In our fifth move since finishing graduate school in Ohio, the FC family is now happily settled into the Garden State. After four years living in our fabulous house in Maine, we’re managing a career path in which Tim lives in NH 3.5 days per week, and then joins Kate in Lawrenceville NJ, six miles down the road from her job -- Director of Health Professions Advising at Princeton University. For Kate, this is a return to work that she greatly enjoyed at U Maryland Baltimore County and Brandeis, now with more responsibility, and impressive resources with which she can provide guidance and support to her students. She works with incredibly smart and highly motivated students, although starting up was a bit stressful. During April, she worked three days in NH, then flew to NJ to work at Princeton. She just had one job in May, but it was in NJ while Tim was finishing the school year in New Hampshire and prepping the house for sale. We sold our house 7 days after it went on the market by some miracle (and a good pricing strategy that left us with little savings, but more than we would have if we were stuck with a mortgage and our rental property) -- all in all it worked out well. Tim looked for positions near Princeton, but nothing turned up that made sense. He’s renting a room from our friend Anne and has gotten really good at navigating the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City. This past year, he had two papers published and got about $170,000 in grant money, so that’s pretty cool, and he lives closer to his collaborators at Rutgers, so they’ve had some productive working sessions (and less productive beer appreciation sessions).
It turns out that New Jersey does actually have a verdant and pastoral part that justifies the Garden State nickname, and we are lucky enough to live in that part. There are farms in every direction, buffering us from the multitude of strip malls. We are adjusting to traffic jams (we think there are more people within 20 miles of us than there are in the state of Maine), lack of an ocean (and the accompanying heat and humidity), and the lack of good beer (only one of us seems to think this is a travesty, the other 3 members of the household are far less concerned). The other big change; we actually have a key to the door and lock it when we leave the house. But, we’ll unlock it if you come to visit and the guest room will be made up, so stop by (calling first would be nice). We do use the new location as an excuse to visit Philadelphia and New York City with frequency, both excellent cities. We have already seen more broadway shows and Met operas in the short time we lived here than we have during the past four years.
We’ve also done a bit of longer distance traveling... Scrabble trips included New Orleans (for the second year in a row), Lake George NY, the Boston suburbs, Cooperstown and Utica, NY together, and NYC, Dallas, Greenwich CT, and Orlando for Kate alone (though she just hung out at the Harry Potter exhibit while her friends played the national championships in Florida -- work was too busy to allow her to stay the length of the tournament and play). Tim’s conference took us to Portland where we traveled with our friends Cecilia and John, and also met up with Franz and Sherry, who drove in from the coast. Tim saw his family over Spring break, the Sieczkowski clan at a reunion in MA, and our friend Nadine over Easter. Kate saw her friends Becca and Heather when she went to a conference in Baltimore, We used a fun wedding in Rochester (congrats Olivia and Sabrina) as an excuse to drive another hour west to Buffalo and see Margaret (who Kate first met in Davis). We had visits from friends and Tim’s parents, and have made friends with the neighbors in the other half of our rented duplex, enjoying a Thanksgiving celebration with them. We tried to go to Toronto, but a small weather system known as hurricane/super storm Sandy basically shut down the state of NJ and so we were stuck at home for about a week. It was kind of great really, like a ‘fall break’ where we could hang out on the couch. We do have plans to get to Toronto in 2013 though, as well as New Orleans (third time’s a charm), Las Vegas (to visit Kate’s grandfather and for Scrabble nationals), and maybe somewhere in Europe, since we haven’t left the continent in awhile.Despite all of this motion, a lot also remains the same. Cassie and Jasper are the same companions that they have been for twelve years. Kate follows photos and stories of our ten nieces and nephews on Facebook and reports back to Tim. Tim reads the NY Times and multiple newsy blogs and reports important (and less important) factoids to Kate. Kate gets obsessed with TV series (Breaking Bad the most notable this year) and books (she pulled an all nighter to read the Hunger Games trilogy). Tim brews beer (a smoky rauchbier, an IPA and our holiday ale), watches soccer and baseball, and runs (and runs). We continue to experiment with new recipes, using ingredients from local farmers’ markets and our CSA subscription, and generally enjoying each other’s company -- the half-weeks apart have made us appreciate our time together all the more. We hope that this year has also been full of adventure as well as comfortable routines for all of you, and that the holidays provide a time for celebration and reflection with friends and family.