Cloister Commentary, Day 203: Fall-Away Day

Nicole and I dropped our absentee ballots off at the Boone County clerk’s office this morning. I wonder how many other counties offer on-line ballot-tracking to voters. That’s a good thing.

I had no school imperatives to deal with, so unsurprisingly I read. I had planned to knock a chunk out of three of the books I’m currently enjoying, but New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman’s The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World, like the other Ehrman books I’ve read have done, held me transfixed. I am not a believer; Ehrman once was, but he is a mere historian now–a dogged, erudite, witty, and indefatigably curious one. Since it’s coming on list season, I also explored music writer Tom Hull’s “1000 Albums for a Long and Happy Life.” You’d think at the rate I’ve listened to albums since ’77 or so I’d have encountered few surprises, but I’ve only made it through the “I”s and Mr. Hull’s given me quite a stack to lean into. In this case, I’m thankful for streaming.

After she finished with school around five, Nicole joined me for one of our frequent Friday Fall-Aways at the kitchen table, when we just relax, fiddle around, occasionally sip something (this time, some good mescal), and listen to something indisputably euphonious (this time, Herb Ellis’ Nothing But the Blues, which I fished out of Mr. Hull’s list).

The evening ended with beers and conversation on our friend Shireen’s back deck, where we also got to catch up with our mutual friend Annell Boland. Her amazingly man-like young son Fred sweetly arrived to pick her up at the end of our visit; I have so many friends with sharp young college age spawn that I’m starting to think I’m old.

Streaming for Strivers:

I also had an amusing and refreshing social media conversation with my old friend and fellow southwest Missouri refugee John Schooley, which indirectly reminded me to play this. You should, too, if you need a jolt.

Cloister Commentary, Day 202: Comrades, Cousins, and Comedians

I had mentioned a few commentaries back that the inspirational Stephens prof Ann Breidenbach and I had teamed up for a fun educational project, but I withheld the details. Yesterday, the project went to ground: after we educated her women’s studies students about absentee voting, we created an opportunity whereby I was able to notarize her students’ ballots that required it. Few actually did need that service, but two of them just happened to be the top students from my virtual summer freshman comp class, whom I’d never met in person. Even though we were all masked, we recognized each other from about 30 feet away! As my friend George Frissell would have said (quoting Chief Dan George in Little Big Man, as was frequently his wont), it made my heart soar like a hawk.

I also had the pleasure of talking with my cousin Gregory on the phone for over an hour. I frankly do not enjoy blabbin’ into the blower for even five minutes, but Greg is one of those few exceptions. His insights, good cheer, sense of humor, and wise perspectives were quite welcome (roiling, rotten stuff happened to have been weighing on my mind at the time), and he’s really an inspirational human being. We traded stories, and I honestly had trouble hanging up the phone. May you have a rewarding weekend, cuz.

Nicole and I both had educational crises dumped in our laps after 5 p.m (it’s an occupational hazard of great regularity for all us edumacators), but we calmed our nerves with an old remedy we had not tried in over a decade: Southpark. “The Pandemic Special” proved Matt and Trey are still great at that thing they do. They have Tegrity.

Streaming for Strivers:

They say it’s his birthday!