mean one thing: that after drafting this and loading all the photos I had, i decided on one more pot of tea at the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen, and on the way finally got a few flower shots to add some color here…think of me, sipping my pot of tea and looking out at the lovely serprentine as shown in one of those lower photos here. That’s the image for this trip…that and, of course, many a concert and play…
…and yes, just to confuse you all and see how much you’re paying attention, I decided to throw in a few of the shots I took while ambling through Amsterdam during the eight-hour layover there on the Saturday of my inbound flight. Hehe.
After the heat, humidity, concrete-jungleness, and dreadful air pollution of my temporary home in Port Harcourt, the clean green windiness and visible nature (however affected by milennia of agriculture) of Yorkshire felt like a balm to my tired spirit.