Cloister Commentary, Day 10: Frontier Bath

When things break or misfire these days, you can’t just run out heedlessly and replace ’em or get ’em fixed. Well, you COULD…but I prefer to at least hold my horses, which I do not find easy. Thus, yesterday, since our shower hose sprung a leak, I felt like a frontiersman, sitting in the tub rinsing the soap out of my hair with a Sub Shop cup. And, despite all the help YouTube could give, I could not get my garage door opener back in business after Friday’s power outage, so I had to open and shut it manually a few times yesterday to let out our indoor/outdoor feline Tux–that boy needs a cat door. It seemed familiar: I was born just early enough to experience life without remotes.

I’m writing these so later I can remember how we got through it, and also to possibly entertain you, but it frequently occurs to me that our not having children makes the task so much easier. Far from sitting back gloating, having taught children for almost 60 years between us, Nicole and I can understand how difficult it must be (but also, I am sure, a frequent delight) to have to help the youth through this from sun up to sunset. We start remote teaching in earnest today, but this is one spring break that isn’t going to be over for awhile. Keep calm and carry on.

Streaming for Shut-Ins: the great songwriter with a smile in his voice, John Prine, is in critical condition due to COVID-19. If you don’t know him, why not sample his first album and send him vibrations of strength?

Cloister Commentary, Day 11: Early Bird Swing

It was back to work yesterday, so our routine became firmer. I’m sharing it mostly so, when we look back, I can remember it, but maybe it can be useful to others, and I’m certainly curious about what effective aspects of your routine might be. Did I post this before? I’m suffering from Coronamind.

We rise very early. First priority is getting coffee brewing. Second priority is attending to pets: outdoor cats fed and watered, dog let out if he hasn’t already gotten us up, indoor pets fed and watered and litter boxes cleaned–plus two of our pets require meds.

Then, meditation. Following that, Nicole usually reads and I observe on-line rituals. Breakfast for us is usually oatmeal, eggs, and/or peanut butter toast (I am suddenly and inexplicably eating grapefruit). We often tend to our Benjamin Franklin-style journals at the kitchen table.

After subjecting ourselves to the hot liquid goo cleaning phase, we both will try to squeeze in a house project. Yesterday I weeded our roses and Nicole organized the notorious cabinets above the washer and dryer. Projects are accompanied by music on headphones for me and Democracy Now or an audiobook for Nicole. Following that, blinds up, joy lights plugged in, and bears in the window!

We are both working from home. Trisected by a tea break and lunch, our next engagement is with our computers dealing with email, communicating with and/or teaching students (I am hosting a Zoom meeting this morning that I hope not to eff up), writing content, tutoring and editing, checking grades, and more until the afternoon.

If the weather’s nice, we walk the dog. Yesterday, we got to talk with two neighbors and one of the neighbors’ kids who were out in their yards, which, along with the sunshine, was a highlight. I also do most of my reading in this gap.

Nicole starts dinner around 4ish–“Early Bird Special,” I know, but like I said, we get up very early, so it’s like 6 for most people, I suppose–and after we eat and I clean up, we watch the local and national news. We are on strict COVID-19 study-discuss-fret diet of only 5 to 7 pm (very hard to stick to and we often fail), after which we can read, watch something good, play cards, listen to music, or just be.

To shut ‘er down, we say goodnight to the cats (two are in a dedicated room so the kitten doesn’t drive everyone insane and one comes inside for the night), the dog goes out one last time, and we drift to sleep after sharing the best thing that happened to each of us during the day.

Should anything unplanned interrupt this routine, WE JUST FREAKING LOSE IT! INSTANT F—ING WIRE (as my friend Greg Carlin used to yell)!!

Seriously, we’ve been dealing with the unexpected pretty well. We hope you have, too.

Streaming for Shut-Ins: I just stumbled across Tracy Chapman’s “For My Lover” (my favorite of her songs), and that in turn led me to this: