2013

2013 was quite the roller-coaster. We experienced loss and sadness as well as some real highlights. We saw our children grow a lot last year, physically (!) and mentally, but we also lost a family member. We traveled quite a lot, but not all of it was for fun. We also lost two of our beloved cats, and got a new one. 2013 brought quite a lot of change.

The most Dryad Logosignificant change that directly affected us was Laura’s new job as Executive Director of Dryad (and project manager for Dyad at Duke). Exactly a year ago, she left One World Market and plunged into this new adventure. It has been a roller coaster ride, to say the least, but it is also a welcome change from the world of retail. We definitely enjoy the greater flexibility of her schedule; she can pick up the kids from school sometimes and we can have luncMontmartre - Sacre Coeur - ush together and not much weekend work (and if so, from home). One nice perk of her new job is the travel associated with it. She went to Europe twice last year (England and Belgium in the spring and France in the fall) and I met her in Paris in November and we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary in the city where I proposed to her 20 yeas ago. That trip was a lot of fun!

My job has changed a lot, too, since we had to lay off my team-mate, due to lack of funding for his position. Even though it was not a total surprise, it was still a shock when we were informed that he was going to get laid off. He has since found a new job. So since April, I am running our lab’s IT stuff by myself. Tour EiffelI’ve been simplifying our infrastructure as much as I could, for example doing away with our local email server and consolidating our file servers. But the last months have been busy, and it’s promising to be a busy year, as we have now new studies coming online. even last week, even though I was at home, trying to take some time off, I ended up working almost every day for several hours. Oh well, I am just glad I still have a job.

Loss was a big theme in 2013, too. In March, my sister lost her husband completely surprisingly due to a pulmonary embolism. Karsten was only 48 years old, and the two of them ran a successful driving school. But since she is not a certified instructor, she was not allowed to continue the school and had to sell it. In April, I flew to Germany to attend the funeral and to visit my mom and my sister. As sad as the occasion was, it was good to spend some time with them to reconnect after all these years. Also, my mom’s sister and her sons came to the funeral and it was good to see them, too. The most important thing for me to do, and really the only thing I  could do, was to be there and be supportive of my sister and my mom. The funeral was very somber and emotional, but also very personal and positive. Many friends and some former students came to the funeral and offered support and help to my sister. I was glad to see that. My sister and I have kept in touch since, and she is hanging in there.

Our Siamese cat DehaWe also lost our two old cats, Deha and Sodabe. Deha was almost 20 years old and Sodabe was 18 years old. They had both lived with us almost their entire lives, and so we felt a little bit like we lost family members when they passed away. In addition, after I came home from Karsten’s funeral, our poodle Meme met with an untimely, tragic end. AND … in February, one of our emus died, too.

The good news is that the other two emus are doing great. They are fully mature lady emus now, and they run around like crazy fools, fluffing their feathers and drumming their hearts out. So now that we know they are both girls, we’re in the market for a male emu.

Our remaining cat Koklo was feeling pretty lonely after Sodabe died. She often sat in the driveway for hours, and it looked like she was waiting for him. But now, as of last week, we have a new cat – Henry. He is a very handsome Abyssinian cat (with papers) and we got him from Laura’s brother Peter, who is moving to Costa Rica. Henry seems like a very nice cat and it looks like he and Koklo are going to get along fine.

The horses at their facilities at Peggy's CabinA real highlight of 2013 was our summer family-plus-horses vacation in the mountains. We loaded the horses, the bikes, the kayak and all our other stuff on the hose rig and hauled it up the mountain to a cabin on the New River in Virginia. We spent a week there riding, kayaking, biking, hiking and relaxing. Good times!

Another highlight – also horse-related – was our first hunter pace with the Red Mountain Hounds fox hunting club. Laura and Julia rode Wally and Cleo and they came in 7th in their class. Not bad for the first time! I was there, too, as “support staff” and ended up helping the organizers a bit here and there, which was quite fun, actually. They are great people!

Duke Baldwin auditoriumIn the fall, we enjoyed several great concerts and we already have more tickets for concerts in 2014. This area has a really vibrant music scene. So with both kids playing music and now old enough to go to interesting concerts, we have almost an obligation to take them out and experience some of these great performances in and around Durham. Also, Duke finished the renovation of Baldwin auditorium on campus, and that is now a top-notch music venue, just a 15-Min drive from our home. And I get an employee discount. So we saw Kiril Gerstein and the Ciompi Quartett with the Kruger Brothers at Baldwin and the Mallarme Chamber Players with the fantastic violinist Jennifer Curtis and guitarist Dex Romweber at the Casbah. All three concerts were just plain amazing. And it was especially fun to experience them as a family.

bcrf-runbullcity-bull-web-620x322Last summer was not too terribly hot, so I was able to go on longer runs fairly early at the end of the summer. I really enjoyed 8-10 mile runs on a quiet Sunday morning. So when I found out about the Bull City Race Fest here in Durham, I signed up for their half-marathon and started pushing my distance even further and did several 13-mile runs. It was very satisfying and fun, but during the last training run before the race, I noticed pain in my right knee. The race was a week later, and halfway through the race the pain became pretty bad and so I pretty much just limped the last five miles to the finish. But I made it.

krdu_cumulative_rainfall-400x300About the weather – this was by far the wettest, rainiest summer and fall we’ve had here in years. The good news is that we were out of the drought conditions for most of the year. The problem was the mold, though. Laura is clearly allergic to mold, and she had quite a bit of trouble with that. Also, the soggy, muddy pasture causes hoof problems for he horses.

But we were lucky with the weather for our Black Friday party – it was a nice, chilly night. And since we were out out the drought we made several big fires to keep us warm while we were enjoying our delicious beer. And last night I made a huge bonfire for New Year’s, and our neighbors and their friends came over and we had a great time sitting around this massive fire, eating and drinking and having a great time.

So that’s it for 2013. I hope you all had a great start for 2014 and I wish you all success and happiness for the New Year. Let’s make it a good one!

Jürgen

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