The Fourth of July is my 8th anniversary at the Methow Valley News. I took over the paper on Independence Day in 2011 and watched the annual parade on Glover Street from our office door. I remember some of the people I talked to that day.
All kinds of incidents, encounters and developments have been accumulating since then. I wouldn’t suggest that I can reduce my experience here to numbers, but I did some mental backtracking to “add up” a few things that came to mind. Which likely says something about my mind. Here are a few:
3 places I’ve lived here. The first two were on West Chewuch Road near Cub Creek Road. A few months back I moved to Twisp. It’s closer to work and I can soak up all this sophisticated urban ambience.
2 buildings I’ve worked in. We moved out of the old brick building on Glover Street more than three years ago to a building on the TwispWorks campus. People are still trying to find us.
1 remaining original staff member from when I started. I don’t think I drove all of them away. Many of the same freelance contributors are still with us.
1 vehicle. The 2001 Pathfinder – I rechristened it “The Factfinder” – is toiling along at about 270,000 miles and pretty much disintegrating around me.
5 deer hit. Too many, but only one caused serious damage to the beleaguered Factfinder. The most-recent collision left scars I haven’t had repaired yet. I’m over being embarrassed by it. Well, almost.
1 lengthy hospital stay. A long, dreary month in the heat and smoke of August 2016. Thank you to everyone who continues to ask me how my health is.
2 black bears spotted. No wolves or mountain lions. I never get tired of the bald eagles.
1 generator purchased. After the Carlton Complex Fire’s power outages, it was necessary.
3 times people who have stormed into my office to yell at me. Just blew in past everyone, didn’t stop to ask if they could see me, braced me at my desk and yelled. And this was before loudmouth bully Trump made despicable behavior OK.
2 plays appeared in at the Merc Playhouse (should have been 3, but see the “lengthy hospital stay” entry, which kept me off the stage), and 1 Readers’ Theater production.
1 Readers’ Theater production directed. This fall I will direct a full production at The Merc, a psychological twister called “Rope.” Shameless self-promotion, but who’s going to stop me?
0 times I played miniature golf at Sheri’s, or ice skated, or roller skated. I can only take so much public humiliation.
416 newspapers produced. I could sit down with the bound volumes and tell you what I remember about each one of them. In detail.
416 times I sweated over what to write for this space. Like now.
0 times I wore a tie to a local event. I tell people that, for men, Methow Valley dressed-up is a shirt with buttons and full-length pants.
8 times I’ve been to the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association (WNPA) annual meeting, two times as president of the organization.
198 awards the newspaper has won in the WNPA Better Newspaper Contest since 2011. We’ll break 200 at this year’s convention.
1 national award. In 2014, the News won a Sigma Delta Chi Award for Excellence in Journalism, bestowed by the Society of Professional Journalists, for deadline reporting by a non-daily publication. The story, about the first few days of the Carlton Complex Fire, was written by Ann McCreary and Marcy Stamper.
Incalculable: Lattes consumed, miles driven, stories written and edited, headlines and captions written, photos taken, phone calls answered, meetings attended, weekends worked, interviews conducted, books and DVDs checked out of the Twisp and Winthrop libraries, sports events covered, emails sent to spam or trash (I’d say a million, but that might be low), pens used, niggling little mistakes, amazing people I have met, deer I didn’t hit, trips to “the coast,” money saved using Hank’s reward card to buy gas and filling up my truck’s windshield washer reservoir for free, times people have told me they like and appreciate the paper (thank you, it never gets old).
0 times I have regretted doing this. There have been challenges, setbacks, unforeseen potholes and times when I wasn’t sure how we’d get through the crisis of the moment. But my motto in the newspaper office, which the staff is no doubt sick of hearing, is “we’ll make it work.” Somehow, we do, and I’m grateful beyond expression for that.