Singing, Ringing, Writing, Reading and Volunteering


Time Winged Chariot

Don’t look now, lady, but that’s time’s winged chariot gaining on you!

The best of this season to you, my friends.

This year, like other years, has been full of expected events and people, along with a few unexpected turns, but that’s what keeps me alert.

I’ll start with the unexpected, to get that out of the way. In mid-February, I got up out of bed and fell over. Later, I realized I had fainted. I wasn’t hurt, so I went back to bed and, when I got up in the morning, I was extremely dizzy. Becky took me to the doctor, who said I was having an afib episode and needed to go to the emergency room right away. There, after a series of tests and consultations, the doctors determined that I not only had a fib: I also had blood clots in both lungs. I thank God that both conditions responded to medication and, after a night in the hospital, I came home and have been doing well ever since. I am thankful for my doctors and for all those who treated and cared for me.

Actually, that was the only unexpected event I can think of. The rest of my year has been filled with things like rehearsals and performances with the Manassas Chorale, our church’s Sanctuary Choir and the Evensong Bells. And what do these have in common? The answer is that Becky directs them all, and does a fine job of it, too.

Otherwise I volunteer at the Manassas Museum once a week and thoroughly enjoy it, as I do my time in Glenna Ohlms’ ESOL class, where I am an assistant.

I’ve continued to write (of course), and published Diamond Duty, my fifth novel, which is the story of a young Confederate soldier who is captured in the early days of the Civil War and learns to play baseball while in prison. If you’re interested, the book is available in paperback and Kindle editions on (what isn’t, these days?). I also wrote Book Nine in my Beyond the Blue Horizon series, On the Wings of the Sun, which continues the story of Wisconsin pilot and World War II hero Otto Kerchner and his friends and family. It’s also available you-know-where.

I also write for Prince William Living, a color monthly magazine. This year, I’ve had articles on an electric go-kart racing track, the Manassas Young Marines, the Prince William County Poet Laureate, the Osbourn/ Osbourn Park Alumni Association (the oldest such group in the state) and “Spilled Ink,” a monthly open mic for local writers which generally features up to 30 writers and 60 in the audience.

I continue to write devotionals most weeks for our church choir, which I have been doing since about 1990, and I also am still teaching Sunday School, which I have done now for 54 years. I thank God for all these opportunities!

This year, we celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary, and it has never been dull! We share a love of music, ideas, good food and a meaningful faith, and I am indeed blessed that Becky is in my life.

My most sincere wishes for a Merry Christmas full of faith and a New Year with exciting opportunities and great times with friends. –Dan

Friends and Family,

It’s been great this November and December to receive your cards and Christmas letters and to see pictures of you and your families. We love reading about all you’ve been up to during 2017.

Our lives are pretty much locked into a routine from late August until early June: Sunday morning and evening are church and handbell rehearsal (our advanced ringers range in age from 18-70), Monday night once a month is the Osbourn Alumni Association (I’m serving as president for a two-year term), Tuesdays are the Manassas Chorale (our next concerts are March 17 and June 1, 2018), Wednesdays are Sanctuary Choir and Thursdays are the Greater Manassas Children’s Choir (I lead the older group). Fridays and Saturdays are reserved for petting our “senior” kitty, Nacho, catching up on naps and finding the next good restaurant meal (Manassas has all kinds of choices now: we enjoy Asiana food, Rangoli’s Indian food, a variety of Mexican restaurants and good old American as well).

Manassas Baptist celebrated the 50th Anniversary of its Sanctuary building with special services and a luncheon on July 2. It was wonderful to see many former staff members (we could actually recognize those from the 1970’s!) and to reconnect with former members who came from a distance.

We left on July 5 for a whirlwind tour of North and South Carolina and visits with former pastor Ed Bratcher and his bride Maggie Kirk, former neighbors Mike and Pat Bartlett and former MBC members Lee and Shirley DeArmond. We also attended the wedding of Aaron Pritchard and Laura Jordan in a beautiful little town in the Tarheel State. Lots of good food, good company and many miles on the Camry, but we loved it!

July and early August were spent doing two Music Camps – children and youth in Lynchburg and boys and girls age 4 through grade 6 in Manassas. I wish I had kept track of all the children’s musicals I’ve done through the years – it’s got to be over 100! It’s so gratifying to see your former “choir babies” grow up and love music like you do!

Amy (still at Signal Hill elementary teaching 4th grade and always with a story about one of her students) and her husband Chris (a librarian at the Fairfax campus of George Mason University, also with interesting stories and a hobby of running) are cat people as well and try to discipline kitty, “Gus.”

Alyssa (a Vice President at TML Copiers; you should read the paragraphs from some of their job applicants – or maybe not!) and her husband Chris (works for an aeronautics firm and is doing college work in his spare time!) complete the “cat people” in our family and do their best to keep Roxie and Beast in line. I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase “like herding cats,” so you get the idea.

Mom, at 92, still looks like the Queen, drives near home during the day, cooks more than I do and has a memory like a steel trap. Big family news from September 30 was the wedding of nephew Josh Pankey and his bride Anna Pankey (nurse at Novant Prince William). We’re so happy for them! They’ve bought a townhome in Manassas and are having a great time purchasing furniture. They will become “puppy parents” on Christmas morning. Sister Sue continues at the dentist office and at Iron Horse Antiques, where she has a lovely booth (she shares it with family friend Ken Baksys). Nephew Jonathan is our extraordinary lawn person and brother-in-law Jerry recently retired from Falcon Communications.

Dan continues with several weekly activities and it’s neat to see him plugged into each of them. We celebrated his seven decades with two recent family meals. See his page for more details – he stays busy!

Plans for next summer include a trip with the Manassas Chorale (through Perform International’s Journeys with Joseph Martin) to Salzburg, Vienna and Munich. As someone who has watched “The Sound of Music” so many times that I can quote sections of dialogue, I’m excited to finally take “The Sound of Music” tour. As for waltzing in Vienna, that ain’t goin’ to happen! When we arrive in Germany, since I’m a Detwiler married to a Verner, these are my people!

Have a blessed Christmas and a healthy, happy, productive New Year. Call, come by or be in touch. My e-mails are (finishing year 43) and bverner (finished year 20 in June). Thank you for the part you’ve played in my life and for your support through the years. This comes with my best wishes!          Love, Becky



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Take Me Out

Dodger BlueRed Right Arrow Nationals Red


It’s over. The long baseball season is done, and even though it has been finished for less than a day, I miss it.

A fellow baseball fan saw me yesterday and said, “Only 16 weeks until pitchers and catchers report!”

Yeah. That’s my kind of thinking.

The Nats lost in the playoffs to the Cubs, but I felt better when the Cubs lost to the Dodgers. I started pulling for the Dodgers, and here’s why:

  1. The Dodgers have better-looking uniforms. And seriously, Cubs—orange on your uniforms? Unless you play for the Tennessee football team and have a Big Orange tradition(and you don’t), orange doesn’t belong on a baseball uniform. Too bad the championship wasn’t decided by the color schemes. It wouldn’t take seven games to figure that one out.
  2. The Dodgers have a longer tradition, going back to 1883 and the days in Brooklyn when they were called the Trolley Dodgers for people on their way to games dodging mass transit. The Astros were established in 1962, and changed their name from the Colt .45’s in 1965. They even changed their team from the American League and their division within that league. It’s hard for a team to have a tradition when they change their league, division and name.
  3. Because the Dodgers have a longer history, they have more famous players, players like Mike Piazza, Steve Garvey, Orel Hershiser, Gil Hodges, Fernando Valenzuela, Maury Wills, Pee Wee Reese, Roy Campanella, Don Drysdale, Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson, and Sandy Koufax. The Astros—well, the only famous player I’ve heard of is Roger Clemens, and that’s it. They don’t have enough of a history to have any more.

So, the Dodgers might have lost the battle, but they won the war. They’ll be first in my heart for a while—until those pitchers and catchers for the Nationals report next spring. Go, Nats!

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On the Stage

On the Stage

(Originally entitled “In the Chorale”)

Standing here among these singers,

Friends, neighbors, believers,

I only hear those around me—

Two altos to the right

And on my left, another tenor and a single bass.

We cannot hear the notes and music

From our vantage on the top row

But must trust our eyes more than ears

To follow the director’s quick bird-like motions

Paired with swan smooth gliding of palm and arm,

And we must trust our companion singers

And peerless orchestra

Gathered in from daily life

To create with us from common breath and

Daily living this music, this sound, this

Magic bigger than any or all of us,

Sung for an audience invisible beyond

The bright hot lights.

We would not know they are there

Sitting in inky darkness,

Silent until their own fluttering hands

Give notice of their presence,

And we think,

There are living, breathing people out there

And they care about us,

And they care about the music.

And so, this is our letter,

A love letter really,

To those around us,

To those ranged in rows

Before us,

Taking in conductor, orchestra,

And the largely anonymous

Faces in the darkened house.

We sing this music and we sing these words

For you and for ourselves

For those present, for those gone on

And for those who are yet to come.

This is our love letter to you and to

The great ephemeral universe:

We love all of you.


Dan Verner

September, 2017

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Running with Two Outs



Three and Two Count

Jeremiah 23:23-24: “Am I only a God nearby,” declares the Lord, “and not a God far away? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord, “And do not I fill heaven and earth?”

I don’t know if you like baseball, but I do. Notice that I said, ‘like,’ not ‘adore,’ ‘can’t live without,’ or ‘must have above all else.’ Obviously, I have to do without the game in the off season, and while I might be gloomy about that at time, I do manage to survive somehow until the next season starts. I’m not a big enough fan that I would miss a daughter’s wedding for a game, largely because I would want to be on this earth a while longer. We heard of someone who didn’t come to his daughter’s wedding because a football game was being played that he said he wouldn’t miss, and he didn’t. And no, he didn’t win Father of the Year for that.

One situation in baseball that I like happens when there are one or more men on base with two outs and a count of  three balls and two strikes on the batter. The runners know they can start running on the next pitch because one of a limited number of events can occur. The batter may strike out and the inning is over, or the batter may foul a pitch off and the inning continues, or the batter may walk and the inning continues, or the batter may get a hit, possibly scoring one or more of the runners. What these situations have in common is that the runners are safe in running, provided they don’t fall down between bases. In other words, the situation takes care of itself.

It occurred to me that God takes care of every situation, regardless of what has happened or what will happen. All that we have to do is confess our sins and believe that God is our salvation, and that’s it. It’s as easy as praying that simple prayer. And when we do, we know we can run through this life with confidence, knowing that we can come home standing up with no problem.  Thanks be to God for being present at all times and in all circumstances, and for the gift of Jesus Christ, who redeemed us by his death on the cross and who knows about and takes care of every situation, especially those when the count is three and two. Amen.


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Poem for the Last Day of National Poetry Writing Month



April Calendar Page

On this last day of April

I am writing

My last poem for this month

Of writing poetry

(A month observed by hundreds of


And I find myself wondering

How I have written 30 poems

During this month

Because the rest of the year

I am awash in prose:

Novels, articles, devotionals and

Short stories.

I can’t write a poem each day

For more than one short month.

I will write some verse occasionally

In the coming year, but

That’s all,

Although I suspect that my Erato

Is merely hidden,

Reclining at her ease

Waiting for another time

Another place


Another month of



Dan Verner

April 30, 2017

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The Quieting of an Audience




In my seat in the still lit

Auditorium, I hear around me

Fragments of conversation

From others who have come

For this show: “I swore I’d

Never go back there,”


“I enjoyed seeing my

Grandchildren this past week,”

“I’m so excited that she

Got the part,”

And so on for five minutes,

A convivial hubbub permeates

The room, sounding like a

Wave gathering and ebbing

On a sandy shore.

The lights blink, once, twice, three times,

And those standing find their seats,

And conversations finish, women

Straighten in their seats, and men’

Look at their programs

One last time and

As the lights dim to darkness

Silence, creeps across these

Assembled souls

Awaiting song

Awaiting beauty

Awaiting a revelation

As the earlier sound

Diminishes past the point

Of hearing.

All is silent and then

Another kind of conversation


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On Not Knowing What I’m Doing (Again)


Queaton Mark 2

You see, it’s like this:

Sometimes when I’m singing in choir

And I’m singing my (tenor) part

I can’t tell that I’m singing a part.

I am so accustomed to being part

Of the harmony that

The melody seems strange

To me.

And I think how ironic

This is because when I first

Sang in choir, I couldn’t

Read music and found

The other parts distracting

As I tried to sang mine.

I often sang the melody

Instead of a part

And now, decades later,

I find the melody

Strange and I can scarcely tell

When I’m singing

My part or not.


Dan Verner

April 29, 2017

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