Richard Wiens, The Triplicate

It took the extraordinary to bring back a sense of normalcy.

Laura and I recently descended to a remote stretch of North Coast beach and found miles of magnificent solitude. Even though we've been hiking in these parts for 5 andfrac12; years, we'd never been to this place. Therein lay the familiar in the unfamiliar: This was just our latest discovery of a spectacular nearby destination.

There seems to be no end to the secret rewards awaiting us in the place we now call home. And I needed the reminder after a series of absorbing events.

In June, the Triplicate produced one of its most significant projects in my tenure as editor, the product of hundreds of hours of work and many lost weekends for staff writer Anthony Skeens. "Inside the SHU" played out over four consecutive editions and provided an enlightening look at Pelican Bay State Prison's brand of what you may or may not consider "solitary confinement."

As we applied the finishing touches to the words, designer Bryant Anderson brought his artistic touch to layouts, giving the series its appropriately gritty veneer.

With another inmate hunger strike now under way, the prison's Security Housing Unit is suddenly a national story, and journalists are scrambling to gain interviews with the main characters. They're racing to retrace Anthony's steps.

The work provided a welcome distraction as my 92-year-old father's health neared the end of a long decline. Del Norte had barely cleared away the aftermath of its Fourth of July festivities when I found myself writing his obituary - my first after editing hundreds of them.

A few days later I was in the pulpit of the Salem, Ore., church I grew up in, looking down at my mother and family and friends and eulogizing the former pastor and social worker, the man whose hard work helped define my childhood and provided a life-long model. It was the easiest speech I ever delivered.

Back home, a longer, happier goodbye played out as my boss announced her retirement plans. Most Del Norters know Publisher Michele Postal for her columns and her accessibility to the public. I'll always admire her big-picture vision of how to steer the Triplicate through tough economic times and her mastery of the innumerable details of the newspaper operation.

She and her husband, longtime Triplicate photographer Rick Postal, will soon be off for Oregon's Willamette Valley, where he grew up and where grandchildren await. I miss them already.

This has led to what I hope will be the final life-changing occurrence for a while, my appointment as publisher/editor, effective today. The quick move by the leaders of Western Communications in Bend is gratifying, and my job now is to show their confidence in me is justified.

There's a great team in place to back me up at the newspaper office in Crescent City and at the printing plant in Smith River. The promotion of Kyle Curtis to the new position of operations manager will help immensely with my juggling act as publisher and editor. So will the work of Assistant Editor Matthew Durkee.

I'll take a few deep breaths and a few days off that I scheduled long before all the recent tumult. Then I'll move into what I still consider to be Michele's office.

I won't dwell on the past, however. As she told me many times: "We're only as good as our next edition."