As Mimi and I approach the holidays, we reflect on an exciting year for us and our family in 2013. We’ve shared travel highlights already here, but we’ll review the year in one place to catch up our family and friends:
Our growing family. We got some exciting news in December: Tom and Ashley Douglass, his girlfriend for more than a year, are engaged. No date yet, but it probably won’t be in 2014. Possibly sometime after Ashley finishes her master’s degree in business analytics at George Washington University. Tom continues to work for Sen. Tom Harkin and got a promotion this year to legislative assistant.
European travel. Our three-week trip to France, Switzerland and Italy might be our favorite trip ever. It certainly tops our 2013 travel. I had conferences in Lyon, France, and Perugia, Italy. Between them (and during them in Mimi’s case) we sandwiched sightseeing and dining in Lyon, visiting our niece, Kate Prylow, and her family in Biberist, Switzerland, and visits to Luzern, Florence, Siena, Rome and Assisi. I don’t know if we’ve ever crammed as much into a single trip: fabulous dining, family, stunning art, magnificent cathedrals, a papal audience in St. Peter’s Square, beautiful mountains, fascinating professional conferences.
Family gatherings. A year of many family gatherings started with a New Year’s celebration at John and Kim Johnson’s home in Dublin, Ohio. We got a visit from our granddaughters (and Mike and Susie, too) for Easter. Granny and Gramps had fun buying for Easter baskets and hiding eggs for an Easter egg hunt in our condo. The little girls stayed with their Burke grandparents for the May wedding of our niece, Jennifer Wehe, and Andrew Cipolletti in Ann Arbor, Mich. We had Mike and Susie, Joe and Kim and Tom and Ashley together (and lots of the Johnson family) for a wonderful time. For Thanksgiving, we gathered in Las Vegas at Joe and Kim’s, getting everyone together: all four couples, plus Julia (below, right, at a Vegas park) and Madeline (left). We also visited Mike, Susie and the girls in the Twin Cities for July 4.
Family visits. Mary and Jim Head visited in October and we had a great time, visiting the monuments in Washington (and seeing a big, bold fox on the National Mall) and Arlington as well as the Gettysburg Battlefield and the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum. We always welcome visits with family and friends who are coming to DC. Another great family visit took us to Shenandoah, Iowa, where we saw my brother Don and his family (and got to hear him preach in First Baptist Church, where Dad was pastor in the 1970s). I got to visit Mom in Lee’s Summit on that trip, too. Her memory continues to fade, but she always enjoys having family visit. The trip to Shenandoah was Mimi’s second visit there during the year. She visited the old hometown with Carol and Mary early in the year, a great trip down memory lane. They had a shock when they visited the farm where they grew up and saw the farmhouse had been bulldozed. They tried unsuccessfully to pull an old license plate from an outbuilding, but it was wedged too tight between the studs. Wes Johnson’s cousin, Phil, later retrieved the 1946 Texas plate (from the car Wes and Irene drove up from San Antonio), which now hangs on our wall. We visited in the Denver home of our niece Meg and her husband Dave. Work travels also allowed me to visit with my brother Dan (shortly after the publication of his memoir, Peace Warrior) and sister Carol and their families.
Other travel. Mimi and I traveled to fun places in the US, too: Royal Gorge, Carlsbad Caverns, Point Reyes, Hearst Castle, the Berkshires, Disneyland, Farmington, N.M., and Wheeling, W.V. After the Online News Association conference in Atlanta, we returned to the mountains of northern Georgia for a brief but lovely stay in a secluded cabin. Through the year, in our travels as well as your visits to Washington (and sometimes just connecting with friends here), we had dinner and drinks with friends too numerous to list here, but we enjoyed them all.
Work. I spent extended visits, usually about a week, with seven new Digital First Media editors scattered across the country (those visits allowed Mimi and me to piggyback some of the travel mentioned above). My work with new editors also launched a blog series on advice for new editors. I also led regional engagement workshops in several DFM newsrooms and coordinated the DFMies awards, recognizing the best work by our company’s journalists. Along with my DFM colleagues, I learned how to use Tout to post short social videos.
School. I taught a social media class with Mandy Jenkins again for Georgetown University this summer and will teach entrepreneurial journalism again with Ken Dodelin in the spring. I spoke at several universities this year: American University, Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo, the Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy, George Mason, Iowa State, Louisiana State, Nevada, New Mexico State, Stanford and TCU.
Games. I watched my Yankees play in New York (with Mimi, who finally saw the Yankees win), Baltimore (with Tom) and Minneapolis (with Mimi, Mike and Susie) as well as joining Mike and Tom at FedEx Field for a cold-weather beat-down of Washington by our Kansas City Chiefs.
Writing. Mimi and I were both participants in a Writers Jubilee at Shenfest on that second visit to Shenandoah. Mimi also visited Omaha to discuss Gathering String with a book club (and to visit old friends). She continues working on the sequel and getting great reviews for Gathering String. My biggest writing project this year was the Wikipedia entry for my grandmother, Francena Arnold (and the blog post about the entry). I also started a blog series on updated lessons from some favorite old stories. I was involved in three writing projects dealing with ethics this year: the ebook Telling the Truth and Nothing But, a digital subcommittee making recommendations to update the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics and the Verification Handbook, due out in January. I even covered a news story when I visited Sterling during the Colorado floods and they needed my reporting help more than they needed my training.
Staying in touch. We now have concierge service at our condo complex, and that’s a better place to ship packages to us than our mailing address. So if you have cause to send us a package, please ship it to us at Bryson Condominiums, 12950 Centre Park Cir, Building 11-224, Herndon, VA 20171. For something that will fit into a mailbox, use our own address, 12941 Centre Park Cir #224, Herndon, VA 20171. And, of course, you can stay in touch here or on social media (Steve: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tout; Mimi: Twitter, Facebook) or our other blogs: The Buttry Diary, Hated Yankees, Gathering String, Ruby Eyed Fox.
Other stuff. We bid farewell after 11 years to our little red Mazda and bought an even smaller green Fiat 500. Duffy turned 3 and continues to charm Mimi and annoy me. Our health continues to be good (I’m going on 15 years since my surgery for colon cancer). Mimi is recovering from foot surgery, so we’ll be spending the holidays at home (we welcome suggestions for merrymaking in a post-surgical boot). But we’re heading to Italy again this spring, and she’s looking forward to walking pain-free around some more Italian cities. And our kids have already bought us tickets for an Alaskan cruise for our 40th wedding anniversary this August. You can expect some photos and observations here from both of those trips.