"Divided We Stand," Jan. 2: Devastating hurricanes, a frustrating war, failed Social Security reform and continued debates about the Supreme...

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“Divided We Stand,” Jan. 2

divided we stand

Devastating hurricanes, a frustrating war, failed Social Security reform and continued debates about the Supreme Court, the role of religion, and even the theory of evolution have kept the United States firmly divided since our muddled moderate sought counseling at the beginning of the year. President Bush’s declaration of a “mandate” after the 2004 election morphed into the lowest approval ratings of his presidency — 39 percent by fall — and led to hopes by Democrats for a 2006 comeback. But if conservatives are on the defensive, liberals still struggle for a clear, compelling message. Somebody needs an intelligent design.

— William Dietrich

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“Faith in Film,” Feb. 27

Faith in film

A week after our story on Jeffrey Overstreet and his Christian-themed movie reviews, a national cable network asked him to join a panel discussing “whether the national media treats Christians fairly.” The invitation was suddenly withdrawn after a pre-show interview. Overstreet said the producer found him too reasonable.

But everything else in his career seems rosy.

“After about 30 years of writing stories and dreaming of becoming a novelist, to follow in the footsteps of personal heroes like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, I have signed a two-book contract offered by Random House for the publication of a fantasy series I have written,” he says.

The first volume, “Auralia’s Colors,” is set for a September 2007 release. And he has landed a publishing deal for a book about his experiences as a film critic.

He’s still reviewing movies and traveling to interview folks behind mainstream and independent films. And for the record, he thinks the science-fiction movie “Serenity” got a raw deal from audiences. “It’s so much better than any of the ‘Star Wars’ prequels, and yet it barely made a mark at the box office,” Overstreet says. “Sad, really.”

— Richard Seven

“Dream, Build, Live,” March 27

Dream, Build, Live

Paula Whelan and Milton McCrum have settled into life on Lower Queen Anne after turning the old Brenneke School of Massage building on Roy Street into a 1,700-square-foot contemporary home/office designed by architect Lane Williams. They did much of the work themselves over 18 months, and in March 2005 they moved in. McCrum’s optometry office is at street level. They live on the two floors above. At the time, Whelan said, “I like the idea of living right in the city. But I didn’t want to share walls with people.”

So how’s the gritty urban life working out?

She laughs.

“It’s a little noisier than I would like,” she says. “We just hear people’s conversations and things like that. That’s a little disconcerting.”

And what’s it like living over McCrum’s business?

“At first it was really weird. I didn’t like it at all, having an office there. I felt like I had to be quiet. I couldn’t clean or anything because it makes too much noise. I’m more relaxed about it now, though.

“Of course, none of these things bother Milton much at all, because that’s just how he is.

“And his business is picking up. It’s gonna take awhile. (Getting an eye exam) is not something everybody goes and does every day.”

— Rebecca Teagarden

“Becoming Mama,” May 8

Becoming Mama

Dear Tia,

You are now two years three months old. You sing songs, play doctor with Bear, wheedle “just one more” chocolate chip cookie in a thousand different ways. You remember everything — your telephone number, the ducks we saw paddling in a spring puddle at Fred Meyer, a baby harbor seal beached this summer at Discovery Park.

“The baby seal’s mama come back?” you still sometimes ask, seemingly out of the blue, yet surely sparked by something, a gray sweater or whiff of salty fog. This is the age of connections. You are at your peak with about 15,000 synapses per neuron, far more than in any adult brain, especially (after a long week) your mama’s.

You know so much, it’s inconceivable to me you’ll soon forget these days. Hardly anyone remembers anything before they were 3. What’s scary is that as you move on, I might also forget this cuddly, whimsical stage. There are pictures, of course, but no real way to save . . . how it feels.

A friend with a teenage son says she wishes, oh how she wishes, to go back for just one day.

So every night, after the rush of work, groceries, car repairs, I remind myself this is our day to giggle and cuddle and fall asleep — until tomorrow.

— Love, Mama (Paula Bock)

“Land Rush,” June 26

Land Rush

When Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels won re-election this fall he promised to focus on the need for affordable housing in Seattle, but prices were still climbing at year’s end and condominiums continued to transform the nature of the city. Rising interest rates are cooling the land rush nationwide, but with the Puget Sound basin expected to gain nearly 100,000 people a year for the next two decades, no one expects the hunt for shelter to get cheaper, or easier.

— William Dietrich

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