Welcome to Valentine’s Day, that annoyingly commercialized annual reminder that we’re actually supposed to care about the special people in our life. As Cory nicely put it
Proving you really care about someone is an achievement that takes effort everyday. Chocolate and flowers on a single day won’t do.
All that said, I figured it wouldn’t be amiss to let my family know how fabulous they are, a non-commercial sort of way of course :-).
The photo up top is from 9 years ago while we were living in the UK during our first sabbatical; Tom was 7 at the time, and Susan hadn’t yet cut off most of her hair. The strip below is from our second UK sabbatical 7 years later; now he’s taller than her and looking suspiciously like a young man instead of a little boy. Both give a sense of how fun it is to live with these two — there’s no question that I’m a lucky, lucky man.
It was interesting to see how few photos I have of the two of them together outside of the sabbaticals. Those two years are documented in excruciating detail, while our day-to-day here in Morris is much more sparsely recorded. There are moments, like when Tom’s on stage, where I take a billion photos, but I end up with very few photos of the two of them together.
I think this helps illustrate the value of these years we’ve had away from home. There’s something about stepping out of your “normal” life, leaving most of your stuff behind, and making a life (even if for just a year) in a new place. It shaves off a lot of the distractions and, for us at least, meant we spent more and different time together. Some of that is in the form of being tourists together (which is where these photos come from), but it’s also in the form of walking together because we didn’t own a car, and being together because the apartment was too small for us to easily be apart.
(And I realize that having this sort of opportunity just oozes privilege; most people don’t have the flexibility or resources to do this sort of thing once, let alone twice. I’m lucky in many, many ways.)
When I came back from the holidays I had a very pleasant surprise waiting for me in my office mailbox: A 2010 calendar from Schloss Dagstuhl. Each month has a small day grid at the top, and one or two photos of Dagstuhl below; the photos for each month are actually the front of a postcard that you can separate from the calendar and use.
The cool part is that most of the photos are mine! This set on Flickr shows all the photos they used, although many of them actually look much better in the calendar. Their staff did a really great job of straightening, cropping, and adjusting the lighting on the shots that they used, and it really made the photos look really nice. Thanks to whoever did the excellent work!
It was really weird when I first looked at the calendar, because I really wasn’t sure how many of the photos were mine. There were two or three that I immediately recognized as mine (like the image at the top), but there were quite a few indoor detail shots that seemed like the kind of thing that I’d take (like the dragon below), but which I didn’t really recognize. There were also several of buildings that could have been mine, but could have been taken by most anyone. Going through, them, though, I was able to determine that all but two were in fact mine. The cropping (and to a lesser degree the cleaning) that the Dagstuhl folks did often threw me as it sharpened the focus in cool ways that I hadn’t seen or thought of.
The Flickr set has the 13 photos they used, in the order that they appear in the calendar. (Three of the cards are composites of two photos, which is why there’s more than 12 photos.)