Somehow, this little weakly (weekly) column has just completed its seventh year. In going back and looking at recaps of the first six, for some reason the words 'strange' or 'weird' were used to describe them. I'm not sure what made, say, 2015 stranger or weirder than 2012 or 2011, but those always seemed to be the words I would use. 2017, compared to those others, was no comparison. It's gone. We're glad it's gone, and hopeful we can get back to weird or strange again. Frankly, 2017 sucked.
The year sucked on all kinds of levels. There were hurricanes, earthquakes, mass shootings and bombings. Politically, you can decide for yourself how dismal (or sucky) the year was. Personally, though, the year was just plain bad. Shall I recap?...
In January, my uncle died. While nothing worse happened during the year compared to that, the bar was set pretty high. We spent the previous Thanksgiving with him in the hospital, but I had no idea at the time that that would be one of the last times I would see him.
February began with his funeral (on my birthday, no less), and later that month I would have to evacuate my apartment for fear of a dam failure about 40 miles to the north. We were supposed to be out two nights, but I returned after one to pretty much a ghost town. No harm done as it turned out.
In March, my pickup truck with close to 300-thousand miles on it stopped running, and in April it was actually stolen. I did get it back, but even though it wasn't really drivable, I had to pay over 300 dollars to get it out of the tow yard. I couldn't afford to drive a rental forever, and in May I finally bought a new (actually slightly used) car. I like it, but I'm not a big fan of the payments that come with it.
I knew it was coming, but in June it became official. I was no longer broadcasting summer baseball games in Marysville. It was a second job, really, but something I had done, and loved, for 15 years. The team had new ownership, the games went to a new radio station, and I was unceremoniously dumped. Again, it goes with the territory, but having no one tell me directly, either from the old radio station or the team itself, really hurt. I'd be lying if I said it didn't.
My cousins sold my uncle's house, as directed in his will, and on the Fourth of July, we had one final shindig. That house was always the host of a pool and fireworks party over the years, and relatives I hadn't seen in forever were there. That night, went I got back to my mom's house in Palmdale, I had to tell her that her parakeet died. Uncle Marty gave her that bird about a decade earlier.
August wasn't too bad. I drove up to Oregon to see the total solar eclipse, which may have been my highlight of the year. I was only gone about 48 hours and it was dark when I returned. The next morning I noticed by truck was gone. Again. They caught the bastard who stole it this time, though, but I still had to pay to get it out of impound. I actually laughed when I realized that a pickup that really has no radiator, and can't be driven more than 20 miles an hour, was stolen. Twice. It's still in my parking space. I'm going for three.
Nothing horrible seemed to happen in September, but October more than made up for it. Fires broke out all over northern California. While I was worried about my cousin's family in the Santa Rosa area, Nevada County where I work was also dealing with fires. They weren't as big, and weren't being reported nationally, but they were there. Over 30 homes were destroyed, and the rebuilding process still hasn't begun yet. Also in October, the Grass Valley area lost two great community members. Toni Thompson, who recently retired as director of the local food bank, and Peggy Levine, active in the Ladies Relief Society, and championed causes such as restoring old buildings and feeding the hungry, passed away within 72 hours of each other.
Our news director at the radio station retired in November, and while I'm really happy for her, I'm now doing her shift, which means getting up at 4am. I'll get used to it, though. But November also saw my mom's neighbor and my 'second mom' hospitalized complete with emergency surgery. Her son, and my best friend growing up, and his family had to evacuate their Ventura home in December due to the wildfire there. Their house was not touched, and they are back inside, but several houses on their street are gone. I know you can shake your head and think at least everything turned out okay for the ones involved, but this is too much for just one trip around the sun.
But at least I had my Dodgers. I didn't mention them in the above narrative because they don't really represent real life, but if you watch or listen to them almost every day for seven months, I guess they really do. The Dodgers got to the World Series for the first time in 29 years, and went all the way to a deciding game seven before losing to the Astros. As is often said in sports, a nice distraction, but who knew I would need or want this much distraction. No thanks. Spring training does start next month, though (insert 'happy face' emoji here).
Strange or weird doesn't even begin to describe the year that has just ended, and looking at the column from one year ago, 2017 got off to an “ominous” start. I was referring to Mariah Carey's weird (or strange) performance New Year's Eve. I heard she nailed it this year, though, and maybe that means things will be much better. I hope so. This year really sucked. Wait. Did I already say that?
One more 'Oh, My': Shortly before the conclusion of this lousy year came the loss of sportscasting legend Dick Enberg, who passed away at the age of 82. I got to meet Enberg on one occasion while I was working in Salt Lake City. I was covering a Utah Jazz playoff game, and, sitting in my usual media seat along a row of press tables, I turned around and Enberg was sitting in the row behind me. He wasn't broadcasting that game, but was apparently there because he was going to do the next game in the series. At what I thought was an appropriate time, I turned and introduced myself to him and told him I was a fan and blah blah blah. He couldn't have been nicer, and we even joked that I had a better seat for the game than he did. While we had Vin Scully with the Dodgers and Chick Hearn with the Lakers, Enberg was just about everything else in sports—the Rams, Angels, and UCLA basketball, as well as many network events including the Rose Bowl. He will be dearly missed.