Below are the highlights of 2017.
Eileen flew to Los Angeles for a short visit with her sis, Sue. Sue lives nowhere near the areas that were recently so badly burned by wildfires.
Bruce and Andrew participated in "Wreaths Across America" at Arlington National Cemetery. The crowd was enormous, making travel by Metro touch and go. After laying two wreaths each on graves in Section 2, they walked several miles to have breakfast at a DC dive called Ollie's Trolley.
Bruce and Eileen went to National Harbor to finally take a ride on the Capital Wheel and experience "Ice", an ice scupting exhibit at the Gaylord Hotel and Resort, where they also spent the night.
Bruce and Eileen ventured into DC to check out the new "Wharf" district, which had just completed its Phase 1 of construction. It's a nice place to hang out for an afternoon, but was still so new that most of the businesses were not yet open. The area includes street performers as well as a concert pier. It is definitely someplace to look forward to revisiting after Phase 2 completes.
Bruce received news that his company, Orbital ATK, was in the process of being acquired by Northrup Grumman. The acquisition was expected to complete in the first quarter of 2018. Orbital Sciences Corp and ATK had merged only two years prior. So in the matter of 2-1/2 years, Bruce went from working for a small aerospace/defense company to working for the fourth largest such company in the country without so much as moving his office to another building.
Eileen went to New York for her 40-year high school class reunion where she reconnected with friends.
Eileen had a business trip to the Pacific Northwest, north of Seattle, so Bruce flew to Seattle and they had another retirement area-scoping vacation there for a few days. Seattle is far too expensive to consider for retirement, but it is a really nice city and the Pacific Northwest is stunningly beautiful.
Just migrated this website to the latest version of Joomla!, the content management system software that makes this site work. Now I will be less reluctant to let the site get out of date since I don't have that major job looming anymore...he said.
Bruce, Eileen, and Andrew visited Rachel at Albero House in Norfolk where Mrs. Irene Ilchyshun led a volunteer string quartet that does mini-concerts in the Hampton Roads area as a charity. The residents at Albero House, Rachel included, seemed to really enjoy hearing some of their favorite songs, including several from Disney feature movies.
Click here to see a short video performance
Later in the month, Bruce did his annual Ohio/Indiana trip by car to visit family and friends.
Bruce and Eileen took a vacation in Colorado and New Mexico, scoping it out as a possible retirement area. While on the trip, they visited (in no certain order) Denver, Colorado Springs, Boulder, Fort Collins, and Pueblo, CO, and Taos and Santa Fe, NM. The weather was hot and dry and the scenery simply gorgeous. While in Denver, they attended a concert at Red Rocks Ampitheater to hear Portugal the Man, Local Natives, and Carseat Headrest. They also visited a work friend of Eileen's, Firth Whitehouse, who lives in Fort Collins. Denver itself and even more so, Boulder, are a bit to expensive for retirement. Niether Pueblo nor Taos is not our kind of town. Santa Fe is really nice, but is too remote and also very expensive. Fort Collins is a possibility, though. We're going back to check out the suburbs south of Denver. Colorado Springs might be a possibility, but it seems unlikely.
About mid-month, Bruce decided it was time to get back into shape and scheduled an early Friday morning tennis meet with a neighbor. After only about 10-15 minutes of play, even with the neighbor's son chasing loose balls, Bruce could not catch his breath and his chest was pounding and in pain. After 20 minutes he couldn't take anymore, so that was the end of tennis for that morning. He spent the rest of the weekend relaxing, but the pain in his chest never quite went away. Monday morning, after climbing the stairs to his 4th floor office, Bruce was still out of breath and had chest pains two hours later. So he decided something was wrong and scheduled an urgent doctor appointment. Long story short, he was in the ER later that day and had a chest X-ray and was admitted-into the hospital. The next day, a CT scan. And the next, a angiogram. Turns out his widowmaker artery was 95% blocked. So they put a stent in for that. After a 4-day hospital stay, that was that.
On Mother's Day weekend, Bruce and Eileen flew to Pensacola, FL, to meet Bruce's siblings and his "long lost" cousin, Bobby Blakeman, to spread Bruce's mother's ashes in the Gulf per her will. Bobby's mother and Bruce's aunt, Sue, had passed away a few years prior and Bobby decided to spread her ashes as well. Bobby recruited one of his neighbors who owned a boat worthy of the Gulf's choppy waves and with a capacity to hold us all and we spent the morning of the day before Mother's Day honoring Mom's wish. Bruce and Eileen, Linda and her daughter Jessica, Keith and his wife Cheryl, and Bobby made a sort of family reunion of the occasion. It was a somber yet happy event.
Eileen received a promotion from AFPM to Senior Manager. She continues to thrive professionally in that environment.
Bruce's mother, Nancie Waldren, passed away on the 6th of this month after a couple years of failing health. She had been living in a nursing home in Keller, TX, for that time and frequently complained about it. Her will instructed that she be cremated and her ashes spread in the Gulf of Mexico.
Bruce and Eileen flew to Florida to have a relaxing vacation visit with her siblings and father.
Happy New Year! It was a quiet New Year's Eve for us. We didn't even stay up to watch the ball drop.
Eileen's stepfather, Alex "Pop Pop" Kaczetow, passed away late this month. He'd been part of our family since before Eileen and Bruce were married in 1983. Bruce and Eileen flew to Florida to attend his funeral. He will be dearly missed.