The end of 2012

December 21 came and went, and the world is still here.  But 2012 is nearly over.  A time to look back and see what was accomplished, what was left undone, and what's next.

I got my Medicare card, so Medicare is "next" for me.  And I'm thinking about retiring, so that's another "next," but not until "next" year.  Putting off the inevitable, I guess.

And I got called to jury duty, so I know I'll be spending part of January at the courthouse in downtown Manhattan.

My sabbatical was filled with surprises: surprise surgery, surprise Sandy.  Not enough rest and not enough done (there's never enough done, I'm afraid-Jennifer Louden has tried to instill in all of us Conditions of Enough but I'm always upping the ante).

Winding down a 40+ year career is much harder than I thought it would be.  Twenty eight of those years have been at Pace University, 17 years on the downtown NY campus and now 11 on the Westchester campus.  Fourteen years spent in four different companies (The Home Insurance Company, Rapidata, Equitable Life, The New York Times) and one year plus a few months spent consulting.  Lots of experience, and experiences, and I'm tired.

So what's next?  I'm seriously considering applying to become a Commisioned Ruling Elder although I must say I like the old name Commissioned Lay Pastor much better.  I've got the application on my desk, Chip and I have spoken and he thinks it's a great idea, and I've got Anne's support.  What more do I need?

I just need to do it.

September and October have been something else..

I can hardly wait to see what November brings.

First there was my hand surgery, which went quite well, thank you very much.  Now it's occupational therapy twice a week and silicon taped to the scar to get the swelling down.

So that was on September 24th, and two weeks later we drove down to Asheville, North Carolina for a few days to visit the Villages at Crest Mountain, an eco-friendly sustainable community under development.

For lots of reasons we think this won't work for us, so it's "back to the drawing boards" in our search for where we live when I retire.

We got back from Asheville on Saturday, October 13 and more or less resumed our routine (such as it is) for a very short period of time before we started hurricane preparations, which included things such as planting garlic (which is hard if you are trying not to get your bandaged hand dirty) and buying a one burner propane stove.

We were prepared for a few days without power; we lost power around 7:15 PM on Monday, October 29 and didn't get it back until late on Wednesday, November 7th.  By then we had moved in with our friends Becky and Bernice.  When it hit 44 degrees INSIDE the house I cried "uncle" and on Monday, November 5 we showed up with our two cats, our clothes and all of our electronics.

This was AFTER showing up on Thursday, November 1st with the remains of our freezer.  Most of the food in our freezer and refrigerator had to be thrown out on Thursday.

Superstorm Sandy, Day 1
Let's just say that this wasn't alot of fun.  The first day was just nippy, the second day got much colder and by Saturday I was cooking on the porch in a hooded sweatshirt, the same sweatshirt I was wearing inside the house because it was getting cold.
Superstorm Sandy, Day 2

I think the last straw was the snow, but by then we were warm and comfortable, if feeling a little disoriented and like refugees, at Becky and Bernice's house.  Thank heaven for good friends.

And of course in the middle of all of this was Anne's birthday.

That didn't turn out the way we had planned, either, since her birthday dinner was supposed to be at MP Taverna in Irvington.  A beautiful location on the Hudson River.  Ah yes, on the river, but by Friday the river had come up to meet it, and it was closed.

And Anne didn't know it but I had planned a surprise brunch party for her at Crabtree's Kittle House, which didn't get their power back until Saturday, so that party was "touch and go."  The brunch was fabulous, and Anne was surprised, so she did have a good birthday after all.
Here's everyone before we stuffed ourselves at a brunch buffet not to be missed!

Se here it is November 12 and we are just getting back to normal again.  As I said at the start of this post, I can't wait to see what else November brings.

This Friday we join our friends Kathy and Steve to celebrate their daughter Julia's bat mitzvah.  We head off on Saturday for a week in Provincetown, to celebrate Thanksgiving. 

I'm hoping all of this will be uneventful.  Wishing all of us peace this holiday season




So *this* is what a professor does on sabbatical!

I saw a hand surgeon yesterday, and I'll be having hand surgery on Monday to repair a damaged ulna nerve on my right hand that has gotten progressively worse since I fell down the stairs (running, in my socks, to close windows against a thunder storm) on July 15. For most of our two week vacation in Utah (July 22 until August 5) I wore a  wrist band to deal with the sprained wrist, which turns out to be the least of my troubles.

Ten days after the surgery the sutures come out, we go to Asheville for a week, and then I start physical therapy-it could be as much as a year before I get my strength completely back, but the alternative is that I look like Spock and my right hand gets weaker and weaker, so I really don't have a choice.  A huge shout out to Dr Alan Schefer (I have no idea when that picture was taken-he has a nice curly head of hair now) who will be doing the surgery, and I am so grateful to have health insurance to cover most of it.

Right hand with pinky stuck out ;(
Here's what my hand looks like-sorry for the blurry picture but I'm a rightie taking pictures with my left hand.

And it the Spock look isn't bad enough, I'm losing strength in my index finger.  It's become hard for me to turn the key in the car ignition.   Now that's bad!

Dr Schefer assures me that I will be fine, and that I will be able to drive right after the surgery.  So Monday Anne and I will go to the Ambulatory Surgery Center of Westchester and Dr Schefer will make an incision in my palm and "clean out" whatever it is that is compressing the motor nerve so that I can move my pinky again.

In the words of Gilda Radner, "It's always something" and I'm grateful that I'm on sabbatical so that I don't have to worry about moving classes around (although I'd rather not spend my sabbatical recuperating from surgery, but hey, I haven't been operated on in 15 years, so I guess it's time).

What does a professor do on sabbatical, anyway?

Well, I can only recount what this professor is doing on sabbatical.  The list is long and reflects things that suddenly arose, that were neglected, and things on my "someday-maybe list."

On the suddenly arose list is my finger-I fell the weekend before we went on vacation in July and when we returned in August my right pinky decided to go astray-I can't move it toward the rest of my fingers.  An EMG test seems to indicate a damaged ulna nerve, so off to the doctor tomorrow to find out what we do about this.

On the things that were neglected, first and foremost is my office at home-not cleaned up in, oh, four years and two months.  I don't have any "before" pictures (too embarassing) but I do have an after, and a picture of all of the recycling sitting by the curb (and that doesn't include the stuff that just plain got tossed.

You can see my meditation cushion in this picture, another practice that has been neglected, so I'm getting back to that.  Pleasure reading with the exception of my monthly book group has been limited to what I can grab and read on the train.

Spending time with Anne, again except for "planned" times has been severely neglected, so I am enjoying long breakfasts, leisurely conversations, and picking up my share of house chores.

Spending time with family has also been neglected but some of that that was rectified by attending a family wedding at West Point right after Labor Day, and by having my father, sister and brother-in-law stay over (which was the motivation for cleaning my office; my sister and brother-in-law slept in the guest room, and my dad slept on a blow up bed in my office.  So my office had to be cleaned up.  Nothing like a deadline to focus the mind.).  I saw my cousin Tom (we hadn't seen each other since my grandmother's funeral in 1983) and my cousin Bob (at least I saw him in the 90's and Anne had met him) and their families-it was Bob's daughter Emily who was getting married.

But maybe the best of all is having time for learning new things, practical things.  Developing my web site has been on my "someday-maybe" list for four years, ever since I took Meggin McIntosh's workshop "Make a Difference, Make Money, Teaching Teachers" (a class she no longer offers).  At Meggin's suggestion, I signed up with a hosting service and snagged connieknapp.com, constanceknapp.com and facultyzen.com and have done absolutely nothing with them, except pay the leasing fee for the last four years.  So it's time to learn iWeb.  More to come.

Learning how to use Evernote productively is also on the list.

Spending time actually reading all of my RSS feeds would be useful, as will pruning some of them back.

For the learning part, I'm experimenting with Grovo-can't remember how I first heard of Grovo, but so far the free classes have been very useful.

And then there's Project 137 with the amazing Patti Digh.

And maybe, just maybe, I'll actually get caught up on all that e-mail (or perhaps I'll just declare e-mail bankruptcy).

The "new and improved" me will head back into the classroom in January, right after I turn (gulp!) 65.

Summer? Summer!

Ah for the days when summer meant lying in the hammock catching up on murder mysteries.  Now it means trying to fit in a few days vacation here and there while I wait for the new dean to accept this job and start.

So what am I doing for the next five days?  Going on a retreat-a "Creative Joy" retreat!  Five days of yoga, writing, photography, rest, oh and maybe Zentangles, too!

And boy, do I need this!

Spring!

It's spring and I'm thinking about being outside in the hammock.

Today I'm recovering from yesterday, a busy Good Friday First Seder day.  Up early, cooking for tonight, off to St. Bartholomew's for a Good Friday service, then home to pick up Anne and off to Anne's brother's for the first night of Passover, picking up Anne's mother along the way.

Tomorrow it's sunrise at First Presbyterian Church of Yorktown and then into the garden to set up the tomato bed.

Monday it's back to work.

And I'll wish I had some hammock time!

Happy Easter and Passover, everyone!