Cloister Commentary, Day 143: Charming but Treasured, Boring but Important

The day began with a simple task–try again to get Scrappers, the seriously runty stray that our two backyard cats have brought into their professional learning team on the deck, to the vet for an exam. He’s about six pounds soaking wet, and he’d shown enough trust for me to pet him and pick him up. Not to mention that fact that he looks worse for wear. I figured we could easily get him into a cardboard carrier and to the clinic on time.

It was not to be. On Try # 1, I foolhardily tried to grab him gloveless (I did have on a hoodie for arm protection) and got my hands mildly shredded when he exploded out of my hug with the strength of three toms. On Try # 2, which Nicole executed perfectly and we teamed to get him into the crate, the little fart literally TORE his way back out of it and hid stubbornly under the bed, at which point we gave up and shooed him back out of the house with a broom. A few hours later, he was forgivingly figure-eighting around my ankles when I came out with food; at least he knows what side his bread’s buttered on. He may have to tough his way into full health.

We each got mail: Nicole, a package of KN95 masks, I an autographed copy of the newest record by master alto saxophonist Charles McPherson (as well as an autographed photo of him–a charming throwback move I will treasure). I know what you’re thinking: “That defines the difference between their priorities!” Not quite. I have a collection of masks that I wear regularly when I’m in company and I’ve been trained by the last five months to wash and sanitize my hands in timely fashion. But supporting my heroes’ work I am still committed to!

Together, we watched the school board approve a delayed start for the public school year and the use of hybrid scheduling for a tool against COVID-19. I had forgotten how riveting school board meetings were, but seriously speaking it fell under the heading of “Boring But Important.” And it wasn’t that boring: sounds like we have an intelligent and supportive group of critical thinkers on the board. The district and the city have their work cut out for them–what lies ahead is fairly uncharted territory.

Streaming for Strivers:

Did Duke ever go bossa? Mildly, but seductively.

Cloister Commentary, Day 125: Cat Herding Sheep

Only eight times this many days will be 1,000. February seems over a year in the past, but eight times this many seems like it could happen in a snap. Does that make any sense?

But for the grading of research papers, my Stephens summer school stint is over. I remember neurotically pacing back and forth, wondering if I should take the job on, then if I would like it, then if I would suck at Zoom–and it’s already over, and I’m in for next summer. If there is a next summer: what really sucks is that some valued colleagues at Stephens have lost their jobs so the institution can survive, and the mess we’re all in isn’t going to make continuance a snap.

I have a scarily-bearded cousin who’s more like an uncle named Jim Hague. He is a septuagenarian with the motor of a five-year-old (what age has the highest-running motor?), and yesterday he showed up to finish repairing Dad’s old riding lawnmower. This particular job has been an obsession with him, and he toiled in the ninety degree heat from 1 p.m. to about 7 p.m. He was so desperate to complete the task that he asked me to help him, which is akin to asking a cat to herd sheep. I didn’t break anything, got my hands dirty (it was FUN!), and test-drove the thing without impaling it on the sweetgum tree. Jim and I don’t agree on very much, but no one has been more helpful in the aftermath of my father’s passing. For awhile, I was worried I might have another relative’s demise on my hands, but after Mom hosed him down and he ate some cookies, he was good as new.

I despise few things more than wasting food–I am a plate-cleaner to the manor born–but I was soundly defeated at dinner. I decided to give Mom a break from having to feed me and grabbed some curbside grub at The Southern Standard in Monett, but the delicious four-piece fried catfish plate I ordered was not accurately described on the restaurant’s menu: I double-checked, but nowhere did it read “For two.” Nor did it read “jumbo-sized catfish slabs.” My jaws creaked to a screeching halt at 3.5 slabs, I left a swamp of slaw on the plate, then staggered out of the kitchen to collapse on the couch. Too full to drink a beer or read? I’d not thought it possible, but it is. I am still full right now thumbing this out 12 hours later.

Streaming for Survivors:

One of the greatest alto saxophonists alive was born in Joplin, Missouri, 81 years ago today. Here he is.