I’ve seen many Facebook friends post their “year in review,” with a heading that goes something like “2014 was a great year, thanks for being part of it.”
Of course, as part of the Facebook user base, I’ve seen my own year in review that Facebook prepared, but I’ve not posted it for others to see because I didn’t choose those images.
But, still, thanks for being part of 2014 anyway, if you in any way chose to interact with me and shared any good thoughts or energy. However, if I am to sum up 2014 and look ahead to 2015, what would I say?
2014 was a year of transitions. Jon and Nalena finished the Peace Corps and are in the UK even as I write this, on to some time in Portugal. She is in graduate school in Pennsylvania studying human-computer interaction or world domination or something, and he is along for the ride and doing various projects. Nina finished her tenure as a social worker in Omaha, and was off in fall to Baltimore and law school. Ben graduated from Iowa State, but stayed there to pursue a combined master’s and PhD math program.
I wish them all the best in their new adventures. While it didn’t change my life right away, graduate school nonetheless opened to door to the life I live now, and I hope it does the same for all of you.
In professional terms, 2014 was mixed. The newspaper at Mount Mercy, which I guided to a weekly publication some years ago, is again now published every other week. I hope that it can thus become more multi-media and web oriented, but our moves in that direction have been tentative, so far. Well, if more than a decade of college teaching has taught me one thing, it’s that change is usually not easy nor swift.
But this was also the year I coordinated a fall semester World War I remembrance event, which brought lots of communication attention and people to campus. That was nice.
It’s also the year that I’ve branched out, just a bit. Besides starting to learn to play the piano, I’ve also begun writing a media column in a regional weekly newspaper, The Corridor Business Journal. I hope some of you have seen my monthly missive, which began in November and continues in 2015.
Anyway, what were the major events of 2014, tracked partly the trail of images I posted on Facebook?
January—sometime in the previous year, Amelia had discovered scissors. After a cutting incident in February of this year, where she apparently decided her short hair was not short enough, throughout the rest of 2014 a truce prevailed—she agreed not to use scissors to cut her own hair, if her mom agreed to regularly take her to have her hair cut at a salon. (Katy reports this kind of dialogue ensued: Hair cutter at salon attempts small-talk with Amelia. “Do you like princesses?” “No, I like fish.”) The truce has held, so far, but we hide all scissors whenever Amelia is around.
February—winter is cold and snowy, so a lot of indoor play is in order. Hide-and-seek is an ever popular game, but only for the older grandchildren. It seems to be around age 3 or so when the whole idea suddenly becomes attractive and the child has an idea of what the game is about.
March–it was around this time that I began to take piano lessons. Progress has been slow, but I’m an old dog learning lots of new tricks. I can slowly read music now. This was a very cold March, almost a second February, but by the end of the month was finally getting warm enough to play outside and visit parks, which was nice.
April—spring semester, as it always does, is getting into chaos. But the weather is turning nice—finally the world in Iowa is greening up and blooming. Audrey and I take some joint bike rides, a nice trend of 2014, although I doubt I’ll ever talk her into RAGBRAI. Well, maybe a day of it, we shall see.
May—Graduation, a bittersweet time—time to say farewell to some talented students. We had a nice Sheller family picnic and began to enjoy more “normal” warm weather. I still haven’t replaced a dead crab apple tree in a back garden. The Hawthorne tree in front is declared dead and replaced by a new redbud tree. Transitions begin as I think it was near the end of the month where Nina joined us for the time between her job and starting law school.
June—we take pleasure in a visit by our oldest daughter and her daughters. I don’t recall that we “did” that much, but hanging at home and enjoying their company seemed quite a treat, a highlight of the year. Also in June, Cate and I ride the Raccoon River Ride with Brigid and Eldon—and since Francis was in the shop, I rode that 100-mile, two-day ride on The Beast. Cate saw, and I photographed, a monarch caterpillar, and that prompted a project later this year, where I collected milkweed seed and scattered some in my gardens. We’ll see if any come up in 2015.
July—early in the month, we bid farewell to the Moscous, who are back to Norwich. Skype is a good tool for touching base several times a month, but there’s no doubt it’s great to see people in person. This is RAGBRAI month, and the ride this year is sometimes a challenge, with one of the worst rainstorms I’ve seen on the ride (fortunately on a morning when I had a driving shift).
August—Nina is off to Baltimore. Katy and Wyatt kindly volunteer to move her there, which means some extended play time with grandchildren. School starts at MMU, and the WWI series also kicks off and proves, right from the start, to be popular.
September—Nalena and Jon come home for a quick weekend trip to attend a wedding. She has already started graduate school, and is busy with homework. Well do I remember those days! My life now can get very busy—and in academia, as a professor, I still feel like I’m in that campus rat race at times, but frankly, I don’t miss the stress of being a graduate student.
October—we do a breast cancer walk with a niece, and we attend the wedding of one of Nina’s close friends. Brittany and Steve Hoover have a very nice ceremony at a celebration barn near Solon, and Audrey is treated as a featured guest, escorted in and seated in the front row, as the official stand-in for Nina. During fall break, we visit Ben in Ames and have a lovely bike ride there, too.
November—a nephew, Matt Schultz, gets married near Des Moines, continuing the nuptial theme of the fall. Audrey and I introduce Theresa to Zombie Burgers in Des Moines. Jon and Nalena manage to make it home for Thanksgiving, and we enjoy both a traditional turkey dinner and a spicy, slow-cooked pork dish.
December—Christmas finds the family celebrating on two continents. Nina travels to England for the season, and Jon and Nalena make a stop there before heading to Portugal. Early in 2015, Audrey will be in England too in January, but it remains to be seen if she can manage to meet Amanda and the girls. Nikayla performs in her First Grade holiday concert. The last surviving brother of my mother died at the end of November, and in early December, we attend his funeral in Illinois. On the last day of the year, we have a big outing to the Children’s Museum, followed by a sleepover party for Katy’s four children.
Well, it is fun to look back on 2014. Much happened in our little corner of the world. It took me longer than it should to write this post—I thought I would have it done before the New Year’s Eve party, and here it is Jan. 2 as I wrap it up.
Maybe I should have let the Facebook robots handle it. But it was also nice to actively look back.
What will 2015 bring? Well, we know one thing for sure.
A new season of Downtown Abbey!
Good luck to all of you, especially family members who have started new adventures—may you find the path that you are on leads you to a good place. For any who mourned a loss in 2014, I hope time heals. For those who in 2014 started a new chapter or a new family, best wishes and good luck in 2015 and beyond.