Cloister Commentary, Day 323: Wally’s World of Books

Headed out in the morning to drop off Mom’s recycling, grab pre-Super Bowl groceries, and swing by Wal-Mart for some meds I left in Columbia. I do not mean to sound condescending or snide–though I’ve never quite been hopeful, I have been cruising Wally’s book section for many, many years–but I was stunned, then happy to see Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Anti-Racist and Robin DeAngelo’s White Fragility displayed right next to Bill O’Reilly’s new Killing Trees. I grabbed a copy simply to mark the auspicious occasion, then remembered my resolution to refrain from buying books this year (and just read what I have)–then came back five hours later and bought it anyway. (Yes, I was masked as were most of the customers.)

Viewing: Mom and I watched Mizzou’s cage squad temporarily crush the Crimson Tide, then almost cough up a loss. Later, we looked for a series we hadn’t tried, and, remembering friends’ recommendations, sampled Peaky Blinders. Is watching three straight episodes “sampling”? I don’t know about Mom, but I’m in. Now to convince Nicole….

Ultra-cold weather’s moving in. Winter and mourning are a devastating mix, but we are fighting through it. We talked through some strategies and it made a difference. Jigsaw puzzles, books, hardwood and historical dramas did, too.

Streaming for Strivers:

Wisdom of the elders. A classic Black history document.

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….