Cloister Commentary, Day 304: Good Morning, America?

One ritual my mom and I observe when I’m visiting is watching Good Morning America together. The show’s hosts are relatively down to earth, seldom seem to be forcing bonhomie, and exhibit actual personality. Also, I’ve observed that people with diastemas have special qualities, and Michael Strahan seems to support that observation. Still, they have great difficulty maintaining the tone suggested by the show’s title when video, audio, and stills from the Capitol Insurrection are laced through it like concertina wire. I give them credit for trying.

I traveled the road back home to Columbia, where Nicole met me with a kiss, a hug, and spaghetti. She was tensely preparing to return to in-seat teaching in the midst of what every credible source is calling a pandemic out of control, but she had time for warmth and humor in welcoming me back. I’m nervous, too. As per usual lately, I resorted to sports as an escape; I’m disgusted with the Harden trade, but somehow I’m still drawn to watch the Nets. I’m that much of a Durantula fan, I guess.

We learned mid-evening that Nicole’s mom’s devoted and spirited rat terrier Jack passed away. When Lynda died in 2013, our friends George and Susie Frissell agreed to adopt him and were great parents for his remaining seven years. George regularly took him on walks, encouraged him to chase squirrels, and sent us “fireside fotos” (Jack loved that spot). The last time we saw him was in early 2020, when we took him and our recently departed hound Louis for a walk around Stephens Lake Park. Tell me, is it still 2020?

Streaming for Strivers:

Suffering and smiling–that seems to be the ticket.

Cloister Commentary, Day 299: Tough Nut in My Head

Yesterday was Day 2 of Nicole and I brainstorming strategies by which we can cohabit healthily once she is back to in-person learning (Tuesday). If we just had a kitchenette downstairs and a full bathroom, and knew when the vaccine was coming (will our state government, indifferent if not hostile for a good long while toward public education, even consider teachers essential?), that would be a big help. That is not all–I’m not going to belabor this, but it is one tough nut to crack.

We did most of this in the evening, though some ideas we discussed when Nicole had a break from work; I don’t want to give anyone the idea she was lounging around on a work day. In spite of the risk, she’s even looking forward to seeing students–I can’t imagine a teacher who’s not.

Other things:

  1. I cooked some jalapeño and cheese curd stuffed hot links from Barred Owl’s butcher shop for dinner. Damn.
  2. My heart sank as I learned of a moronic multi-player and -team trade that cut out the youthful heart of the Nets’ bench and dealt them an extra prima donna. It’s hard to rely on anything these days beyond loved ones and art.
  3. I received two copies of Third Man’s Maggot Brain magazine and thoroughly enjoyed two pieces on the sui generis musician Louis Thomas Hardin, also known as Moondog.

Streaming for Strivers:

For me at least, a fresh revelation, featuring some outstanding players.

Cloister Commentary, Day 280: A Nearly-Complete Yule

A fine Christmas Day after a frankly terror-ridden calendar year. Our highlights?

Food (of course)! Morning: The family’s famous sausage, cheese and egg breakfast casserole. Afternoon: hot pork tamales. Night: ham loaf, macaroni and cheese, GREEN BEANS! All day: Nicole’s peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies (as I thumb this out, only one remains). Nightcap: egg nog with a dose of Four Roses.

Exercise (two days in a row)! A long park jaunt capped by some meditation by the water.

Entertainment! Nets and Saints victories (Durant! Kamara!), the intense Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, the warming but also unsparing Christmas staple episode from Call The Midwife.

Gifts! My favorite that someone else received? Tie between Jane’s Apple Watch and Nicole’s Bryant Terry cookbook Vegetable Kingdom (yes, that’s my gift, too, and would you be surprised I gave it to her?). My favorite gift I gave (only they might not know it yet so no tag)? A gift subscription to The Week. My favorite gift I received? I’m sorry, I just love gift cards (from Mom, Myra, and Brian), which I used to get vinyl (Belle & Sebastian, X, and Moor Mother/Billy Woods)

My favorite thing was our unit was able to be together safely. My regret: my dad would have enjoyed this Christmas, but his spirit and his ethos were definitely in play.

I hope yesterday made you forget the calendar year, for at least a while.

Streaming for Strivers:

She was real.