Back in the mid 1980’s, an activist friend of mind Dave Aldrich sent out a memorable Christmas letter that was definitely one of a kind. In this short missive he astutely pointed out about a dozen things that are just wrong in this world, covering the gamut from wasteful military spending, the oxymoron of compassionate conservatism, greedy politicians, abject poverty, the decline of unions and the middle class, and tax cuts for the wealthy. It was a pithy list of gripes and then he simply signed it –“Merry Christmas.”
At the time I grinned and though to myself “must have had a bad day”, but the point of it all was and still is, complacency bothers him a great deal. I still remember a quote from a letter a few years later where he pointed out that we worry about these issues after we’ve swept the garage, washed the SUV, and spent out days reading and writing e-mails. We rarely ponder our existence or question the status quo. I remember thinking to myself ‘guilty as charged’. I don’t, but I should.
With that in mind and in the spirit of Dave Aldrich, I offer this summary: 2016 blew.
Not to go completely negative on you, there were some good things that happened during the year which I’ll touch upon, but overall, Donna and I were just talking about the benefits of getting this year behind us.
First, the good stuff. Our two grandkids Kaden and Karter are growing into fine young gentlemen. We can’t say enough good things about them. Both competitive game players, both silly, both good-natured, and fun to be around. I was going to say that we’re lucky but the more I though about it, luck has nothing to do with it. Good parents have everything to do with it. Great job Kelli and Kyle.
Donna and I spent about a week in Chicago and did a deep dive of the city. The entire trip was scheduled around a Cubs home stand so that we could make sure to take in trip to Wrigley, but we also took in some incredible Blues, Jazz, improv, museums, Navy Pier, and an evening boat tour. The Cubs beat the Dodgers an a sunny Memorial Day weekend and we really enjoyed the atmosphere. Having invested in a jersey for herself, Donna became an instant Cubs fan and was glued to the set during the very exciting World Series finish where the Cubs pulled of an extra inning nail biter vs. Cleveland. She was on the edge of her seat.
This summer the house got painted. It looks great but it’s a huge time sink to get it done even if you’re not the painter ( see low-lights below ).
In October we traveled to sunny Sacramento, California for the wedding of my cousin Mike Eady to his new bride Shelly. Lovely wedding and always good to catch up with extended family. We spent some time checking out Sacramento as well and were impressed.
We’ve been doing a new monthly-ish dinner / social gathering with some great friends and neighbor’s and sharing a lot of laughs. Included a relaxing weekend trip to Manzanita where we ate, drank, played games, and golfed ( yes Glenn, Donna golfed ).
I’ve battled through some challenging health issues and am starting to get my musical mojo back a little bit. I have a few recordings out on soundcloud and youtube, none of which are that good, but all were a lot of fun to do.
Donna keeps a schedule that I can only marvel at. When she gets free time at home, stuff’s a moving. It’s a literal beehive of activity with art and gardening projects. She’s the ideas person of the family. I’m the implementor – at least when it comes to the heavy stuff. In addition to all this she’s got an aging parent to take care of. Middle age comes at you from all directions. She’s not a complainer though, she’s a doer. That’s what I love about her. The calendar gets pretty full fast, but no matter what’s on there, she just rolls up her sleeves and gets it done.
And lastly, if you know her you’ll understand why this is news. I beat my sister Patty twice during 2016 at Words with Friends. That would fall under the category of ‘exceeding expectations’.
So there, I mixed i some positive things. Now for the overall 2016 Summary:
Think Planes, Trains and Automobiles where Steve Martin’s wife is anxiously waiting for him to get home to an impeccably prepared Thanksgiving feast at an upscale Chicago home, followed by what it took for him to get there.
Words cannot describe the disappointment of November 8th. It’s a gut punch when you invest so much time following the news for a year and a half thinking “no way”, and then see your worst nightmare come true. Trying to hold the family together during a time where close family members feel personally threatened by the incoming administration is a challenge. It’s emotional. I’ll leave it at that.
At times like these, I wonder if the Jehovah Witnesses aren’t right after all. Maybe we are getting near the end of times. I’m only half kidding.
On the plus side, I feel less of a need to chime in and criticize what the current Mob Boss-elect is under fire for. He’s perfectly capable of making my point for me with his twitter machine. I don’t have to say a word. Just sit back and watch the entertainment, and entertaining it will be.
2016 brought on some medical challenges for me that I was determined to conquer. The biggest one is anxiety. I spent about a year and a half not being able to drive on freeways, which is limiting and an added stress on Donna. But after seeing several specialists, I think I may be getting real close to a solution. I’ve driven to Eugene a couple of times recently. It’s not perfect but it’s on the upside. I look forward to having a less full calendar year of doctor appointments minus the added expen$e and trying to sneak in all these appointments while maintaining a busy work schedule.
The Ducks were 4-8 and lost to the Beavers and both Washington schools. It doesn’t get much worse than that. And the Huskies put up 70 on the Ducks at home. Now I have to be quiet for at least another year, maybe longer.
I’m in my 4th year at Cambia and speaking of rapid change, 4th manager. No complaints about the new job — great people, love the work, but it’s a ball buster. There are days when I envy Ward Cleaver grabbing his briefcase and heading off to a job where he doesn’t have to worry about being outsourced every quarter, does a bit of work from 9-5 and the comes home to his happy family. Such is not the case ( except the happy family part ).
Our go-to friends, Wayne and Tricia Wischmann moved to Arizona in June. We understand why, but it sucks when your social network gets disrupted. We have such fond memories of time at Haydens listening to Tim and Jim with them, among other events. We’re planning a trip to Tucson in the February time frame to catch up. We miss them.
There was the passing of several icons from my generation in 2016. Gene Wilder, Prince, Mohamed Ali, and George Kennedy to name a few. Seems like every time we turned around another one bit the dust.
Pickles spent the night in the ER ( that was more expensive than my trip to the ER ) with a really bad infection but is better now. We were really worried about her but she made it.
So in the spirit of Dave Aldrich, this years missive just tells it like it is. And it is what it is.
( And bring on 2017, please ).