Chernela Mount New Year's letter Jan. 1, 2006

We wish you all a happy new year.

For those we haven't seen regularly, we send this update about our comings and goings. Being academics, the newsy part of our year begins in June, is over by August, and is determined by conference dates and locations.

In June, a conference of Janet's took us to Estes Park, Colorado (photos). We stayed in the turn-of-the-century (19th) hotel on which Stephen King's book "The Shining" was based to discover that the famed labyrinth of the film is from yet another hotel.  We spent two days hiking in the splendid Rockies and enjoyed the views and narrow trails. The eagle's nest Trail Ridge Road opened at the very end of our visit and we were able to fit in a splendid drive along it.

In July we each had a conference in Brazil -- Janet in Brasilia and Steve in Porto Alegre.  In Brasilia, the SCB (Society for Conservation Biology) conference allowed Janet to catch up on many friendships.  It was a pleasure to see Phil Fearnside, who is still living in Manaus and has not changed but for having grown a bit taller; Patricia Pinho and Laura Zanotti, Janet 's graduate students now conducting fieldwork in Brazil; and Anthony Anderson (who happens to live nearby), among others.  Steve ran into former student Eduardo Eizirik, who is now working in Brazil. Janet was pleased to be in a session organized by Barbara Zimmerman and Kristen Walker. In Brasilia we were generously hosted by our close friend David Oren, who lives in a corner of the important cerrado of Brazil, a landscape of rolling hills covered with dry vegetation under a bold blue sky. The rich biodiversity of the region includes many bird species -- we enjoyed glimpses and calls as they congregated in the woods and open meadows surrounding David's home.  In addition to the exceptional cuisine, we were also treated to a live choro performance and recommend this music form to anyone who has not yet heard it. While in Brazil we took the opportunity to visit  Lillian de Paula, her daughters Joanna and Carmen, and her father, the dramaturge Paulo de Paula. (We attended a theatre piece in which the actors, seeing the renown Paulo in the audience, assigned his moniker to one of their characters -- a cabaret owner!)  As guests of the de Paulas in beautiful Vila Velha, a fishing village just outside of Vitoria ES, we braved the crashing waves and climbed the gneissic outcrops; if we lost our breath a number of times it was as much from the exquisite views as it was from the trek.  After Vila Velha, we went to Porto Alegre where Steve gave a presentation at a conference on Bioinformatics.  Janet, seated next to Brazilian graduate students, reports overhearing their commendable reviews.  We also visited our friend Andreas in Rio and arrived just in time for his exhibit of photos on the Parintins boi festival. That gave us an opportunity to visit the nearby museum of art designed by Oscar Niemeyer (photos).

In August Janet was invited to a conference on Cultural Rights in Asia.  Prior to the conference, she and friend Sheila Dauer traveled to Luang Prabang in Laos where they arranged day trips to villages that specialize in sericulture and silk weaving (photos). Janet proceeded to Angkor Wat (photos) and on to the conference.

During the summer, Janet's sister Susan and her longstanding partner got married. In September, Janet's cousin Oleanna Klein was married in Amagansett to David Brewster.  The joy of these occasions was dimmed by the news that our uncle, Paul Moss, had suffered a heart attack.  Long before anyone (especially the doctors) expected him to do it, Paul high-tailed it out of the hospital and is now in full recovery.  During recovery, his wife Abigail waited on him hand and foot.  We are happy to report that this is no longer the case. 

At the end of September Barbara Zimmerman came to town with three Kayapo leaders, including Megaron.  We were happy to host an evening for them at our home; it was attended by friends and two of Janet 's classes. Another important moment for us this year was the Naming Ceremony of baby Hanna Rose Roemer-Block, daughter of Jessi and Josh, in Philadelphia. Thanksgiving was wonderful as always with its core group of beloved friends and newer guests Anthony Rylands and his daughter Paula Katarina.   We now count among our triumphs those of our students.  In this vein we must report how proud we are of the graduations of students Fabian Painemilla, Junie Francois and Jun Choi; Jun has moved on to graduate school at U.C. San Francisco where he finds time to amuse us with emails. Finally, the year ended with Janet's trip to New York to visit Verna Gillis and Roswell Rudd. Janet walked right into the transit strike in New York City.  She continued walking until the strike was, at last, resolved.