Cloister Commentary, Day 295: Don’t Freeze the Prize Pile

January 9 was a great day for Nicole, my mom, and me. We needed it. Like many Americans, we have not been sleeping well, and while awake we’ve been distracted by sudden mental prognostications. In fact, we woke up at 3 a.m yesterday, which didn’t bode well. I am thankful some forebodings don’t pan out.

We spent a morning in quiet learning and reflection. Nicole’s reading Robin DiAngelo’s essential White Fragility; I’m still enraptured by Mary Gabriel’s Ninth Street Women, which is making me want to paint (did you know I used to draw and paint alllllll the time until sports and music interfered?). I also listened to Spiritual Jazz’s eye-popping, ear-busting, heart-strengthening Impulse Records volume.

In the afternoon, I made grilled cheese sandwiches for the three of us (an accomplishment for me), we (I?) kept one eye on the Buffalo – Indy game (I’m rooting for Chiefs – Bills in the playoff future), and played two fun rounds of Canasta. We love that card game–the cards are beautiful–but neither one of us had ever “frozen the prize pile,” which is kind of a d**k / b***h move, which we came to understand after Nicole tried it to keep me from winning. It slowly, very slowly, kills a round, but it can insure a win if employed at the right moment (which it wasn’t, unfortunately for my spouse). However, I invented an “anti-freezing” rule (you can sacrifice a “big” Wild Card into the prize pile) and the game revived. In retrospect, we advise not employing the freeze in the first place.

Dinner: pork loin, baked potatoes, peas (I ate most of them, Mark), and Jane’s incredible butterscotch pudding cake (though she used cheesecake pudding and butterscotch chips–I just had a big slice for breakfast).

I was somewhat skeptical about the new Bee Gees documentary, which we’d decided to watch. I enjoyed them thoroughly as a teen; I still remember hearing “Jive Talkin'” explode from the radio and vowing to tape-record it the next time it was played (old-school “downloading”!). I’m here to tell you that documentary is a blast–and frequently revelatory. Also, when the film looks back to the anti-disco riot incited in 1979 by Steve Dahl, the footage strikes disconcertingly close to home (though the brothers seemed to distance themselves afterward by claiming not to be disco). Proof of my enjoyment of the documentary was that I was mentally compiling a perfect Bee Gees mix as I watched.

It’s important to keep your eye on the ball in this moment. But you also don’t get these moments back–spend them well.

Streaming for Strivers:

Let’s hope more forebodings never come back no more, no more, hmmmm….

Cloister Commentary, Day 290: Reading is FUNdamental!

I’m reading a terrific book by Mary Gabriel, 9TH STREET WOMEN: LEE KRASNER, ELAINE DE KOONING, GRACE HARTIGAN, JOAN MITCHELL, AND HELEN FRANKENTHALER–FIVE PAINTERS AND THE MOVEMENT THAT CHANGED MODERN ART. Don’t you love it when a book’s so absorbing you have to–want to–read other books along with it? I previously had a decent knowledge of abstract expressionism, but Gabriel’s narrative, told through the experiences of these criminally undervalued artists, has energized me so much I put five books on hold at the public library and read one of those in an evening. I told Nicole I was teaching myself a course, which is cool because at the very least I’m teaching. Point of fact: I was hoping to find art books representing each of the women in the subtitle, but guess what? The book itself is virtually the only text in the library devoted to any of them. Good reason to read it, right there.

We got two brief neighborhood walks in, ate intelligently, and got back in our regular routine. Nicole had meetings (teacher work day), and I had hoped to work on a little curriculum for my upcoming on-line course, but only one student is enrolled and class starts Tuesday, so…I THOUGHT ABOUT curriculum for awhile. I’m tutoring for sure, as well as “virtually supervising” two student teachers for Mizzou–but I can’t do much in those areas yet.

Movie tip for the day: are you a fan of Andy Griffith, or director Elia Kazan, or writer Budd Schulberg? If so, and you haven’t seen A Face in the Crowd, check it out! You’ll get a charge out of it.

Streaming for Strivers:

Georgia on our minds.