Bissell Epistles


Roger Bissell

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December 19, 2006

Bissell Epistle XVII

Holiday Greetings! We’re still happy and healthy and living in the same place. We have a lot to share, due to the two-year hiatus between Epistles. So…on with the cavalcade of stuff we did in 2005 and 2006!

Work and Hobbies: Becky is in her third year of teaching language arts and social studies in Hawthorne. This year has been difficult for Becky, but the achievement test results of her students continue to improve, so learning is happening even with their unruly behavior. Roger is well into his 22nd year in the Disneyland Band and continues to arrange for various groups at the Park. He also continues his very enjoyable work with the Side Street Strutters Jazz Band. They recorded a new CD, “Back to Bourbon Street,” in April, and it is a gem! They also have done extensive community concert touring in the West and Midwest and have appeared in pops concerts with a number of symphony orchestras, including Phoenix, Houston, Orlando and Allentown, Pennsylvania. Becky and Rachel accompanied Roger in July of 2005 and 2006 to the Mammoth Lakes Jazz Jubilee, and Roger went to two additional jazz festivals in Davenport, Iowa and Sun Valley, Idaho in July and October of 2006. In the process of all this traveling, Roger has gotten in some nice extra visits with his mom, sister Julie Tupker’s family, uncle Ray Schellenberg’s family, and cousins Harold Bissell and Eleanor Tietz, who made it to one or more of the concerts. Since our last Epistle, Roger has done 3 more CDs and a number of club appearances with Bob Stovall and has written arrangements for and done club appearances with Doug McDonald’s Brass-Wind Coalition.

Becky and Roger continue their walking for aerobic exercise and have recently discovered the joys (?) of sudoku puzzles, which Roger has now added to his daily routine of crosswords and crypto-quotes. Gotta keep the brain nimble, too, you know! 

Roger also continues to write for friend Chris Sciabarra’s Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, with one essay published in 2005 and two more to appear in 2007. Becky and Roger attended the July 2006 Summer Seminar of The Atlas Society at Chapman University in Orange and had a great time visiting with house guests, Bill Dwyer and Dennis Edwall. We did presentations on psychology, music, and philosophy, and Roger did a concert of romantic music with his CD-duo partner, Ben Di Tosti. (“The Art of the Duo” is still available from CD-Baby on the Internet.) Then in August Roger flew to Washington, D.C. for The Objectivist Center’s week-long Graduate Seminar in epistemology and philosophy of mind, held at George Washington University.

Earlier this year Roger submitted a DNA sample to a genealogy firm that compared his “markers” with others in their data base. It appears quite likely that we are descended from Captain John Bissell, the original immigrant ancestor who came to Connecticut from England in the 1630s. Roger and Julie plan to work hard in 2007 on their genealogy, The Bissells of Barstow.

Family and Visiting: Rachel successfully finished 5th and 6th grades at Taft Elementary and is now navigating the more difficult seas of junior high at Cerro Villa. All those different classrooms and teachers! She also is busy several days a week with roller skating lessons and practicing solo and partner skating. Desiree and Marissa now both live in Long Beach, where Desi works for Verizon and Rissi is finishing her bachelors degree in photography at Cal-State. We have had some fabulous family dinners together!

Charlie continues working for KTV in Lexington, Kentucky, and he shared with us an audio CD and DVD of the local production of “Damn Yankees,” in which he did a hilarious send-up of Satan aka Mr. Applebee.

Rebecca and Adam now have three children, Josie Cunningham, Miles Troxler, and (born since the last Epistle) Ava Troxler. Adam is working toward an actuarial license. Rebecca’s brother Andrew married Christi Matuszek in December of last year, and the three of us, along with Desi and Rissi, flew down to Nashville for the wedding. In September, Andrew and Christi had a little girl, Hannah, bringing the official grandchildren total to four! Andrew has started up a jingle company, and Rebecca has written and sung for some of the jingles; and Andrew continues doing caricature jobs and working at Starbucks, while Christi teaches private sax lessons several days a week. Rebecca’s other brother, Daniel, is still working for the Renaissance Center in Dickson, acting, singing, dancing, and anything else creative that he can work in. We got to see him in a Christmas play the weekend of the wedding.

All in all, it has been a great two years, and we look forward to two trips to the Midwest in 2007, one in July for our mothers’ 80th birthday celebrations, and one in October for nephew Mike Tupker’s wedding. With another Disneyland Band trip to the Great American Brass Band Festival in the works for June 2008, trips and visits with the kids and grandkids in Kentucky and Tennessee will continue to play a big part in our out-of-town activities. Retirement and our silver wedding anniversary are, amazingly, little more than 8 years away!

Have a wonderful 2007, everyone!

Love, the Bissells—Roger, Becky, and Rachel

P.O. Box 5193, Orange, CA 92863

714/637-3963 (h), 714/457-3963 ©

rebissell@aol.com

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December 18, 2009

Bissell Epistle XX

Holiday Greetings! Despite the three-year hiatus between Epistles this time, we’re still happy and healthy and living in the same place; but again we have a lot to share, so on with a brief summary of what we did in 2007-2009!

Work and Hobbies: After teaching language arts and social studies for four years in Hawthorne, Becky switched last year to being a substitute teacher closer to home. She also has 15 piano students, all of them since this past summer. Roger is now in his 25th year playing trombone in the Disneyland Band and writes musical arrangements for various groups at the Park and elsewhere. He also still goes on occasional tours with the Side Street Strutters Jazz Band, playing community concerts around the country (squeezing in visits in Iowa with Mom, Sis, and other kinfolk) and pops concerts with a number of symphony orchestras, including, most recently, the California Pops Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony, and the Rochester Philharmonic.

Becky and Rachel accompanied Roger each July to the Mammoth Lakes Jazz Jubilee; on the way this year, we stopped briefly in Las Vegas, where Roger delivered a talk on emotion and meaning in music, which is available on DVD and which will be part of a book he is working on. Roger also continues to write for friend Chris Sciabarra’s Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, with one essay published in 2008 and another in 2009 and yet another to appear early next year. Just this month, The Vision of Ayn Rand, a book of lectures by Nathaniel Branden, was published, and Roger was proud to have done most of the transcribing and editing for the book.

Becky is nearly done working on a novelette based on the experiences of a Holocaust survivor she met a few years ago. Roger is nearing completion of Reflective Trombone, a CD that will feature his trombone and vocals (and whistling!) on seven pieces, including four of his own songs. Roger is joined on one song by son Andrew and on another by Andrew, Becky, Daniel, and Charlie. The CD should be out by March. Look for it on www.cdbaby.com.

The y-DNA project that Roger joined in 2006 has proved what he and sister Julie suspected—that we are descended from Captain John Bissell, who came to Connecticut from England in the 1630s. Last spring, Roger met in Maryland Tony Bisselle (not a typo), a descendant of the brother of his great-great-great-great-grandfather, John Partridge Bissell, a surveyor for the Northwest Territory in the early 1800s. Roger also typed up 10 chapters of our Bissell genealogy, The Bissells of Barstow, and he and Julie plan to finish the remaining two chapters in 2010. Also, the grave stone of our great-great-aunt Janette Bissell was discovered in Joliet and moved to the family plot in Massena Cemetery where it was reset by the efforts of Julie’s husband Allen and son Mike and cousin Harold Bissell.

Family and Visiting: Rachel is now a 10th grader at Villa Park High School, and she has discovered a strong talent for writing fiction. Rachel got to be junior bridesmaid in her cousin Mike Tupker’s wedding in October 2007, and she had surgery in September to repair a bone in her forearm that grew back improperly after being broken while skating several years ago. Marissa works as a server for Claim Jumper restaurant in Costa Mesa, and she and Auggie (age 2) live in Long Beach. They joined us at Mammoth Lakes this year, as did Rachel’s friend Julie Settens, visiting from Georgia. Desiree still works for Verizon, but now lives in Eureka, in Northern California. We miss her and hope to visit her there this summer.

Charlie is still living in Lexington, Kentucky, where he directs and acts in local theater. He has designed a user-friendly music software program which is being adopted by some of the public schools in Kentucky.

Rebecca is working once again for Ingram (a book distributing company) near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Her three, Josie 10, Miles 5, and Ava 4, are growing rapidly, as is Hannah 3, Andrew and Christi’s little girl. Andrew wears a number of hats, including jingle production, song-writing, record producing, and caricature art, and Christi teaches woodwind students in the Nashville schools and runs a wedding music business. Just two weeks ago, on the way home from the last performance of a play he was directing in Dickson, Tennessee, Daniel had the great misfortune to be involved in a head-on collision, and he had multiple fractures in his right leg, with two surgeries so far to repair them.

We travelled to the Midwest in July of 2007 to help celebrate our mothers’ 80th birthdays and for a brief reunion with some of Roger’s classmates. Roger also had nice visits with the kids and grandkids in Nashville and Lexington in 2008 and again in Nashville in 2009. The first visit included a recording with Andrew of Andrew’s granddad Danny Dill’s humorous song “My Desire to Retire.” It’s posted on the internet at www.rogerbissell.com. The visit last month included a recording with the kids of “A Little Less Wonderful,” one of songs for Roger’s new CD. On the way from Lexington, Charlie’s car broke down, so he recorded his part at home and emailed it to us, and it is now part of the recording! Also while there, Roger gave Hannah a trombone lesson and got to “sit in” with three jazz bands.

The past three years have gone by extremely quickly, and it is still a bit mind-boggling to realize that by this time next year (if all goes well), we will be comfortably situated in our new home in the Nashville area. So, this will be the last Bissell Epistle from Sunny Southern California!

Have a wonderful 2010, everyone!

Love, the Bissells—Roger, Becky, and Rachel

P.O. Box 5193, Orange, CA 92863

714/637-3963 (h), 714/457-3963 ©

rebissell@aol.com ntpandora@aol.com beepers1994@aol.com

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January 13, 2011

Bissell Epistle XXI

Post-holiday greetings, everyone! To all our friends, from Switzerland to Australia, and everywhere in between, we offer our good wishes and this year-in-review from our new home. Becky, Rachel, and I said good-bye to Southern California in late July, and have been enjoying “the good life” in friendly Middle Tennessee for almost six months now. And as we discovered (rediscovered, in my case), the “Davy Crockett” theme song didn’t call Tennessee “the greenest state in the Land of the Free” for nothing!

Work and Hobbies: The biggest story, of course, is our move to Tennessee. Once we made the decision in October of ’09, we spent the next 8 months looking online in preparation for our house-shopping trip in late June ’10. Thanks to Becky’s persistent advance efforts, we found just the house we wanted, and less than 6 weeks later, we were “in”! Becky’s brother Marc Beals was enormously helpful in our loan financing and in connecting us with our wonderful realtor, Karla Frieson. Thanks also to Andrew and Christi Bissell for sheltering us during our June trip, as well as for the several days in late July before we were able to take possession of our home, and to Becky’s sister, Paula Redden, for accommodating us and our U-Haul during the Beals family reunion in July.

After nearly 25 years in the Disneyland Band in Anaheim, California, Roger took early retirement in May, and Becky wrapped up her second year of substitute school teaching in June. The Disneyland Entertainment Department threw a nice backstage going away party for Roger, and his band mates got together with him at El Torito’s for a farewell dinner. In the spring, Becky hosted a music recital, and she said good-bye in June to about 20 piano students, most of whom came to her via Musika, for whom she still works here in Tennessee. She is now the proud owner of a new Kawai piano, and she is working hard at setting up her new piano studio, with three students signed on so far.

The music business continues to be very depressed, with no sign of improvement in sight. Although the Side Street Strutters had our slowest year ever, we did have some wonderful concerts and festivals, including repeat appearances at the Central Illinois Jazz Festival in February in Decatur and the Mammoth Lakes (California) Jazz Jubilee in July. Roger also did a very enjoyable concert in March with Keith Droste and Terese Evans at the public library in Rancho Mirage, as well as a concert set in July with the Jon Laskin Band at the International Jazz Festival in Temecula, several gigs with Slide FX at Steamers in Fullerton and the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, and a few other “casuals.”

Since July, Roger’s music work has been an assortment of engagements, including a rehearsal with Vince Gill and Amy Grant, in preparation for their Christmas tour, club gigs in November and December with the Nashville Jazz Orchestra Sextet, and big band concerts in October and December at Blair School of Music with Jim Williamson and the Nashville Jazz Orchestra, who also performed two of his arrangements. His Nashville colleagues, old and new, have been very welcoming and generous, helping Roger to re-enter the Nashville musical community as a trombonist, vocalist, and musical arranger.

Last January, Roger gave a talk on “The Logic of Liberty” to a group in Sherman Oaks, CA, and he will be giving the same talk to a supper club in Los Angeles this coming July. In the spring, Roger finally finished his family history, “The Bissells of Barstow,” which he wrote with the help of his sister, Julie Tupker, and their late father, Eldon Bissell; and his essay "Will the Real Apollo Please Stand Up? Rand, Nietzsche, and the Reason-Emotion Dichotomy" appeared in the Spring 2009 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, which was finally published in mid-2010, due to extended illness of the journal's editor and Roger's good friend, Chris Sciabarra. Also in the spring, after much careful research and revision, Becky finished her biographical manuscript “The Locket,” later presenting it to Gitla/Tova, the Holocaust survivor who shared her memoirs with Becky several years ago. In July, Roger finished his audio CD, “Reflective Trombone,” now available from www.cdbaby.com, as is his previous CD, “The Art of the Duo.” If you’re not internet-savvy, or would rather not trust CD Baby with your credit card information, just send Roger a check to our new address (see p. 3) for $10 per CD, and we’ll get them right out to you!

Family and Visiting: (First, the kids and grandkids!) Desiree, who works in Eureka, CA for Verizon, told us that she and her boyfriend Sonny are engaged to be married. We visited them in early July and had a great time hiking and hanging out with them and Sonny’s three kids. Marissa is still a server for Claim Jumper, and she and Auggie 4 live in Long Beach, near Auggie’s dad, Thomas. We miss them a lot, and it was great to have them come here for a visit during Thanksgiving.

Charlie announced to us just last month that he and his girlfriend, Kathy Adkins, are now engaged to be married, and their wedding date has been set for this April 30 in Lexington! He continues his efforts to promote his user-friendly music software program for schoolchildren. We visited twice with him and Kathy this fall—at Gatlinburg, Tennessee in October and at our home in November.

In July, Rebecca married Jeff Gibson, an officer with the Metro Nashville Police Department, and they moved into a house just three blocks from where we live. Talk about convenient! Her three children, Josie 11, Miles 6, and Ava 5 live with them, attending the nearby middle and elementary schools. Rebecca retired from Ingram in October and is working to finish her bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University. Andrew is still going full-steam, producing music and caricature art, and Christi is still teaching woodwind students. Their Hannah 4 will be joined by a new brother or sister sometime this summer! Daniel has spent the past year slowly recovering from his horrendous auto accident and three surgeries last December, venturing out for karaoke gigs and “improv” comedy rehearsals several nights a week. He moved in with us the next day after we moved into our new house, but now that he has received his personal injury settlement from the accident, he has moved back to Belleview, where he now has his own apartment. We have already had many wonderful family gatherings with Daniel and his girlfriend Kayla, and with Rebecca and Andrew and their families—including some mighty fine cooking by Becky, Rebecca, Christi, and Kayla—and we look forward to more of the same in the years ahead!

Rachel finished 10th grade at Villa Park High School in Orange, CA and made a remarkably smooth transition to Cane Ridge High School in Antioch, TN, where she is now halfway through her junior year. She played the role of Maid Marian in the school’s November production of “Robin Hood,” and she continues to pour her energies into fiction writing and connecting with her friends at school and on Facebook. In July, Rachel’s friend Lydia Seymour accompanied us to Mammoth Lakes, CA. Later that month, while Becky and I moved our household to Tennessee, Rachel stayed near Atlanta with her friend Julie Settens, who also visited here in November and December.

On our way across the country in late July, we laid over in Overland Park, Kansas for two days of the biennial Beals family reunion and had a wonderful visit with Becky’s mom and her siblings and other relatives. In October, we had two waves of house guests: Roger’s cousin Shelia Fletcher and her husband Danny, then Roger’s sister Julie Tupker and her husband Allen, who stopped over for several days on their way to the Smoky Mountains. We returned the favor to the Tupkers with a pre-Christmas visit in Marion, Iowa, also visiting briefly with Roger’s uncle Ray Schellenberg when we fetched Roger’s Mom from Atlantic. We also learned that nephew Mike Tupker and his wife Kathleen are expecting their first child this summer, too—so the 2011 Baby Derby is on!

Finally, we note that, before moving in July, we had some poignant farewell dinners with several California friends, including Nathaniel and Leigh Branden, Barbara Branden, and Tibor Machan. These folks have greatly enriched our lives, and we miss them and all our other friends and colleagues in the “Golden State.”

That’s all for this Bissell Epistle. Stay in touch, and have a wonderful 2011, everyone!

Love, the Bissells—Roger, Becky, and Rachel

3213 Haskell Lane, Antioch, TN 37013

615/730-9029 (home)…615/438-6152 (Roger)

615/438-2273 (Becky)…615/438-3858 (Rachel)

rebissell@aol.com...ntpandora@aol.com...beepers1994@aol.com

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January 13, 2011

Bissell Epistle XXI

. . .

Love, the Bissells—Roger, Becky, and Rachel

3213 Haskell Lane, Antioch, CA 37013

615/730-9029 (home)…615/438-6152 (Roger)

615/438-2273 (Becky)…615/438-3858 (Rachel)

rebissell@aol.com...ntpandora@aol.com...beepers1994@aol.com

Hey, old guy, that's TN.

Kawai - YES!

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January 13, 2011

Bissell Epistle XXI

. . .

Love, the Bissells—Roger, Becky, and Rachel

3213 Haskell Lane, Antioch, CA 37013

615/730-9029 (home)…615/438-6152 (Roger)

615/438-2273 (Becky)…615/438-3858 (Rachel)

rebissell@aol.com...ntpandora@aol.com...beepers1994@aol.com

Hey, old guy, that's TN.

Kawai - YES!

Yikes! Yes--Tennessee! Thanks for the correction of my latest senior moment, Stephen. :-/

And a BIG yes for the Kawai. It has a LUSCIOUS, crystal clear tone! :-)

REB

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Roger,

Glad to hear things are going so well in Tennessee!

> Nashville colleagues, old and new, have been very welcoming and generous, helping Roger to re-enter the Nashville musical community as a trombonist, vocalist, and musical arranger.

And that sounds very encouraging...

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  • 1 year later...

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