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.

Time After Time



If you don’t know this exquisite song by Cyndi Lauper, it was released in 1984 and speaks to no matter how much time passes, the singer will always love the person they’re singing to. One of the best renditions was done by Eva Cassidy (Time After Time – YouTube). Michelle arranged an acapella version of it for my fiftieth birthday which was performed by both Dakota Voices and the (now-defunct) SDSMT Master Chorale – more on that later.


Right now, the song speaks to us because we have made the decision to leave this home which was supposed to be our “forever” home.



When Category 4 Hurricane Idalia came into the Gulf of Mexico this August we again watched the water rise in the canal behind our house. We packed up, prepped the house for flooding, and waited anxiously for high tide to pass. Another two feet higher and the water would have again been into our garage and pool. Yet, 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. While we made 4112 Wildflower a beautiful place –so much that it sold within 18 hours of being placed on the market (See left, Zillow is still using the photos from when we lived there), it was always a placeholder for the future. 13480 Marquette was supposed to be our last home, a place for us to grow old and be happy. In 2022, Hurricane Ian changed all of that.

While Michelle has always been open about the trauma she retains from Ian, I had suppressed it. It was not until last week that I experienced my PTSD moment. I was searching for the manuscripts of music from my career – transcribed arrangements, published editions, reference pages about Isaac, many vocal and brass arrangements. They had been in a plastic tote, categorized and labelled: music for brass choir, music for vocal ensemble, music relating to decades of Isaac research – most of it in my handwriting prior to digital music notation.

I frantically searched through everything in my office closet. I searched the attic and every other closet in the house, becoming more and more agitated. Michelle did her best to calm me down, but I was devastated that the material was missing. Finally, after several hours, Michelle (my resident mental health counselor) explained that it had been exactly one year since we came back into the house and began to assess the losses. One of those losses was that tote. OMG. I had blocked out the fact that much of my life had been erased which caused me to experience the same sense of loss TWICE!

It was a defining moment. We had created our dream home in Florida, but now recognized on the anniversary of Ian that we had to let it go and begin again. We love this home and feel terrible about leaving it. But:

  • Climate change is real. The storms will continue to become stronger and more frequent. We were lucky for four years. But, we very easily could have gotten hit again this year (and still might … hurricane season doesn’t end until November 30th) ).
  • We would not be living at this address had I not been hell-bent on having a boat and being able to access the Gulf. Four blocks further away from the river than us, homes were not flooded. However, EVERYBODY lost power for at least three weeks while Florida Power and Light repaired downed power lines and such. That’s not as devastating as being flooded but is still an issue that will not go away.
  • We cannot ignore the fact that we are getting older. At some point, we will not be able to continue as we are now. We’re sure we could not handle another flooding in this house. The yardwork in the endless Florida summer is becoming a chore rather than a pleasure. Michelle’s two hours of daily driving is very wearing. So, we need to find another forever home.

You may be asking, “What if Michelle changes jobs?” About that. After stepping down from team leader to clinician and taking a lengthy leave of absence to spend as much time in Rapid City as possible prior to Jennifer’s passing, Michelle came back to the Florida Civil Commitment Center (FCCC) unsure of what her status would be. Michelle had been doing double-duty, acting as team leader for TWO teams, supervising a total of 12 clinicians and had stepped down from that to spend time with family. During her leave of absence, they finally hired another team leader for the other team of 6 clinicians. She was immediately reinstated as a team leader for the other group, supervising 6 clinicians and one clinical assistant. So, her job duties were reduced for about a minute. Three weeks later, the Clinical Director came to inform her the FCCC Executive Management Group had chosen her to fill the newly opened Assistant Clinical Director position, and would she be interested? Short story: She went through the cursory hiring process and is now in charge of 5 team leaders, 14 clinical therapists, 5 clinical assistants, 4 recreation therapists, the vocational specialist, and the education specialist; all of whom serve nearly 600 residents. Her boss, the Clinical Director, handles the legal and political aspects of the FCCC and Michelle oversees the in-the-trenches clinical work. In five years, she has moved into one of the four top administrative roles in her facility. So, that answers the question that began this paragraph. She is unlikely to cease her work at the FCCC anytime soon.


Enter Babcock Ranch. Babcock Ranch is an area of immense size, encompassing both Charlotte and Lee Counties. The Google map image to the right gives one an idea of the enormity of the whole Babcock system. Michelle’s icon is where we presently live. Approximately ninety percent of Babcock Ranch’s total land will always remain undeveloped as a nature preserve, including more than half of the area owned by the community developers. The following bullet points are from the community’s PR flyers:

  • More than 90% of development is located on previous pasture, farm, and mined land.
  • The town layout utilizes best water management practices and filter marshes for water quality, setting a new standard for watershed protection, flood control and demand reduction.
  • All landscaping uses native trees and plants and 100% use of reclaimed water for irrigation.

It gets better:

  • Babcock Ranch is the nation’s first town utilizing on-site solar generation facilities to produce more clean, renewable energy than it consumes. State of the art solar facilities supply the town and the broader region with clean, renewable, integrated power.
  • Two 75-megawatt Solar Energy Centers with battery storage make Babcock the largest solar/storage project operating in the U.S.
  • Solar panels on commercial rooftops throughout the community further expand generating capacity. Even the exercise machines in the fitness centers are hooked to the grid to generate electricity as people exercise!

Babcock is a self-sufficient town with grocery stores, hardware stores, doctors, rehabilitation, and veterinary clinics. It has its own school system, police force, and each community has its own community center with tennis and pickle ball courts, swimming pools, and clubhouses. When Ian came through, Babcock went on as if nothing had happened. No electrical outages, no flooding. Business as usual.

Michelle and I decided to investigate what it would take to get a home in Babcock. We discovered that a 55+ community was just starting up and so went to visit the model homes that the builder had opened. Being among the first to visit, we were able to select a prime lot for a two-car garage home. We called Stacey Bohannan, the realtor with whom we have worked since coming to Fort Myers. The question was whether our house might sell for enough to build at Babcock without too much backsliding financially. Turns out, she firmly believes that we can pull the whole thing off. Gulf access homes are still greatly desired – indeed nearly everyone on our block and the surrounding streets have simply restored their homes and don’t seem to share our fear of being flooded again.

We took the plunge. We must look to the future and so signed a contract to begin building a new home. At Babcock, we’ll be within walking distance of the 55+ clubhouse. All lawn care is provided by the community (HOA fees will be offset by the fact we won’t have to carry flood insurance anymore). Medical facilities are onsite, geared toward the 55+ crowd. This location will eliminate 20-25 minutes of Michelle’s drive each way. Jim is further from Total Wine but there is another store in Port Charlotte that will be the same distance, so there are options.

It’s frightening and exciting. A whole lot of balls in the air are being juggled. I am again spending all my spare time getting this house ready to be placed on the market. Stacey’s target date is January 1st. If history is any indication and the house sells for our asking price quickly, we may then need to move to temporary lodgings until our new house is finished. So, once again, we are living in uncertain times. Sheesh. Pray for us poor fools.

So the headlines are Michelle’s promotion and our impending and somewhat insane move. In other news we have the following:



Our wonderful 14-year-old tomcat, Dusty, began visibly declining rapidly in September and was diagnosed with cancer. Rachel Francis (now 26 years old) discovered him under a snow shovel on her way home from West Middle School in sixth grade, a little abandoned stray covered in frostbite and ear mites. He grew into a 22 lb. monster who was the gentlest lover of a cat. After moving to Florida, Dusty developed diabetes but with two injections of insulin daily, it was being managed. Meanwhile cancer crept up on him. He was fine until suddenly he stopped moving, looking painful every time he had to eat or drink. It was a very sad but right decision to have him euthanized to end his suffering. Cancer sucks. It was so sudden. Everyone here is still missing him. Tiger and Loki have suddenly become best friends. Taco has become more of a recluse because Dusty was her big brother. It’s a big emptiness.



The boat is sold. Michelle is not an avid boater and has little time to just relax at home. Loki hates the water. He thinks water is OK for drinking and not much else. I can get him into the wading shelf of the pool by throwing his ball in it, but if it goes beyond that shallow area, Loki will whine and stare at it. Get on the dock? No way. Boating by myself has gotten old. So, good-bye to the SeaRay. Our neighbors across the street are snowbirds and wanted a boat to tool around in down here, so they took it off our hands (sniffle).

I had my annual review at Total Wine. Guess they’re gonna keep me. Hey, a $.25/hour raise! That’s about an extra $1.50 a day. Gotta love American corporate greed. I support the UAW, just so you know. At least I got to take home a free $100 bottle of wine (2018 Levendi Stagecoach vineyard Cabernet) and a free $100 bottle of spirits (25 year old Barrowman blended Scotch). Glad we don’t need my salary to eat.

Finally, to tie it all together, doing a Google search a few weeks ago, the SDSMT music department popped up. Intrigued, I began to read what was happening. It turns out that there is no longer a Master Chorale at SDSMT. Instead, there is an ensemble named “The Singing Engineers”. Hmm. OK.

Besides the fact that said name seems to disenfranchise the many science majors at the institution, the most interesting part is that the description of this music ensemble remains the same as that of the former Master Chorale. The official SDSMT website describes the “Singing Engineers” thusly:

The Singing Engineers is South Dakota Mines premiere vocal ensemble. An award-winning group, all members must be outstanding vocal musicians and in either University Choir or Concert Choir. The choir performs everything from Gregorian chant to vocal pop music, and makes appearances at professional music conferences, alumni chapter events, and prestigious venues in the US and in Europe.

Let’s forget for a moment that I was the author of those words probably ten-twelve years ago. More outrageous, it can be safely stated that no vocal ensemble named “The Singing Engineers” ever won an award, ever sang Gregorian chant, ever appeared at any professional music conference, or in Europe. This is false advertising at its most egregious.

The problem is, like my tote of music manuscripts, a great history has been erased. The work of hundreds of SDSMT students who were proud of being part of something unique has disappeared. The Master Chorale represented SDSMT in Anaheim, California in 1986 as an example of non-music-major vocal ensembles at the national convention of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME -then called the Music Educators National Conference). The SDSMT Master Chorale sang at numerous state conventions of both the American Choral Directors Association and NAfME. The Master Chorale won awards at international competitions in Ireland and Germany. Wow, as I typed this, Sting’s “King of Pain” came on my Pandora feed. Coincidence? The Master Chorale sang an arrangement of that piece at the Association of Irish Musical Societies gala concert in 2006. There is no “Singing Engineers” listed on that program nor is that name printed on the trophies that the ensemble won at that competition.  And, right after that, Coldplay’s “Fix You” began playing. Master Chorale arranged that and sang it as well. It is painful that the legacy of these SDSMT students has simply disappeared, just like my music manuscripts.

It also appears that the Interdisciplinary Sciences degree at SDSMT is now defunct. When I was Humanities Department chair, there were 22 fulltime and parttime faculty just in Humanities. Social Sciences had about 12-15 faculty members. The IS program was one of the largest programs on campus under the leadership of the late Dean Bryson. What a loss. Why not just close it all down and let Black Hills State do all the non-science and engineering courses at the University Center? End of rant.



Glad I’m retired. Total Wine has pressed me about being a manager. Sorry, I’m out. I like dogs, gardening, and a few people. Hope you are all well and happy. Michelle and I are. Even while addressing our new challenges. Looking at our pool lights in the evening and having a nightcap. Be well.

Here we go again? Nah…

Checking in as OK in Fort Myers with Hurricane Idalia.

OK, much PTSD here in southwest Florida as Idalia comes up the west coast where everyone is still recovering from Ian last September. Michelle and I are not exempt from these panicky feelings. Thankfully, the local TV stations have recognized this angst in the populace and done a remarkable job of 1) suspending normal broadcasting to replace it with 24-7 hurricane coverage, 2) gone to great lengths to explain what the National Hurricane Center means with their steady updates, and 3) assure the southwest Florida region that this storm is NOT our storm even while giving us steady warnings about what to expect.



We approached this storm as if it might be Ian. 1) Do we need prepare for high winds and heavy rain? 2) Do we need to evacuate? 3) Will we get flooded again?

It was a good exercise in emergency planning. I booked a pet-friendly hotel for two nights. We readied pet carriers and supplies – all three cats have medical issues including diabetes, thyroid medication, and special dietary needs, not to mention litter boxes, etc. Dogs are easier. “Are we going for a ride? Yey!!!” “Do I get to sleep in the same room as you? Yey!!!” “Do I get to go for walk and smell new things? Yey!!!” “Is there food? Yey!!!”

Then we monitored the storm and waited for the 11:00pm update on Monday night. When it became apparent that Idalia would remain west of us, we cancelled the hotel and began to prep the house.




So, today I cleared the lanai. All tall plants went against the house. Boat plug was pulled in preparation for tons of rain. Sprinkler system turned off for same reason. Boat lashed to boat lift. Boat lift lashed to dock pilings. Lanai furniture moved up against the house. Precious things moved indoors. I am running the washer and dryer constantly, so everything is clean in case the electricity goes out.


About 2:00pm the first waves of the storm hit. Grey skies, rain, wind. More worrisome is the possibility of tornadoes. As I write this, there are already reports of funnel clouds south of us in Marco Island.

The other worry is the storm surge, as always. This storm is not producing much surge, but it (naturally) comes on top of the August full moon, which brings the highest tides of the year. So tonight (Tuesday night-Wednesday morning) about 3:00-4:00am will bring the highest water. That is Michelle’s and my biggest fear. We are constantly assured by the newscasters that we have nothing to fear, but this photo shows the current status. Taken at 2:45pm, high tide is at 3:30.

So what happens at 4:00am Wednesday with both the highest tide and the highest storm surge? No sleeping tonight. All authorities tell us not to worry, but they aren’t watching the water creep up on our dock!

In other News

After Hurricane Ian, during Jennifer’s illness; Michelle had been a “show up when I can” employee at the Florida Civil Commitment Center. As a team leader, she was responsible for other clinicians and, in actuality, had been running TWO teams in the absence of an appointment for her original replacement.

Not surprisingly, she was somewhat apprehensive when she returned after six months of part-time (although totally understandable) work. “Are they going to still want me here?” “Do they consider me reliable?”

Evidently, they missed her.

Shortly upon returning, she was asked to consider becoming the Assistant Clinical Director – one of the top four administrators for the entire facility. She was previously in charge of four other clinicians. Now she is in charge of all clinical work in addition to several other areas of the facility. 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.

On behalf of the Clinical Department, we are grateful for Ms. Feiszli’s passion for sound, competent, and ethical clinical practice. In addition to her years of accomplishments as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Ms. Feiszli was recently accepted into the National Association of Forensic Counselors and is quickly on her way to earning recognition as a Qualified Supervisors for Mental Health Counselors in the state of Florida. Her innate clinical and supervisory abilities, coupled with her drive to continue her studies of innovative research and clinical practice, are appreciated and respected by her supervisees and her peers, who often speak to the degree of support and confidence her clinical advice and guidance provide.

Please join me in extending appreciation for Ms. Feiszli’s commitment to our mission and congratulations on this deserved accomplishment. 

Michelle continues to amaze and achieve as she develops in her chosen career path. So proud of her.

And me? I plug along. During my recent annual evaluation I was graded as “exceeds expectations” in every category. Cool. I got to choose to take home a $100 bottle of wine (2016 Levendi Stagecoach) and a $100 bottle of spirits (25yr. Barrowman’s blended Scotch). 

I was recently asked to step in on short notice (24 hours!) and teach a course on Old World Wines at the Naples Total Wine store. We explored Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Spain, and Portugal over four hours. I was able to throw in a lot of history and culture in the process. It was fun to be in front of a classroom again – especially one in which the students (wine-loving adults) were all eager to learn about the subject matter. Evidently I did OK, since the store manager told me to let him know my availability for future possibilities. Meanwhile the Port Charlotte spirits manager is also asking me if I want to do some classes up in Port Charlotte.  Bourbon, Scotch, Gin, etc.,

So, we muddle on, hoping to survive the 2023 hurricane season with no loss. We’re happy, healthy, and hopeful that our life here will continue to be blessed with good friends, good fortune, and good health. Hope everyone reading this is blessed with the same.

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.