Monthly Archives: April 2012


The Church of Saint Michael and Saint George yesterday welcomed three dozen confirmands.  I remember well my own confirmation 20 years ago at the hands of Bishop Buchanan at Resurrection in Blue Springs.

How blessed I am to be part of the wider Anglican communion!

Here’s a photo of the adult confirmands with the Bishop, the Rector, and the Curate, all in front of the high altar.  More photos are on CSMSG’s Facebook page.

Home stretch

The home stretch begins today.  I have no more weekends away this semester, no more travel to do, and only two more concerts to attend.  This is the last week of class.  Juries start on Thursday for voice students, and on Monday for everyone else.  The departmental honors recital is Thursday, followed by a free meal celebrating Cinco de Mayo at Marletto’s on campus.

Another school year is nearing its end.

This particular graduation may be a tough one for me, as this class of students started with me in 2008.  A professor experiences, in my estimation, two or three bittersweet commencements in his career.  The first of those is with the group that started alongside him.  The last, of course, is the professor’s own final commencement, marking retirement and end to the daily teaching.  And I think that any time a professor’s own progeny graduates from his own program, or perhaps from his own university, he must feel a joy-ache.

And so the circle continues.  Life is sweet, and sweeter for those with whom I share it.

Chicken in my yard

The slow work on the lawn, flower boxes, and flower beds continues.

If the rule for perennials is “the first year they sleep, the second they creep, and the third they leap,” then Summer 2014 is going to be a stunner in my back yard.  Foxglove, dahlia, daisy, coneflowers, ranaculas, hyacinth, verbena – all have joined the lilac, hardy mums, peonies, butterfly bushes, lilies, daffodils, tulips, hostas, and hydrangea that were already doing well.  The lilac next year will be particularly full, if the new growth is any indication.

Irises just don’t do well in this yard, either because of sun or soil.  The cyclamen I put out by the patio is doing well, though.  And the zinnias will be wonderful this year, since i just scattered last year’s dried seed.

Driving back from Columbia yesterday, I purchased a chicken for the back yard.

That chicken is now filled with marigolds, with a bit of creeping jenny added to the side.  I’ll have to replace the marigolds next year, but that creeping jenny should be hardy and rampant.

The chicken is roosting in a bed of zinnias, one of three in the yard.  On the neighbor’s side of the fence is a large hydrangea bush.

I also planted creeping jenny in the front porch flower boxes, hoping for a bit of draping as they grow and add to the curb appeal.

Stormy weather

I got my dahlia bulbs planted today before the rains hit.  The forecast calls for more rain tonight and tomorrow.

How grateful I am for the rains that keep my yard green and my flowers beautiful!


I rose with the dawn the morning and headed to Columbia, where I skirted the Mizzou campus to play for my high school soprano at Missouri United Methodist Church; she sang for the state solo and ensemble contest.  After being ill this week, she rated a II.  I’m pleased with her progress, though, and with her desire and attitude.  She has a bright future.

I’ve heard this week of job changes for at least three former colleagues of mine, and I bet the dominoes haven’t quit falling yet.

Me?  I’m happy at Webster, and hoping that life continues here for a long while!


8 p.m.

After working in the yard and teaching a make-up lesson at home, I took a short nap, then set out for Costco.  The rains started falling as I was headed south.  Then the power flickered in Costco, with the store losing much of their lighting.

As I drove home, right at 6 p.m., I could see that I was headed for inky blackness.  The western sky was dark indeed.  Driving west on I-44, I became concerned about what was ahead of me, and what would surely be over my house very soon.  And then the sirens started, signaling a tornado warning.  Then the rain stopped.  That’s a bad sign.

I arrived home just as golf-ball sized hail starting raining down.  When that let up, the rain started again, but I could see the sky lightening to the west, and I had a pretty good idea that no tornado was going to beset me and Samson this evening.

The reports from around the area include at least one fatality at a pub near Busch Stadium, flooding on the freeways, much aggravation from hail that was even larger in other parts of the city, and, even in my yard, tree limbs down.  I’ll likely call an insurance adjuster to check my roof for damage after the hail.

More cells are coming, though.  This storm system isn’t over yet.

Strawberries are cleaned and waiting for breakfast, along with blackberries.  A brisket is on the agenda this week as I entertain students for one last meal this semester.

And Samson is ‘Fraidy-Feist is now sleeping soundly by my side after being paralyzed with fear at the thunder and noise from outdoors.


I’m staying in this evening, rather than going to the symphony.  Laundry and ironing and shoe-shining are the Saturday evening chores.  A night in sounds delightful anyhow.

Your dog would tell you . . .

My friend Darin in Dayton posted this list this week . . . .

TEN THINGS your dog would tell you . . . .

This is really neat…

1.  My life is likely to last 10 to 15 years.  Any separation from you will be painful: remember that before you get me.

2.  Give me time to understand what you want of me.

3.  Place your trust in me- it is crucial to my well being.

4.  Do not be angry at me for long, and do not lock me up as punishment.

5.  You have your work, your entertainment, and your friends. I only have you.

6.  Talk to me sometimes. Even if I don’t understands your words, I understand your voice when it is speaking to me.

7.  Be aware that how ever you treat me, I will never forget.

8.  Remember before you hit me that I have teeth that could easily hurt you, but I choose not to bite you because I love you.

9.  Before you scold me for being uncooperative, obstinate, or lazy, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I might not be getting the right food, or I have been out too long, or my heart is getting to old and weak.

10.  Take care of me when I get old; you too will grow old.  Go with me on difficult journeys.  Never say: “I cannot bear to watch” or “Let it happen in my absence.”  Everything is easier for me if you are there, even my death.

Remember that I love you.


That last one knocked me into a fit of sobs in a snap of time.

When Samson goes, I will be there, but I’ll be one helluva mess.


From, by Eliza Browning:

The word “etiquette” gets a bad rap. For one thing, it sounds stodgy and pretentious. And rules that are socially or morally prescribed seem intrusive to our sense of individuality and freedom.

But the concept of etiquette is still essential, especially now—and particularly in business. New communication platforms, like Facebook and Linked In, have blurred the lines of appropriateness and we’re all left wondering how to navigate unchartered social territory.

At Crane & Co., we have been advising people on etiquette for two centuries. We have even published books on the subject—covering social occasions, wedding etiquette and more.

Boil it down and etiquette is really all about making people feel good. It’s not about rules or telling people what to do, or not to do, it’s about ensuring some basic social comforts.

So here are a few business etiquette rules that matter now—whatever you want to call them.

1. Send a Thank You Note

I work at a paper company that manufactures stationery and I’m shocked at how infrequently people send thank you notes after interviewing with me. If you’re not sending a follow-up thank you note to Crane, you’re not sending it anywhere.

But the art of the thank you note should never die. If you have a job interview, or if you’re visiting clients or meeting new business partners—especially if you want the job, or the contract or deal—take the time to write a note. You’ll differentiate yourself by doing so and it will reflect well on your company too.

2. Know the Names

It’s just as important to know your peers or employees as it is to develop relationships with clients, vendors or management. Reach out to people in your company, regardless of their roles, and acknowledge what they do.

My great-grandfather ran a large manufacturing plant. He would take his daughter (my grandmother) through the plant; she recalled that he knew everyone’s name—his deputy, his workers, and the man who took out the trash.

We spend too much of our time these days looking up – impressing senior management. But it’s worth stepping back and acknowledging and getting to know all of the integral people who work hard to make your business run.

3. Observe the ‘Elevator Rule’

When meeting with clients or potential business partners off-site, don’t discuss your impressions of the meeting with your colleagues until the elevator has reached the bottom floor and you’re walking out of the building. That’s true even if you’re the only ones in the elevator.

Call it superstitious or call it polite—but either way, don’t risk damaging your reputation by rehashing the conversation as soon as you walk away.

4. Focus on the Face, Not the Screen

It’s hard not to be distracted these days. We have a plethora of devices to keep us occupied; emails and phone calls come through at all hours; and we all think we have to multitask to feel efficient and productive.

But that’s not true: When you’re in a meeting or listening to someone speak, turn off the phone. Don’t check your email. Pay attention and be present.

When I worked in news, everyone was attached to a BlackBerry, constantly checking the influx of alerts. But my executive producer rarely used hers—and for this reason, she stood out. She was present and was never distracted in editorial meetings or discussions with the staff. And it didn’t make her any less of a success.

5. Don’t Judge

We all have our vices—and we all have room for improvement. One of the most important parts of modern-day etiquette is not to criticize others.

You may disagree with how another person handles a specific situation, but rise above and recognize that everyone is trying their best. It’s not your duty to judge others based on what you feel is right. You are only responsible for yourself.

We live in a world where both people and businesses are concerned about brand awareness. Individuals want to stand out and be liked and accepted by their peers–both socially and professionally.

The digital landscape has made it even more difficult to know whether or not you’re crossing a line, but I think it’s simple. Etiquette is positive. It’s a way of being—not a set of rules or dos and don’ts.

So before you create that hashtag, post on someone’s Facebook page or text someone mid-meeting, remember the fundamentals: Will this make someone feel good?

And remember the elemental act of putting pen to paper and writing a note. You’ll make a lasting impression that a shout-out on Twitter or a Facebook wall mention can’t even touch.