Dec. 26, 2014

A stable lamp is lighted

  Whose glow shall wake the sky;

The stars shall bend their voices,

  And every stone shall cry.

And every stone shall cry,

  And straw like gold shall shine;

A barn shall harbor heaven,

  A stall become a shrine.


Dear friends and family,


Happy Boxing Day! I was too lazy this year to get my annual Christmas letter written before the day itself, so here I am writing it the day after.


The verse above is from a hymn that I participated in singing with our church choir on Christmas Eve. It was new to me, and I really enjoyed both the poetry and the melody. Look it up if you can to see how the idea of stones that cry out from Luke 19:40 is worked through all the verses. (It is Hymn 706 in the WELS Christian Worship Supplement for those who have access to that.)


The course of my last year was mostly a familiar one, but with a few landmarks that stood out. My sister Mary came to visit twice, once for my birthday in March and again at Thanksgiving. In March we traveled together up to Seattle to attend the Pac-12 women's basketball tournament. It was a fun trip, despite plenty of typical Seattle rain and an atypical loss for Stanford. During the Thanksgiving visit we didn't go so far afield, only going as far as Yountville for winetasting at Domaine Chandon and a visit to the grave of our great-uncle August Asmus Boerensen in the nearby military cemetary, a pretty spot on a hill overlooking the Napa valley.


I was elected treasurer of the homeowners' association late last year, so now I'm serving as treasurer for three different organizations: the HOA, my church, and Tree of Life Bible Camp. Fortunately the HOA treasurer post is not much work. We only have 10 units in our complex, and the actual checks are written by a management company. I just have to look them over and sign them.


As usual I was music leader at Bible Camp, and again it was a lot of fun. Like last year I had a keyboard player, drummer (with an electronic drum set) and another singer to help me as I played guitar and led the singing at devotions. I also played occasionally at church. And at work, I got a chance to play and sing with a friend, Jeff Hanson, who also works at VMware. We were asked to play outdoors at a “farmer's market” event that was held on the VMware campus one day. Jeff is a former pro session musician, and a great guy, so I'm always honored and excited to get a chance to play with him.


In sad news, my cat Kevin died during the year. He was about 14 years old and succumbed to kidney failure, a common problem with older cats. My other cat Tessa (age 12) is still doing okay, though she needs to be given a pill twice a day now for hyperthyroidism. To fill the gap left by Kevin, I adopted a young cat (less than 2 years old) whom I've named Katinka. She is quite a cutie, extremely playful, active, vocal, and affectionate. Unfortunately Tessa (who got along wonderfully with Kevin) doesn't like Katinka. I'm still hoping their relationship will improve, but for now Tessa mostly stays on my top floor where my bedroom is, and Katinka stays on the lower two floors. When they do interact they mostly stare balefully at each other from a distance.


My own health has been okay. I get regular PET scans to monitor how my follicular lymphoma is doing. At some point I'll need another round of Rituxan treatment. My doctor hopes to maintain me on that until a better treatment becomes available. There is hope of that within a few years, given how the field is progressing. Meanwhile I generally feel fine. I have less energy than I had a couple of years ago, but maybe I'm just getting older. I've taken vacation between Christmas and New Year's Day and am greatly enjoying the chance to relax.


Love to you all,
Tim Mann