It might be viewed as a down note by some, my Father died at the dawn of the year. But Dad lived to a good old age and made a number of achievements in his long life. His children are accomplished and launched on their own paths and he had a tremendous impact on the world. It’s understandable to dwell on the fact that he died around Christmastime, but in fact I loved the way our family came together to celebrate his life, create a memorable photo montage, and the three of his children actually spent the evening together without our spouses to run interference, though not without a little conflict. This was quite a milestone for us, so I actually have warm memories of the end of Dad’s life. Rather than ruining the year, I think it gave the year a bittersweet start.
Our beautiful children, who are both legally adults now – are getting themselves ready to launch into the next phase of life. Although both of them are over 21 now, I can’t seem to recall where that time went. And I keep being reminded that US rental car agencies really don’t consider them to be adults until they are 24, so maybe I can consider myself a kid for a few more years.
Laura is in her senior year of college. She is on track to finish her undergraduate degree early in 2013 and start a stint with the Disney College Program in Orlando. This is a dream internship for her and should give us a good opportunity to visit her while she is there. We’re really proud of her and the work she is doing to chart a direction for her future.
Anne’s big milestone was finishing her undergraduate degrees in English and Japanese. We’re really excited about her future as well, though she is currently seeking what her post-university work will be. Besides a great education at University of Oregon, she has terrific communication skills and has been doing work for the past three years doing tech support for the U of O Library. We’re very proud of her accomplishments and I am quite confident she will get set soon someplace exciting.
Deb and I had a chance to get away a couple of times this year. We had never been to Hawaii before, and we decided that with the stress around Dad’s death we should get away from Portland for an actual vacation during the springtime. Thanks to great friends, we were able to rent a condo for a discount on the big island and enjoy the sea, mountains, volcanos and coffee.
We also got to spend a week together in Barcelona. This was someplace I had wanted to go for a very long time, so this was a kind of dream come true. The architecture is a particular attraction here, and we were really entranced by La Sagrada Familia, the Gaudi cathedral under construction. This was also a great way for us to experience Spain, its food, culture and wines. We got out of the city a little to explore the sleepy Priorat wine growing region and sample a few of their premium vintages. We also got a taste of social unrest in Spain, as we saw the edges of the national labor strike on November 14.
Deb continues to amaze me and inspire me with her work with the poor and homeless. This year was a tough one in the passing of a formerly homeless friend. Deb continues to work hard with various homeless programs, groups and shelters, all volunteer. She also co-writes the Bible study curriculum for a major church study program, with a great impact on many adults. And she has helped a number of times with young kids teaching them. Deb drove some major home improvement projects in our 25 year old house as well, including a new furnace/AC and roof. Necessary things to address and I really appreciate it.
We’ve had a good time hanging out with running and walking friends, assisting again with Portland Fit which helps people train for the marathon (26.2 mile race). We got to experience a number of fun races like the Hood to Coast Relay, the Portland Marathon (which I ran with our long-time friend, Anne) and a number of shorter sessions. I still have the goal of running faster than 3:20 in the marathon; my coach Nikki helped me a lot this year and I was able to run a 3:30:04 at the Newport Marathon in June. Unfortunately an injury in the very next race knocked my training off track for the rest of the year. But hopefully will get it together in 2013.
That race where I got injured is the “Fueled by Fine Wine” half marathon winding through the vineyards of the Willamette Valley and accompanied by a tasting event. So the running was crap but the wine was great. We had several other fun times tasting wine and hanging out with the region’s winemakers. The Willamette has really grown up in the time we have lived here, and the region’s careful land-use laws have protected small farms and vineyards. Oregon’s winemakers strive for quality over quantity and her Pinot Noirs truly are the best in the world. But better than the wine are the people who make them, most of whom are very interesting characters and great to get to know. We also traveled through a couple of other winemaking regions this year, from the old regions of Burgundy and Chateauneuf-du-Pape to the still developing region of Priorat in Spain.
I did manage to take a few trips this year for business as well. For the first time since the year 2000, I had no trips to China in 2012, so it looks like 34 visits will have to suffice. The reason for the change is that I’m now working closely with folks in Romania. This is a fascinating country, rich with history and culture, whose youth have burst out upon the world stage as they have embraced technology and social media. I look forward to many more productive visits there.
According to tripit.com, I have traveled 85,248 air miles this year, visiting 25 cities and 9 countries. That’s probably a bit higher than average for me, and I expect next year to be closer to normal. Besides Spain and Hawaii, this year was my first visit to Romania, Sweden and Finland.
I continued to write through the year, writing in my personal journal on 181 days representing about 40,700 words. I don’t have an exact count, since I write these all out longhand. They are mostly helping me grow deeper in my spiritual walk, which I consider a really needful thing. I also continued to write in this personal blog, as well as contribute to three other work blogs. I kept teaching this year, and although I don’t have an exact count, I think I taught 6 classes in US, Romania and Finland.
I have the great privilege of working with a group of incredibly sharp, fun, motivated and slightly mental co-workers. There is no doubt that life would be really horrible if I didn’t have such great people to work with. Something I am very happy about, and I know a lot of people don’t get to have that in their work lives, so I consider myself very fortunate.
So even though we had a difficult start to the year, and some hard times along the way, it was a great time to grow where we have been planted and thrive there.
More photos from the year: on my Flickr stream