My parents in Argentina at a missionary conference.

My parents in Argentina at a missionary conference.

I’m writing this on Sunday, which would have been my parents’ 56th wedding anniversary.

My sister Beth gave me recently some letters that my mother wrote in the early years of her marriage.  The letters were in the possession of her mother, my grandmother Ruth Blocher.

I read these letters on Sunday.  What life filled the pages….  And what joy she took in this little, inquisitive baby they called Jeff.

One week down

Friday evening.  The sun sets earlier these days.  Well before 8 p.m., I see the markings of deep dusk outdoors.

And the weather warmed up enough today that the air-conditioning resumed its summer chore, after a glorious fortnight with open windows and cool breezes.

Somehow, some way, I survived the first week.  Wednesday was the tough day, and I went to bed that evening at 9 p.m. Today I had enough energy to come home and mow the yard and give all the edges a good trimming.  But I still think this will be early-to-bed.

I’m alternating between elation at the beginning of a new school year — with a new colleague, increases in new-student and undergraduate enrollments in music, a new class for me to teach (choral arranging) — and excitement about the trip that commences in less than a week, to Athens and Vienna on Webster business.

But for today, I celebrate the beginning of another school year, the new challenges at hand, the possibilities that are boundless right now, and the joy I take in this vocation and calling.

A couple of photos from this week:

IMG_1755 IMG_1775

A brace


The second-opinion specialist today (a hand/wrist ortho specialist) said “live with the tendonosis, or have surgery.”  But he did switch me, after substantial discussion where I probed and questioned a great deal, to a smaller brace, instead of the metal-cage splint, which he feels may be contributing to some of the pain I’m feeling.

So now I ponder and pray.  And see yet another specialist next week — this time an MD who is also a musician, and who several woodwind players have said is the best in town when working with musicians and hand injuries.

No matter what, I shan’t make any moves until I return from Europe.

The new brace does make piano playing somewhat easier, thanks be to God.

Letters from Aunt Esther

Some years ago, my sister Beth gave Aunt Esther a book filled with prompts, hoping that Aunt Esther would fill the book with stories and reminiscences.  Along the way, Aunt Esther decided that her cursive just wasn’t up to snuff, and besides, her hand hurt and shook when she tried to write too much.

She filled some of the pages, but not many.

I have photos of the pages she filled, and I’ve decided that I’m to start an occasional series of posts, purposefully sharing some of her stories.

For more about Aunt Esther, visit these pages.


The night before

School starts tomorrow.

I spent six hours at the office today.

And then I returned home and made a chicken enchilada casserole from scratch.  This will feed me for a week.

The side dish was a lovely green salad with homemade mango dressing.

And a Dos Equis.  

I saw all but one of my voice students today.  And three colleagues.

Salads are made for two meals tomorrow.  Dessert is ready.

Samson sleeps upstairs after being with me at the office today.

Life is good.


Over the past few days, I’ve watched the college move-in/let-go process through a slightly different lens.  

Normally I’m the guy trying to be empathetic as parents bring their kids to us.  I know the kids are in good hands, and I don’t always understand the emotions attached to letting go (on both the part of the parents and the kid!)  Heck, when I went to college, I was ready and just wanted the family to move on so I could get settled.  But that’s me.

I try to remember what I felt the one August a decade ago when AJ moved back into the dorm after spending the last few weeks of summer with me.  I was lost for a bit — and the remembrance of that emotion is helpful to me now.

In the last hour of Thursday, my sister Beth, along with husband Robert and my niece Anna, arrived at my house. We all slept a short night, each of us fitfully for different reasons.  Robert is having trouble sleeping.  Beth was kept awake by Robert.  Anna, on the sofa in the living room, was moving into college the next day.  And I was awakened any time any of the other three stirred in the house.  

After an early breakfast at McDonald’s, we parted ways.  A few minutes later, Anna and her parents were at UMSL to begin Anna’s college days.

Seeing and hearing tales of their college-now emotions, but from a relative’s angle, is awfully different than perceiving their emotions, standing in front of a group of students and parents, as I did yesterday.  Anna’s saga humanized and even authorized their emotions a bit more, at least for me.  

So Anna is off on an awfully big adventure.

And after meeting our own new students yesterday, today I meet our new musical theatre students.  Tomorrow I see my own students for the first time this school year as we prep for auditions.

And I know that all of these students — my own, our own, and my niece at UMSL — are in good hands!


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