Celebrating 35 years of voluntarism


A nice way to spend a Friday night, in the company of people who help kids who come to The Dougy Center.

Lori is way too modest, way too selfless to call attention to her volunteer activities, so leave it to me to do so.

Friday night, we attended The Dougy Center‘s annual Volunteer Appreciation Celebration, an event that marked 35 years of this Portland nonprofit providing peer support groups for grieving children and their families.

Lori was among a roomful of big-hearted men and women — and, by the way, they are mostly women — who work with these children as they deal with their feelings after the death of a parent, a sibling or other loved one.

There are 31 peer support groups who meet at The Dougy Center’s headquarters in Southeast Portland or in satellite offices in Canby and Hillsboro. Children ages 3 to 18 meet every other week in age-appropriate groups with a professional facilitator and trained volunteers. Young adults, ranging from 19 to 35-ish, have their own groups.

As a past member of the center’s board of directors, I underwent the training too and volunteered for less than a year before outside commitments got the best of me and I had to quit. So I know what these volunteers go through and fully appreciate the love and care they provide as these kids heal, each in their own way and on their own time.

Some of those honored Friday night were celebrating 5, 10 and 15 years of service. Remarkably, two were celebrating 20 years, five were celebrating 25 years, and two were celebrating 30 years. Amazing.

Lori has been with the same Esperanza group for six years. Esperanza is Spanish for hope — and the name fits because these are the children of Latino parents, many of whom speak little or no English, and it’s the one group out of the 31 that caters to their language and culture.

Of the eight volunteers in Lori’s group, two others joined in the celebration Friday. We shared a table — three female volunteers and three of us male partners — and enjoyed a fun evening that included a catered dinner, speeches, raffle prizes and a silly photo session with props.

(Click on images to view captions.)

Highlight of the evening? No question, it was when a former participant in a Young Adult Group shared his story of loss and healing. John spoke of the devastation he felt when his older brother died at age 26, leaving him at age 23 to sort through the pain and confusion.

Now 35, John became a first-grade teacher, a husband and father of a young daughter. Last year, when he and his wife welcomed a second child into the world, death struck again. Their daughter was born with severe brain deformities and died in their arms just an hour after being born.

Another person might have been crushed by despair. But John said the self-healing that occurred at The Dougy Center, with the unconditional love and support provided by adult volunteers, made all the difference in getting through his brother’s death and gave him the strength and the tools to both celebrate and accept his daughter’s short life.

In all my years being affiliated with The Dougy Center, I can’t recall a speech that was more profound than John’s. His moving testimonial was a gift to all in the room that evening, for these are people who are either retirees or else already-employed men and women,who give three to four hours of their time every two weeks to be there in a child’s time of need.

Knowing Lori is among this caring group of people made me, once again, very proud of my wife and her giving spirit.

2016: What a year


Dawn on Orcas Island brings a magnificent view of Mount Baker.

Three weeks from today, the nation will inaugurate a new president — not the one I wanted, not the one everyone expected, but the bloviating mess known as Donald J. Trump.

I shudder to think what the next four years will be like under this man who continues to defy every social and political convention while trampling on the bounds of common decency. Especially so after the model of dignity, grace and intelligence that we’ve seen exhibited by Barack Obama and his equally impressive wife, Michelle, a power in her own right.

It’s still beyond belief that a man so ignorant (and proud of it), so misogynistic (and proud of it), so narcissistic (and proud of it) has been elected to the nation’s highest office. Yet there’s no disputing that Trump’s election was the story of the year in 2016.

But I’m not going to dwell on him. I’ve got my own agenda today — and that’s taking a look back at the year that was. For all the sadness we felt seeing so many entertainers and other public figures pass from the scene — David Bowie, Prince, Maurice White, Elie Wiesel, Garry Shandling, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, et al — there was a lot of other stuff going on in the Rede household.

After all, this is the year I traveled a new path, away from the newsroom where I had worked for the past 30 years. This was the year I caught a glimpse of what retirement might be like, only to settle into a new work routine in the fall.

Here’s a quick take:


First grandchild: We welcomed a charming little girl into our lives in late July. Little Emalyn May Rede, the daughter of our youngest son, Jordan, and his wife, Jamie, has been nothing but a source of pride and joy.

Lori and I were privileged to be the first ones to see and hold Emalyn, other than her parents, when she was just hours old. In the months since, she’s already transformed from helpless infant to smiling, healthy baby, seemingly delighted to be part of the action.

A new job (actually, two): Just as my severance from The Oregonian/OregonLive was running out in mid-September, along came two opportunities to return to the workforce.

Portland State University hired me to teach in the Department of Communications. I got started with a Media Ethics class that set me on a course I’ve always wanted to explore — that of a classroom teacher.

At the same time, I landed a part-time job as communications coordinator with the nonprofit Portland Workforce Alliance, an organization that partners with local employers and schools to expand career and technical education opportunities for metro-area high school students.

In January, I will add a third leg to this stool as an adjunct instructor at Washington State University Vancouver. I loved being a journalist, but I also feel fortunate to have these new employment opportunities.

The big noventa: My dad turned 90 years old in March, so all three of us kids and our extended families gathered in a San Diego suburb to celebrate nine decades of good living.

My dad and stepmom drove in from New Mexico. Lori and I flew in from Portland. My younger sister Cathy flew down from Alaska. My older sister Rosemary, with help from her daughter and son-in-law, hosted the party near Oceanside.

whole damn family

Thanks to a selfie stick, four generations of Redes gather around Dad (in black hat) in honor of his 90th birthday.

Catarino Allala Rede is the only sibling left from a family of seven brothers and two sisters. It was great to see my dad basking in the love and admiration of his children, grandchildren and great-children. For a man who did manual labor all his life and whose formal education stopped at the eighth grade before he went back later in life to get a G.E.D., he’s done pretty damn well.

A baseball road trip: In May, I made a whirlwind trip that allowed me to see four Major League Baseball games in three cities in five days. I flew into Pittsburgh, then drove to Cleveland and on to Cincinnati.

In all, I covered about 400 miles from western Pennsylvania to Ohio, traveling the length of the Buckeye State through gently rolling landscapes. With Lori’s blessing, I stayed in three airbnb rentals and took the opportunity to see new sights, experience unfamiliar places, and visit with new and old friends in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.

Cool concerts: There were only three this year involving pop artists, but each was satisfying in its own right.

Got to see Jackson Browne at Edgefield in August and he was outstanding. A month earlier, I saw the Dixie Chicks at a Clark County amphitheater just north of Portland and they were exceptional. Their July concert came at a time when I was feeling down, given a spasm of fatal shootings of both civilians and cops in three states.

In November, I saw Liz Longley, a favorite singer-songwriter, for the second time in 18 months, this time in the intimate space of the Alberta Rose Theater.

Excellent books: All that free time I had in the first few months of the year enabled me to dive into the world of literature. Although I slowed down considerably after going back to work, I still managed to plow through 15 books.

They ran the gamut — everything from a young reader books about a transgender youth (“George” by Alex Gino) and a deaf baseball player (“The William Hoy Story” by Nancy Churnin) to a gritty collection of stories about the Motor City (“Detroit” by Charlie LeDuff) to a rape survivor’s memoir (“Lucky” by Alice Sebold) to a sweeping novel about race, culture and class in Nigeria and the United States (“Americanah” by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie.

There was lots more by the likes of John Updike, Steig Larsson, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Lauren Groff, Celeste Ng, Anne Hillerman and Robert Goodlick. You’ll find a synopsis of each one here: Books & Literature.

PIFF: Early in the year, I joined the ranks of volunteers at the 39th annual Portland International Film Festival. In exchange for helping to greet patrons, take tickets, etc., I got to see six movies for free at three theaters during the month of February.

It was a lot of fun and I’d like to do it again, but not this year. Too much going on with my three part-time jobs to even consider it.

Urban hikes: Another luxury during the first half of the year was exploring my own city with the help of a great guidebook, “Portland Hill Walks” by Laura O. Foster.

I made a routine of selecting a route that took me into mostly unfamiliar neighborhoods, where I learned a lot about the city’s history, geography and demographics. Hard to say which were my favorites, but I do recall the pleasant surprise of discovering Marshall Park in Southwest Portland and getting thoroughly soaked when I hiked through the jewel that is Washington Park.

Island getaways: We made it up to our cabin on Orcas Island three times. Each time is like opening a valve and releasing the stress that comes with living in a city of 632,000 people and an urban area of 2.4 million. Compare that to maybe 2,000 folks total on Orcas.

We’re blessed to have a place where we can hike and kayak, read, play board games, feed the birds and watch old movies — all in a beautiful place that offers Solitude with a capital S.

This year, we enjoyed a parade and community potluck on the Fourth of July weekend and hosted our longtime friends, Bob and Deborah Ehlers. We did our best to make their three-night stay a memorable one, with excursions to Doe Bay, Eagle Lake and Mount Constitution.

Pets: We lost our beloved Otto in July, shortly after our final trip to the island and just a week before Emalyn was born. He was a Jack Russell Terrier, 11 years old, blessed with a sweet disposition, and loved by all who knew him. Otto was especially close to Lori and had earned the status of “The Fourth Child.” Fittingly, he died of an an enlarged heart.

Before Otto died, he schooled little Charlotte, our Terrier-Pug-Chihuahua mix, in the ways of the world. She misses him, for sure, but she has blossomed as the sole focus of our canine attention. Charlotte and I survived a run-in with two pit bulls at a dog park, but she’s healed completely and is becoming more social with other dogs and humans.

Mabel, now the senior pet, continues to rule the roost in her own bedroom, a sweet brown tabby who refuses to come downstairs and interact with Charlotte.

Voices of August: No recap would be complete without mention of my annual guest blog project and post-publication meetup. For six years now, I’ve opened up the blog to a different writer each day during the month of August. It’s a wonderful thing to see — a diverse group of friends, relatives and co-workers from all over the country (and even abroad) each taking a turn writing about an issue or an experience that never fails to entertain, inform or resonate with an online audience.

This year’s VOA gathering was held at a Northeast Portland brewpub not far from our home and drew folks from three states, including my compadre, Al Rodriguez, and his lovely wife (and first-time VOA contributor), Elizabeth Lee.


hillary-buttonLike the other 65 million-plus Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton, I wish we were inaugurating the nation’s first female president. Instead, I’m left to hope that in 2017 we can endure the worst of what a Trump presidency can bring and begin building a coalition that returns the White House to someone we can put our trust in.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Christmas 2016 rewind


The Rede siblings: Jordan, Simone and Nathan

There’s always such a long buildup to the holidays and then — poof! — they’re gone.

Well, not entirely. We still have New Year’s Eve to look forward to.

But, still, it feels as though we’ve crested the roller coaster and now we’re easing toward the final days of the year.

Quick, before the calendar leaps ahead, a look back at a fine celebration.

Friday: We got the party started on the 23rd. Lori’s brother, Jim, and his splendid wife, Judi, came over for dinner and to join us in hanging out with Jordan, Jamie and Emalyn.


The three Js: Jordan with his Aunt Judi and Uncle Jim.

Over tamales, refried beans, beer and wine, we shared stories about parenthood and grand-parenthood, now that we’ve joined the club. Jim and Judi have six.

Jordan and Jamie arrived the day before to attend the wedding of their friends, Vaughn and Candy, so it was nice to have them plant themselves for a few days.

Saturday: The celebration continued with a gathering at our place and a traditional hors d’hoevres dinner featuring more than a dozen appetizers to fill your plate. Lori likes this option more than an elaborate sit-down meal and who are we to disagree?

Along with Jordan & Jamie, we also had Simone & Kyndall and Nathan & Sara with us — a rare treat to have all three children and their spouses/partners. (Next year, they’ll scatter to be with their partners’ families.)

Another rarity: Lori and I joined Simone at a Christmas Eve service at a neighborhood church, Augustana Lutheran, known for its resident jazz quartet and national leadership as a sanctuary congregation. Nice to be in a church that respects all cultures and faiths and lives up to the values it preaches.

We made time for an early celebration of two birthdays — Jordan’s and mine — and called it a night.

Sunday: Not long after breakfast, the opening of gifts resumed, this time with Emalyn at front and center. This perpetually smiling baby turned five months old the day before and we were delighted to have her here for her first Christmas.


Nonni Lori and lil’ Emalyn.

A little after noon, we packed up Charlotte and headed over to Simone & Kyndall’s for a full day of activities and a four-star meal, painstakingly prepared by the two ladies.


Our hosts: Simone and Kyndall.

Food may be the fuel but family is the real nourishment at times like these. It’s so good to be around your adult children and their wonderful partners. There were no issues with the dogs — four in total, each of them weighing 15 pounds or less — and the only glitch came when we settled in to watch “Elf.”

Evidently, too many neighbors on the Internet foiled our plan to watch Will Ferrell in his Oscar-winning (er, unforgettable) role as Buddy the Elf.

No biggie. We all left with full bellies and full hearts. Isn’t that what every family wants from this holiday season?

Sounds of the season


Members of the Portland Intergenerational Choir perform at Pacifica Calaroga Terrace.

Monday nights usually find me at the bowling alley, sipping on a cold beer and enjoying the company of my teammates. Last night, I departed from that routine and instead found myself in the chapel of an assisted living facility.

The reason?

Lori and I went to see our daughter, Simone, perform Christmas carols and other songs as part of the Portland Intergenerational Women’s Choir. With choir members ranging in age from 10 to 80 years old, it was a musical and visual experience that lifted our spirits. Just the kind of thing to put us in a proper mood for the hectic holidays to come.

It was charming to see about 30 women of all ages gathered together to sing all the traditional songs (“Silent Night,” “Deck The Halls,” and more) as well as the 1961 classic “Stand By Me.” Five preteen girls stood next to each other, one row above four older ladies seated in chairs. All around them were women in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, etc. In the back row, a 1-year-old named Edith bobbed and bounced on the shoulders of her young mother.

All were singing with abandon, with more joy than technique. But that was the appealing thing. And I don’t think I’m being too hokey saying their happiness radiated into the audience of about 50, many of them residents of the facility who came with walkers and wheelchairs. Three choir members, in fact, live there in the high-rise retirement community known as Pacifica Calaroga Terrace.


Simone has always loved singing. Since middle school, she’s been a part of one choir or another, performing around the metro area and even touring internationally with the Portland Symphonic Girlchoir and the Grant High School Royal Blues.


Choir director Crystal Akins urges the audience to sing along.

She was excited to invite us to her latest group, a choral residency choir that teams up with nursing and assisted living homes to provide weekly on-site rehearsals to residents and community members.

The director is Crystal Akins, a cheerful and energetic woman who sang with Simone back in her Girl Choir days. Crystal leads multiple choirs, including one serving inmates at a women’s prison in Wilsonville and another serving homeless youth in Beaverton.

Talk about walking the walk.



A post-concert photo of two lovelies: Lori and Simone

Though the concert was upbeat, there was a touch of melancholy associated with the venue.

Calaroga Terrace, a mile from our home, is where Lori’s mother lived in the final years of her life after she had moved up from San Francisco to be closer to us and other family members. Virginia, a devout Catholic, would attend services in the chapel where the concert was held. She died 11 years ago and neither Lori nor I had been there since.

We’re not sure if Virginia would have joined the choir had it been an option. But we’re certain she would have loved seeing her granddaughter sing — and no doubt would have joined in on the Christmas carols.

Orcas to Spanaway


A magnificent view of Mount Baker at dawn.

Aahh. Nothing like a getaway week to our island cabin to let the urban stresses melt away.

We traveled up to Orcas Island last week to spend a few days decompressing. We did some work around the house initially and went out one day to play nine holes of golf, but mostly laid low rather than go out hiking or kayaking. And that was just fine.

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Except for one dinner with friends and a glass of wine with neighbors, we did no socializing. Nothing wrong with just relaxing, reading, watching a movie and playing some Scrabble. Especially when you’re sitting on the perimeter of pristine Eagle Lake.

This was our first trip to the island since our faithful companion, Otto, died. We scattered some of his ashes in the garden and took comfort in knowing he loved the island as much as we do. In his absence, we spent quality time with Charlotte walking on the roads and trails above our house.

At the end of the visit, we headed down to Spanaway, outside Tacoma, and spent a couple days and nights visiting our youngest son, his wife and their infant daughter. Our grandchild, Emalyn, turned eight weeks old on Sunday and we were glad to be there. The only previous time we’d seen her was right after her birth.

She’s a charmer — a happy, healthy baby who’s growing up incredibly fast.

In Spanaway, it was more down time. We went out to breakfast Saturday morning — a first for Emalyn; Lori went shopping with Jamie; and Jordan and I went to a local theater to see the latest “Star Trek” movie. All in all, a very satisfying week away from home.

Emalyn May


Cute as a button? Oh, yeah.

She’s finally here! Little Emalyn May Rede entered the world Sunday, July 24, just before 1 pm.

Her arrival in a Tacoma hospital made parents of our youngest son, Jordan, and his wife, Jamie, and brought membership in the grandparents’ club for Lori and me.
As I write this, Baby Emalyn is a little more than 72 hours old. It’s impossible to articulate all the thoughts and emotions associated with her birth, but I’ll give it a try.
First and foremost, everyone is healthy. Emalyn and her parents are going home from the hospital today after a four-night stay.
(Click on images to view captions.)

Jamie’s water broke Saturday morning, right on the July 23rd due date, but Emalyn’s position made a vaginal delivery impossible.  Mama had a Caesarean section the next day and, thanks to the marvels of modern medicine, gave birth to a bundle of joy weighing 8 pounds, 2 ounces.

Emalyn is a beautiful baby. With such downy skin and perfectly shaped nose and lips, she is a delicate creature, helpless as a baby bird but oh so loved.
My heart swelled upon seeing Jordan holding his daughter and then Jamie, with a dreamy expression, lying in the hospital bed with her newborn on her chest.
I teared up as Lori held Emalyn for the first time, knowing how fervently she had been awaiting this moment. Since we learned at the Christmas holidays that Jamie was pregnant, Lori has been busy knitting booties, blankets and hats, and shopping for other items.

When it was my turn, I settled into a rocking chair and cradled my sweet granddaughter, inhaling the scent of a newborn and saying a silent thanks for her good health.

The word “grace” came to mind.
I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of world this little angel would grow up in.
You want a planet that is healthy, a country marked by peace and tolerance, a neighborhood that is safe. You want to welcome her into a world that is welcoming and nurturing. You realize you can’t guarantee any of these things but you also know you and your extended family will envelop her – and her parents – with all the love and support you can.
Emalyn, we’ve been waiting for you a long time. We are delighted you are here.

P.S. Emalyn’s name is the outcome of a creative approach combining elements of both parents’ middle names — Emilio and Lynn. Seems to fit her perfectly.

Orlando hits home


waterfront vigil

Portlanders gather along the riverfront Sunday evening, June 12, for a vigil iafter nearly 50 people were killed at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Until now, I have been silent on social media about the bloodshed in Orlando. I’m moved to do so with my precious daughter and her wife firmly in mind.

As I write this on a quiet Saturday night, it was only a week ago that a deranged killer violated the safe space of people enjoying Latin Night at a popular gay nightclub, killing 49 people in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

As speculation ran wild about the killer’s motives, his national origin and possible allegiance to ISIS, Americans quickly engaged in the familiar, depressing debate over guns, gun control and gun reform that always follows these mass killings. That is, if you can call a shouting match with no signs of budging a “debate.”

No matter if the killer was homophobic or struggling with his own homosexuality, whether the murders were inspired by Islamic terrorism or the actions of a lone wolf, it’s clear this massacre was a hate crime.

And that is what prompts me to write.

Though Donald Trump creates a toxic sideshow every time he opens his mouth and Republican lawmakers remain steadfast in their opposition to any reforms or any kind, what really sickened me were the so-called Christian ministers who praised the massacres.

I won’t name any of these vile haters or repeat their sick words. Suffice to say it was a gut-punch to realize that so much animosity remains against gay men and women in this country.

After the legal and societal gains we’ve seen in recent years, owing to judicial rulings, new laws and rapidly shifting cultural attitudes, I’d begun to think we’d mostly left the ugly history of discrimination and violence toward gays behind us. Living in Portland, where I see same-sex couples leading ordinary lives and freely expressing affection just as any heterosexual couple would do, I guess I had begun to take it for granted that we were beyond hating people because of who they are and whom they love.


A favorite photo of Simone & Kyndall

Part of the horror for me was relating this hateful act to my daughter and daughter-in-law. Aside from being homeowners, gainfully employed in jobs serving the public and working people, and actively involved in efforts to better their neighborhood, they have an active social life too. The possibility that they and their friends could be out dancing and similarly targeted sent chills through me — and saddened me to no end.

Simone and Kyndall — and so many of their friends — are the kind of people who make this world a better place. Smart, funny, generous and big-hearted, they represent the best our country has to offer. I am ever so grateful that they live here in Portland and not in some red state where tolerance apparently has yet to become part of the fabric of everyday life.

Today our city will celebrate the Portland Pride Parade, with thousands from the LGBTQ community and their supporters expected to attend the annual event. I can’t be there to lend my support, as I am out of town, but I hope this gathering will enable people to send the strongest message possible — that love conquers hate and that Portlanders stand in unison with those in Orlando.

Photograph: Natasha Rausch, The Oregonian/OregonLive

Read The Oregonian/OregonLive coverage of the Pride Parade Sunday: ‘I refuse to live in fear’

Magician in the kitchen

bang bang 2

Nathan Rede (left) rockin’ it in the kitchen.

One of my first memories of food and our first-born son is of him sitting a high chair munching on one of those meat sticks that came in a baby food jar.

I don’t remember if it was actually beef, chicken or turkey, but I do know he ate those with gusto.

Fast forward to one night this week when Lori and I dropped in for dinner at the Northeast Portland restaurant where he recently began working as a chef. There he was, visible through a cut-out panel behind the register, gathering ingredients for the next dishes to go out to a table.

It was clear that Nathan was in his element at Bang Bang PDX. Casually dressed in T-shirt and long shorts, confident in his culinary skills and concentrating on producing another plate or bowl of Thai food to please the senses. (Check out the menu here.)

With pride, we marveled at the sight. Who could have imagined this lover of lil’ wieners would someday be in the restaurant business, pursuing one of his twin passions? If you’re going to be a foodie in Portland, why not go big and be a cook rather than just a consumer?

The other passion is music. We’re equally proud that our oldest child has found a niche as a much-in-demand DJ who plays at clubs, house parties and wedding receptions all over the Northwest.

This weekend, in fact, you’ll find Nathan Detroit in the lineup at the What The Festival 2016 in little Dufur, Oregon. It’s a four-day festival bringing together live acts and DJs on multiple stages. It’s the biggest venue yet for our son, with an estimated 10,000 people expected to attend, according to our favorite DJ.


Can you find his name? (Hint: Left side.)

As a young boy, I remember my father telling me often that all he wanted for each of three children was for them to be happy, healthy and financially independent. I’ve taken the same approach with our trio of kids and it’s nice to see each of them checking off those three items.

In Nathan’s case, his dual pursuit of food and music has been all the sweeter knowing it wasn’t a straight path from high school to college to the present. There was a big hiccup between starting at the University of Oregon and finishing years later at Portland State University. But the maturing that took place in those years was both significant and necessary, I’m sure he’d agree. Now he’s putting those business and marketing degrees to good use as he navigates his way in the restaurant industry while branding himself in the music world.

Closing the loop here, I’ve gotta say it’s pretty cool to go out for a meal of kung pao sticky rice cakes, green papaya salad with blue crab, and a pineapple curry bowl and delight in the knowledge that the professional cook who just blew away your taste buds is that once-chubby little guy with fistfuls of meat sticks. You might even call it magical.

Note: If our first visit was any indication, Nathan works with some very nice people. Enjoyed talking to the owner, Alex, and our server, Steph.




Friday flashback: ‘My daughter, my self’

Natasha & Lisa

Natasha, at age 9, with mother Lisa.

June is the month for high school graduations, a timeless tradition marking a key passage in the lives of students and parents alike.

A year ago, my cousin Lisa Gonzales saw her only child, Natasha, walk across the stage to receive her diploma. I thought of mother and daughter as I considered what to share in this week’s look back at previously published posts.

It seemed like a good choice, an opportunity to honor the relationship between parent and child, but also to raise the question Lisa asked in her 2012 blog post: “Are our children really a reflection of ourselves?”

It’s a good question. Probably every mom and dad has tried to figure out how his or her child is similar or dissimilar from their parents. How much of their physicality and personality is inherent or developed. Where their interests and idiosyncracies come from.

As Lisa suggests, the answer is multifaceted.

“I can look at my daughter and there is no way to deny that she is mine,” she writes. “Actually, who she is goes beyond the reflection in the mirror. Maybe the reflection is more about the values we pass down to our children? The values my parents taught me, I have passed on to Natasha. Her actions are the reflection of me and what I have taught her from the day she was born.”


Mother and daughter on 2015 graduation day.

Anyone who knows Natasha knows she is a mini version of her mom. But they also know she has multiple talents in music, dance and sports and that she is very much a product of the influence of her late grandfather — my Uncle Pro.

Natasha attends the same community college in Monterey County, California, that her mom attended. With her whole adult life ahead of her, there’s plenty of time for this young lady to blaze her own trail — or maybe follow in her mom’s footsteps.

Read Lisa’s Voices of August blog post: “My daughter, my self”

Labor pains

spanaway sunset

Sunset on a suburban cul-de-sac south of Tacoma.

With only a few weeks to go before our first grandchild makes her debut, we headed north this weekend to try to make ourselves useful to the parents-to-be.

Lori had long ago proposed that we spend a weekend with Jamie and Jordan at their home near Tacoma to help them with a backlog of chores before baby arrives. Between their two jobs and Jordan’s full-time college schedule, we knew they could use some extra helping hands.

And so it was that Lori and I put on our grubbies, pulled on some work gloves and went to work alongside our son and daughter-in-law during the hottest weekend of the year. Excellent timing, right?

spanaway jax

Jax is the playful pit bull that Jamie and Jordan adopted as a puppy and nursed to health as he recovered from a broken leg.

Starting Friday evening, continuing all day Saturday and finishing Sunday morning, we accomplished quite a bit together in their expansive backyard — weeding everywhere, yanking out ivy, taking out a hawthorn tree, cleaning out a fish pond, a greenhouse and a couple of sheds, and then hauling two loads of yard waste and assorted debris to the local landfill.

If you looked at our forearms, you might have thought we went mano a mano with a couple of alley cats. But, no, the accumulated scratches and minor cuts only spoke to the thorny nature of the work. If there were labor pains this weekend, they were of the sore muscles variety — not those associated with pregnancy.

It wasn’t all work this weekend, by any means.

We got a sneak preview of the nursery room, tastefully decorated; went to dinner at a favorite Italian restaurant; watched “The Revenant” together; and viewed an ultrasound image of Baby Rede at the veterinary hospital where Jamie works.


Jordan and Jamie, during their most recent visit to Portland in May.

It’s always a good thing visiting with Jamie and Jordan. They are such a hard-working couple, utterly devoted to each other, and so appreciative of time spent with family.

We wish they lived a little closer. But, hey, at least they are three hours, not three time zones, away by car.

There’s no doubt in our mind that they will be excellent parents.