Cloister Commentary, Day 155: Boone County Numerology

Yesterday wasn’t New Year’s Day, but every day’s a good day for black-eyed peas, collard greens, and sweet cornbread. Nicole rustled up a big batch in the afternoon and they were delicious–we favor it all mixed together, heavy on the greens. I hope they’re good luck no matter when you eat them; we have to counter Boone County numerology (59, 64, 81, 78, 60.8–and those are the wrong kind of lottery numbers).

I had intended to surprise Nicole by telling her just before we hit the sack, “Congratulations! You’re married to a notary!” However, we stayed up so late watching The Searchers and Love with the Proper Stranger on Turner Classic Movies (Natalie Wood’s night in their “Summer Under the Stars” series) one or the other of us was asleep before I had a chance. Thanks, MacKenzie, for the advice–I can’t wait to take the oath and start stampin’!

Streaming for Strivers:

And they say free jazz is unlistenableā€¦.

Cloister Commentary, Day 141: Love of Life

Lists–for when you’re too lazy to paragraph, or when no narratives emerge, or when hellishness forces you to look closely, like you always should.


1 ) Sitting in a car in the rain, waiting with sanitizer poised for Nicole to return with our groceries, listening to the solid beats and rhymes of a 40-year-old man I last saw when he sat in my classroom when he was 15

2 ) Reading comic book stories of Luba and her family, created by Gilbert Hernandez.

3 ) Sitting across the table from Nicole, just talking.

4 ) Chasing a kitten up a cat tower.

5 ) Watching a kid score 23 points in an NBA Bubble Game whom we saw play in Battle High School Gymnasium when he was 16.

6 ) Opening the mailbox and finding a very compassionate note from good friends and a 45 from International Anthem Records that one of those friends would have loved.

7 ) Half-napping and listening to The Mamas and The Papas (and The Wrecking Crew) on headphones.

8 ) Eating a decent shrimp poboy and fries from Cajun Crab Shack, with Wickles Pickles subbed in for their quotidian ones. Who likes quotidian pickles, I ask you?

9 ) Sipping a fresh peach daiquiri and watching City Lights and Modern Times on Turner Classic Movies.

10 ) Sharing satisfactions and regrets with my betrothed before we lapsed into sleep.

Streaming for Survivors:

One of the first albums I ever mail-ordered, and it’s still potent. Thank you, Trouser Press.

Cloister Commentary, Day 139: Revivals

I know enough about Facebook’s malfeasances to run screaming from the platform, but I think of George Strait and Dylan Thomas: I’m in too deep to turn back now, so I guess I’ll sing in my chains like the sea. I’m duplicating this journey elsewhere on the InnerTubes, so it’s less about this than not being able to stay in such immediate touch with so many people who’ve enriched my life. Maybe I’ll pay for it one day. (Thanks to my former student Kristin Conrad for making me furrow my brow over it.)

My major project yesterday was finishing up some estate work for Nicole and me. To my chagrin, I discovered I’d last looked at the documents in 2014. However, I put my head down and bulled through most of the rest of it; now, we have only the hardest questions remaining. One would think that, since we have no heirs, those concerns should be easy to address, but they are not. And though we’re both pretty healthy, that can be quite a temporary condition under normal circumstances, not to mention right now.

Nicole made chickpea tikka masala with brown basmati rice: delicious, healthy, and very hard to confine to one serving, but I did–I’m working on my “COVID 10.” After dinner, we tuned into Turner Classic Movies and deeply enjoyed Elmer Gantry. What a wild performance by Burt Lancaster, what an essential archival viewing for U. S. citizens (even though it softens Sinclair Lewis’ novel a bit), and what surprising production values and erotic touches for a 1960 mainstream film! Did you know (I bet Rex Harris does) that both actors who played “Sammy Baker Davis Junior”‘s grandpas in Sixteen Candles also play small but key roles in Elmer Gantry, shot 24 years before?

Streaming for Survivors:

What a band, and what an inside-outside record!