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.
Cute as a button? Oh, yeah.
Jordan, Jamie and Emalyn.
Nonni Lori and lil’ Emalyn.
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.
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.
A solitary Tigers fan under the lights at Progressive Field. Cleveland beat Detroit, 8-4, on May 4.
A Portland visitor on the Cincinnati riverfront.
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.
Emily Strayer, left, and Natalie Maines perform against the backdrop of a rainbow heart.
Liz Longley: Five CDs and still in her 20s.
Lead vocalist Natalie Maines.
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.
Cinema 21 in Northwest Portland was one of three venues where I volunteered this year.
A new volunteer at the 39th annual Portland International Film Festival.
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.
The Japanese Garden is beautiful any time of year.
A mural on North Michigan Avenue urges passersby to “Know thy neighbor as thyself.”
The north end of Joseph Wood Hill Park offers a sweeping view of houses, commerce and Mount St. Helens.
Vibrant colors stand out among a wall of greenery on the Reed Canyon trail.
At the summit of Mount Tabor, the sky seems bluer above these fir treetops.
Hard to believe you’re in the middle of a city when you’re all alone on this path.
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.
A familiar couple on the observation tower at Mount Constitution.
Deborah and Bob Ehlers, longtime friends from Salem, kayaked and dined with us at Doe Bay.
Ideal conditions for kayaking at Doe Bay.
The 4th of July parade in Eastsound gets off to a colorful start.
The program for a fun-filled morning.
A Western Tanager takes a sip and a dip at the water feature at our home.
Loop Drive offers shade and solitude.
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.
The Little Peanut waits for a morning treat.
Inseparable: Otto and Lori.
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.
Aki Mori visits with Karima Bassalé. Karima and Parfait also brought their two sons, Ashti and Nouri.
Sue Wilcox wrote about an influential conversation with her father toward the end of his life while she was still a high school junior.
Tammy Ellingson and Alana Cox: women who lean in.
Al Rodriguez, my best friend since childhood, and John Knapp, who’s contributed a guest blog every year since 2011.
From right, journalist Lillian Mongeau, retired journalist John Killen and teacher Tammy Ellingson.
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.
Like 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.