We started Fall with little Olivia and a visit to the Sterling Fair, where she got to ride the carousel and Ferris wheel for the first time. It was also a season of more visits with friends and family.
Fellowship has smaller groups that meet weekly, called Life Groups, to get to know people better, do Bible studies and share meals. We joined a new group in Sterling, and it's been great. Met some awesome new people, and got to know others on a more deeper level. One of our goals is to do service projects together, and we did a couple already, going to people's houses and helping with repairs, painting. It's a tremendous group of people, and the food... my word. We eat well those nights!
There's a group of fellow writers who meet up in the Andover area, folks who I know from Necon (a writer's conference I've been missing these past few years), known as the Vicious Circle. Since the passing of our dear friend Rick Hautala the year before the group hadn't met much, and this dinner gathering was a great reunion.
On the home front, a project I'd put off for too long was finally accomplished. I built a small set of stairs into the hillside leading up from the driveway to the door. Over the years, this is where most people walked, ignoring the flagstone-demarcated path further down the drive. Now, we can walk up the hill on brick steps. Came out pretty good, if I do say so myself.
More college visits with Audrey, and then the infamous college application process. She's gotten one acceptance so far, waiting on more coming soon. Speaking of Audrey, she is now in her final year of high school, enjoying every moment. Amanda moved back to school for her Sophomore year, and was busy preparing for her Spring semester - she's traveling to France as an exchange student next semester.
Another place on my bucket list to visit was Foxwoods Casino - not a big gambler but wanted to see what it was like. We went for the day with Kevin & Connie McCarthy, and had a blast. It also happened to be their... hmm, I think it was their 25th wedding anniversary! Maybe 24th. I'm bad with dates.
Buy the book and read it. You'll like it. :)
We did some other fun things, like watch the silent film Nosferatu with the Brenners at the Hanover Theater, accompanied y a live performance of the Hammond organ like in the old days.
Ok, so I started National Novel Writing Month with a bang, cranking out 15,000 new words for Plague of Locusts, then, as I've done in the past, lost steam. :( But it's 15,000 words I didn't have down before. One major event this Fall/Winter was the annual Holden Road Race with takes place on Thanksgiving morning. Linda is now the new race director for the event, and spent many hours learning the ropes from outgoing director Mark Helfrick. Even with a major snow storm the night before we got our volunteers from church (Fellowship Church is the primary organizer/sponsor of the race, not counting the extremely generous corporate sponsors) and the race went off without a hitch. 1500 runners signed up and even with the snow we got over a thousand people running the streets of Holden - special thanks for the town for getting the roads cleared! $30,000 was raised from the event, and all of it given out to four local charities.
Thanksgiving at brother/sister-in-law Joe & Beth followed. We were exhausted but it was a great day.
The year finished up with some fun events, like a Livestrong fundraiser with the YMCA where Linda works, and later in the month their annual Christmas party. Also, Audrey had her final cross-country awards banquet where she, and her two fellow captains, said goodbye to their team. We went to a concert with our old youth group from NEC, along with sister-in-law Donna and her friend Michelle, seeing Casting Crowns, Mandissa and Sidewalk Prophets in Providence. We stole Olivia for a day and brought her to Edaville Railroad - I'd never been there before. It was cute, and cold!
Also, we had three Christmas Eve services at Fellowship Church - in three different towns! Since we're a mobile church at the moment, we borrowed a church in Sterling for what was dubbed the "Christmas Adam" service on the 23rd, then an afternoon service on the 24th in Spencer, followed by a frenzied pack-up and setup back at Showcase Cinemas in Worcester for a Standing Room Only service at 7:00. Kudos to pastor Marty Holman who did all three services while battling the flu! And the dozens of volunteers who setup, took down, worked the parking lots, worked the services, and slept well that night.
Christmas was busy, and a little different this year. Andrew couldn't make it home, so he attended Christmas morning via Skype, while the girls and Janet came over the house and we did presents and breakfast. Me, Linda and the girls went to Mom & Dad's for Christmas in Burlington, then Linda and I left early to visit the McGuinesses in Worcester who were having their annual open house. We then raced home by 6:00 in case anyone came to what we're now calling Christmas Chill, where anyone could swing by for Christmas night and just hang out. About a dozen folks of all ages came by and we chatted, drank various eggnogs and even got a game in before the night ended.
I drove down to NYC the next day and stayed with Andrew for the night then we headed back and he's here now visiting through the new year. Linda's off scooping up little Olivia, and she'll be staying with us until Saturday, when her family will come up and we can do one more Christmas before 2015 kicks off in earnest.
Not much on the writing front this late winter. I saw (and enjoyed) Exodus: Gods and Kings with pastor Marty (a fellow movie buff) then later Linda, Amanda and I met her friends Victoria and Nate (fresh from their semester tour of Europe) to see the final installment of the Hobbit trilogy. I wrote a review for this for Cinema Knife Fight. The most I've written since then is this long, four-part year in review.
Well, that was 2014. Not sure if I'll do this again next year. Part of me thinks writing all this down in a 4-part blog is a little, I don't know, who-really-cares-but-us-ish? But I suppose it's like breaking out the vacation slides, back in the day, but here you can read or not. But years from now, barring any apocalyptic event that might wipe out the Internet, it'll be here for posterity. Next year, maybe I'll just be better about posting stuff throughout the year. But it's life. These were mostly the major ups and downs, and there was plenty of white space in between.
Here's to seeing what next year will bring.