In a year of transitions, Lori and George celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary in September.
This year has felt like no other.
Seeing the White House change hands from the most inspiring president of my lifetime to the least qualified and least compassionate was bad enough. Watching that train wreck of a human being proceed to drive even deeper wedges into an already splintered populace — well, that was even worse.
But I’m not here to dwell on politics.
No, not even Trump can take the luster off a year that produced plenty of memorable moments for the extended Rede family.
Yes, there was sadness with the passing of my dad, Catarino Allala Rede, just six days after he turned 91 in March.
The scene at the funeral home in Silver City, New Mexico.
But even then, there was a silver lining to his passing. I got to do a mini-road trip with daughter Simone to and from the Phoenix airport to Dad’s home in southwestern New Mexico. There, we were reunited with my stepmother, my two sisters, a niece, a nephew, and assorted cousins that I hadn’t seen for several years.
It’s funny how life’s milestones — births, weddings and deaths — are those that bring families together from near and far. But when your siblings and other relatives are spread out all along the West Coast — from Alaska to Southern California — that’s the way it is.
With my sisters Cathy (from Dillingham, Alaska) and Rosemary (from Oceanside, California).
Aside from Dad’s death, this year of transitions was dominated by our youngest son’s graduation from college, followed just days later by his move to Middle America.
In May, Jordan graduated with a degree in biology from St. Martin’s College, a small Benedictine school outside Olympia, Washington, where he had commuted for four years from his home in Spanaway, near Tacoma. It was a remarkable accomplishment for someone who began college just months after completing a four-year enlistment in the U.S. Army, including a one-year posting in Afghanistan, and who became a father during his junior year.
The new graduate with his wife Jamie and daughter Emalyn.
Nathan, Simone and Jordan, all gathered at a family dinner to celebrate Jordan’s college degree.
We had barely had time to celebrate before Lori and I returned to Spanaway to help Jordan and Jamie pack up their house for a 2,000-mile move to the University of Missouri. There in Columbia, Jordan would do science research in a fellowship program designed to help students prepare for the rigors of graduate school.
Father and son embarked on a four-day road trip, with me driving a 20-foot U-Haul truck and Jordan driving the family’s Honda Fit, packed to the gills and including their two dogs and one cat. I had envisioned the trip as an upbeat adventure, but it quickly took a dark turn when the U-Haul truck got a flat tire on the first day and again on the second day in remote areas of Idaho and Montana.
We made it on schedule, but only after pounding through really long third and fourth days where sightseeing took a back seat to the urgency of sticking to our schedule. We arrived late on a Friday, unloaded the truck’s contents on Saturday, and I flew home early Sunday.
Father and son just before starting the four-day road trip.
Jordan was driving on I-90 just east of Livingston, Montana, when the second tire blew out. This time it was the front tire on the passenger’s side.
A rear tire on the driver’s side came apart as I was driving on I-90 east of Kellogg, Idaho.
Jordan and George celebrate with burgers, ribs and brewskis at T.G.I. Friday’s on, yes, a Friday night.
How I wish Dad had lived to see his youngest grandchild graduate from college and become a father, as well.
As for the rest of 2017, well, it’s no wonder it feels like these 12 months flew by. Lots of memories and two end-of-year milestones.
Travel: We stuck close to home with three trips to our quiet cabin on Orcas Island. We always look forward to the week-long respite from urban life. The trips entails a 250-mile drive to Anacortes, where we board the ferry for a one-hour sailing to the island, and then an additional 45-minute drive to our place above Eagle Lake.
Pictures are worth a thousand words.
Eagle Lake: beautiful from any angle.
ICharlotte the Explorer checks out some new turf.
A view of Eagle Lake from a shady spot in the woods.
A path above our house provides a regular walking route for Charlotte and us.
In early December, Lori and I returned to Missouri for a quick pre-Christmas visit. It was a joy to spend time with our sweet granddaughter, Emalyn, and her loving parents.
Books: Literature is a passport of its own, with talented authors opening doors to unfamiliar places, people and experiences. Among those I enjoyed this year were: “Among the Living and the Dead,” a memoir by my Latvian-American friend and former colleague, Inara Verzemnieks; “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest,” the last in the trilogy of Swedish crime thrillers churned out by the late Stieg Larsson; “Hillbilly Elegy,” a window into the Appalachian hillbilly culture written by one who escaped, J.D. Vance; “Lab Girl,” a peek into the world of Hope Jahren, a pioneering research scientist; and “Evicted,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning examination of American poverty through the racist practice of eviction. (Racist? Read the book and you’ll see what I mean.)
Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.
Music: I like to think I have broad tastes, though family members would disagree. But, what the heck. I think I did pretty well catching a handful of concerts featuring artists ranging from Janet Jackson and Coldplay to Lady Antebellum, Michelle Branch, Tuxedo, Liz Longley and ZZ Ward.
Janet Jackson was marvelous in her Portland concert Sept. 29, two nights before the mayhem in Las Vegas. (Photograph: Ticket Hub)
Coldplay’s Oct. 2 concert at the Moda Center began with a minute of silence for shooting victims in Las Vegas and residents of Puerto Rico devastated by Hurricane Maria.
Small venues allow you to get as close as you like to the artist — in this case, about 30 feet from Michelle Branch.
Liz Longley performs Nov. 29, 2016, at the Alberta Rose Theater in Portland, Oregon.
Lady Antebellum vocalists Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott flank guitarist Dave Haywood.
Mayer Hawthorne on vocals and Jake One on keyboards epitomize “cool” during Tuxedo’s show at the Wonder Ballroom.
Movies: No links this year because I wasn’t as diligent as usual. But I did enjoy “Get Out,” “Lady Bird,” “Detroit” and, most recently, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”
Visitors: We had a surprise visit in early May from Chiho Hayamizu, a lovely young lady from Japan who was just 20 when she came to live with our family during a year of study at Portland State University. Our oldest child, Nathan, was just 13 when Chiho moved in with us in the spring of 1993.
Chiho, now 44 but still looking 20 (and even 30) years younger, was back in town for an unofficial reunion with friends who’d also been exchange students in Portland.
Lori and Chiho: Radiant smiles, no matter the location or the year.
In October, my best friend, Al Rodriguez, came up from Santa Barbara to spend a few days timed to coincide with the annual Voices of August writers meetup. It was great hanging out with my longtime buddy, whether it was grabbing lunch from the downtown food carts or attending opening night of the Trail Blazers’ 2017-18 season. (They actually won!)
Lin and Terry on our rooftop deck.
The Santa Barbaran, Al Rodriguez.
In November, two of Lori’s best friends, Terry (Long) Mullaney and Lin Dillon, came up from San Francisco for a long weekend of sightseeing and hanging out. Lori and Terry grew up on the same city block, and the two of them met Lin at the all-girls high school they attended. Nice to see such an enduring friendship.
Voices: For the seventh consecutive year, I curated a month of guest blog posts during the month of August. It’s become something that I look forward to every year, the opportunity to be informed, inspired and entertained by a changing cast of friends, relatives and online acquaintances, with ages ranging from 14 to 65-plus. Each person writes on a topic of their choice and does so in a way that brings variety and texture to the whole.
This year’s VOA peeps gathered Oct. 20 at McMenamin’s on Broadway. Front row, from left: Gosia Wozniacka, Elizabeth Gomez, Jennifer Brennock, Lynn St. Georges, Lori Rede, Lakshmi Jagannathan. Back row, from left: George Rede, John Killen, Bob Ehlers, Al Rodriguez, Keith Cantrell. Not pictured: Eric Wilcox.
This look back at 2017 wouldn’t be complete without two final notes:
— This is the year both Lori and I moved into a new age bracket: 65. She’s still rockin’ it as the owner of her personal training business and I’m enjoying my work as well, as an adjunct college instructor and part-time communications coordinator for a local education nonprofit.
— Chalk up another year with our two pets: Mabel, the mellowest of cats, and Charlotte, the energetic mutt who’s won our heart with her antics and underbite.
Up to no good. Again.