in 81 images and 1310 words

Santa Barbara・Hollister Ranch・Boulder・Utah・Seattle・Santa Ynez

2017 was a strange year for me, full of unexpected events that made the passage of time seem to alternate from slow to breakneck in an instant.

I've been thinking back on all of the interesting things that happened, so although it's rather belated now, I decided to put this photo journal together for the year.

I want to thank everyone who spent time with me this year. And to those I didn't see in 2017, I want to change that soon. This turned out pretty long, so skim as much as it suits you.

Lots of photos are interactive. Hover or tap to either flip them over or play a short video. Panoramas can be scrolled left to right. Click to zoom in.

After a winter where we finally got some rain, the dragonflies, bees, butterflies, and pond skaters were enjoying the backyard pond in spring. (That head twitch on the blue dragonfly!)

(1) Bluejays nested in the vines on the porch. When you peeked in the bush, the chicks would pop their heads up expecting food (they're still blind here). (2) Oops, the parents are in.

The chickens got soggy in the rain, looking even more hilarious than they do on a good-feather day. And this neighborhood cat likes to stop by my door.

March lime, April rose, July passionfruit, August waterlily. These bloom just outside my door. And wow those passionfruit flowers are wild.

We were fortunate again this spring to visit Hollister Ranch, looking its greenest in years after the rain. It's amazing how many stars you can see out there.

Taking care of the horses and barn cat is fun work.

At the last minute, mom and I flew out to Clarissa's graduation at CU Boulder. She ended up with a speaking role, giving an impassioned defense of the role of English majors and a call to action for her fellow graduates.

Clarissa and I road-tripped back to California with her stuff, taking the scenic route through Arches National Park, the Grand Canyon, and Route 66.

Back home we had some June Gloom clouds and fog...

But then Felix and his buddy John told us they'd be taking a break from their USA tour to relax with us. (You haven't heard Lost Frequencies?)

They got back on the road, when the passing of Barbara Bromwell brought me to Seattle.

The light rail makes flying in to Sea-Tac really convenient. It's a quick walk from the downtown stop to the Olympic Sculpture Park, which has become a ritual of my visits. The waterfront walk here has been restored beautifully.

We got to stop in at Rob and Paige's upcoming project—South Town Pie.

We dropped our rented inflatable standup boards in the (1) Puget Sound, our old neighborhood in (2) Lake Washington, and on (3) Lake Union where we met up with Genki and Noriko at Gas Works Park.

The trip was capped off by some spectacular sunset views at the Edmonds Coburn's.

Again no sooner was I back than Clarissa was packing up to move to Seattle, combined into a road trip with Anastasia. Although we didn't know then, it was to be the final journey for Madison's trusty old Subaru, before it was totaled in Seattle.

This was also goodbye to the days I stole her board to surf... (But I'm sure you can ask her about all those waves in Seattle?? :)

Back at the Ranch for another week taking care of the crew. Rowdy kept watch during chores at the barn.

While Royal insists on butting in on everything. Especially helpful when he knocks over the manure collection bin.

At the house, we played some catch.

Down at the ocean, we didn't have the best surf, but the tide pools were on display.

And this alien thing washed up on shore. (Turns out it's a particularly violently-colored sea slug.)

Joanne and Ron Bromwell visited me in Santa Barbara, as they considered the idea of moving down from Seattle. We had a couple great evenings on the waterfront. (Too good for Ron that first night after a busy day of travel.)

Then, Jaxx came to visit. Of course Charlotte and Sander were there too, but he kind of steals the show. I'm struggling not to fill the page with 100 more photos of Jaxx.

The family was off-island in the wake of the hurricanes, so while it was a major inconvenience for them, it was a privilege and a lot of fun for us to get a snapshot of him growing over a month. It's amazing how fast things change at that age.

Okay okay, this is the one we flew in.

Sander was getting his instructor's certification during this time, and one day he took me for a flying lesson. Where he patiently kept trying to reminding me to look up from the instruments and keep the nose level. (Of course most of what we flew over since burned.)

They've got some really cool planes at the Lompoc Airport.

Aand the wave caught up to him, he fell down, and the poor kid gave me this great face for the photo.

We went to the beach, and Jaxx got a shock acclimating to the decidedly not-tropical Santa Barbara ocean. Charlotte took the now-born baby Raffa stand-up paddlesurfing.

We shared Thanksgiving at the Cages with the Alleways. Ashley befriended Kelsey's adorably-ugly dog.

December came and Jaxx helped set up Christmas, but all too soon it was time for them to return. Or none too soon: as they drove down to LAX for their flight, the fire was starting to burn the hillsides next to the 101.

In kind of a twisted foreshadowing, we posed for pictures with this firetruck before it all started.

Our world turned grey for several weeks as the fire burned up past Ventura. After the whirlwind of Jaxx, this is where time slowed to molasses. We had to minimize time outside, using respirator masks. Finally, it was approaching the next town over, when one morning we woke up to clear skies for the first time.

The wind had come up, purging the ashen sky, yet driving on the fire fiercer than ever, with a fresh plume of smoke in front of it. At this point we voluntarily evacuated, but the house was never seriously threatened. We spent the weekend on the other side of the mountain pass to be safe and get a break from the smoke.

The oak trees there are embattled survivors of the elements. Gnarled bark, weeping lichen, and prickly leaves, magnificent. Though impressively fire-resistant, many have been lost to this multi-year drought.

Christmas plans in Santa Barbara were canceled, so at the last minute I flew up to Seattle to get out of the smoke and enjoy the holidays.

Kai and I walked down to the ferry dock before his scheduled surgery required him to keep his weight off his leg. Mackenzie brought over this puzzle for the occasion. Sadly I neglected to take the after photo when I left, but we were only maybe halfway done.

Clarissa, Thomas, his cousin Danielle, and I got in a couple days skiing at Snoqualmie. We woke up to a white Christmas, the only time it snowed in town that trip.

I returned home in the new year to this rainbow, the morning after terrible mud slides swept through Montecito and took out the 101, topping off a difficult winter for Santa Barbara.

So there's my 2017. Thank you for reading. Before we go, here's a few more personal notes for the year.

© Benjamin Brolet/Universal Music France

I finished the Duolingo French tree.

Stromae (captions available) was my most-listened in 2017 according to iTunes. It's not new but for whatever reason it clicked with me this year. Ideal for dancing in your chair.

My most-played song on guitar was Blueless Bird.