Category Archives: Getting older

#TBT 1976

What an era-specific Olan Mills photo this is!

1976. Early in sophomore year. I loved this leisure suit.

For more on leisure suits:


Unce John

My beloved Aunt Esther married John Summers in 1951.  He died of a heart attack on April 15, 1984. His funeral was 34 years ago today.

1963, in Columbia with Aunt Esther and Uncle John Summers, and my mother.

His pallbearers were all people I remember from my childhood.  The faces are cloudy now, and all of these men are also long gone, but their names and their influence were part of my first 18 years or so.

Amongst the things I inherited from Aunt Esther was a box with the guest book from Uncle John’s funeral, and copies of the obituary and funeral home card, and all of the notecards from the many sprays of flowers that bedecked the church that day.

As I look through these cards, I see that Aunt Esther was as meticulous with these as she was in all areas of her life.  She wrote on the back of each card the kind of flowers in the spray, and in a vase also the shape and color of the vase. She made note of having sent a thank-you note, and on many cards wrote in pencil the address to which her own thanks should be posted. Notice on this card her own notation of “sent” and that she indicates that she wrote one thank-you note to all of the names on the card.  She also crossed out Moberly and wrote in the town and ZIP code. And the word “all” indicates that she sent one thank-you note for the whole group.

Also in this minor trove of family memories was an acrostic my own father wrote a few days later.  As we cleaned out his office four months ago, we found dozens if not hundreds of these acrostics, written for family, for funerals, for weddings, for sermons, for published columns. I found notepads on which he worked out the details and crossed out word choices and crafted these little ditties.

My father with Aunt Esther.

Random pearls of wisdom

From recent personal experience . . . .

  1. Always wear something on your feet whilst in the kitchen.  One never knows when one is going to drop a full glass bottle on the tile floor.
  2. Always check not only which copier is receiving the signal to begin printing, but also the number of copies being printed.  There’s nothing like printing 9 copies of Jeremy’s book reports.
  3. Always put your shoes away.  When one leaves them in the middle of the floor in a darkened room, and then gets up in the night to make water, one might stumble and trip over the shoes.

That is all.


Many years ago, while I was in Muncie, I took B to Chicago to attend a performance by the Chicago Symphony of The Dream of Gerontius.

On this day, I will be in attendance at King’s College Cambridge as B sings the title role in the same oratorio.

And I shall weep tears of joy and delight, both at this most wonderful music, and at the thought of my once-student singing something to which I introduced him.

This photo was taken whilst in Chicago for that trip:

Here’s B now:

China cabinet

Amongst the items I inherited from Aunt Esther is this antique china cabinet.  This stood in the alcove in her dining room on Clinton Street in Columbia.

Filled with memorabilia from her life, it stayed with her at Foxwood Springs in Raymore, Missouri until her dying day.  And then a month later it found a home in my own dining room.

This china cabinet now holds priceless memories: my mother’s collection of Fireking Jadeite china, Grandma Carter’s formal china, Grandma Blocher’s stemware, a few pieces of Great-Grandmother Blocher’s china, some of my mother’s crystal serving dishes, serving bowls from various relatives, and so on.  Plus a lovely bone china set I purchased at an antique store in Indiana 15 years ago.

And sitting beside the china cabinet is my Grandma Carter’s violin.

Doctor Week

Spring Break is a time to plan doctor visits.

I saw my ophthalmologist two weeks ago.  No worries there.

Monday was ortho day, with a visit to the hand specialist.  We will wait for one more cortisone injection, and then consider surgery for this pesky trigger-finger issue.

And Tuesday was dermatologist day.  My scalp is cratered like a lunar landscape right now, but seven (7) pre-K spots are gone.  And we found no other worries, unlike last year when I had more than a dozen spots frozen. Thanks be to god for a) annual check-ups, and b) the insurance that makes them, and my health as I age, possible.

The week

What a week this was . . . !

I could barely summon the energy for a dog-walk Saturday morning, so tired was I.

This past week was my first full week at the office in the last month. We had a power outage, a canceled afternoon & evening of classes thanks to the threat (unrealized) of ice; I had a couple of days away for illness and a day away for travel.

And so this week felt grueling, but I like gruel.

I sang a cabaret show on Tuesday evening, and as usual felt the weariness 36 hours later on Thursday.

District solo & ensemble contest was this weekend. Aaron and Ronan received ratings of 1, and Isaac a 2. These ratings are accurate reflections of what the adjudicator heard, I think. (And then I found out that Grace went to contest unknownst to me, and also took home a 1 rating!)

Between their sings on Friday, I spent more money than necessary at Costco; bought some Lucky Brand jeans and a couple of pairs of socks at Nordstrom Rack; and enjoyed some Tex-Mex. But their bookends of the schedule meant a late arrival home on Friday.

And after Ronan sang on Saturday, I dropped by the shoe repair store in Ladue, then lunched on Thai noodles at Pei Wei, then went to see my niece Anna as she started her shift at Barnes & Noble.

My living room is under repair and renovation, and things are a mess. I don’t like mess.

We had our fifth audition day in the last 29 days on Friday. And orchestra concert started the week, and a choral concert will finish it this afternoon.

My Messing Award was announced.

And we received unexpected news that our assistant professor posting was approved and is now live, so I spent part of Friday evening sending emails far and wide about the suddenly-available position. We need a skill set and background that is somewhat extraordinary, so this search will be a fun one!

I saw all but one of my students this week, both at Webster and at home.

The decennial accreditation process with the National Association of Schools of Music has begun in earnest. Hours fly by when having that fun!

I closed on the refinance of my house, and am now in a shorter mortgage with happier terms.

So, after this litany of why I’m beat, the thanksgivings —

I am thankful for, and recognize that I am blessed with:

  • A home
  • A dog
  • Job security
  • A salary that leaves me comfortable
  • The promise of money in the bank when I retire in a few more years
  • Joyous anticipation of several international trips in the next few years
  • A voice with which to teach and enlighten and entertain
  • Faith
  • No worries about where my next meal is going to be found, or how I will get someplace
  • Good and talented students who wish to learn and grow
  • Family that is well-knit and gets along
  • The promise of Spring, since my daffodils and tulips are now emerging from sleep
  • The luxury of burning candles for mood and scent, and not out of necessity.