Cherry Blossoms

Remembering in December

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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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:

House, Valley, Hills on Hike - Pre-Monsoon Season

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:

Ngauruhoe Summit View of Lakes & Clouds

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:
Rivers-Abia Border Boats & River

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.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA


Washington in Bloom


smw, slt has packed up the big bags and moved on for a longer term again. This time we’re off to  Papua New Guinea where we expect to be working for a year. This is going to be an interesting assignment for me – new and different context and part of the world for me to work in, also a new role as head of mission. As usual, this will remain a personal blog of the world as seen through my eyes…so more about PNG if, as and when appropriate. For now, my farewell to the land of my birth comes in the form of a photographic essay of my lovely final week there, spent in Washington, DC. Since many of my international friends have never been to the US or DC, I enjoyed taking shots of the city in its springtime glory. DC is a lovely city to visit – excellent free museums you can wander in and out of at will, grand monuments to the many of the great thinkers and founders of the American experiment, and lots of public green space around the mall and monuments. I’ve tried to show some of this, along with the occasional shot of me or my family, some of whom also came down to DC while I was there. Enjoy the shots – I’ll throw in the occasional caption, but I’ve nothing else to really add in terms of text for now. Peace, health, companionship to us all in the coming year.

….this year, one understands, was the 100th anniversary of DC’s famous cherry trees being donated by the nation of Japan. As it happens my visit was perfectly timed to see the trees go from bud to full bloom, thanks to several days of glorious warm sunny weather. Below it’s me enjoying brunch with my little cousin twice-removed, Adair — he’s Amalie & Bryan’s son and they drove down from Baltimore for a really great brunch with me, my mother & brother, and my cousin Maria. Thanks, guys :-).

The Washington Monument is the tallest building in the District of Columbia (and building codes will keep it so), and it’s therefore fairly omnipresent and makes a good focus for — too many, I know… — photos.

From the FDR Memorial.

…above,  taken earlier in the week; below, about five days later once the trees had burst into full bloom. That’s the Jefferson Monument, by the way, my personal favorite both because I think it’s the most graceful of the three biggest & oldest monuments, and also because Jefferson was such a great philosopher of democracy, and also a conflicted representative of the ideals he represented: a committed Democrat who had slaves and agreed to the original language of the constitution which gave slaves no rights whatsoever but counted them as partial people for the distribution of political power in the new system (for allocating seats in the House of Representative, if my memory of history serves correctly…)

…Thomas Jefferson: a statue of the man, and some of his words.

Above, from the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial; below, me in a particpatory art installation on display at the (fantastic, free) Hischorn Gallery.

One of the more unusual monuments is Theordore Roosevelt National Memorial Island, to which I went both in honor of the man who launched our national park system and was the first political leader to recognize the importance, in a nation clearly growing at a very rapid rate, of setting aside  open space for future generations to enjoy and for the protection of our natural heritage…and also to remind myself that Republicans have not always been as willfully ignorant, greedy, and dishonest as they seem now to have become. Below are two shots taken from the island; one shows the Watergate Hotel (yes, site of that infamous incident from which so many later government scandals around the world have drawn their name) as well as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (built to honor JFK of course).

A corner of the old executive office building, some shiny memorial column, and a corner of the mall all on a sunny late afternoon; below another shot of the gables and turrets of the old executive office building.

Above: earlier in the week; below: later in the week 🙂

A farewell shot of the capitol dome behind the Washington monument. May American politics find a measure of sanity and civility while I’m away.