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Opinion >  Column

Front Porch: Friends and family, good health, and mastering the smartphone made for a pretty good year, Stefanie Pettit writes

A few Christmas cookies remain to be eaten and New Year’s Eve about to be celebrated – and then 2017 is in the books.

Good riddance, some say. I think I’ll steer clear of the politics of all that and embrace the positive as I embark on an end-of-the-year wrap-up – a view not looking outward, but rather at our own little lives. A parochial glance, if you will. And with that in mind, as it turns out, 2017 has been a pretty darn good year.

I would like to start by owning up to the fact that finally purchasing and managing to operate a smartphone this year has not brought on the personal technological apocalypse I thought it would. While my smartphone remains smarter than I am, I have mastered a lot of it and have found some of its features, to my great surprise, most delightful.

I went into the thing kicking and screaming, giving in only because it became semi-necessary for work (my old flip phone wasn’t text-friendly) and because it enabled me to be in better contact with my sons, especially my overseas son, courtesy of a nifty app called WhatsApp. The sky hasn’t fallen. See, old dog, new tricks. It can happen.

I still only have a desktop computer and have never laid a glove on a laptop, tablet or e-reader, so I can still cling to some of my curmudgeonly technology credentials, which also makes me feel good in a kind of reverse snobbery sort of way. Still, I’ve made progress in 2017, and that’s a good thing.

Another good thing is that Bruce and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary this year. We’re grayer, have more aches and pains and have surely lost a step or two or maybe three, but we’re still happily together, still able to feed and dress ourselves without assistance, maintain our home and able to be an active part of the world we live in. How lucky are we.

Bruce is 74 and I’m … well, a bit younger. We both still work. Me, as a freelance writer, and he still runs his small business. We do this because we want to. Yes, it’s nice to earn the money, of course, but we like solving problems for people, contributing whatever skills we have to our larger community and remain engaged therein. The idea of retirement is not at all appealing to either of us, and we are fortunate that we are able to still work and that people are still kind enough to employ our services, even though decrepitude is surely not far off.

I am fortunate, too, that I can do some volunteer work that is meaningful to me, and that I am part of a network of women friends with whom discussions occur about the world, books, families, society, politics, trivia and all the conversational topics and observations that draw us closer together. And laugh a lot. And help one another. This takes place over lunch usually. It’s not about the food, but about the gathering and the sharing. Women do need women, and I’m glad I have women friends with whom to bond.

This has also been a good year son-wise. Our eldest was able to come home for nearly a month, and we did all sorts of things with him – he and Bruce hiked in the area and then skied, took a trip to Texas, and we all went to assorted events in the region and enjoyed way too much food. But the best part was the talking and the sharing of our lives.

And with our youngest, lots of trips to see him in Seattle, including attending many of his theatrical enterprises, whether he was acting, singing, directing or choreographing. He has an art show in a few weeks, and we hope to make it over to see it. He and I went to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival again this year and saw five shows in three days – or, as we like to say, we theatered our brains out. And we talked about all sorts of things.

We got to know Sam’s boyfriend Ryan better this year and feel good that theirs is getting to be a deeper and closer relationship, the kind that has legs.

Sure, there are things outside my own little world that have not made me happy, but this isn’t about that today. I have warm feelings about 2017 personally and have every hope and wish that 2018 will be similarly kind to my family and friends – and to all of you, too. So farewell to 2017, and Happy New Year, one and all!

Voices correspondent Stefanie Pettit can be reached by e-mail at

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