Another whirlwind year ends in less than a week, and I'm again asking myself, "Where did this year go?" Now that I've hit my 70s, it feels like the days are a blur, hurtling me from January to December.

This year was filled with surprises, a few potholes, challenges, loss and joy. And there were few dull moments.

I guess you could say that 2014 began for us in a drift -- a snow drift that just seemed to keep on growing as we endured the seemingly endless pounding of snow storms and blizzards. At first, we were depressed, because our house was still on the market, and with every snowy weekend, we thought we'd lost potential buyers. But we didn't.

Ironically, we ended up showing our home more in January and February than we had when it was on the market the winter before. These potential buyers crawled over drifts in our semi-plowed driveway, trudged through the garage, gazed out over the sea of snow that would eventually become a backyard.

With the spring thaw came two unexpected buyers, and by early May we had a deal with one and found a lovely rental property for ourselves. Moving day was June 24, and in early July we were out from under our mortgage after a nearly four-year odyssey to sell the house.

The 2014 summer was mercifully cool, which made unpacking of endless boxes seem a little easier. We finally finished 95 percent of the unpacking, and the house finally feels like home. And we're finally ready to tackle the basement -- especially my wife's new sewing area, which has wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling boxes of fabric.

The summer took a bit of an unexpected turn when we got a call from our friend Hazel. She had an inoperable tumor, and it had increased in size. She needed 24-hour supervision and was trying to piece together a schedule for companionship. My wife and I spent many peaceful mornings and afternoons getting insights from this very special lady.

Hazel knew her days were numbered, and somewhere in the course of our conversations, the subject of her dogs, Flicka and Truffie came up. I told her without hesitation that my wife and I would happily take Truffie. I also told Hazel I thought that day would be far into the future.

I got the call in less than two months, however, and by the end of August, we were a four-dog household. Now, just four months later, it feels as if Truffie has always been with us.

This year was one of surprises. Out of nowhere on Aug. 19, my wife suffered a mild heart attack, just two days before our 48th wedding anniversary. Today, after going through cardiac rehab, she feels great and her energy levels are up. She's even walking the two smaller dogs and getting out whenever weather permits.

The nicest part of my wife's recovery was my 94-year-old dad's four-day visit over Labor Day weekend. This Energizer bunny wanted to be sure his daughter-in-law was all right, so he hopped (excuse the pun) a plane Friday afternoon in Chicago to see for himself and left Tuesday. It meant so much to have him out here.

This year was definitely a good year for my little public relations consulting business. After nearly five up-and-down years, I was fortunate enough to pick up four new accounts through my friend Ed. Life was definitely a lot "greener," and it's looking great into the new year.

Our younger daughter -- who was a great help packing for our move -- and her husband wanted us to visit them in Michigan for Thanksgiving, and we couldn't say no. So we bundled Truffie into the car, left our other three pooches with a dog sitter and braved the holiday traffic. It was a beautiful holiday, and our daughter outdid herself on turkey, pies and other goodies.

And now I have the luxury of sleeping in for two full weeks and enjoying the holiday. The charter school where I teach is off through Jan. 6.

As this year ends, I am more grateful than ever for the love of family and friends and the support of so many. We hope our lives will be a little simpler in our new home, and once I get my wife's quilting area finished this vacation, she will definitely feel settled ... at last.

We're looking forward to a wonderful 2015 and hope all of you are, too.

Happy New Year!

Steven Gaynes' "In the Suburbs" appears each Friday. He can be reached at