Auld Lang Syne

Greetings from southwest Florida. 2023 was a strange year.

 We began the year just having gotten back into our home after having it flooded by Hurricane Ian’s wind-driven Caloosahatchee water. Much of the year was spent assessing, repairing, remodeling, and dealing with contractors and insurance companies.

Meanwhile, Michelle’s sister Jennifer was continuing her fight with pancreatic cancer in South Dakota. Michelle took almost all of her allotted time-off from her job at the Florida Civil Commitment Center to go back to Rapid City to spend as much time with Jennifer as possible.

Thirdly, 2023 marked Jim’s seventieth year on the planet, a significant event for anyone’s life – a marker where one begins to reflect on what is no longer to be and what is possible in the future.


  • Michelle flew to South Dakota to visit Jennifer, our kids Jackson and Rachel, and her parents.
  • During that same week, Jim was visited by Bob Colaner, one of his best friends from college days, who was down with his wife Barb and friends. He spent a day driving him around Fort Myers. Good times remembered and fun seeing him again.
  • Throughout January and February, much time was spent dealing with insurance companies, mortgage companies, repairmen and other entities relating to putting our home back into service. We had numerous workers in the house to complete restoration from Ian damages.
  • Jim had his annual review and got a whopping $.25/hour raise (Gotta love capitalism) BUT was allowed to take a $100 bottle of wine and a $100 bottle of spirits home. Must always look at the bright side, right?


Jennifer and her daughter Elizabeth arrived on February 28th for a week’s visit. It was a glorious week because everything seemed to work out in Jennifer’s favor. Fantastic weather the whole week.

We went to Busch Gardens –  roller coasters, cheetahs running, giraffes eating out of our hands, and many other once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

The next day we traveled north to Crystal River to experience a personal manatee adventure with River Ventures. The three girls got into wetsuits, joined by a personal tour guide who took them snorkeling. Jim stayed on the boat with the captain and talked boating. The previous few weeks had seen a dry spell with no manatees seen. But on this day, there were manatees aplenty, along with a wild dolphin hunting fish. One momma wanted to present her baby to Jennifer. Hours were spent interacting with dozens of manatees who wanted to say hello. 

The following day, we toured Fort Myers Beach, still recovering from Hurricane Ian. Homes and churches still destroyed; piles of debris still being collected. We drove south to Bonita Beach, where the destruction was no less terrible. On the way back home, we remarked how southwest Florida would never be the same. Well-funded developers are buying up destroyed properties and rebuilding them into upscale properties. The middle class will likely disappear from this area.

On Jennifer’s bucket list was to see the Atlantic Ocean. So, the next day, we drove across Florida to Jensen Beach, a peninsula jutting out into the ocean. Had lunch at a restaurant right on the beach. We then walked along the beach and it didn’t take long for Jennifer and Elizabeth to begin playing in the surf. We returned home late that night tired, but with great memories.  We are happy that Jennifer had that time with us. Good meals, shared experiences, and treasured moments.


Jim’s sister Sue and husband Rand came to Florida to spend their annual time-share vacation in Sarasota. They drove down to Fort Myers and we had some fun running around together, as well as visiting the Fort Myers Beach devastation (again). Later that week Michelle and I drove up to Sarasota to spend another day with Sue and Rand. Good times just walking the beaches, talking, and eating good food.

We learned in May that Markus and his ensemble cantissimo were planning a series of concerts performing the music from the Choralis Constantinus edited by Jim for the CD that came out in March 2022. One of these concerts was to be in Konstanz June 14th on his seventieth birthday! We had been reluctant to make any plans to leave the country due to Jennifer’s condition, but after her visit here in March she seemed to be holding her own. Michelle went back to SD over Mother’s Day (May 14th) weekend to spend time with Jennifer, her mom, and the kids. At Jennifer’s insistence we bought tickets for Konstanz to celebrate Jim’s birthday, hear this concert, and visit old friends and haunts.

Before, after, and in between these visits, we continued our efforts to recover from Hurricane Ian:  selling the camper and truck bought after the hurricane, replacing furniture and appliances, repairing damaged things we decided to keep, getting the tile floors cleaned inside and paving stones outside. One of the last pieces was to restore our shower tile in the master bathroom to make the shower useable again. We made many decisions in our crisis mode after Ian which cost us dearly. In retrospect, we should have done much of the work ourselves because we would have done it better. We’ve actually had to redo much of what we paid to have done. But we have learned some things and have decided to move forward even in these uncertain times.


If you have been reading Jim’s blogs on, you know how June went. We were set to leave for Konstanz on Friday, June 9th. We packed on Thursday, only to get a call from Jennifer’s doctor telling us to come to Rapid City quickly. Jennifer’s cancer spread. She made the decision to stop all chemotherapy treatments, developed a systemic infection, and had entered into hospice care. We quickly booked one-way tickets to Rapid City because we had no idea when we would be returning. Jennifer was barely responsive when we got there. She passed away in the early minutes of Monday morning, surrounded by family and friends. The next week was spent with funeral arrangements and family matters. We returned home on June 20th.

During Jennifer’s illness, Michelle had been a “show up when I can” employee at the Florida Civil Commitment Center and elected to step-down as a team leader, returning to a primarily clinical role. As a team leader, she had been responsible for two teams of clinicians – running both teams in the absence of an appointment for her original position. She was apprehensive when she returned. “Are they going to still want me here?” “Do they consider me reliable?”  Evidently, they missed her.

Shortly after returning, she was asked to consider becoming the Assistant Clinical Director – one of the top four administrative positions in the facility. She now supervises the clinical team leaders and clinicians; the vocational, educational, and recreational departments; provides supervision for licensure for new clinicians.  It is a huge step forward in her career and a great compliment to her work. Here is the announcement of her appointment:

Michelle Feiszli has accepted the role of Assistant Clinical Director. Ms. Feiszli has been a valued member of the Clinical Department and FCCC team since 2018, bringing with her years of relevant experience and clinical expertise. Throughout her time at FCCC, she has impressed in her roles as a clinical therapist across multiple treatment tracks, as a member of the assessment team, and in leadership roles with the Conventional and Corrective Thinking teams. Ms. Feiszli’s dedication to her work and our mission at FCCC are evident in all that she does and has earned her the respect of her supervisees, her peers, and administration.

In July, Jim got back into teaching when he was asked to step in on short notice to teach a course on Old World Wines at the Naples Total Wine store. He enjoyed being in front of a classroom again – especially one in which the students were eager to learn about the subject matter. The store manager told him he was welcome back anytime.


After Jennifer’s passing, we decided that we should cease putting off all the things we planned to do “someday”. In early August we traveled up to Tampa to attend a concert by Pentatonix – a little mini-vacation Thursday through Saturday. We stayed at the Tampa Riverwalk Marriot totally enjoying the concert on Thursday night. Friday, we went to the Florida Aquarium on a rainy day and saw some amazing things. We ate great meals, Ubering all over town, and came home late Saturday evening.

Late August brought another hurricane scare. Category Three Idalia came roaring up the west coast of Florida almost duplicating the path of Ian. We watched aghast as the water once again crept up the banks of our canal almost reaching the pool wall. The water stopped there but the PTSD was real. Another two feet higher and the water would have again been into our garage and pool. Even before Idalia, we had expressed to each other how this house no longer felt the same. It had become much like our last home in Rapid City – a bookmark holding our place until the next major event. Enough. In early September we visited Babcock Ranch, found a 55+ community just being built, and decided to start over. Jim’s last blog details what Babcock is and why we made such a drastic decision. Read it if you haven’t.

In late September in a matter of two weeks we lost our oldest cat, Dusty, to cancer. It was fast, too fast. We still miss him.

The following Monday, Michelle traveled to Denver with her two bosses to attend a professional conference staying until Thursday. Upon her return, we went straight from the airport to dinner and then to the Seminole Casino in Immokalee to hear Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin perform live in an intimate setting. Returned home late but was worth it.


The last three months of 2023 have been a blur.

  • Multiple meetings with the builders of our new home, choosing colors, appliances, flooring.
  • Making plans to put this house on the market which include such things as renting a storage unit to clear out much of the house, contracting with movers, getting anything and everything wrong with this house fixed, painted, and gardened.
  • Meeting with the pool builder to plan the pool for the house (we’re not living without a pool!)

Michelle’s mom, Diana, came down to spend two weeks in November. It was nice for them to spend a lot of time together. She got the grand tours of Fort Myers Beach, the model of our new house and the homesite, Pine Island, downtown Fort Myers, and a trip to Arcadia, where Michelle works. Much sitting by the pool and talking. Diana and Loki bonded almost immediately. He missed her when she left.

We are both working quite a bit. Michelle’s new position requires her to be at the facility often to extinguish emergencies. And Total Wine is never closed. Thanksgiving to New Years are the busiest weeks. So, we both worked Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve.

To punctuate the lessons learned in 2023, we had a dear friend in Konstanz pass away unexpectedly on December 29th. Axel Zweidinger was the second Konstanzer that Michelle met when Jim first took her to Europe. A huge bear of a man, he was funny, smart, loved toying with the latest gadgets, and we would have almost certainly spent some time with him had we gotten to Konstanz in June. Now we won’t see him again.

Jim remarked the other day that we haven’t really had a routine since October 1st, 2022 when Ian turned our world upside down. Ian was really the gift (?) that keeps giving, lol. We hope that everyone who reads this had a much more pleasant and rewarding 2023 than we have had. But we are healthy, we love each other, and we love living in Florida. We look forward to 2024 to start the next chapter of our lives.

Reach out, stay in touch with loved ones and those who have made an impact in your lives. Wishing everyone a blessed New Year with health, love, and opportunities.

Lanai view

gang aft agley

A month ago, Michelle and I were about to board a flight in Tampa to Zurich to celebrate my 70th birthday in Konstanz, Germany by attending a concert which featured some of my Heinrich Isaac editions; and attending some celebratory parties hosted by my friends in Konstanz.

We were to leave on Friday. We packed on Thursday, preparing to drop the dog off at boarding Friday morning and head to Tampa for the direct flight to Zurich.

That evening we received a phone call from a family friend, who also happened to be the doctor for whom Jennifer (Michelle’s sister who had been battling pancreatic cancer) had worked for over 25 years; and whose two daughters had also taken voice lessons from Michelle.

He informed us that Jennifer was unlikely to survive the weekend. This, despite the fact that Michelle had just been back to Rapid City the weekend prior and spent quality time with Jennifer – shopping, touring the Black Hills, laughing and enjoying time together. In the intervening few days, Jennifer became ill and (due to chemo, etc.) had succumbed quite quickly to this infection and was now in hospice.

We looked at each other and said, “Well, I guess our plans have to change.”

We quickly booked one-way tickets to Rapid City, South Dakota. One-way? Because we had no idea when we would be returning.

Gott sei Dank, we had the foresight to book fully refundable tickets to Zurich when we bought them. Swissair came through with no problems and refunded the entire amount, which gave us the funds needed for the Rapid City flight and then some.

We left from Fort Myers for Rapid City Friday morning and arrived there that afternoon.

Long story short, Jennifer was barely responsive when we got to see her. Michelle spent the next three nights by her bedside along with Jennifer’s daughter, mother, with me and her father spelling them for a few hours. She passed away in the early minutes of Monday morning, surrounded by family and friends. 

The next week was spent with funeral arrangements and family matters. The funeral was well-attended, and I was happy to see some people I had not seen in a long while. 


I returned to Fort Myers after the funeral, while Michelle remained in Rapid City to help her parents and niece and attend the burial at the Black Hills national cemetery. I needed to retrieve Loki from boarding and relieve our neighbor from having to feed and medicate our cat menagerie.

In Fort Myers, we are still trying to pick up the pieces from hurricane Ian last year. Said cat-sitting neighbor is still waiting to have his roof fully repaired. Other neighbors are still living in campers in their driveways. All of this: Jennifer’s passing, the remembrance of my own brother’s death – who would have been 74 on the 5th of July this year, and the acknowledgement of my own 70th birthday; have made Michelle and I more aware that, regardless of plans, life happens.

On the plus side, we wrote our last check for the restoration of the house. The last pocket door has been installed! Now I just need to go over the entire house and fix the sloppy work that was done by various contractors. The yard is slowly getting back to normal and there is still some repainting to do on the exterior of the house. But we are, by far, way ahead of most of the neighbors, some of whom are still waiting for new roofs or pool cages.

We have decided that it is impossible to recreate or restore the lost Konstanz trip. I will never again turn 70. That concert will never again take place. Yes, as someone said to me “Germany will always be there.” but that moment and experience cannot take place again.

Instead, we have decided to focus on the here and now. We moved to Florida to enjoy the sun, the warmth, and to be together. We have not experienced that fully due to a variety of reasons. There is a great joy in being here in this oasis that we have worked so hard to create. The title photo above was taken today as I wrote these words.

We have learned a great deal in the last year. Some of those lessons include:

  • In crisis, listen to others, but trust your gut and make the decisions you feel are best for you. 
  • When something needs to be done, “There’s a YouTube video for that!” 
  • Do what you want to do now, don’t put it off. Don’t be stupid about money, but don’t deprive yourself either. 
  • Live life!

BTW, if you’re wondering what the title of this blog is about, I am again reminded of my dear departed sister-in-law, who left us with this memorable quote:

Google that shit.

Musikhaus happenings

Summer in Florida …

That usually means two or three things:

Rainy Season

  • Morning begins clear and beautiful. No clouds in the sky with brilliant sunrises and scenery
  • Mid-day, the humidity has increased, and brings clouds. People come into Total Wine and complain about the heat. I’m like, “And you live, where…?” 
  • Late afternoon/early evening. Thunderstorms release the tension created by humidity and heat. Lasting five-ten minutes, they chase my fierce Doberman Pinscher (big baby) into his kennel. I sit on the lanai watching the rain evoke my childhood memories of Sandusky, OH – on the porch watching the rain flll the gutters.

Hurricane preparation

  • Until Thanksgiving, the National Hurricane Center website is checked daily for potential threats. The generator is ready in case of power outages. An evacuation plan is in place.
  • So far, we’ve been lucky. No major storms have arrived since before we came here. Our home was built to the most rigorous hurricane standards. But we are prepared.

Life slows down

  • We live in a much more populous area than Rapid City, SD. But advantages available to us here in SWFL outweigh the disadvantages.
  • We can take a day trip to Miami or Key West or Orlando or Tampa. We don’t much. Why? We have our own resort right here. We have a private pool and spa. Our boat can take us to downtown Fort Myers, the Gulf of Mexico, Fort Myers Beach, or Pine Island. We have a convertible to take a jaunt to the countryside or beach.
  • We have at least a three-day weekend together (more on that below) and were thinking, let’s do something. We decided that “something” would be floating in the pool, cooking meals, drinking good wine, and being together. What else is there?
The Feiszli Resort

Today I passed the third of seven examinations towards the Total Wine Professional certificate. Italy was extremely challenging. I began my exploration of wine around 1993 to prepare to take a group to Italy in 1996, figuring I ought to know more about the culture.  

That trip was memorable. We spent time in Venice, Siena, Florence, and Milan. I only wish I had known then what I know now regarding Italian wine because, as I studied for this test, I became aware of how many important places we visited in regard to wine culture. Ah, well.

Next up, I get to revisit France. My second TWP exam was only over Bordeaux – a significant place for French wine – but only one of about seven major French wine regions. The next exam covers ALL the rest of them. I am particularly aware of my lack of knowledge regarding Burgundy. History? Sure. Wine culture? Not so much. Oh well, time to put on the graduate school mentality. Looking forward to it, actually.



Considerable time and effort was expended working on this website over the last month in order to make all the scores to the music of the Choralis Constantinus 1508 available as free PDF downloads.  One can now go to:


and click on a title of a specific motet to obtain the music. A form must be filled out, since we wish to track how many scores and which scores are being requested and where they are going.  If you wish a score and have issues getting one, just drop me a note and I’ll get it to you.

Michelle and I are contemplating a return to Konstanz in 2023 to celebrate my seventieth birthday. We wish to revisit the city before all our friends retire.  Missing the Hafenhallenteller,  the Franz Fritz Weinkellerei, Reichenau, and everything and everyone there. 

Other News

  • I go in for cataract surgery tomorrow. It’s normal, I guess, for people my age, but I’m still not thrilled about it. The second eye will get surgery on July 15th.  Evidently, they’ll fix my astigmatism, allowing me to go without glasses for the first time since fifth grade. And Michelle will take time off from work to drive me there and back. So, we have some enforced together time for a few days.
  • Michelle’s been promoted (again). The administration came to her to ask her to take over a team that had been in disarray from an ineffective team leader. She wrote her terms for the switch and, now currently supervises eleven(!) clinicians, overseeing about 400 residents … at least until they hire someone to replace her on her old team. Proud of her. I always believed in her. Glad she has finally been able to spread her wings.
  • Loki is gradually becoming the dog we want him to be. He is stubborn and has some inbreeding character flaws, but my work with him is slowly paying off. I have only two main goals for him now: a) Stop terrorizing our beautiful calico cat Taco and learn that when she runs from him, it is not an invitation to chase her and, b) bicycles are not a threat. The latter goal is closer to achievement than the former.
  • We had a fantastic visit from my sister Sue and brother-in-law Rand in early April, followed by a visit from three old friends from Arizona State University days (40 years ago now!). I was able to gift Rand some Blanton’s bourbon and also share some other rare bourbons he can’t get in Ohio. Claire, Marie, and Sharon are as lovely and fun as they always have been. I had forgotten how much fun they were together. It was a treat for us to host all of them here in such a short time span.
  • I sent complimentary CDs of the Heinrich Isaac music to four former professors – all of whom I consider formative to my growth as a musician and as a human being. The fantastic side effect was to receive phone calls and emails from them thanking me for remembering them. It made me feel good that I was able to share with them the good that they had engendered by influencing me. Thank you, Lewis Phelps, Carl H. Kandel, John MacDonald, and Robert D. Reynolds.
  • Growing season here is coming to an end. My last tomato was eaten last week. The herbs need to be replanted in the shadier of the two beds and the winter bed (in direct sun) will go fallow until October.

As Garrison used to say, “..and that’s the news from Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”  Free feel to check in. We’re always glad to hear from you


The combined scourge of Covid and Florida high season is over. This means that (finally) some people are leaving southwest Florida as the warmer/rainier months appear. Much has been happening at the Feiszli household.

I continue to progress towards the Total Wine Professional certification. I took the Bordeaux examination on Monday and passed – making me the only person in the Fort Myers store to have passed two of the exams other than our wine manager. I have store managers who have expressed dismay over the volume of knowledge required to get a passing score. Truth be told, I was upset that I missed 4 questions, giving me an 89%. I wanted to achieve at least a 90%. My mentor, the wine manager told me to shut up and take the win. Okay, fine ….

On to Italy.  Seven more exams to pass and I will have earned the diploma.

This audio recording continues to receive attention. If you are interested in obtaining a copy, ensemble cantissimo sells them as well as Carus-Verlag, who sponsored the CD and has audio excerpts on their website. I urge you to contact ensemble cantissimo directly here since buying the CD from them will support their efforts. If your last name is Phelps, Kandel, MacDonald, or Reynolds; please do not buy one. I am sending you one because without you, none of this would have happened.

Markus and I will make these motets available to the public free of charge in PDF format. I will post the PDF files on this website and Markus will post them on the ensemble cantissimo website.

In somewhat more somber news, Michelle and I have been devoting our time and resources in support of Michelle’s younger sister, who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Michelle has already been back to South Dakota three times to visit and support. I went with her for five days over Easter weekend. She is undergoing chemotherapy and doing well. We are so impressed and encouraged by her resilience and determination to continuing to live her life. In addition, my oldest brother’s wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer, and they are dealing with that. Coincidentally, both of these persons have spent their lives in the medical field.

Michelle and I have spent many minutes discussing our own health and future. We are grateful for what we have but have decided to begin living for the now rather than the future.

With the CD release, I did a rather crazy adolescent, second-childhood thing. I decided (since both my kids and my wife had already gotten multiple tattoos) to get a tattoo to commemorate the last 40 years of my musical research. The artist was impressed that I was willing to go so crazy with my first tattoo. My response was: There are probably 100 people on the planet that would recognize this. Go big or go home.  So, here we are.