Below are the highlights of 2014.
After the events of October and November, Bruce and Eileen needed some time to relax. Chanukah continued into this month and Orbital typically nearly shuts down the week of Christmas. Eileen made off with a new 2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid (to replace her Prius), a new Nespresso Latissima+ machine, and some noise-cancelling headphones for all those long trips she has to take with her job. Bruce and Eileen enjoyed a Chanukah party at their friends the Colbys on the night of the solstice.
Bruce spent a good bit of his two weeks off upgrading the neighborhood website and writing the annual newsletter, which you can read right here on this site.
Another visit to Rachel the weekend after Christmas pretty much brought the year to a close, except for the annual New Year's Eve party at the Geery's.
We hope you all had a wonderful 2014 and get 2015 off to the right start to make it even better! Happy New Year!
The weekend after Bruce totaled the Chrysler, he hit something in the road with his motorcycle that did $1200 damage to the exhaust, putting the bike out of commission for a couple weeks (waaaaaah!).
Bruce and Eileen thought they were taking a routine visit to see Rachel. Little did they know, that Saturday night the staff at Albero House was planning to take all the residents to see the million-light display at Norfolk Botanical Gardens. Two of the adults who had agreed to be guides (i.e., to push wheelchairs) had to cancel. So it was quite fortunate Bruce and Eileen were there. They got to accompany Rachel and a friend of hers on the ride there and back and walk through the light display. The residents had an absolute blast, and I think all the guides did also.
Mid-month, Bruce scheduled a test drive of a Tesla model S (electric luxury car) in DC. Eileen had a free hotel night to burn or lose and also was able to take advantage of someone else's cancellation to see a Wizards basketball game in a client's suite at Verizon Center. So that turned into a fun Friday night/Saturday morning adventure. They took the new Metro Silver Line from Reston, Eileen to work in the morning and Bruce after work to go to the game. It was something different and turned out to be a pretty good weekend.
For Thanksgiving, David brought his girlfriend, Gloria, over to join us for some of Eileen's gourmet cooking. It was a fun evening into which we also crammed all eight nights of Chanukah for the boys. I don't think we lit the menorah again after that night.
October started with a group ride with SCRC to see some covered bridges in PA. It ended prematurely when one of the bikes decided not to run any more. We got to see only one bridge and the ride was cut short since the bike belonged to the person leading the ride.
The 10-day trip to France began on October 17. The first week, the entire group of 6 visited significant sites in Normandy, including Mont St. Michel, St. Malo, Honfleur, as well as three days in Paris (le Louvre, Eiffel Tower, etc.). For the final two days, Bruce and Eileen took the high-speed train to Aix en Provence and took a whirlwind one-day tour of Cannes, Nice, and Monaco (a.k.a. French Riveria). This trip was years in the making and it won't be the last visit to France. We hope to return soon and see more of the south.
No sooner did they return from France, the very next day Bruce managed to total their oldest car (2004 Chrysler), injuring Eileen. She got a few bruised ribs and a nasty headache, but was generally OK. The very NEXT day the kitchen refrigerator compressor died and although it got repaired 2 days later, most of the food in it was lost. So October was both the best and worst month of the year.
The end of October meant 3 months had passed since the deck was resurfaced. Time to stain it. New wood on the ramp-replaced section would need two coats, whereas the rest would need pressure washing and a single coat. The finished deck looks new again, though we still need to plant something where the new section meets the driveway. Spring project.
Rachel had to be hospitalized at the end of August due to an overnight incident during which she encountered aspiration pneumonia. She was admitted into the ER at Sentara Leigh Hospital (across the road from Albero House). Bruce and Eileen rushed down there to be with Rachel. She ended up in that hospital for nearly 3 weeks, during which several serious errors were made by hospital staff that likely endangered her life more than it already was.
Bruce and Eileen began preparing to travel to France to visit their longtime friends the Coutures, who live in Normandy with their two children. Rachel being hospitalized made it start to seem as if the trip might get cancelled, but Rachel pulled through (as usual) and was released a week before the trip.
Bruce and Eileen took David to Florida for a four-way birthday celebration weekend: he, Eileen's brother Lee, her father, and her stepfather all have birthdays in August. Lee sort of hosted the whole thing and although it was a great time, not everyone equitably enjoyed the celebration. Life. Yeah.
The rear deck on the house had been in dire need of resurfacing for a few years. Boards were splitting, handrails curling up, and the wheelchair ramp was just falling apart. So this was the big project for the year; replacing all horizontal surfaces with composite planks (laminated Trex), refacing the screened porch with vinyl and rescreening it, and replacing the ramp with regular decking. The project took a bit more than two weeks, but the result is fabulous. No more splinters!
Eileen invited Bruce and some friends to the rooftop of the building where she works in DC to watch the July 4th fireworks. It was a nice evening, though awfully windy. We had a rooftop dinner and eventually were joined by others that work in the same building who had the same idea. Great way to spend a summer evening.
The following weekend Bruce went on what has become his annual motorcycle ride to Ohio and Indiana to visit family and friends. The trip covered about 1500 miles over a week. Stops included Troy OH, Fort Wayne IN, Connersville IN, and Marietta OH. Yes, Bruce paid a second visit to the Schumanns less than two weeks after their daughter's wedding. But before that, he attended his 40-year high school graduation reunion in Connersville, having served as treasurer this time around. These class reunions are always a lot of fun, and being part of making it happen makes it all that much more special.
Bruce and Eileen paid Rachel a visit in mid-July to see how she was doing in her new space. It was clear she was very happy. Stayed at a hotel in Portsmouth on a weekend when the main tunnel providing passage through downtown Norfolk was closed for construction. It ended up taking us over an hour to make the typically 15-minute drive to Albero House that morning. But we had a great view from our room!
At the end of June, Eileen and Bruce went to Fort Wayne to attend the wedding of the Schumann's younger daughter, Mackenzie. It was great seeing them again, although it was kind of a crazy time and we didn't get to spend a lot of time as a foursome.
Another group ride took Bruce to the Copper Fox Distillery owned and operated by the Wausmans. Didn't get to do any tasting (apparently it's not legal in VA to taste at a distillery), but he did bring home a couple bottles of product. Yet another ride this month a small group visited the Air Force Museum at Quantico. This is an impressive museum architected to resemble the famous Iwo Jima sculpture where some US troops were raising the flag. Inside are relics from WWI through the latest war, though the museum continues to expand.
As it seems to have become a tradition, Mom got treated to brunch at Cafe Montmarte in Reston at Lake Anne by all three of her "boys". We got lucky yet again and it was a beautiful day to dine outside.
Eileen's work took her to San Antonio where Bruce joined her for a long weekend after her long week. Interesting town to visit, but I don't think I'd want to live there. The river walk is great, but once you've done it you've done it. We ate some great food and hung out with some of her work friends, so it was a bit more fun because of that. While there we also visited the Alamo and did LOTS of walking as we had no vehicle and were pretty much confined to downtown.
Bruce went on a group ride with SCRC to Meet and Greet with the Hampton Roads chapter. Of course he had to stop in and visit Rachel while he was there. Eileen did not go along on the trip. On the way home the group stopped for brunch in Orange, VA, at the Silk Mill Grill, originally a WWII parachute factory.
Later in the month, Orbital announced it would be pursuing and equal share merger with another aerospace company, ATK. The merger will complete in the first quarter of 2015.
Eileen and Bruce had work trips to Houston during the same week. So they met up one day and enjoyed lunch and a "murder mystery dinner". Bruce was in Houston to support Orb-2 mission formal testing at NASA's Johnson Space Center.
Rachel finally moved into a private room at The Albero House at St. Mary's Home for Disabled Children. She is visibly happier since the move, probably because it's quieter and there are fewer residents per staff member so she gets more attention. Bruce and Eileen had to be there for the move, but we wanted to be there for the event anyway.