Cloister Commentary, Day 194: Lynda’s Birthday

Nicole and I strive always to get our days off to a great start, so bagging up the possum some driver hit right in front of our house around dawn ensured us an excellent start. Leaving it for the city or someone else to take care of was out of the question, because between 6 and 9 a.m. our residential street in Parkade is like the Indy 500, and the corpse would have been reduced to pulp. Actually, we triple-bagged that sucker and boxed it; now we just can’t forget to put it out.

Seriously, that wasn’t a bad start, and with the windows open and the fall breeze blowing through, everything we tried to do, including work, was pleasant. Also, it was Nicole’s mom’s birthday, and every year since she passed we make sure to celebrate it with things she enjoyed. We’ve been doing pretty well avoiding meat, but we tucked into some delicious Booche’s cheeseburgers with everything for lunch, and later drove out to the A-Frame in Rocheport to share a bottle–excuse me, one and a half bottles–of
Moscato and watch the river and its barges roll powerfully by and the sun go brilliantly, easefully down. We know we won’t be going anywhere for awhile, but for fun (but in seriousness, too) we planned our next three trips: road trip to San Diego, steamboat trip (don’t call it a cruise!) from St. Paul to New Orleans (then a week in the Crescent City), and a pond-jumper to the U.K. Yes, a couple can dream.

We had a blissful ride back to Columbia with Art Tatum and Roy Eldridge trading magic solos on the sound system. And we slept in til almost 6.

Streaming for Strivers:

Fats Waller, upon noticing that Art Tatum had just arrived to watch him play: “God is in the house.”

Cloister Commentary, Day 87: Migas!

Any day I can see and talk to my dad, mom, brother, honorary sister, and my stalwart Springfieldian friends is a good day. I am thrilled to report my dad is exploring the work of Bart Ehrman! Also, my friend Heather’s family love and care, activism and neighborhood leadership is very inspiring. Zoom, I dislike you, and I will resolve that, but you made our visits possible.

Nicole and I walked Louis about three miles around the Stephens Lake Park loops. The ol’ pooch is getting a little creaky, as his recovery time’s getting slower. He is still on-point with random barking outbursts, thanks to the fox who’s pooping in his backyard.

I had been begging Nicole for migas all week and, thanks to our neighbor Shireen’s gift of fresh tortillas from Tortilleria El Patron, who make the best in town, I was quieted. They featured a spicy black bean and salsa topping with avocados and radish slices.

We closed the evening by reading and listening to three disks of Art Tatum. I was mostly occupied with Gary Younge’s Another Day in the Death of America, which chronicles the lives of 10 American kids who died by gun on November 23, 2013. That wasn’t far from a normal day.

Streaming for Strivers:

Punk + a poet. Pissed. Pennsylvanian. “In the midnight hour / [She] erases these cowards.”

Cloister Commentary, Day 83: What Time Is It?

Former high school students of mine may recall my frustration with not having enough time to get it all in–that wasn’t bad planning, that was the collision between just loving what I was doing and everything being connected. I remember when “bell-to-bell instruction” emerged as a “faculty agreement” one year, and I was like “Someone’s having to agree to that?” When I moved on to the college campus, I quickly noticed that when instructors were done, they were done, and would sometimes release their charges a bit early, as they would stream past my classroom door. I said to myself, “Well, maybe I should do that occasionally, too, if I reach the natural end of a class quickly.” Every time–every time!–I would say, “I’ll probably cut you loose a bit early to get down to it,” a student would have to point out to me that we’d reached the usual end time. There are no clocks on Stephens’ classroom walls. Once, I was so locked in that I got confused and taught an extra 15 minutes before someone stopped me (that was a great, and kind, group of students). I came to believe it was just a sign that I get into this job, and it’s reflective of life, too: you have to work to squeeze it all in before the big hand hits that hash mark. Yesterday, for the first time, I told my virtual students, who hail from all over the country, from the California – Mexico border to Mississippi to Pennsylvania, “I’m going to cut you loose a shade early after we talk about revision to actually start revising.”

Guess what happened? I guess I’m even loving virtuality.

Other highlights: Nicole’s fresh moussaka, Bess Frissell’s “Communion calculation” (based on a 150-pound Jesus), Art Tatum flying around the keyboard and out the house speakers, three powerful new books, and a nice neighborhood walk. One sad note: watching my patiently, sincerely, warmly, and painstakingly constructed set of responses to a (former, and fragile) Facebook friend’s query regarding why I had to post about black beauty get wiped–I need to abjure “Reply” in the future in such matters. It was not I who clicked “unfriend,” by the way. But, perhaps, “better down the road / without that load.”

Streaming for Strivers: