Hilltop Diary, March 20, 2020

Close to three weeks this time since my last entry, and so much has changed.

It turns out that the local production of my musical show, originally scheduled to premiere yesterday but canceled by the theater for financial reasons (along with their whole spring season), would not have happened anyway, due to the virus measures now in place! Boy, it really wasn’t meant to happen! The production in Vermont, likewise, is on the back burner for both financial and (presumably) viral reasons. We hope it will be scheduled for later in the year or early next summer.

The biggest change for me since my last entry, not to mention my college students (and probably for you), is the shutting down of in-person gatherings, work, and teaching. I’m doing the best I can to teach my students through e-mail attachments and (in the case of private lessons) phone consultations. As for me, at least I’m saving a lot of money on gasoline and time in traffic, going to and from school (over a full hour of travel time, total), and I wonder if this experience will change things. (I am only making a personal observation, not speaking on behalf of the school.) I can see how some courses could be taught on line in the future, anyway. Who knows if more colleges will go that route, but because I’m retiring at the end of this term, it won’t affect me, anyway.

Yes, I have been awarded “Emeritus” status officially by Vanderbilt. “Emeritus” means “in good standing,” something like an honorable discharge from the military. It remains to be seen whether we will have a graduation ceremony, at which time I’m supposed receive some official recognition, and in the surrounding days go to an emeritus party and a reception in my honor. It’s not looking good to do any of those things!

Like most of you, we have been staying put at home, but this week has been Crystal’s spring break from school teaching, anyway. We didn’t get to take our planned trip to the Biltmore Estate to see the Downton Abbey Exhibit, but got refunds on everything. It remains to be seen whether, for how long, or under what circumstances she will be going back to the school building to teach, starting next week. She won’t be able to conduct her choirs online, that much is certain.

I am still looking forward to planting flowers, but the weather remains uncooperative, some nights still dipping into the 30’s F, and with weeks of non-stop rainy weather. But March showers will bring April flowers. At least the results of being confined indoors, for my new book, have been positive. It is now up to fifty thousand words, out of what will be 80,000 total. I’m holding off on composing the last movement of my symphony till school is out in May and using all my non-teaching time to work on the novel.

We have always kept a stocked pantry and extra freezer and bought paper products six months at a time from Sam’s, so we are prepared to stay inside and also do some extra reading on those stacks of books we have both meant to read. We have been able to help some others by delivering food and hope that you have the opportunity to help someone.

It was great to see a big review of my book yesterday in The National Catholic Register, the second largest Catholic newspaper in the country (after Our Sunday Visitor, which is given out free at many churches).  You can read it HERE

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