To My Old Brown Earth

A series of hyperlinks below sum up better than anything I could write how this earth is headed for disaster … at least for most lifeforms on the planet. Insects and reptiles might survive. It is already beginning, but the worst won’t happen in my lifetime. By the time my children are old, they will struggle with many problems brought on my the greed and selfishness of older generations.

Michelle and I are doing a little to mitigate our carbon footprint, but I fear it is not enough. We have one hybrid vehicle (1 of 3). All our yard implements are electric. And, most importantly, we are going completely solar. We will produce 105% monthly of what we now buy from Florida Light and Power. Of course, as with most states, the utility companies have bought enough politicians (Joe Manchin, anyone?) who have created laws to make being environmentally proactive more expensive. So, we have have had to purchase a one million dollar umbrella insurance package for our home – ostensibly to protect us in case an electric company employee gets hurt by our system feeding electricity back into the grid. In reality, that law is designed to deter people from going solar.  We are, in essence, paying a tax for trying to reduce our carbon imprint.

And yet everyone sits around and wrings their hands over global warming. I’m with Greta Thunberg.  “Blah, blah, blah”.

Florida in Autumn

The seasons in Florida are very different than those in the north. It’s even different from Arizona, based on my hazy memories from the early 1980s.

We notice that the days are becoming less hot, with temperatures barely reaching the 90s. The mornings and evenings are noticeably cooler. Nights are much cooler, with temperatures dropping into the 70s. The humidity remains high –  not surprising when one lives on a peninsula surrounded by water! Frankly, we embrace the humidity.  It’s one of the things we like about Florida. There is the absence of things, such as the fall colors as leaves change. But, on the flip side, we get to grow things throughout the year. I now have two raised bed gardens; one in the back of our yard by the canal that sits in shade most of the day, and the second in front of the house that receives full sun from sun-up until sundown all winter long.

The bed on the left receives little more than four hours of direct sunlight. Back by the canal, it is our “summer” garden because in the heat of the summer, little will grow.  However, during what passes for winter in southwest Florida, herbs love this spot. Shade from the neighbor’s tree covers this bed in the afternoon. We have basil, sage, thyme, chives, oregano, and green onions. They will produce until May or later, depending on the weather. When the days become longer and the sun shifts, it becomes too hot and humid for most of these guys to survive. The African blue basil behind this bed (that thing that looks like a bush) can’t be killed by anything. More pungent and fibrous than Genovese basil, it is still edible and attracts swarms of bees.

The bed on the right is in the front of the house and in full sun all day long – important as the days become so short. I tried an experiment this summer to see if anything could survive out there. Yes, chili and jalapeño peppers do. Bell peppers, no. So, right now I have seven tomato and three pepper plants out there.  Stay tuned.

Animals are all OK. Dusty, the eldest and largest cat has developed diabetes and we have to give him insulin twice daily. Loki remains sweet and high-strung. He is aptly-named. The dog of mischief who is anything BUT low-key. Tiger distains him. Taco hates him. Dusty tells him to get lost whenever Loki gets near. The photos below are typical mornings around the house when I’m home.

I’ve been back at work for about a month. Still trying to work through the weakness in my right shoulder and not overwork my left shoulder. Just had my annual Medicare Wellness review. Doctor tells me no one should be this healthy at my age. I think to myself, “Well, you ought to feel what I feel when I get up every morning.” But, lab work all looks great, I’ve lost weight, blood pressure and cholesterol are both lower (thanks to running with Loki 3-4 times a week).

I (finally) finished writing the first draft of the CD liner notes for the upcoming release of Heinrich Isaac motets from the Choralis Constantinus as performed by Markus Utz and his ensembles cantissimo. This is the first ever professional CD recording of my Isaac editions. I have heard most of the recordings so far and Markus and his group actualize what I have always heard in my head but never had the resources to create. Very excited for the eventual release.

Michelle is still adjusting to the demands and hassles of her new leadership role. There are good days and bad days.  Her health is vastly improved even though she’s had to endure at least three primary care physicians bailing on her during the Covid crisis. She looks and feels better than she has for several years.

We’ve purchased tickets  to go to Ohio and see my family for Thanksgiving. Haven’t been back there since my father died in 2014. Entire generations have been born that I have not seen.

Otherwise all continues as before. Older, no wiser, but trying to find that elusive life balance. Hope everyone reading this is happy and healthy.

La, la, la, la, Life goes on ….

Daily, Michelle and I remark how much we enjoy being here in the life we have created for ourselves. Despite the idiot governor (would SD be better?) and some rednecky neighbors, we love what we have created here.

So much has changed in these last four years. While surrounded by remembrances of our past lives, neither of us are performing music. I am still involved with my Isaac research, largely thanks to Markus Utz (Münsterorganist Markus Utz) and his ensemble cantissimo ; but other than that, we have found other interests.

I inherited much of my grandfather’s family genealogy work but have advanced due to modern technology and sites such as,, and After my father’s death in 2014, I received many of the family records and have been slowly working my way through them. Doesn’t help that I changed my system of file organization in the process, causing me to now having to go back through and relabel files and delete duplicates.  I am in the process of creating a shared cloud drive wherein my family can all have access to photos, documents, records, and other memorabilia in which they might have interest. Maybe I’m wasting my time and no one will care, but I hope that perhaps my late brother’s children might have some interest in being able to access their father’s senior recital from college, etc.  I guess we’ll see.

At right is the only known photograph of my great-great grandfather/grandmother. Johannes Feissli came to the USA with his father Abraham and family as a pre-teen in the years just before the Civil War. Johannes (who became John Feiszli) married Louisa Mary Fankhouser and they had a family of eight, the oldest of whom was my great-grandfather John Frederick Feiszli. Some of Johannes’ siblings changed their surnames to Feisley and that name is still prominent in southern Ohio and West Virginia.

Meanwhile, Michelle continues her upward trajectory in her new career as a mental health counselor specializing in the treatment of sexual offenders (I know, right? But, she’s really good at it and is making this world a safer place). She is still trying to come to grips with being the leader of a team of counselors while simultaneously going through some tumult in the leadership of the entire facility – something with which I am familiar. She is, I believe, poised to go to higher positions of responsibility in the company should she choose to do so, but she is currently weighing (as I did way back in about 1994) the choices between doing what you love vs. doing what advances you in your career. I chose poorly – should have gone full-bore administration – but Michelle is in a good place and can choose to do what fulfills her most. Her most beloved administrator is leaving because she chose career over personal life and Michelle sees the value in life balance. I will support her whatever she does.  So will Loki.

Loki continues his growth into being a young dog. By that, I mean he is VERY reminiscent of a teenager. He expects you to pay attention to him when he wants it. He believes his opinion matters. He is jealous when either one of us pays attention to another creature (or each other). We hate kids. Loki is a very sweet dog, but he is far more than we expected.  As Michelle often says, “It’s a good thing he’s cute. It’s the only thing keeping him alive.” LOL

We won’t trade him in for another. But we really wish he’d learn that the cats are higher on the totem pole than he is.

I’m back at work, although still visiting the physical therapist once a week. I think she’s ready to discharge me. The orthopedic surgeon saw me two weeks ago and proclaimed me cured. I am doing everything I used to do with little discomfort and only a little caution. 

Summer is ending, so I am preparing our gardens for planting. Still hard to get used to the reverse gardening seasons here. And, regardless of weather, we still get less light during the winter months, so I have created two garden beds – one for with partial shade (herbs during the winter) and one with full sun (tomatoes and other veggies during the winter). They’ll both operate during the summer as much as the heat and wet weather allows them to.

We’re going full-blown solar. It will be expensive to do so at first, but over the course of the next 20 years it will prove to be the best option. Our electric company rates are already set to rise and interest rates for solar installation are at an all-time low. I’m getting a .99% loan for the installation. I will basically lock in my electric bill for the next 15 years after which I get free electricity. The solar system is warranteed for 25 years. And we’re installing a system that will provide 104% of our current usage, allowing for rise in usage due to climate change, etc.

Other than that, not much to report. Time marches on. Some of you reading this may know and already be aware of the passing of Alan Stanga, former choral director at Sioux Falls Lincoln high school and co-founder of the South Dakota Honors Choir. Another reminder, along with the passing of Olaf Malmin (former choral director at Augustana College in Sioux Falls), that life is fleeting. I sometimes wonder whether I did enough or worked hard enough to create a legacy, but these days spend more time creating joy in each day.

Be well, Stay safe.