Cloister Commentary, Day 295: Don’t Freeze the Prize Pile

January 9 was a great day for Nicole, my mom, and me. We needed it. Like many Americans, we have not been sleeping well, and while awake we’ve been distracted by sudden mental prognostications. In fact, we woke up at 3 a.m yesterday, which didn’t bode well. I am thankful some forebodings don’t pan out.

We spent a morning in quiet learning and reflection. Nicole’s reading Robin DiAngelo’s essential White Fragility; I’m still enraptured by Mary Gabriel’s Ninth Street Women, which is making me want to paint (did you know I used to draw and paint alllllll the time until sports and music interfered?). I also listened to Spiritual Jazz’s eye-popping, ear-busting, heart-strengthening Impulse Records volume.

In the afternoon, I made grilled cheese sandwiches for the three of us (an accomplishment for me), we (I?) kept one eye on the Buffalo – Indy game (I’m rooting for Chiefs – Bills in the playoff future), and played two fun rounds of Canasta. We love that card game–the cards are beautiful–but neither one of us had ever “frozen the prize pile,” which is kind of a d**k / b***h move, which we came to understand after Nicole tried it to keep me from winning. It slowly, very slowly, kills a round, but it can insure a win if employed at the right moment (which it wasn’t, unfortunately for my spouse). However, I invented an “anti-freezing” rule (you can sacrifice a “big” Wild Card into the prize pile) and the game revived. In retrospect, we advise not employing the freeze in the first place.

Dinner: pork loin, baked potatoes, peas (I ate most of them, Mark), and Jane’s incredible butterscotch pudding cake (though she used cheesecake pudding and butterscotch chips–I just had a big slice for breakfast).

I was somewhat skeptical about the new Bee Gees documentary, which we’d decided to watch. I enjoyed them thoroughly as a teen; I still remember hearing “Jive Talkin'” explode from the radio and vowing to tape-record it the next time it was played (old-school “downloading”!). I’m here to tell you that documentary is a blast–and frequently revelatory. Also, when the film looks back to the anti-disco riot incited in 1979 by Steve Dahl, the footage strikes disconcertingly close to home (though the brothers seemed to distance themselves afterward by claiming not to be disco). Proof of my enjoyment of the documentary was that I was mentally compiling a perfect Bee Gees mix as I watched.

It’s important to keep your eye on the ball in this moment. But you also don’t get these moments back–spend them well.

Streaming for Strivers:

Let’s hope more forebodings never come back no more, no more, hmmmm….

Cloister Commentary, Day 197: Respite

Yesterday was so nice it temporarily made me think nothing’s wrong.

Festivities opened at my mom’s breakfast table with cinnamon roll and coffee. Fortified, Nicole and I hiked around Monett, Missouri’s gorgeous park. I knew the city pool where I’d worked for a few years while I was in college had been closed, but I was shocked that it’d been “disappeared”–the space where it was would be perfect for a sandlot football game now. We saw several woodchucks, Nicole practiced identifying trees, and we sat with our ancestors and our dematerialized friends and pets for some meditation by the pond.

When we returned, we made a honey crisp apple run to Marionville, Mom gave Nicole a lesson in homemade chicken and noodle preparation (a family legacy) and I hauled the recycling to the city processing center–that doesn’t seem too exciting, but my brother Brian had ingeniously organized the receptacles in the garage and they hadn’t been emptied since he did so in August.

As afternoon unfolded, we had cocktails and played three hands of Canasta, I got some reading in, and Mom and Nicole talked about some family history. We wolfed down the chicken and noodles (two helpings for me!), then watched a drive-in(side) double-feature: Kingpin and Pride and Prejudice (the Joe Wright and Keira Knightly version). You can see how those go together, right?

That was enough to convince me all was right with the world until I started thumbing this out a few minutes ago. I’ll take any respite at this point.

Streaming for Survivors:

Speaking of the dematerialized, we might have invited this one.