I seem to be thinking and writing a great deal about food nowadays. I suppose it is the influence of Thanksgiving; everybody on the Internet and on Facebook is talking about what they are having for Thanksgiving dinner.  People are precise about the subject. If any holiday meal can utilize the word “proper”, it is Thanksgiving.  People vociferate quite readily and loudly if a certain dish is missing from the meal, or it is made not quite the way mother made it.

I’m curious to know from Spo-fans if there is a “must-have or perish” imperial tid-bit for Thanksgiving.  Please leave a comment below if you please.

The Lovely Neighbor requested we bring three items: the wine, a hors d’oeuvre, and “a traditional fruit salad”. Neither one of us knows what that means. We asked for clarification but The Lovely Neighbor wasn’t very helpful or specific. Someone, being a Baptist, thought of Ambrosia salad.  For those who don’t know what Ambrosia salad is, it is a bricolage of fruit bits (mostly tinned) bound together with some sort of white stuff (mayonnaise, miracle whip, or sour cream – all quite nasty). I never had any when growing up (being Congregationalist) and it certainly was not part of the rubric of Spo-thanksgivings.   Someone went to the grocery store yesterday evening and bought a sundry of fruit bits consisting of mandarin oranges, seedless grapes, and the like.  I forget what sort of binder he will use, but it won’t be mayonnaise. Someone’s aversion for the “M” (as we call it) is legendary.  He plans on putting into the conglomerate  shredded coconut.  My distaste for coconut isn’t quite as extreme as Someone’s for the “M” word, but it enough  I may be off the hook having to take a “no thank you helping”.

Tomorrow’s get-together is potluck and I daresay other people will bring dishes ‘not quite proper’ for Thanksgiving as measured by the nostalgic yardstick of my Inner Child.  However, I often say if you can not have tradition, then have an adventure. Perhaps I will be introduced to a smorgasbord of novel and exciting culinary delights. Or not.  The other “dishes  to pass” may be more along the line of Cheez-Whiz on Ritz crackers. This hardly qualifies for haute cuisine, but it sounds infinitely more tasty than Ambrosia salad.


It’s time for me to provide some medical information.

I am either a nag or a bitch, you choose.

I remember my nutrition professor saying the average thanksgiving dinner contains nearly 4,500 calories with 230 grams from fat. These stats were meant to help us maintain portion control and keep down on calories. It had the same effect of Nancy Reagan’s ‘Just say no” campaign; it fell on deaf ears. My school mates were in their 20s and they nearly all had metabolisms of hummingbirds. Half of them were starving anyway. Nerts to her we all thought.

Now I am a middle age man continually battling the bulge, her Cassandra-like words of warning are taken more to heart.  I recently checked the math. Mind! these numbers are based on rather modest serving sizes which I fear no one really eats:

6 ounces turkey = 300 calories

1/2 cup of stuffing = 300 calories

Dinner roll with butter = 300

Sweet potatoes with nasty marshmallows = another 300

3/4 cup potatoes with a 1 ounce gravy = 150

1/2 cup  of green bean casserole = 100

300 calories for the pumpkin pie – 400mg with whipped cream.

Total = 1,850 calories  

This doesn’t sound too obscene but this assumes ‘proper portions’ and no seconds.


Then there is the pre-dinner fare:

Two glasses of wine four ounces each (no rubbish either) = 250

Bourbon (two shots)  = 500

a few (and only a few ) cheese nibbles = 200

“A modest few” chips with 1/4 cup of dip = 250

Total = 1,200 calories        Grand total of 3,050 calories** 

This is the caloric equivalent of eating nearly six Big Macs in one sitting.

** This does not include the calories from the afternoon football drinks and nibbles and the late night snacks.

I see how noshing and not watching portion control could easily make 3,050 go to 4,500 calories.

I should just feign illness and stay home and avoid it all.

An opposite approach to all this food folly is to call a spade a spade: this is a day not to give a hoot about calories and portion control. Just don’t to eat this way the rest of the year.

I have dibs on the sour cream onion dip.

And make mine a double.




Yesterday Someone and I drove down to Tucson town, to attend a local production of “Rigoletto”. It was a decent performance although Gilda was continually taken away in Hefty trash bags which was ignominious for her.  It was a matinee; the average age of the audience was around eighty.  We witnessed a beldame fall back onto the stairs. A few nights ago we witnessed a fall by a stately sage at the symphony.  I worry about the oldsters. Perhaps they should give up the theater in the way they should surrender driving.  There comes a time it is too hazardous to going out.

I had some Sunday night-going back to work blues only to realize this week is only three days long. I was placed under pressure not to work Friday, for no one else plans to do so.  The result of my surrender is the clinic staff can stay home too.  The three work days before thanksgiving are usually quiet days -not because there isn’t work to be done, but people are too busy to come to their appointments.  I hear about the problems after the fact.

Thanksgiving day is when I start feeding the birds. This is a tradition going back to my Midwest youth. The male cardinals would rubricate the snow-white background atop of my forest green bird feeder to make a lovely Christmas scene. Alas, there is no snow in Phoenix, and probably no point in feeding the birds either, for they can find food all the year.  Nevertheless I may buy a bag of birdseed (sunflower seeds, no rubbish) and “put out” and see who takes it. We don’t have squirrels, which in a way is another disappointment.  In a way I miss the dastards.

While the birds are eating sunflower seeds Someone and I will be eating thanksgiving dinner. We were asked by The Lovely Neighbor to bring a corn casserole  and some wine. We like gewürztraminer with turkey.  A pinot noir is nice too, if you prefer red. Pairing wine with thanksgiving dinner is challenged by the obnoxious sweet-potato dish, with its cloying marshmallows.  I think it is best not to have such item at all, and stick with wine.

The Lovely Neighbor’s brother is also coming to dinner; he is reported to be a ‘bourbon man’.  Along with the corn concoction I am bringing over a few bottles for Brother.  Happily, I only have to walk 30ft home.  Perhaps it is good I won’t have to work the next day after all.

Picture of missing sock on milk carton.Where on earth are my woolen socks? I can’t find them anywhere. As Luna Lovegood would say: “I suspect Nargles”.

It is the time of year when even we Arizonians have to close the windows and get out the winter clothing.  “Winter clothing” is a bit of a stretch as this entails sweat shirts, a light jacket, flannel sheets (and underwear), and the missing-in-action socks.  Walking around barefoot is a bit uncomfortable due to the chill of the floor.  Alas, I can’t remember where I put them. This is further infuriating as we don’t have a lot of drawers where they can go a-hiding. In my quest I’ve found a sundry of objects I thought discarded or given away but alas no socks.

I am not a clothes horse. Every year I fancy more and more the notion of having a minimal trousseau, mostly to be rid of the clutter. I would like my closet shelves to resemble one of those fancy boutique that seems to have only three purses or three sets of shoes for sale.  On the other hand, I have a dresser drawer over flooring with bow ties and a rack of Spo shirts and this suits me fine. Speaking of suits, I should dust off mine and try them on. Unlike the east coast where suits are seen as proper male attire, the west coast sees a suited fellow as someone stuck in some sort of sales job.  Sports jackets are OK for work, although they are better off on the hanger for display rather than be worn.

I disapprove of slob-attire; I try to dress up whenever I can. Last night we went to our favorite bar after symphony to have a drink waiting for the parking garage to clear.  The waitress remembered us; I asked how on earth did she do so given the myriad of customers she must see. She said we always look dapper and thus are striking.  I worry this is code for ‘two old queens’ but I beg her pardon if I am wrong.

I think I will give to charity any clothes I came across I haven’t worn in a year or forgot was there.  Maybe this is the means to finding the socks: remove the dross and expose the the miscreants.


P.S.  I found the socks. They were on the top shelf of the closet, out of eyesight. I am certain I didn’t put them there, and Someone’s supercilious look conveys he did not put them there either. I suspect Nargles.


The original plan was to cancel next Thursday for it is a fuss to cook dinner for two and we don’t need the calories. I’ve been informed The Lovely Neighbor has invited us over for a traditional Thanksgiving with all the trimmings, so there it is. Once again I dodged ‘the turkey issue’.

Turkeys and I are strangers. I enjoy them immensely (especially the drumsticks) yet I have never cooked one. Nor have I ever carved any.  Growing up, Mother cooked the bird and Father carved – always with an electric knife, the use of which makes me think of him to this day. Throughout the years I’ve never been called upon to do either task. At home Someone cooks and carves the capons and their cousins, for he likes doing both.* For going next door this thursday I was asked to bring the wine, not the turkey.

It leaves me wondering if turkey cooking and carving involves some secret skill known only the erudite. I am disbarred from entering into the mysteries of the acolytes of turkey cooks. Not knowing how to carve a bird is more irksome to me than how to cook one, for carving is one of things ‘real men should know how to do’, like changing a tire or tying a bow tie.**

Last week while rummaging through the freezer for leftover Hallowe’en treats I found two turkeys. I questioned Someone on their purchase. He explained matter of hand they were bargains and so he got them. I plan to ‘stake my claim’ on one of them and prepare it all by myself.

I learned to sew on my own; I will do likewise with carving.  I will study the cookbooks and do this myself, a true autodidact.

If anyone would like to join me for dinner, please do so. It will includes wine and trimmings and back up pepto-bismal.



* I suspect there is a more sinister element: he likes being in control and he worries if I do the turkey it will be a bungle.

** I can do both, thank you.



Blue Piggy Bank WIth CoinsI wish I understood economics. I sense there is no rhyme nor reason to it. The ‘science’ of Economics strikes me as an ephemeral irrational collection of hocus-pocus. In a Monty Python sketch a news man announces one hundred million pounds were wiped off the market this morning when someone on the floor of the stock exchange coughed.  When I first saw this sketch in 1975 or so I took this as quite probable.  Some folks think my field of psychology is a myriad of mumbo-jumbo but economics strikes me as far worse.

Perhaps there really is an objective side to economics but only a small fraction (maybe the infamous 1%) knows what it is and they aren’t telling. Worse, they tell the rest of us a falsehood as a divertissment while they literally laugh all the way to the bank.

I should take a course in economics. On my own I’ve tried a few times to read up on the subject only to become more confused than before; economic lexicon is rather fustian and not at all interesting (at least to me).

In my youth Father would no more discuss his income and the house bills than discuss his sex life. This left my brothers and I with the schizophrenic belief we were  a) rich as Roosevelt and b) always on the brink of going to the poor house.*  Freud would have a field day knowing my childhood angst is duplicated in my present relationship. For years I have pleaded, coaxed, and nagged Someone to make us a budget.  Without it I sense we are very well off and yet we have no money.

I’ve never been keen at squirreling away money for retirement for I have never believed I would see this unicorn. Retirement was like Moses and The Promised Land; Yahweh will not let me live long enough to enter it.  If by wild chance I lived long enough to the age of retirement, by then the world’s economy will have collapsed** and/or Social Security would be bust or WWIII would have wiped up my life savings, meager as they were.

At fifty I fear it is too late to learn the mysteries of economics or whatever I should have learned in my twenties. I would like a budget though, which appeals to my Swiss/German heritage for order.  The 2001 Honda is getting past its prime and I would like to travel – if  Someone can assure me we have enough nickels in the laundry room piggy bank.

Pennywise and pound foolish, indeed.



* Apparently located somewhere in Ohio, which would be insult to injury.

** No doubt due to someone coughing at the NYSE.



Woody Allen is quoted to have said “Eighty percent of success is showing up”.  In Medicine I suspect the other twenty percent of success is ten percent decent documentation and the other ten percent is not being a jerk.

From time to time I review medical cases consisting of complaints against doctors. These originate from patients or clinics remonstrating their (now former) physician failed to follow standard of care, usually written in some sort of formal fiddle-faddle. But the gist is always the same. The doctor has pissed them off and their feelings are hurt.

I may not be the most brilliant of physicians but I connected the dots early if I did the following things I would look brilliant:

Explain things

Document what I am doing – and why

Actually listen to patients

and (most important)

Don’t be an asshole. 

The case I just finished (and what a job that was!)  made my eyes cross how awful was the physician. The clinic where he worked created a catalog of complaints against him. Reading between the lines I daresay most of their kvetches were spot-on valid.  However, the clinic notes and EHR are so bad there is no way to support any of their allegations against the man.   Dr. Demento is going to get off thanks to poor documentation.

I’m convinced if doctors acknowledged their blunders and were less patronizing  this would eliminate most lawsuits and medical board investigations.  I’ve had a few cases when I could have been easily cleaned out by a lawsuit but I had the balls to say I’m sorry and/or hear the patient vociferate without becoming defensive.

Along with a much-earned consultation fee I receive ‘free advice’ from each case I review on how NOT to be a bad doctor.

I may not have élan but I am not as a schmuck.

*Beim schlafengehen – German for ‘at the time of falling/going to sleep.’

I thank all of you for your comments of concern and encouragement. To clarify: I am not burned out from work; I like my job and I am proud of my profession. My dissatisfactions lie elsewhere.  I will post on these matters anon.

Meanwhile there is beef broth.

It’s getting down into the 40s at night and for the first time in many months it is cold enough to keep the windows closed. I am wrapped in my white terry bathrobe for the first time since January.  I am drinking beef broth. Broth – whether beef, chicken or vegetable – is a lovely beverage for late November nights. The steamy salty hot toddy runs down the throat and warms my innards.  The sodium content is not good; it is best not to think about it. All the same, it soothes the mind and makes the evening lovely.

I will unpack the gym bag and repack it for the morrow. I need to lay out tomorrow’s clothing; I need to pack Tuesday’s lunch. This concludes the day. I will go to bed (probably with a good read) and pull up the covers. Harper makes a good hot water bottle.  Hot broth within me; warm furry hound without.

My hibernaculum is complete; please don’t wake me until March.  Sleep dreams to Spo-fans near and far.


SideviewYesterday while walking on top of the mountain that overlooks Palm Springs I felt a black mood come over me. All the open Windows in my brain, which I had counted on this morning to create a splendid blog entry, all shut down leaving me dull and stupid. I suppose it was the altitude. It was well above 8,000 ft; the temperature was in the lower 40s and the wind howled like it was early spring in Michigan. Instant seasonal affective disorder.

It annoys me the-weekend-is-over-I-have-to-go-back-home blues likes to kick in while having the holiday; it ought to wait until we get on the road, but there it is.

Having a break from the mundane gave me pause to consider Life, the Universe, and Everything. I need to get more vivacity back into my life. Taken further, the many dissatisfactions in my daily deeds need doing. There’s got to be a shakeup.

While Someone drives home today, engrossed in Sirius broadway tunes, I will look out the window and start to solidify what I want to improve. Where this is going I am uncertain. I hope by day’s end I have some concrete goals established and the initial steps necessary to inchoate them.  I don’t think I will blog about this much. Self improvement entries make dull reading.  And The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections won’t have it.  Perhaps I will sneak in an improvement update when they occur.

Yesterday instead of buying oh-so-practical boxer underwear I bought some bright and bold ‘Colt” shorts to replace my worn out nether drawers. Now I am off to brunch. For breakfast I am having oatmeal and fruit, not eggs Benedict. These are small steps I suppose but satisfying nevertheless.


Greetings from Palm Springs.

How I’ve longed to be here! There is nothing specific about the place which makes it so seraphic, other than I feel good to be here. Perhaps it is the cleaner air; my allergies have already cleared up. Maybe it’s the company of fine fellows – Fearsome Beard came to town (the dear!).  Being surrounded by handsome hirsute hombres (in various stages of dress) probably has something to do with the sense of eudaimonia.  Sometimes it is best not to analyze things, especially when things are well.  Sit back, have a cool drink, gab with buddies and gap at the lovelies.

Someone and I drove into town last night to meet friends who have been here on holiday. They are all well over four feet.  Shawn drove in from San Diego. This morning we had a lovely breakfast consisting of more calories than I consume in a day. Now it is poolside sitting and not more else. I have no sense of having to go out and see the sights or be enlightened by some sort of lecture.  As a boy I was flabbergasted Mother didn’t want to do anything but sit poolside and read a book; I now know precisely what this means.

The only impediment to this otherwise zen-like weekend is the distraction. Surrounded by men who are ‘sky clad’ makes it difficult for me to focus on my Balzac novel. 19th century novels haven’t a prayer when directly across from me on the other side of the pool reclines a chorus line of bare backsides. Happily, I am wearing a dark set of glasses to avoid my obvious staring although I must remember to turn the page from time to time for appearance’s sake.

Some of us will go into town to do some shopping while some of us will take the tram up the mountain to see other sorts of spectacular views.  This evening is ‘show tunes’. Gin and tonics are probable.

Ah, but this is pleasant. Why on earth I don’t do this more often is a mystery.

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November 2014
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Spo-Reflections Years 1&2


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