Category Archives: Getting older


I really, really enjoyed this interview on NPR the other day!


From a friend

A long message from a friend this week, on a particularly grueling day:

It’s an interesting take that we’re both men in our fifties leading exciting and wonderful lives; our parents trained us for these lives. My God, look at how many lives we each touch, daily, and how many through the years.  I wonder what our parents’ dreams were for each of us. I don’t think there’s any question that we probably went beyond their hopes, and we can rest in the fact we’ve made them proud.

They did a damn good job.  Our lives are significantly “more” because of the life-riches they secured.  

Why were each of us that child who elected to do more?  Who reached out for more?  

We have these incredible lives our parents helped establish.  And our parents believed in our music which would become the core of these incredible lives.

We’ve been blessed. We will continue to bless others.

Thanks, DJLH!


I write this post with permission of my father.

With my pop, last year.

Richard Carter has been diagnosed with acute leukemia.

Indications are evident that the radiation therapy he received several years past for lymphoma has caused some mutations that have led to his bone marrow producing malformed, ineffective white cells and platelets.

The diagnosis is clear, but the prognosis is less apparent right now.  This is a severe illness at any age, but for a diabetic octogenarian, treatment is complex and must be carefully managed.  Chemo starts Monday.  Transfusions of healthy blood will be part of the routine for the rest of his days. Even then, hopes are only for prolonged length and decent quality of life.

Pop is a man of faith, and to quote St. Paul, “For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” (Romans 14:8) My sisters and I . . . and my father and stepmother . . . all believe this statement of faith.

Prayers/karma/vibes/energy of the positive kind are most welcome.

These words of John Donne are in my heart tonight.

Coming out

Facebook reminds me that this October 11 is National Coming Out Day.

I tend not to speak of my sexual orientation on this blog, but today I’m going to tell a story.

When I was in high school, I was close friends with a classmate.  We were in orchestra together.

One weekend night, at a sleepover at his house, we were listening to the Dvorák B-minor cello concerto, sitting close together in a living room only lit by a single light over the piano.

The recording was the Du Pré, from 1971.  My friend was telling me that she had subsequently, not long after the recording was made, stopped playing because of a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. (She died in the early 1980s.)

There was in the living room that evening a quiet spirit and connection.  We were united in mystical reverence for the Dvorák . . . sorrow in the despairing thought of this great artist silenced . . . and also in an unspoken yearning between us — yearning that was never requited.

Last year, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra performed this very same Dvorák concerto.  I was seated in a dress circle box, and as I listened to that magical final movement, thoughts of that sleepover from nearly 40 years ago swirled around me.  I found myself tearful at the bittersweet thoughts of what might have been, what was, what is  . . . and the now-immemorial brilliant voice of Jacqueline Du Pré.

So to my readers and friends around the globe, there’s part of my story.

Those final thumping chords, and that last impassioned swell from the cello — they get me every time.

Here’s some the Du Pré recording:

Medical history

I recently got to complete a six-page set of medical forms so that I could visit with a new orthopedic specialist about some ongoing issues.

That led me to think about quantifying some things I know about blood relatives.

My right tibia.

My own history includes an intramedullary nail, work on a deviated septum 15 years ago, double inguinal hernia surgery nearly 20 years ago, and yanking my tonsils about the time that President Eisenhower died.

I am a moderate medicine chest, with daily pills for allergies, high cholesterol, and assorted other things.

My family history includes these causes of death:

  • maternal grandfather, stroke
  • maternal grandmother, old age
  • paternal grandfather, heart attack
  • paternal grandmother, old age and some dementia
  • mother, septic shock

And my father, now in his 80s, is pretty healthy for someone who nearly died of pancreatitis 16 years ago.

My family is blessedly free of cancer, for the most part.  I quit worshipping the sun about 8 years ago when I had a pre-cancer spot frozen off my nose.

So there it is.  A fairly normal 56-year-old medical history?


Childhood bedroom

Emery, at left, would be in his early 20s. Esther, Ruth, and Clyde complete the photo of four Gutshall siblings growing up.

Some years ago, my youngest sister gave my aged Great-Aunt Esther a book intended for a mother or grandmother to write recollections that could be passed on to others.

Aunt Esther filled out a couple dozen pages, and then said ‘enough.’

I have photos of all of these pages.  Aunt Esther has been gone three and half years now, and I thought I might slowly transcribe her writings.

Describe the view from your childhood bedroom.

I shared a rather small bedroom with your grandmother. It was nothing special but it was comfortable and adequate for two girls. A bed, chair, dresser, and a corner clothes closet made from a shelf, rod under it and covered by a curtain.

The view from the window looked out on the farmyard, barn, hen house, smoke house, and a pasture usually full of sheep. There was always something going on, if it was only the old hen in the flower bed!