February 2014 - Looking Backward and Forward
February 9, 2014I'm cheating a little here and copying the newsletter we recently sent to family and friends. I used to be more efficient in sending out Christmas cards, along with updates about our activities during the past year, but Christmas seems to creep up on me these days so that the date at the top changes from December to January, February, sometimes even May or June. Please forgive the impersonal nature of this newsletter, but it does summarize 2013 pretty well. I included photos in the ones I mailed out, so I hope I can figure out how to transfer them into this one. If they're not here, you'll know I tried!
Dear Family and Friends, February 2014
Belated but hearty New Year’s greetings to all of you. It was especially fun to go to the mailbox in December since there was usually “real” mail waiting. As always, we loved catching up on your news.
It was a good year for us, though once again it seemed to fly by faster than ever. The highlight for our family happened about midway through 2013, with the birth of our grandson, Charles Kjell Turner, on July 12. Charles was Kalyn’s beloved grandfather, and Kjell (pronounced Key-ell) is a Scandinavian name meaning “helmet,” chosen as a reference to the helmet of salvation in Scripture. We’ve had the joy of seeing Kjell and his big sister, Svana, four times since he was born. He’s a contented, cuddly, good-natured little fellow, so I absolutely love holding him, something he seems to enjoy, too.
Svana is delighted to have a brother, and from the way his eyes brighten whenever she’s around, the affection is obviously mutual. She is four now and attends preschool. Her favorite activities are books, puzzles, board games, music, art work of any kind, helping Mommy cook, playing dress-up, making up stories, and socializing. Needless to say, she’s lots of fun to have around.
Jess and Kalyn still live in Ellettsville, Indiana, just outside Bloomington. Jess is in his third year of the doctoral program in music composition at Indiana University, and Kalyn works for a business called Circle Prosco, a specialty chemical company that researches, develops, manufactures, and sells products used in the metal finishing industry. She has been entrusted with a great deal of responsibility and has learned the business from almost every angle. I honestly don’t know how she manages to handle a job on top of taking such good care of Jess and two little ones, but she continues to meet everybody’s needs, exceed all expectations, and keep herself looking like a million dollars, too.
Jess has had a number of commissions to work on over the past year—for the University of Georgia, the International Trumpet Guild, and schools in New Jersey, Illinois, and Luxembourg. He was also asked to write a concerto for tuba and wind ensemble for the Hartt School of Music (Hartford, CT) and then was invited there as a guest composer for a week in December, during which they premiered the tuba piece and played several of his other works. The final project for his degree at IU will be a full-length composition for an ensemble, so he’s already working on ideas for that.
Dan continues to teach, conduct, and play his tuba. He still enjoys working outdoors in his free time, and he’s slowly developing a master plan for the back yard, the focal point being a 12 x 12 gazebo we found at a bargain price in the fall. He has stained it, run electricity to it, hung lanterns beside the doorway, and strung lights around the roof line and railing. Next on his to-do list are constructing screen panels to keep the mosquitoes out in summer, installing a ceiling fan, and adding a swing. He also keeps busy listening to new music, planning upcoming concerts, and staying ahead of his teaching responsibilities. He will be traveling to Indiana with the Foundation Brass on their annual tour in February.
I’m still teaching creative writing and am happy to announce that my new book will finally be released by Penguin Publishers this coming September. It has been a somewhat frustrating journey this time around—too long a story to go into here—but a new editor has worked wonders in loosening the logjam and we’ve now officially entered the production phase. In fact, I just saw the proposed cover design yesterday, and we’ll be starting the final edit in a few weeks. I think the title is official now—To See the Moon Again—so you can look for it in September. Meanwhile, I’m still pushing ahead, very slowly, with another manuscript.
My mother turned 87 last summer and is doing well. She still lives in her own home here in Greenville and is remarkably efficient in taking care of her yard, house, car, and so forth. Even though she has struggled with painful bouts of sciatica off and on, she hasn’t lost her trust in God, her love of family, her good looks, her interest in people, her enjoyment of crossword puzzles, or her sense of humor.
In August Dan and I celebrated our 42nd anniversary. In these days of trouble on every hand, we don’t take our marriage for granted. God has been good to hold us up and hold us together all these years, and we pray that our love will keep growing as we continue to learn the beautiful art of giving.
Over Christmas break Dan and I traveled to Chicago for the Midwest Band Clinic, then drove down to Indiana to enjoy a wonderful early Christmas with Jess’s family for a couple of days before they left for Vermont, where Kalyn’s family lives. Then over New Year’s we drove to Virginia for a get-together with my sister’s family, and Jess, Kalyn, Svana, and Kjell joined us all on their way home from Vermont.
Now we’ve started a new semester, so we’re off and running again. We wish all of you God’s abundant blessings in 2014! May his marvelous gift of salvation fill you with the peace, joy, and hope only he can bring.
Prayers and best wishes,
Dan and Jamie