As travel restrictions mount, I’m thinking of all the wonderful and meaningful places I’ve traveled since 1994, and the important cultural and personal relationships that were the focus of these trips.
A lifetime of memories lives in these photos:
From Antwerp a few summers ago:
I have a very mild corneal abrasion. I’ll be all right, but I look like a twitchy monster.
Public Safety reminder: wear protective glasses when weed-whacking the garden.
Since I’m writing this on Saturday evening, I am indeed wondering if a 2.5-hour nap this afternoon will keep me awake tonight.
100° days wear me out. So does a corneal abrasion.
At the antique mall this week: two new (old) pairs of cufflinks.
At Metro Imaging on Friday: words I never wish to hear. Arthritis. While I don’t know the severity, the treatment, or the prognosis, I can say without hesitation that my left arm is hurting, and that over the last week this hurt has escalated significantly. We’ll see what Dr. Feldman says on Monday.
Since the bus connections are only twice-daily from Venice to Mezzano, I have decided to rent a car and drive whilst in Italy next month. Hertz has great prices, and I’m a Gold Member. I must hie myself to AAA on Monday to procure and International Driving Permit.
And we’ll see what stories I will have about driving a manual-transmission Fiat from Venice into the Dolomites.
10 p.m. and heat warning is in effect. The temperature is 84° well after sundown.
U-Verse service really stinks. When I return from holiday, I’m dumping it. Apple TV will be my new approach, I think.
My niece Kristen is 27 years old today. This photo shows her more than 20 years ago, with our beloved Aunt Esther:
I’m grateful to my friend Robert for reminding me of this gem from Dame Julian of Norwich (c. 1342-1416):
As truly as God is our Father, so just as truly is he our Mother.
In our Father, God Almighty, we have our being;
In our merciful Mother we are remade and restored.
Our fragmented lives are knit together.
And by giving and yielding ourselves, through grace,
To the Holy Spirit we are made whole.
It is I, the strength and goodness of Fatherhood.
It is I, the wisdom of Motherhood.
It is I, the light and grace of holy love.
It is I, the Trinity.
I am the sovereign goodness in all things.
It is I who teach you to love.
It is I who teach you to desire.
It is I who am the reward of all true desiring.
All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. Amen.
I visited her cell whilst in Norwich for a week in 2015:
My 2.5-week summer holiday has commenced, as of the close of the work-day yesterday.
Unlike other summers where I’ve taken a full four weeks away from the office, I’m departing for a shorter term this year, since I am music-directing two different shows and only have 1.5 weeks off between the end of The Sweet Smell of Success and the start of rehearsals for Out on Broadway: The Third Coming.
But summer holiday is filled, as usual. I’m off to NYC next week, for a short visit and some research. Then I have a dash over to Lee’s Summit and on to Des Moines to see Billy Budd at Des Moines Opera.
The next few weeks, until August 10 or so, are still three-days-in-office, and some long weekends. I still have reading to do, and music to compose, and local tourism to do!
But I wish I were abroad this summer . . . .
I’m in Dallas this weekend for a conference. This is on the heels of the first week of school and a very tiring week at Webster.
The Southwest flight last evening was FULL, but on time and perfectly fine. I’m sorry I didn’t win the lottery so I could hire a private jet, but perhaps next time.
The Tex-Mex dinner on Friday was yummy. The first place I tried didn’t seem to have their act together, and I left after being told twice “I’ll have someone right over to wait on you.” Well, ding-holes, you didn’t, and I collected my newspaper, drew myself up to my full 5.5 feet tall, and marched right out.
Not that anyone noticed.
Texas people seem to be noisy and little self-absorbed, or so it seems in this area of downtown Dallas.
Two views from my room:
12.30 a.m. I am in my hotel room south of Kansas City, sipping Freixenet Cava, too wired to think of sleep.
The day has been long and full, and exactly what Christmas Eve often is for me.
I breakfasted and played with Auggie. We listened to the service from Cambridge. I packed and showered. Auggie and I said our goodbyes.
I stopped by Costco for a ham for Christmas Day. And then I hit the road.
In Kansas City by 5, I checked into the Hampton Inn, changed into a jacket and wonderful bow tie, and drove north to Downtown. By 6 p.m. I was at dinner with John and Leona Schaefer and some other choristers. And suddenly it was time for choir rehearsal.
The Trinity Choir of Mixed Voices at Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral sang my new Christmas tune AUGUSTUS REX. And they sang my 2001 choral setting of “The Oxen.” I was delighted to sit in the congregation and be a parishioner tonight.
And now it’s Christmas Day. I shall, as always, listen to two recordings before sleep tonight:
And then I shall sleep.
Dear friends around the world,
The year 2015 is drawing to a close, and I find myself taking stock of the preceding 12 months.
This has been a momentous year in our world. I lament the hate and xenophobia that spews forth from many of our elected leaders. I grieve for those who flee their own countries, and who live in fear in their own cities, even as I urge local officials and national elected officers to take positive, love-filled actions.
Closer to home, I rejoice in little acts, such as a colleague organizing a concert for peace last week, and the various collections of food and household needs that allow me to share the riches of everyday life.
The year 2015 is my first in three years with no broken bones, so I rejoice further!
I think of family. Both nieces reached milestones this year, with Kristen graduating from college with her nursing degree, and Anna graduating high school and starting college here in Saint Louis. My father turned 80 this year; we shared a quiet family celebration, as were his wishes. Sisters Karen and Beth and their families continue to live in the Kansas City area.
I think of creativity. Jimmy Stevens premiered my setting of “Storypeople Songs” in April. I received a couple of awards for music directing in musical theatre, with nods from both the Saint Louis Theatre Critics Circle and the Riverfront Times. My students just go from strength to strength, and I delight in their successes too. Various writing projects and composing projects are coming to conclusion, with hopes that the next year may see some publications too.
I think of school. Now in my eighth year at Webster University, I continue to love and cherish the rigors, challenges, and opportunities of the day job. I made full Professor this year, starting Fall 2015 at the new rank. We hired a new colleague this year and sent a 42-year member of the faculty off into retirement. We have two more searches underway right now. Our students continue to amaze me. My own students continue to provide me both joy and challenge, and I grow through my interaction with them. We added two new performance programs this semester, with another on the way. Our holiday concert is available to view!
I think of travel. This summer was filled with away days. A friend and I vacationed in three European capitals (Amsterdam, where we stayed five nights in a canal boat!; Berlin; and Prague, in an apartment overlooking the river and the Charles Bridge). That trip included a day visit to Antwerp, Belgium; one to Potsdam, Germany, where I visited the site of the Potsdam Conference; and a sober away-day in Terezin to see the Czech concentration camp. I returned to Europe a few weeks later to engage in some Webster University work in two more capitals (Athens and Vienna), but not before having a couple of idyllic vacation days on the island of Hydra, of the Greek Peloponnesian coast. Meanwhile, this year included a couple of trips to New York City, to Chicago, and long weekends in Las Vegas and Helena (both of the latter trips to see students in shows). I also hit Interlochen, Michigan; Bourbonnais, Illinois; the Lake of the Ozarks; and Lincoln, Nebraska — all for various things related to work and service.
I think of companions. A few days after returning from Europe in September, I made a difficult decision about my beloved Samson. His daily lot was confusion and distress as he suffered from canine dementia. He died in my arms on September 28, slipping away peacefully as I sang to him and thanked him for being my loyal friend. We’d been together for nearly seven years; he had been with me in this home for all but one month that I’ve lived at 25 Lawn Place. After publicly proclaiming I’d wait a while until another furry friend shows up, I adopted Augustus Rex, a miniature Schnauzer, on October 31. This little four-year-old rescue dog has brought new joy and very different energy to my life, and I think I to his. He’s certainly getting me outdoors more often!
I think of my home. This little house in the City of Saint Louis continues to be a delightful place to live and love and be peaceful. I undertook some remodeling this year, and now have a home office and study where I can relax and feel at home. The former home library is now the guest room, and I have a proper wood-floor, leather wing chair, memento-covered-wall home office. Conversely, I am also reminded of the darker side of urban living, as a recent nighttime burglary attests. Thanks be to god for alarm systems and God-winks that caused me to have my housekeys upstairs with me that night!
December is a full month of music, but every month is! This month alone includes concerts at the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and at Webster. A performance of The Nutcracker by the Missouri Ballet. A holiday cabaret performed by colleagues at the Tavern of Fine Arts. Lessons & Carols at a local Episcopal church. (A screening of Star Wars four days before Christmas.) A jazz event at school, and a student composer’s final concert as well. And then Christmas Eve at my home parish of Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City, where I will conduct my own setting of “The Oxen” with the choir. I am rich in music and art!
As I write today, Morton Lauridsen’s setting of “O magnum mysterium” is on the stereo. Oh, how great this mystery, that animals should witness this virgin birth as Christ comes to earth. This mystery continues to confound and thrill. And our world needs now, as much as ever, the light of Christ — of true Christ-like teaching of love, acceptance, forgiveness, charity — to break through the gloom, in glorious brightness of day, in truth and passionate commitment to caring for others . . . to healing our world . . . to loving our neighbors as ourselves.
May Christmastide 2015 lead us into a glorious new year.
My Hampton Inn is in Kankakee, Illinois. Our regional conference of the National Association of Teachers of Singing is in Bourbonnais.
I’m in CHICAGOLAND, as the locals call it, which is sort of like being in Warrenton and being greeted with “Welcome to Saint Louis!”.
The drive yesterday, under blue skies and on mostly easy and empty freeways, was peaceful.
Our steering committee meeting last evening was filled with laughter and happy people doing the kind of institutional service we love. I do so enjoy being around altruistic people!
Fall Break has commenced. I celebrated on Friday evening by seeing DOGFIGHT at Stray Dog Theatre; by going to Soulard Market on Saturday morning; by teaching three hours of voice lessons that afternoon; and by catching New Line Theatre’s HEATHERS again on Saturday evening.
The house is closed up, and the heat is on. This is after I spent an ungodly amount on a furnace repair on Thursday.
At least one group of critters seems pleased that this little house no longer has a dog: the squirrels are partying in the back yard in a way I’ve never seen here. They must know that danger is no longer lurking a bark away.
And I’ve started looking at dogs again. I doubt I’ll have a new furball before Christmas, but one never knows.
Fall Break includes a couple of days of work, plus a couple of days in Lee’s Summit, and Amtrak trips both directions. I have, as usual, packed a pile of things from the office, but curriculum matters are foremost on my agenda this week.
After a few days of eating on the chili I made on Wednesday, last evening’s freshmade, home-cooked dinner was chicken with lemon-caper sauce, and a medley of green and yellow beans and new potatoes with butter and black pepper. Dinner was divinely yummy!