As 2018 began, Corey was still in Uganda. It was the first time that he hadn't been home for the Christmas holiday season; Dave and I were missing him tremendously, but we were also a bit jealous of the adventures he was having on his post-graduate fellowship to study great apes and conservation and human conflicts. You can see a few of his amazing photos of mountain gorillas here.
Coincidentally, an opportunity arose for me to travel to neighboring Rwanda. A colleague from Moravian and I left on Jan 9th to explore a potential partnership with the University of Global Health Equity and to begin designing a travel seminar course. Our hope is to someday bring students to Rwanda to learn about the culture, history, and healing of people and a nation post-genocide. I was particularly thrilled that Corey came down from Uganda to join us.
Having been in Uganda six months before, it was interesting to compare and contrast the two countries in terms of economic and tourism development, corruption, and wildlife. In short, corruption is not tolerated in Rwanda and thus, a number of countries, especially China, are investing in the country. The post-genocide recovery is stunning; I was amazed at the common narrative of reconciliation and "one Rwanda" especially at a time when our own country is so politically divided. The eco-tourism industry is much less developed in Rwanda than in its neighbor to the north, but shows great promise.
|Entrance to Akagera National Park|
|Sunrise from the lodge within the park|
|Herd of topi|
|Zebras are always wonderful to see|
|Ready for the trek up the volcano|
|A view of the lush vegetation|
|Orchids in the Virunga Mountains|
|A mecca for conservationists|
|Digit was killed by poachers in 1977 and is buried next to Dian|
Corey headed back to Uganda and I returned home on January 21st to do my dean work, teach, and mentor an Honors research student who was focusing on what factors lead to municipalities developing successful climate action plans. I wasn't home for long before I headed to Washington D.C. to attend the annual meeting of the National Council for Science and the Environment and I presented at the AAAS Sceince and Human Rights Coalition meeting.
While Corey was between trips, 3/4 of the family squeezed in a bit of winter birding with a day trip to Barnegat Light in New Jersey. Despite the fact that it rained in most of NJ and PA that day, we had decent weather along the shore, especially for February. Dave, Corey and I were all taking photos that day.
|Just a few of the feathered friends we saw|
|At Earth University|
|Lessons in Bri Bri culture and use of plants|
Corey was home for a bit after his Uganda trip and before he headed off to Indonesia for part 2 of his adventure. Joren came home from college for spring break; U. Chicago, by all accounts, is a good "fit" for him. His classes included physics and math (of course), along with music composition. He is also singing in a male chorus group that performs on campus and tours. Joren hadn't done much singing until his senior year of high school, but seems to love it. When he is home, he spends time teaching himself how to play piano and he sometimes still plays his saxophone. We also went to the eastern regional NCAA Division I hockey playoff games which were held in Allentown.
Dave continues to play fiddle and other instruments, often with the local band, The Lost Ramblers. When Corey is home, the two will fill the house with tunes.
Over Easter, I made a quick trip to Michigan to see my mom and other family members.
|Late winter along Lake Superior|
In April, we heard from Corey that he had come down with Dengue Fever while in Borneo. He was sent to Jakarta, but kept getting worse instead of showing the typical progress of this nasty infection. To say it was scary is an understatement. We decided to have Dave go over to be with him and fortunately, by the time he arrived, Corey had turned the corner for the better. The non-profit he was working with said it was too risky for him to return to the remote island, since there are other immuno-types of Dengue and infection with one doesn't provide protection against the others. After a week of rest and monitoring at the clinic, Dave and he returned back home.
In early May, I traveled to Chicago to give an invited talk at the Botanic Garden for the opening of Penelope Gottleib's “Against Forgetting” art display. I have long admired Penelope's work and finally got to meet her in person.
|You can read a bit about the artist and her work here.|
|If this is early spring, I can't imagine how lovely these gardens are later in the summer.|
|A view of the Chicago Botanic Gardens|
As the spring semester wound down for Dave and me, we had a series of strong storms that brought down trees and power lines. This foreshadowed the months ahead during which we had record rainfall - both in individual storms and for the year.
|May trillium - in the rain|
|The 2018 RMSSN gang at "the rock" somewhere in Wyoming|
|Special people at the CSU Mountaintop campus|
|Some of the faculty form RMSSN 2018 - more special people|
|The gang at Grand Tetons NP|
Summer began with a USGS bird survey with Corey before he headed off to Hog Island to work a few of Audubon's birding camps. U. Chicago is on the quarter system, so Joren didn't get out of school until mid-June, but he had a very successful first year of college. He and I did a bioblitz at a new preserve in the region. My brother Ray and his family stopped by for a visit as they toured college campuses in the east. I can't believe my nephew Manix is a high school senior! And then, Iattended a conference of environmental deans and directors at Chatham University near Pittsburgh and got to tour their very cool sustainability campus.
|Chatham University Sustainability Campus|
|Love the "living wall" in this space|
In July, Dave and I finally got to travel together. We headed to Panama with good friends to explore a new country and of course, to bird. Our goal was to find the rare Harpy Eagle. Suffice it to say the trip was quite the adventure (not the Club Med style vacation), but we had lots of fun and laughs, saw great things, and we were all exhausted (and still friends) by the end.
|Success - a two year old fledgling Harpy Eagle|
|Photo by Laura George|
|The gang - with the eagle above and a tarantula below|
Dave and I began the 2018-19 academic year at the end of August. This is year #33 for Dave at Lafayette College and after a very long run, he is happy to no longer serve as department chair. This is year 31 for me and my 15th at Moravian College. I can't believe that I just finished my 3rd year as dean. Dave continues to teach biochemistry and his first year seminar on Appalachia. I co-taught a course on climate change policy in fall and helped to mentor our Millennium Fellows and my research student who is continuing his summer work for an Honors project.
In mid-September, Joren and I left for Michigan to visit family and friends and for me to attend my first Northern Michigan University Alumni Association Board meeting. We had some fun biking in the U.P. as well.
After stops in Marquette and Iron River, we continued on to Madison, WI to visit my brother and his family. When cousins get together, there is always silliness.
From there, I dropped Joren off at college for year #2 at Chicago and continued on to Indianapolis to run my 14th (yikes) faculty athletics representative leadership institute for the NCAA. After two weeks and 2500 miles, I arrived back home. Little did I know that I would make that long drive again in a month.
In October, Maxine (my step-mother) come to visit. It was fun showing her the nature center, going to October Fest, and celebrating our birthdays together.
Shortly afterwards, I learned that my mother had fallen and although there was no obvious injury, she had stopped eating. Things didn't sound good, so I headed back to Michigan to be with her. It was soon obvious that she was nearing the end. I got to spend time with her for a week before she passed away in early November. I am extremely appreciative of the family members and friends who stopped by to visit or who went out to dinner with me during that difficult week. Funerals are never fun, but having to make the arrangements and burying your last remaining parent is really tough. It was good, however, to see a lot of relatives who I hadn't seen in a very long time. Thanks to my dear aunt Sandy who hosted a potluck for a bunch of us to get together to reminisce and share stories. It was a bit of a shock when my cousin Cheryl and I realized that we are now the family matriarchs.
After cleaning out my mom's apartment (fortunately, my brother and I had already down-sized her stuff 2 years ago when we moved her to assisted living), I had the long slog of a drive home to PA. When you drive alone for 1000 miles, there is a lot of time to be alone with your sad thoughts.
Dave and I were alone for Thanksgiving this year, so we went out for a holiday buffet and to celebrate his birthday. The quiet time was good for me to grieve and catch up on a bit of work.
The last trip of the year for me was to take students to the U.N. climate meetings in Katowice, Poland. I was able to reconnect with international friends and some of the RMSSN gang and the city was decked out for the holidays.
|A mini RMSSN reunion|
Since we blogged from the meetings, I won't reiterate the details here. In a nutshell, little progress was made on policy, even though the scientific evidence regarding climate change and its global impacts continues to mount.
Fall '18 was a blur and filled with personal loss and some very sad news from several friends who were also suffering with loss or scary health situations. Perhaps the months of dreary weather made it seem worse.
To end on a more upbeat note, Dave and I were thrilled to have both boys home. We mostly spent time at home, but went to the Christmas Eve service at Central Moravian Church, went out to eat, hosted some company, watched some movies, and did a bit of end-of-year birding. I was convinced to enter the 21st century and finally own a smart-phone. Which means I can now take impromptu photos in restaurants!
Fiddle tunes filled our house several times over the holidays. May good health, dear friends, and happiness fill 2019 as we ring in the new year.