Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017: An Annual Recap

The end of the year is always a good opportunity to take a look back at the past 12 months and see what you have (or have not) accomplished. Overall, 2017 was a pretty good year for me. However, I expect to make some big changes in 2018. More on that in my next post. In the meantime, here's my annual recap:

Doing something for the greater good:

I was a co-founder of Beer Party PDX which formed in January. Our mission is “to organize members of the PDX beer community in order to effectively protect and promote basic civil rights including voter access, freedom of speech, and equal rights.” The founding members include bar and brewery owners, brewers, business consultants, and writers. We successfully raised over $7,000 for the ACLU during our first event in February and held several other fundraisers in the following months that resulted in donations to local charitable organizations. Sadly, we have not been as active in the second half of the year due to competing obligations in running our own businesses.
beer party pdx at beermongers portland
Founders and supporters of Beer Party PDX gather at BeerMongers
Being part of something meaningful:

The nationwide (and worldwide) Women's March occurred on January 21. I was already scheduled to work as a beer steward during the judging for the Oregon Beer Awards, so instead of joining the estimated 100,000 people gathered in downtown Portland, a small group of us marched outside at Widmer Brothers Brewing during our lunch break. I don't have any good photos because of the rain, so I borrowed this one from OPB.
Women's March in downtown Portland ~ copyright John Rosman
Always learning:

In 2016 I was awarded a scholarship from Pink Boots Society to attend OSU's Origins of Beer Flavors and Styles class. I completed the class in March 2017 and, among other things, it inspired me to visit the Pilsner Urquell brewery which I wrote about here. I'd still like to take the Certified Cicerone exam but need to do more intensive studying before I can expect to pass.
Sampling beers and types of malt in class
I also enrolled in Elite Blog Academy and have been working my way through the syllabus. This has resulted in the launch of my new website Coast to Prost. I attended the EBA Activate conference in Portland in September and I'm still trying to apply everything I learned to my work going forward.

Playing host:

Actually, these are all repeat visitors since we have lived in Portland, but some have only stayed with us when we had a one-bedroom apartment. Now we have two bedrooms, so it's a bit more comfortable. This year we hosted Doug and Alexis (Greg's brother and sister-in-law from Los Angeles) in mid February; my friend Corey (from New York City) in late March; and our friends Eva and Jeremy (from Seattle) in late August.
couple artwork restaurant
Alexis and Doug at Fire on the Mountain - Interstate
Seeing signs:

Genesis 9:12-13 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth." I have seen countless rainbows from the deck of our apartment on the north slope of Mt Tabor since moving here in 2015. I also saw several while traveling in Europe this summer. No matter what I'm doing, I always stop to enjoy them.
double rainbow interlaken switzerland
A double rainbow in Interlaken, Switzerland
Keeping the faith:

While I grew up in the Methodist church, I consider myself agnostic. I have studied the world's major religions and do my best to respect other people's beliefs and traditions. As part of my cultural immersion when traveling, I like to visit places of worship and attend religious ceremonies. I have even been to some of the most sacred sites in the world, including the birthplace of Jesus. When I was in Sofia, Bulgaria in April, I visited an Orthodox cathedral, a mosque, a synagogue, and a Roman Catholic church all in the same day. In Lviv, Ukraine I visited 14 places of worship in two days and observed the Corpus Christi procession on June 18 after having witnessed a similar procession in Wroclaw, Poland on June 15. I also attended choir and organ concerts in multiple cities during my trip. In total, I visited several hundred churches in Europe this summer. It's my way of finding peace in the chaos and noise of everyday life.
greek catholic church interior lviv ukraine
Interior of the Greek Catholic Church of St. Onuphrius in Lviv, Ukraine
Expanding my horizons:
When I boarded a plane on April 25, I knew I wouldn't return home for at least two months. I planned to make my way from Bulgaria overland through the Balkans, seeing as many places as possible before I met up with Greg in Munich for his two-week vacation. I ended up traveling for a total of 120 days during which I visited 20 countries. I stayed in hostels and was often the oldest guest and the only female in a mixed dorm room. Very little, if any, English was spoken or written so I relied on Google Translate, hand gestures, my years of world travel experience and the kindness of strangers to get by. It was truly an adventure!
woman with gun in front of bunker
Target practice with an air rifle at an abandoned bunker in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Enjoying chance encounters:

I love it when I'm traveling and spontaneously run into someone that I know from somewhere else. This summer it happened twice. The first time was when Greg and I were in Munich. We were walking near the Marienplatz and I saw a girl taking pictures and thought she looked familiar. She was at least 20 feet away and there were lots of people around so I just shouted "Gil" and it was her! I met Gil Caresia, who is from Sao Paulo, Brazil, at Old Town Kotor Hostel in Kotor, Montenegro in May. We both planned to continue traveling in Europe but without set itineraries so we did not make plans to meet up anywhere else. In fact, Gil did not plan to visit Germany at all, but wound up in Munich with a friend. So it was totally random chance that I saw her on the street that day.
two girls in Munich near the Marienplatz
Gil and I were surprised to run into each other in Munich
I also met up with my flight attendant friend Adena in Amsterdam on my last day in Europe. She happened to be on a layover after working a Delta flight from New York City. She saw one of my Facebook posts saying that I was in Amsterdam so she messaged me. We ended up spending the entire afternoon and evening together after she opted to join me on a beer bar and brewery crawl.
Adena and I at In de Wildeman beer bar in Amsterdam
"Researching" beer:

You're probably not going to believe this, but this year I consumed over 1,100 beers. The vast majority of them were beers I had never tried before. I know the number is accurate because I log each beer on the Untappd app. Disclosure: Not all of them were full pours; in fact, at least half were taster-size meaning four ounces or less.
woman drinking beer Germany Munich Hofbrauhaus
Drinking my 2,500th unique beer on Untappd at the HofbrÀuhaus in Munich
In 2017 I visited a total of 111 breweries including 65 in the U.S. and 46 all over Europe. I document them on a spreadsheet and with photos. Note that this number only includes places where beer or cider is brewed onsite; even places that serve a "house-exclusive" beer, beer bars, brewpubs, and bottle shops with on premise consumption don't count. Besides, that would add another 100+ locations to the total!
brewery albania copper
Checking out the brew deck at BrauHaus in Tirana, Albania
I also brewed beer on a commercial system. On March 20, I joined the ladies of Pink Boots Society's Portland chapter at 10 Barrel Brewing for Big Boots Brew Day. Head brewer Whitney Burnside and her assistant Conor did most of the work, but I measured ingredients, did some cleaning and shoveled spent grain among other things.
spent grain in a mash tun beer
Better get a bucket! Time to shovel the spent grain from the mash tun.
Turning day into night:

Part of the reason I came back to the U.S. when I did was for the opportunity to view the total solar eclipse on August 21. I flew to Nashville, Tenn. so I would be in the path of totality with the added bonus of having a chance to visit my family over several days. I watched the entire eclipse from start (around noon) to finish (around 3:00 p.m.) in 95F degree heat with my 87-year-old grandmother. It was dark for just over two minutes. A really amazing experience!
darkness during total solar eclipse in nashville tennessee
My grandmother and her neighbor during the total solar eclipse at 1:29 p.m.
Fighting battles:

As in most years, there are good times and bad times. In my case, the bad is that after over a year of ongoing pain in my left hip and several months of physical therapy, my insurance finally approved an MRI. As I suspected, based on previous experience with my right hip, the imaging confirmed that I have a labral tear. I am not keen on having surgery due to the long (six month) recovery time, the difficulty of going to doctor appointments because of where we live now, and my overall physical condition is not nearly as good as it was going into the surgery on my right hip. On November 22 I had a fluoroscopy-guided steroid injection directly into my hip socket and it has given me temporary relief from the sharp pain, but the long-term prognosis is not great.

I also have ongoing pain in my neck and shoulders which started over two years ago. Part of it is due to a herniated disc, which has in turn affected my posture and caused me to overcompensate for the pain by using certain muscles incorrectly. It's a compounding effect and, even with physical therapy, I am having a hard time reversing it. Getting older (and out of shape) definitely sucks!

On a much more positive note, after almost two years of waiting and worrying, the lawsuit against us (really just Greg) is finally over. In short, the good guy won, but if you want to know the whole story you can read it here in these four posts:
The Accident 
Alternate Facts 
Burden of Proof: Day 1 
Burden of Proof: Day 2

Making a statement:
I recently was interviewed for an article that ran in the Washington Post on December 22. I subsequently wrote about it here: Celebrating Christmas. No, I did not declare a war on Christmas! I just reiterated my preference to focus less on presents and more on presence (and spontaneity) throughout the year.

Loving (and fearing) winter:
While I actually enjoy snow, especially if I can take advantage of it by sledding or snowshoeing or drinking a glass of wine in front of the fireplace, living on the steep north slope of Mt. Tabor brings its own set of challenges in inclement weather. The past year has been a real test of my resolve to 1) not get injured; and 2) not say something nasty to my neighbors who never clear their sidewalk of slick leaves, pine cones, ice, etc. and therefore make it impossible for me to safely walk to the bus stop.
snowy fir trees scene in portland oregon
The snowed-in city of Portland as viewed from the top of Mt Tabor
It all started on New Year's Eve with our first dusting of snow. Then Portland got dumped on beginning January 8 and by the 11th we had eight inches of snow on top of a layer of ice. It didn't really melt until after the 18th and was very slippery in the final few days with many people suffering broken bones as a result. We got hit again on February 1 (more ice) but it was gone within a couple of days. Greg and I went to Timberline with Doug and Alexis on February 18 and it was snowing hard that day. I went up the mountain again with Corey on March 30 and conditions were initially bad but then it cleared off and I had a glorious day of snowshoeing.
woman snow mountain snowshoeing Portland Oregon
Snowshoeing at Mt Hood Meadows in late March
We experienced our first snow of this season on November 16 as we were taking Hwy 20 to Bend for Greg's birthday weekend getaway. Our rental car didn't have chains so it was a stressful drive in pitch black darkness across the Cascade Range but thankfully I ended up behind an ODOT plow and a truck dropping sand for better traction. On December 24, it sleeted and snowed all day resulting in a white Christmas. It didn't warm up enough to completely melt the ice until the 28th, so once again I was trapped in our apartment for several days. I do have Yaktrax now but, due to the steep grade of our street, I still worry about falling on the icy sidewalks.
snowy Mount St Helens view from Portland, Oregon
The view of Mount St Helens from our deck on Christmas Day
Whew! If you made it this far, then I thank you for reading. I hope you will continue to follow my adventures in 2018 (and beyond). For now, I wish you all a very Happy New Year!

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