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  • This has been an extraordinary year - and it's not even over yet.

    Indeed, I find myself hard pressed to think of any other that has been so eventful, in both good and bad ways, or as consequential in shaping the rest of my life.

    When it began, our friend Virginia was hale and healthy showing no hint of the leukemia that would kill her by late August.

    When it began, thoughts of retirement were abstract, a vague promise of some future time as yet unsettled upon. Now a date is set, and I count the days as they pass by.

    When it began, Brexit or Donald Trump as President of the United States seemed wholly unlikely.

    When it began, the year had a bounce in its step. Now it's dragging its feet like a battle-weary soldier returning from the front.

    Amid the sadness, the expectation, the astonishment and the foreboding, I enjoyed short oases of calm.

    Such as a two week trip to Cape Town where I took this photograph. High on Cape Point and looking out over False Bay on a bright but hazy day. In midwinter - June - and close enough to being on the other side of the globe from my home in St. Louis.

    Two weeks with my father who had not seen for five years and who had suffered a severe stroke the prior year. A stroke that seemed calamitous at the time, but ended up being at worst mildly disabling, thank goodness.
    This was a good time for me. A chance to get to know my father again, this time as an aging man myself, and one finally able to let go of much that had got in the way between us in the previous years. I came away with a profounder sense of peace and better knowledge of who I was and where I came from.

    Worth a great deal this was. My decision to retire came shortly afterwards, influenced in part by the self-reflection brought on by that trip. Further influenced, in part too, by the annoying decision of my university to re-categorize me from decades as a completely autonomous and self-directed monthly paid biochemist to an hourly worker who must clock in and out. Despite the university's claim that changes in the Family and Medical Leave Act were behind this, it was a ultimately simply a policy decision on their part for some of us. As of Monday, I have to check in and out of a webclock - and I am not happy about it.

    But my unhappiness is limited by time. My decision to retire was made before I was made aware of this change; it simply accelerated it a little. I can stand a little irritation.

    As to irritation with the larger issues of the world - well, that's going be something, isn't it?
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