Cloister Commentary, Day 362: When the Rain Comes

We awakened to pouring rain, flashing lightning, booming thunder–and some dude screaming epithets into the pre-dawn dark from the driveway next door. Nicole thought it was happening in her waking dream, but alas it was not.

We celebrated St. Pat’s with soda bread and a pint of music from that talented nutcase Van Morrison and The Chieftains (their team-up is passionate and evocative), with a Pogues chaser. Somehow it was fitting that I ran out to the truck through a thick downpour and drove to work accompanied by more sudden flickers of electricity. It may have been St. Pat’s (and Biden Bucks Day for some), but the main news was horrifying and unfortunately nothing surprising.

My recurring tutoring appointment did not materialize inside the Zoom Chamber, so applied myself to two alternate tasks (damn, I have the to-do bug!): attending to more fine details regarding a scholarship George Frissell’s family is giving to an outstanding David H. Hickman High School senior in May (thanks to many donors via GoFundMe), sprucing up my office further (updating my monthly Top 10, dusting books–first time I’ve done that, rearranging furniture for imaginary visitors), checking in with my teacher interns’ host teachers about their stellar mid-term progress.

When I got home, I had to mop some water out of the basement “Kitten Room”–we need a sump pump. More rain’s on the way. We squeezed a long walk in between downpours, discussed a home improvement future, ate more corned beef and cabbage, read and scrolled, and faded into Hypnos’ land with a couple of episodes of Kim’s Convenience. You may have noticed I use the simple teacher-trick of repetition quite frequently in these commentaries–on purpose. This show is consistently entertaining.

Streaming for Strivers:

Spoon ‘n’ The Brute. Their chemistry made my day and night yesterday, and is gonna make it this morning. Jimmy was Arkansan; Webster was KC-born.

Cloister Commentary, Day 361: To-Do Loo

I’ve been in a real to-do list mode the last few days, but the to-dos have been a mite strange.

Every time my browser of choice (Firefox) freshly synchs, it duplicates all my bookmarks. Having haunted forums trying to correct it, I kicked it to the curb and meticulously moved my on-line life to Edge. So far so good.

Also, as I have mentioned, our house overflows with tomes, so yesterday I hauled a mess of them over to Stephens to bibliopopulate my naked office shelves. (I’d be moving more in now but it’s pouring rain and flashing electricity out there at present.

In addition, I took a community cat we refer to as Crazy-Eyes Killa to The Spay Neuter Project to get her spayed and vaccinated (SNP rocks, and that service costs a mere $25), then set up our garage for her 48-hour recovery. Turns out she was already fixed, and she’s a he. Fortunately, her sobriquet is gender-flexible.

But wait: there’s more!

Do you lose track of services you subscribe to on-line? I refuse to, so I unsubscribed from about $75 worth of services we haven’t been using much.

Oh, and I vacuumed!

Other news: Nicole and I would really like to encourage Columbians to try Tiger Chef for some outstanding Burmese and Thai cuisine. Our recent favorite has been their Pad Thai and Mi Goreng Noodles, both with tofu. Keep in mind that their heat scale is 1-5!

Streaming for Strivers:

John married well.

(6) ONO/Tenaglia – Walking On Thin Ice (Maestro Version) 2016 – YouTube

Cloister Commentary, Day 360: Return to the Isle of Capris Pants

Five more days and this commentary comes to a close. Nicole and I were able to schedule our second vaccination next Tuesday (we just can’t get enough microchips!), once again at the Isle of Capris Pants, so the timing’s pretty good. A few months ago, I wasn’t so sure it would make sense to stop at an arbitrary 365 days. It still may not.

We slept in a bit and both had to scramble to get ready for work. Nicole “threw together” our lunches–I told her I could manage but she insisted; she’s very sweet–but it didn’t seem thrown together to me: delicious ultra-garlicky za’atar hummus, toasted pita bread triangles, some walnuts, carrots, and celery, and an apple. I still had hummus left after the dipping was done, so I mixed in the walnuts and created “Walnut Hummus Surprise.” I texted Nicole to try it herself but she did not.

The BiPap therapy seems to be helping my energy, as I’m returning to my (even more) industrious self. A slow day at the office convinced me to channel our book overflow onto my fairly empty shelves there; I suppose I haven’t worked at Stephens to have amassed the requisite biblio-backdrop, so I’m going to simulate one. It’s going to take a few trips.

We squeezed in a neighborhood walk before a downpour and got some reading in. Nicole’s started Octavia Butler’s Kindred, and I’m legitimately excited about that. As usual when I’ve cleared my reading decks, my library holds came in, and they’re excellent so far: S. A. Cosby’s turbo-charged crime novel Blacktop Wasteland and Levon Helm’s engaging autobiography This Wheel’s on Fire.

Streaming for Strivers:

For such a humble package, it’s hilarious a copy is going for $900+ on Amazon and I couldn’t even find one on Discogs (I looked because the compilation is also sharp). Would you like to swing this morning? Click.

Cloister Commentary, Day 359: An Imaginary Limerick

The cloudy, rainy gloom continued but it did not affect our positive momentum. Nicole whipped up a great batch of corned beef and cabbage, and as usual plated it superbly (it’s always photo-worthy, but I dropped the ball and it’s too late now). We could pretend we were in Limerick, though without the drams and the Shannon rolling by. I helped a student edit an upcoming piece (we hope) for Stephens Life and had a wide-ranging conversation with my former student from the wild and woolly early ’90s of David H. Hickman High School, Joseph Kenney. Joe was a student like I wish all of mine had been: passionate, outspoken, fearless, hungry to learn, accepting of others’ differences, and hilarious. We talked about Columbia’s Antioch Church; the continuing influence of Mr. Frissell on both of us; Geto Boys, Paris, and DJ Magic Mike; students who dress like icons (Prince, Michael Jackson, Eazy E, Cube); dealing with religious folks who won’t reciprocate a refusal to judge; friends of his I didn’t teach but wish I could have; and sustaining resistance. He’s a great dude who I wish still lived here, but I understand why he doesn’t.

March Madness–why should I care? Anyway, I want to put my chips on Illinois, but I still haven’t seen the bracket. I watched ’em win a squeaker against Ohio State and that mad man Duane Washington Jr. in the Big 12 championship game; I like their depth, camaraderie, coolness, and especially the one-two punch of Ayo Dosunmo and Kofi Cockburn.

Streaming for Strivers:

I may have shared this album already, but so what? It’s Grammy #2 for the youngest “old man” in American music!

Cloister Commentary, Day 358: Squeezing Some Fun Out of Life

Top 10 Things Yesterday That Made Up for Losing an Hour Today:

(randomly ordered)

1) Nicole decided to make corned beef and cabbage for St. Pat’s and found a head of cabbage as big as mine.

2) We had an unplanned chat with our neighbor Shireen as we finished our and she began her walk.

3) We listened to classic reggae all day, but the highlight was taking in The Wailers’ stunning live-in-the-studio “Burnin’ and Lootin’.” Stopped us both cold as it usually does–a more frightening, intense, and real song I know not of.

4) It was chilly enough for it to be a perfect day to slurp ramen noodles for lunch.

5) At two different junctures, our cats (or more accurately, different units of our cats) seemed to form phalanxes for us. We were never in danger or on the attack.

6) My bangs had started tickling my nose, so Nicole gave me a perfect haircut. I had threatened to shave off my beard, but after 6-7 years the result might have been doughy and disturbing.

7) I read an exciting chunk of James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux novel Heaven’s Prisoners. How many are there, Hardin? I may have to read them all after all; this may be my favorite.

8) Donnie Harden Jr and I had another of our Facebook Messenger music gabs, this one about the crashes that claimed Otis and Skynyrd. We also turned over in our minds the complications of those Southern rockers.

9) After talking about it for months, we finally watched Anthony Hopkins’ KING LEAR. Hopkins and Jim Carter were stellar; Florence Pugh and Karl Johnson were underemployed. Also, the endings of the First Quarto and the First Folio were combined, which was either a stroke or a cop-out, I’m not sure.

10) Trying their oyster mushroom Cabernet ravioli and red gravy, we confirmed once again that Pasta La Fata is still the thing around here.

Extra credit: we pretty much fell asleep laughing through two episodes of Kim’s Convenience. And Tux was foiled in one of his ongoing attempts to block our goodnight kiss.

Streaming for Strivers:

Still celebrating the great jazz drummer Roy Haynes‘ 96th birthday up in here.

Cloister Commentary, Day 357: Forming the Yin-Yangs

As rain, clouds, and cold descended, we attempted to weather it sans heater. Or rather, I did, as Nicole was relatively warm at work. Thermal underwear and an extra pair of socks got me to her quitting time; the cats either formed yin-yangs or crawled under comforters. The chill did keep me alert enough to finish Hari Kunzru’s Red Pill, or as I now like to think of it, Dread Pill. Not sure whether I’d recommend it other than if you enjoy being aggressively sobered (and I ain’t talkin’ ’bout hooch).

Activities: after our terrific experience with the film Babylon, Nicole requested a reggae playlist on her Spotify account (particularly peopled with the women of reggae), and I obliged, unsurprisingly ending up listening to reggae myself all day. I was reminded once again that NOT EVERYTHING IS STREAMING.

After a Shakespeare’s pizza and salad, we had another delightful Zoom with Frank and Rebecca Wimer-Pisano. We like to gab about movies; under discussion last night were Nomadland, Moonlight, and the new Billie Holiday biopic. Rebecca’s new name for KFC nearly brought us tears of laughter.

Full justice for Breonna Taylor!

Streaming for Strivers:

Nyabinghi-powered goodness from an early Rasta too-soon-departed.

Cloister Commentary, Day 356: Intern-al Inspiration

Supervising student teachers can make you want to get back in the game in two ways. One way is unfortunate–you want to show ’em how it’s done. However, the other is inspiration–you want to try those new ideas yourself, and feel the rush again; you might even want to team-teach with the intern. The latter was my experience yesterday morning. This intern taught an engaging and varied lesson that focused on both Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls and the life of the great Toussaint L’Ouverture, and not only did it make me wish I was a high school teacher again, but I wish I’d had someone like her teaching me when I was kid. She has a great future.

Otherwise, it was a quiet but good day: trip to the mulch site; lunch featuring delicious leftover chili with plant-based protein that could fool carnivores; nose in two books, one of which, Hari Kunzru’s Red Pill, sent a chill down my spine it was so culturally (and uncomfortably) close; nice chat with Mom; listening session devoted to R.A.P. Ferreira, with whom I think I could have a beer and gab.

Thursday Movie Night? Franco Rossi’s highly recommended 1980 film set in Brixton, Babylon. It truly belongs with The Harder They Come and Rockers as a great reggae film, though it was unreleased in the States for 40 years. Upon its conclusion, the stream sent us straight to the German documentary Reggae ina Babylon, featuring Matumbi, Aswad, Steel Pulse, Alton Ellis, and other musicians who were unfortunately not identified. We will be listening to reggae non-stop for the next few days.

Streaming for Strivers:

I never tire of this poet and this band. Nicole, the band’s led by Dennis Bovell, who was behind the music for Babylon and was the bassist for Matumbi.

Cloister Commentary, Day 355: Heavy Weather Coming

Days of rain coming, as well as several anniversaries in the coming months, not all of them happy. A post by a friend, and my wife’s reminder, got me thinking about getting steeled. I’ve never looked hard at that verb formation before.

Nicole’s been feeling under the weather lately (and the weather hasn’t even arrived). Fortunately, she was able to work from home yesterday and (physically, at least) take it easy.

At work, I managed to set up a recurring appointment with a student athlete who simply needs deadline checks and a sounding board. This semester has been a slow one where tutoring is concerned but this seems like an encouraging way to close it. I was invited to teach summer school for Stephens again, too, so that’s a definite plus.

Taxes are finished: federal “damage” offset by state “bounty.” In an isolated occurrence, I had to fill out a capital gains worksheet that apparently was created by a drunken Rube Goldberg-type character. Line 16 instructions, 1040, if you’d like to marvel at it.

On the way to pick up some food at Bangkok Gardens:, we mused about where we’d dine in when we first felt it was advisable, and when we might feel it would be advisable. We really didn’t arrive at a conclusion for either query. Have you?

Streaming for Strivers:

I’m always looking for more Sonny Sharrock on record. He left us far too soon. Just discovered this this morning.

Cloister Commentary, Day 354: Futile IT/IRS Work Day

Turned a day off into a futile work day, IT- / IRS-style. The WiFi software and driver mysteriously disappeared from our laptop, so I tried everything suggested by about 10 forums to absolutely no avail. I have yet to return it to its factory specs…but that may be next. I also seemed to have successfully completed our fed and state tax forms (though, working on-line, my state work got wiped once in the process), only to get a late-breaking e-mail about a late 1099B that is on its way about five minutes after I wrapped it up. I’m never gonna get that work day back.

As if in compensation for both of our difficult days, Nicole and I went for another great neighborhood walk, enjoyed some chili-‘getti, and spread some Skippy on the coffee-chocolate brownies she made this weekend. I also defiantly rejoiced in breaking my New Year’s Resolution by buying a very scarce record that popped up on Discogs, The Supreme Angels’ If I’m Too High. That’s a gospel album, by the way…

Streaming for Strivers:

A great singer and lefty guitarist who was covered early on by The Rolling Stones. And she’s still at it.

Cloister Commentary, Day 353: A Room With A View

The fact that it was a slow day is best exemplified by how excited I was after cleaning up and rearranging my office. Smart humans would have, upon initially moving into it, immediately arranged it in the manner to which I changed it: I have a window view, yet I’ve had my back to it the entire time (it does look out onto a dormant chimney that is also reminiscent of a guard tower, so it is not exactly beauteous). Flipping my work station improved my Zoom appearance so much that, during our staff meeting, they thought I was in another location. Also, I swept the equivalent of a half-package of candy-coated fennel seeds off the floor. I don’t think my office had been swept since I moved into it in 2016.

One of the student teachers I supervise taught a lesson on Macbeth that I had the pleasure of observing. Her host teacher is a former student of mine to whom I taught that play; I do believe I forced the Scottish Play on students for almost 20 years, and about have it memorized. The intern did a very careful, thorough and enthusiastic job–in fact, made me miss it. That’s a by-product of supervising student teachers.

After a long walk, we settled in for an excellent dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches on Uprise Bakery Ancient Grain bread (Nicole made mine with pepper cheese), steamed spinach and taters, pickled beets, and chocolate coffee brownies made with Blue Plate mayonnaise. She bemoaned the boring nature of the meal, but what do you think? I thought I was damned lucky.

We fell asleep to the news that Columbia Public Schools will be fully in-seat April 5. Nicole should be fully vaccinated by then, and I hope all or most of the rest of the district’s staff will be.

Streaming for Strivers:

I can’t stand the rain, so I’m steeling myself for the end of the week.