Cloister Commentary, Day 282: Home Again

Nicole and I headed back home yesterday after a holiday with my mom and my brother and sister-in-law. I knew Nicole would do so with no problem, but I’d worried how successfully I would be able to stay masked (other than being outdoors and sleeping and eating) for the whole visit. It’s not that I didn’t want to; I’m simply too present-minded, meaning my mind’s so full of everything important I need to attend to that I can forget the most important task. I would give myself an A-. It has been a very, very hard year for all of us and we needed to be together.

On the ride home, we listened to the audiobook of Wright Thompson’s terrific Pappyland. I’ve recently mentioned it, but if you have a gift card for a bookstore, think about this one. It’s about the famous Pappy Van Winkle line of bourbons, but it’s also about fathers and sons and so much more. I was dazzled and stunned by a passage in which Thompson links Rick Telander, Bruce Springsteen, and Thomas Merton as if that would be as natural as spring water running downhill.

We kicked back in the evening with a Shakespeare’s pizza, a glass, some music, and Christmas gifts. I fiddled with a new Inspire “health watch” as Nicole warned, “Nerd Alert!”

Streaming for Strivers:

I have the cassette.

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.