Cloister Commentary, Day 106: Best-Laid Schemes

Yesterday was the first day I’ve felt relatively myself in two weeks. My body and mind still compelled me to take a nap, but I find when I obey them I’m better off. I also read 10 pages of a book without stopping, so that too was a good sign.

I was thwarted in my second attempt to get my dad’s truck licensed over to me; the DMV had what I am sure is a well-deserved early day off for the 4th. I guess I’m in a toot so I can get my old red-orange, bumper-stickered ’93 (or is it ’92) Ford Splash sold. It’ll be nice to once again be able to drive inconspicuously.

In preparation for today, I revisited Frederick Douglass’ 1852 4th of July address. I’d bought my dad David W. Blight’s outstanding Douglass biography for Father’s Day, and after having a great discussion about race and white privilege the afternoon before his eventually fatal accident, I had a feeling he’d love it. “The best-laid scheme o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley….

More on that speech. Dr. Mark Lomax II is a force.

Facebook deservedly gets a bad rap at times, but I’m thankful it allows me to stay connected to important figures from my past. In the early evening, my former student Joseph Kenney and I had a terrific Messenger chat about his new podcast (“It’s a Rap”), Columbia’s racial history, books, Scarface, Hickman’s radio station, and much more. Joe was an athlete, scholar, and a presence any teacher would welcome: passionate, outspoken, funny, curious, and challenging. One day I hope I can see him again in person; I might show up on one of his future podcasts.

Nicole did an amazing job replicating one of Mom’s dishes (in fact, the first home-cooked meal Jane and I ate after Dad’s passing). If you’ve not had a chicken breast baked with a crust of Parmesan and Panko, or petite taters baked in olive oil and fresh rosemary, I highly recommend it.

Streaming for Strivers:

When I think of Joe Kenney, I think of ‘Face.

Cloister Commentary, Day 101: Wavelengths

Opened the day with a wonderful conversation with Mom’s neighbors Ronnie and Missy Williams. Ronnie was the first friend I made when I moved to Monett in 1980, occupied our new house until my family could join me, and started a summer factory job. For about a week, all I had was a mattress, a blanket, a pillow, some clothes and a diddy bag, a jam box, and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes’ Hearts of Stone 8-track (?). Ronnie quickly acted as a conduit between me and some Monettians around my age, and I’ve always been grateful. Ronnie’s going to keep Mom’s lawn mowed and Missy’s going to offer herself as a resource, since she checks in on other women in the neighborhood who’ve lost their husbands.

Afterwards, I cleaned out, vacuumed, washed and waxed Dad’s truck. Apparently no one in Monett installs car stereos, so I will be leaning on the ol’ FM wavelengths for a bit. Gotta have a CD player in any vehicle o’ mine.

Our friends in Monett have supported us with great grub in eye-popping fashion over the past week, but God almighty it has been great to return to Overeem/Volker home cooking! Jane has always been a sharp chef, and we enjoyed her Panko-and-Parmesan crusted chicken breasts and olive-oiled and rosemary’d lil’ taters Saturday night and garlic buttered shrimp last night. I may also have set a personal record by devouring three helpings of lettuce salad on the former eve.

I Zoomed in the afternoon with the Nicole – Heather – Jill Power Trio. At the moment of its convening, I really needed the connection; I haven’t been able to start processing past events with any regularity, and I was feeling a mite unsteady. The Zoomversation gave me a lift.

Closing out the day, Mom watched her Sunday PBS regular shows, and I read and listened to Bob Dylan and the band. Hoping for the best for both of us and my brother this week.

Streaming for Sustainers:

“Don’t believe what you’ve heard / ‘Faithful”s not a bad word.”

Cloister Commentary, Day 23: “Sound and Vision”

We, like you, have stumbled upon (or been forced to observe, rather) several habits in this sheltering that I think we’re going to keep when we are liberated. Nicole is a great cook, but she also works her butt off AND we both are tasteaholics who love supporting our many local restaurants, so we haven’t ever eaten in all that much. However, by my calculations, we’ve only gone out to pick up food once in the last 27 days. I’m here to tell you: homecooking is great. Yesterday, she sautéed some fresh asparagus, fried some new potatoes, and grilled some cheese sandwiches (with, instead of butter, Blue Plate Mayonnaise)–that was just lunch. Dinner was chickpea tikka masala with basmati rice! Now, I don’t just sit around like Henry VIII, fork and knife in fists that pound the tabletop! Our deal has always been that she can make as big a mess in the kitchen as she wants; I’ll clean up and put up everything. Feels about even, but I know I get the best of it–plus I’ve lost weight while never feeling unsatisfied. Ok, I’ll stop…

This was our first “flipped house” of the plague. That’s when the feline-o-phobe dog and I go downstairs and the cats come up. So it was “Music in the Man Cave” for me.

I loved“Fame,” “Golden Years,” and (especially) “Young Americans” (that song tortured me) as a teen, and“Let’s Dance”always kicked ass no matter HOW many times I heard it lifeguarding that summer in Monett, but I was never a massive Bowie fan at the time. However, reading’s always been a corrective to my waywardness, and after taking in David Bowie: A Life (by former Ziggy crumbsnatcher Dylan Jones), Rob Sheffield’s On Bowie, and Sasha Geffen’s Glitter Up the Dark: How Pop Music Broke the Binary, I’m fully on board. Better late than never. I listened to his work alllll afternoon. And hit up Discogs for some CDs I surprisingly don’t have.

Speaking of music and habits, I recently hit my Apple Music limit of 100,000 songs in the ol’ iCloud library. So I just blew the whole thing up and started anew. I need to remember to only “Add” what I need, and that the entire contents of my external drive don’t have to be (can’t be) in my library, too. #nerdalert

Random facts of COVID-19 impact: 1) My garage door opener fixed itself on its own after I ignored it for two weeks. Word to the wise looking to save money. 2) We decided to cancel our lodging in Lawrence in late June for theFree State Fest(this year, John Waters and Boots Riley were among those scheduled). It ain’t gonna happen, we’re fairly sure. And if it does, we won’t be inclined to attend.

I’m not religious, but happy Easter anyway. He not busy being (re)born is busy dying.

Streaming for Shut-Ins:

Such sound and vision.