Cloister Commentary, Day 294: It Wasn’t (Quite) All Bad

I have been posting too much about the horror and foreboding that has been so occupying our minds in recent days. We aren’t even paying as much attention as usual to a pandemic that’s found another higher gear. Not going into it in detail further here, other than to say it’s affecting our sleep and causing us to fear the next 10 days (at least).

Nicole worked. I cleaned up the front yard and worked on my music blog. Some readers know that, at the end of every month, I update a list of new albums of the calendar year that I think are worthwhile. Partially due to distraction, partially due to fatigue, partially due to feelings of futility, partially to it being 2021, I’d resisted finalizing my 2020 list. However, I discovered that a writer I’ve admired and read for (wow!) almost 40 years had found some worthwhile listening from my posts, so that inspired me to follow all the way through.

One of my favorite people at Stephens e-mailed me to let me know my spring composition class wasn’t going to happen, but since I just learned she shares a song every morning with her administrative group, I sent a couple relevant Impressions songs her way as a measure of good faith. I also learned that both teacher interns I’ll be supervising this semester have been placed at my favorite local high school, Battle, and under the auspices of two very respected English teachers, one of whom is a former student of mine. Awesome.

In the evening, we had a Shakespeare’s pizza and some fresh Happy Hollow spinach, and I received a very inspiring message from a student I taught at Parkview High School 37 years ago. We reminisced, and he admitted that, though his mind was mostly on music, girls, and beer, I got his attention and he’s always remembered the class (though I barely knew what I was doing). He was in a band at the time, and he sent me a pic of us apiece from that year. That made my night.

I fell asleep thinking about the words of our departed friend, Jo Steitz: “If someone’s not adding color to your life, you don’t need them.”

Streaming for Strivers:

Always relevant, unfortunately.

Cloister Commentary, Day 151: Mayo a Mayo

What a wonderfully mild day for mid-August! We took a neighborhood walk in the morning and evening, finding ourselves like-minded with several neighbors during the latter.

Nicole and I have noticed there’s much division in this country‚Ķspecifically regarding which mayonnaise is the best: Duke’s or Blue Plate. We decided to settle this roiling rancor (for ourselves, at least) by buying a jar of the former–we already had three of the latter–making a tomato, lettuce and mayo sandwich with each, and taste-testing. I was “blindfolded” for my test, and had concluded which one I preferred by a slim margin, but Nicole, without telling me which one it was, declared we had to default to double-redundancy and try a small unadulterated spoonful a piece to be sure. Since seldom does suspense appear in these reports, the reader will have to wait until tomorrow for the results.

I watched all or parts of four NBA playoff games yesterday. I am not proud; at least I read during commercials and took breaks to help with lunch and dinner. Random thoughts: the Bucks still ain’t gonna cut the mustard; Indy v. Miami might be the series to be glued to, providing ‘dipo returns; I dream of a day OKC fields a team that can drill 3s on the regz; that LeBron James can pass; I’m calling a Blazers upset of L.A. (I think they’re my new favorite team that isn’t the Thunder). I probably should be cynical, but I love observing a microcosm where health and social justice are in the unavoidable forefront. Plus, I just love basketball.

I taught Donovan Wheeler when he was a ninth-grader at Parkview High School during the 1985-1986 school year (I think). He sat on the front row by the window, and was never at a loss for words–a very enjoyable smart-alleck. This semester at Stephens College, I’ll be able to help his daughter navigate her freshman year. That’s the second spawn of a stellar former student from that school year I will have worked with at Stephens, right, Rebecca? Cross-generational family education is one of the great fringe benefits of being a lifetime teacher.

Streaming for Strivers:

Definitely one of the best jazz albums produced in these United States during the last half-decade. If you’re a fan of John Coltrane, you need to acquaint yourself with JD Allen if you’ve yet to.