2017 – The Year in Review

We’re not very good at sending out Christmas cards anymore, so WordPress it is.

Speaking of review, I recently revisited a blog post I had written a year ago Adios 2016 which was less than upbeat.  In memory of a dear friend who passed away this year, here’s how it started out:

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.”

I always admired this independent minded thinker, and the courage to send that out.  I’ve been tempted a few times myself.

I’m happy to report I’m much more upbeat going into 2018!  This may be hard to fathom since 90% of my posts are negative, but having given republicans a full year to implode (and them not disappointing me by exceeding my implosion expectations), I can say with certainty that this year’s review will include quite a few more affirmative statements.

January and February will henceforth be remembered as “the back surgery months.”  You don’t want to hear the specifics about my back woes.  Suffice it to say, a lot of pills, a couple of relatively minor surgeries and I’m back in business.

Our financial plan doesn’t permit us to take a big trip every year.  2017 was destined to be the year of “a lot of small, but enjoyable trips” and definitely lived up to that.

In April we spent a four-day weekend with our friends Wayne and Tricia at their new home in Sahuarita, Arizona, just south of Tucson.  It was really great to see them again and tool around, experiencing the southern part of the U.S., which we don’t get to do very often.  Nothing fancy, just good friends and good times.

Early summer we spent a long weekend out at Crystal Mountain Sports Haus in Vernonia with a group of friends and enjoyed a lot of laughs.  Some were bikers.  Others golfers.  Such a great getaway that’s sort of right in our back yard.

Late summer we lost Donna’s step-dad Harvey.  He was a definitely a character and will be sorely missed at this year’s gatherings.  Being involved with Donna’s mom’s move to a retirement home kept Donna busy through the summer.  The good news is that Janet has settled in nicely in her new place and is doing really well.

August was definitely jam packed as we traveled up to the Seattle area for the annual family reunion at Lake Margaret hosted by my sister Jackie and brother-in-law Rich Watkins.  The lake was warm.  The card games were very memorable.  We had a fun time as usual.

No sooner did we get back from Lake Margaret and I’ll be darned if Donna didn’t have an outdoor backyard birthday party here at the house where I was joined by former band-mate David Poarch in a live duo performance that was a terrific experience.  The best memory from that evening was dedicating a song “To Love Somebody” by the Bee Gees to my son Dan and his fiancé Emily.

The next weekend we traveled down to the Junction City area to participate in Dan and Emily’s wedding, complete with over 100 seats from Autzen stadium circa 1967.  The weather cooperated, the dance floor was full, the couple looked extremely happy, and dad was proud.  What more can I say?

I’ll be darned if we didn’t have another family wedding to go to in October when my nephew Jeff Stein got married in Santa Barbara, CA.  We made a 3 day weekend out of it and had a wonderful time with…. all the people we just saw at Lake Margaret and Dan and Emily’s wedding.  Oh well, it was good to see them again!

In early December Donna and I rented a place at Black Butte ranch for the weekend and took Pickles with us.  She only escaped once.  Luckily we found her before it got dark.  We didn’t do a whole lot on that trip other than venture into Sisters and visit the Head of the Metolius River, but that was the point.  So mission accomplished.

We’ve also very fortunate to have a circle of friends who like to get together about once a month and have themed dinner of sorts.  Food from around the globe or get in the spirit of an event like the Kentucky Derby – and dress the part.  Donna and I actually bet money online and came out ahead.  Beginner’s luck I guess.  When it’s at our place, they indulge my guitar playing for a few songs.  It’s almost like I have a gig.  There’s no tip jar but they threw money my way anyway, so I must have done something right.

Other than work (ugh), we have our little side projects we do.  Donna is constantly exploring new art forms.  I won’t pretend I know anything about art so you can talk to her about it, but the creations are definitely unique and her brain child.  I’ve gotten back into music a little bit when I’m not working (ugh).  A friend of mine gifted me his old electronic drum kit so I have that to dink around with.  I recently started up lessons again.  I’m starting to put tunes out on soundcloud.com as time allows with myself on guitars, bass, keys, and drums.  Maybe if I get a few decent ones out there I’ll send the link around.  Right now I’m definitely a work in progress.

To end on an upbeat note, Donna and I have completely ditched CNN and are faithful followers of Rachel Maddow now.  That’s our new show.  And she rocks.  Donna is now a daily Twitter user.  She doesn’t post a lot, but we have fun sharing the Tweets we’ve read.

With any luck, the FBI will be heading to the supply locker to fetch around 20 pairs of handcuffs one of these days making for an awesome 2018!

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