Cloister Commentary, Day 332: Lundi Gras Workout

Ahhhh, intense, sustained physical activity! I’d truly missed it. Despite the possibility that I would feel crippled in the aftermath from 99% muscular atrophy, I shoveled a long, two-car driveway, accompanying sidewalk, and a bit of curb yesterday. And survived! I’m not even that sore as I thumb this out. One of three highlights of the day.

Second highlight: Nicole, Mom and I got caught up with David Letterman’s Netflix interview show by checking out his powerful conversations with Dave Chappelle (that dude is inspiringly thoughtful and eloquent offstage!) and Ellen DeGeneres (her journey’s been even more inspiring than I knew). We also dug DeGeneres’ recent Netflix special.

Third highlight: my good friend from NOLA, Clifford Ocheltree, called me on the phone–on the phone!!!–to wish me a happy birthday (it’s still pretty early, but also still welcome). He brought me up to speed on his mayor’s struggles with Mardi Gras and COVID, his continued genealogical deep-dive, which connects to Columbia, and the fascinating historical humans John Hay and Claude King. He packed all that in to about 30 minutes.

Streaming for Strivers:

It’s Mardi Gras–do what you wanna, to a point?

Cloister Commentary, Day 85: There Is No Sweeter Sound

Nicole and I opened the day with our 68th slice of pandemic peanut butter and jelly toast since March 17th, and hiked from Cosmo Park to the start of the Bear Creek Trail. We met Bess Frissell, in her role with Columbia Parks and Recreation, tending to the health of the trail behind the wheel of a monster tractor. We’ve either seen or talked to her at length four times in the last week, and it’s always a joy.

I have written in the recent past about our work trying to establish a proper memorial for a great friend and teacher, Bess’ father George Frissell, who passed unexpectedly on May 14. Yesterday, through a fantastic group effort, we were able to finalize the project and launch a GoFundMe to make it a reality. It’s my first to help organize, and I’m filled with hope, excitement, but also tinges of fear, as our goal is ambitious, the times do not lend themselves to free funds, and momentum has grown very quickly in the first hours of the launch. The generosity shown by contributors so far has been overwhelming.

The mailbox issued forth an amazing but apparently out of print post-World War II gospel collection entitled There Will Be No Sweeter Sound, compiled by the near-infallible expert Opal Louis Nations. I immediately loaded up the CD player, and we were lifted and gifted as we read on the couch.

The evening: burritos, quesadillas, chile rellenos, sorbet, margaritas, Netflix’s Michelle Obama documentary (a companion to her excellent memoir), and a word or two of wisdom from Dave Chappelle. If you missed that, it’s less than half an hour, and it’s right here:

Streaming for Strivers:

I can find no full album link for Kahil El’Zabar and David Murray’s new album Kahil El’Zabar’s Spirit Groove, but it is absolutely hypnotic. This sample is 15 minutes–it might just center you if you need that.



Cloister Commentary, Day 51: Difficult and Risky

Nicole planted flowers, and I was unsuccessful in trying to install a Wi-Fi adapter on her school computer. I did finish reading a book and write a little bit about Little Richard, who passed. I worry Jerry Lee Lewis will not survive the pandemic.

Driving to the bank and a curbside restaurant pickup and back, we speculated nerve-wrackingly about what the fall semester at our schools will look like. None of the possibilities look anything less than difficult and risky. The speculation was ended temporarily by margaritas and a Dave Chappelle stand-up special. 

The day marked our 30th year together, and I’m happy to report we still have fun hanging out even if it isn’t fireworks, beaches, Ferris wheels, and party buses every day. We can be next to each other, content in silence, and address the routines and rituals with commitment and sometimes a zen-like pleasure. Even when sifting kitty litter and picking up dog poop.

I just realized that yesterday I didn’t write about the day before, which is what I do with these–I got excited by our anniversary and forgot. Friday, May 8, will hereafter be known as “The Day ‘Cloister Commentary’ Went Dark.” I already can barely remember what we did, so I suspect, dear reader, you didn’t miss much.

Streaming for Shut-Ins:

Happy Mother’s Day. Behold the humble mastery of one of American music’s most vaunted mothers.