Realizing what I don’t know….

Since finishing my sudden fill-in for the University of Miami graduate choral literature class and dealing with settling Rachel into our household (albeit temporarily); I am now picking up the two projects abruptly dropped three weeks ago: the Total Wine Professional program and the completion of the Proper for Christmas Day in the Choralis Constantinus so that Markus Utz can begin to prepare it for recording.

The Total Wine program is really fantastic as it puts me back into undergraduate mode. I thought I knew a lot about wine (I suppose I do, compared to the average person off the street), but this program requires me to understand geography, history, botany, chemistry (this from someone who never studied either of those last two topics), and climate change. It also forces me to develop a more sophisticated palate and vocabulary to be able to describe wine and interpret a customer’s desires. As an experienced presenter, I am used to reading an audience and changing gears when necessary. But the knowledge base required for this experience is vast. I am back at school.

Meanwhile, in my REAL life (as I am quick to remind my co-workers at Total Wine) I am struggling – after all these years in the trenches – with re-learning the skills necessary for good scholarly research. I am keenly aware of my shortcomings as a musicologist – especially in light of working with polyphonic settings of an early medieval sequence. Just reading some of the recent research done on a) Isaac, b) sequences, c) early music printing, d) text underlay in early Renaissance prints, and e) random other items; makes me want to bury my head under a pillow because I am so far behind the current research.

Why am I doing this? Because I believe in leaving something behind. I know too many who, once they retired from what they had done for a living, became old before their time. Some had heart attacks or quickly lost their mental acuity. While I am experiencing a physical decline – back surgery, terrible arthritis in my hands (all those years of pounding keyboards), and other issues – at least once I’m gone this music may have a chance to live.

BTW, have you reserved your t-shirt yet? They not likely to last long since at least 280 million or so Americans qualify to wear it…….

What a slimeball.

At least I pay my fair share to help this country. Michelle and I paid over $8000 in taxes this past year. Please explain how this gasbag can live off our money, make millions by being president (in addition to his salary), and owe the citizenry of this country NOTHING in return.

Flush the turd on November 3rd.

And the beat goes on….

(I took this photo while on the river in my boat). Life in Florida during the age of Covid continues. News from the Feiszli household since the last update:

I stepped in to teach a section of graduate choral literature for the University of Miami via Zoom for two weeks while a faculty member took emergency family leave. Fairly nerve-wracking since I a) did not have the main textbook, b) was following someone else’s syllabus, and c) had to design and administer four classes without blowing up the semester for this unfortunate professor.  Fortunately it was early music and he gave me carte blanche to talk about Isaac or whatever. Students were great (and forgiving of my inexperience with Zoom technology). Maybe I created some Isaac converts.

Michelle went to South Dakota to visit the kids and her parents just after the Sturgis Bike Rally. She was home a whole six days before Rachel had a health scare and ended up in the emergency room. They ran a gazillion tests while Michelle got back on a plane and headed north. Making a long (and private) story short; Rachel and her cat are now in Florida with us. She intends to remain here and create a new life for herself. We will support her while she does so. Our little retirement home, which seemed so spacious a year ago, suddenly seems a little more crowded having added a (rapidly growing) dog, an adult daughter, and a fourth cat.  Regardless, we are coping and Michelle and I will deal with it as we always have. We get up every morning thankful for what we have and where we are.

 

The good news is that the cats are beginning to tolerate the puppy. As he settles into adulthood (probably a year from now) , they’ll all be best friends.

I grow increasingly worried about the direction of this country. While Joe Biden was not my first choice to oppose Donald Trump, I have to support him as the best choice between catastrophe and something approximating decency. Trump’s presidency has been a disaster for the USA:  a) its standing in the world – with my extensive contacts throughout the globe I have been made aware of how we are now viewed by our former allies and others, b) the divisions between haves and have-nots – the rich have gotten richer and the poor are more downtrodden than before. I see this with opened eyes as I now work a retail job that I (thankfully) do not work because I need the money, but work alongside those that do it as a necessity, c) the divisions between people of color and those who have been in power since the beginning – despite our country’s supposed dedication to equality and freedom. 

“Private enterprise cannot be maintained in the age of democracy; it is conceivable only if the people have a sound idea of authority… Now we stand before the the last election, regardless of the outcome, there will be no retreat” If he did not win, he would stay in power “by other means … with other weapons.”

“By the beginning of February the Hitler government had banned … all meetings. …. the leader of the Catholic Trade Unions was beaten by Brownshirts when he attempted to address a meeting. Altogether, fifty-one anti-Nazis were listed as murdered during the electoral campaign…”

William Shirer. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.  p. 190

I’m not retired….

OK, so I’m 67. I retired to Florida, beautiful new home, enclosed pool and spa, fun yard and garden, on a canal off the Caloosahatchee with a boat and convertible sports car.

So, what do I do?

  1. Get a part-time job at Total Wine and More. No big deal, I tell myself, go in a few hours a week, get out of the house, talk to people about wine, make a little extra cash, get a discount on my wine.  Now they want me to become a Total Wine Professional – which is basically sommelier training without the presentation part. Sigh.  Back to school at my age.
  2. Get a puppy. And not just any puppy, but a rescued Doberman Pinscher from a puppy mill. Loki (the Dog of Mischief) is like having a baby. High energy, sleepless nights, gazillions of vet bills – he had parvovirus when we got him – and very VERY much a velcro dog. “Where are you?” “Where are you going?” “Are you coming back?” “I want to play NOW”. I’m too old for this.
  3. Agree to step in to teach a graduate class at the University of Miami. Oops, I did it again. Well, at least this time it’s distance learning and I am doing it to help out a friend. I am teaching early choral literature to seven very good masters and doctoral students. And they are being very forgiving about my really lousy Zoom skills (having only used it once prior to the first class). Just hope I give them their money’s worth and don’t screw up the class too much before the real professor can come back.