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Photo by Paolo Renigar


2016 has been a year that seems to have gained its own persona. We have ranted against it for taking so many legendary lives, for the ongoing wars and violence in places we would not have imagined, for the debacle that was the US election and the aftermath that will bring we know not what.

I have tried not to have a knee-jerk reaction post-November 8. I have tried not to speculate about what might happen. Because I am a world citizen, because I try to live as a woman of conscience, I know that as in all years, 2017 will call me to action. I do my best to discern what I am best equipped to do, to learn what might be most effective. Often I believe that my best action is to write--whether to legislators or newspapers or literary journals. But I always feel that writing isn’t enough. As I pondered my final blog post of 2016, I first thought I might use it as a place to contemplate potential action in the coming year–action that I hope will be for the good. And then I remembered gratitude. Despite how trying this year has been in so many ways, I have so very much to be grateful for, much of it unique to this year. I decided to close on a note of gratitude.

At the end of 2015 I signed the contract with Terra Nova Books for the publication of To Drink from the Silver Cup. Thus 2016 initiated a journey with my team at Terra Nova—Marty Gerber, my editor, and Scott Gerber, my publisher. They have been and continue to be part of my life–now sending me books as soon as I order them, making promotional materials when I request them. I am grateful to Terra Nova for seeing the promise of Silver Cup and for helping me bring it into the world in beautiful form. Thank you.

In February I flew to Marquette in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to spend five weeks as a member of the home hospice team for my dear friend Jo Doran. Thank you, Jo, for asking me to walk with you on your final journey. Thank you to Jo's family—Amber, Miranda, Jule, Jacquey, and Jennifer for welcoming me into their home and lives at a time that was both incredibly meaningful and sorrowful, punctuated by moments of joy and laughter. What a privilege it was to be part of the midwifing team at the end of my beloved friend’s life. Thank you.

In April I returned to Michigan to bring a preview of my book to a special and particular audience at the Calvin College Festival of Faith and Writing. Huge thanks to Wendy VanderWal Gritter, who made the event a success by partnering with me in the Exhibition Hall—for making sure I didn’t embarrass myself sartorially, for her many connections and enthusiastic networking, for bringing the banner that announced our table as an LGBTQ safe harbor, for being part of our small, intimate reading and a social time afterwards. Thank you to my brother and sister, Bob and Ard for always welcoming me into their home. Thanks to my niece Kelsey for giving up her wheels while I was there; anyone who’s been to college knows what a sacrifice that was. To friends and family who showed up at the Hall—Lu Ann, Christi, Ryan, Jenna, Tyler, Kelsey, Joshua, Bob, Ard, John, Claudia, Julia, and Sarah Ann. Thank you.

When the festival was over, my cousin Colleen drove all the way down from Gladstone in the UP to pick me up and take me back to Marquette, so I could use my return ticket from the shortened time with Jo. En route, she treated me to a trip to lovely Mackinac Island and then to a short but sweet stay in her and Joe’s home on the upper shore of Lake Michigan. Thank you.

In June my brother Bob flew down from Grand Rapids to install new flooring in the small room off from my living room. I had taken up the old water damaged carpet, scraped up old linoleum (no small task), and painted the ceiling, walls, and trim. In exchange, Bob got to use my car to visit our mom in Gallup. I was the one who made out on that one—getting to visit with Bob, which is always such a pleasure, and ending up with a beautiful room at the front of the house. Thank you.

Bob’s and my work on that little room could only have been a plus when I put the house on the market at the beginning of June. Unbelievably, as I had tried three times since 2008 to sell the little yellow box on Indiana Street, it sold five days after it was listed. My realtor, Maggie Ebbens of ERA Realty (highly recommended) made the entire process as painless as it could possibly be. I had to downsize from 3+ bedrooms to what I could guess would fit into a 1-bedroom apartment when I return from my book tour. A definite challenge. Close to closing time, Cheyenne flew down from Denver to help me for three days. She boxed my considerable art collection and all the dishes. I couldn’t have finished in time without her. Thank you, Cheyenne.

The house closed on July 19, and on July 21, I bought a white Nissan NV 200 compact cargo van. Furnishings for a one-bedroom apartment had gone into storage, and it was time to figure out how to outfit the van, which would be my home for an indefinite period of time. It was also time to learn how to drive a vehicle with no windows besides for the driver and passenger’s seats. That was scary. Luckily, because everything had happened so fast with the house, I didn’t have events set up outside my own region. So I could learn to rely on side mirrors while driving in familiar places. It was still pretty anxiety provoking, but by October, I’d gotten comfortable.

In the beginning, I had no place to go with my home on wheels. My brother Rick offered his cabin in the Zuni Mountains, which gave me quiet time in a beautiful natural setting after the hectic dissolution of my household. I used this time to begin to set up events in New Mexico and Southern Colorado, on the US and Canadian West Coasts, and Midwestern USA and Central Canada. Thank you, Rick.

The official release date of the book was September 1, but I got my first order of books on the same day I got the van, and I held my first in-person sale to Albuquerque customers a couple of weeks later. I sold from the van beside Montgomery Park, across the street from St. Andrew Presbyterian Church. Here is where I must begin many thanks to the folks of St. Andrew. They came in large numbers on that first sale day to buy signed copies. They bought more copies every time I was selling in the Q. The Social Justice Committee organized and promoted a citywide joint reading and dialogue with UNM professor and author of A Shared Future, Rich Wood. The Women’s Book Group invited me to talk at their October meeting. By the time I read at Bookworks, I thought these people would be tired of listening to me, but several showed up there as well. And on my last Sunday at St. Andrew I was commissioned for my journey with a deeply meaningful prayer and laying on of hands. So much love. Thank you, St. Andrew.

I have called this tour a DIY book tour because the only help I get from the folks at Terra Nova is what I've already mentioned–prompt delivery of books and a few requested promotional materials. But it is not a one-person job by any means. I want to thank each individual who has helped with ideas for events, contacting venues, opening their homes for readings, giving me places to stay, whether in my van in their driveways or in their homes. And then there are my readers–people who have given me feedback, people who have passed the book on to others–thank you to each and every one of you. There are all the people I've engaged with on the road–so many lively, meaningful conversations. I started trying to name the individuals who have helped, but the list is long, and I knew I would leave someone out inadvertently, so I can only say thank you, thank you, thank you–for opening your hearts, minds and homes to me and to To Drink from the Silver Cup.

To ALL who have made this year a good one, in spite of the waves of darkness we have all felt, thank you from the bottom of my heart. May the year that lies ahead bring peace to us all. I know it will bring many opportunities for the work that is yet to be done.

© Anna Redsand All Rights Reserved
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