pillowtalkPillowYesterday while making the bed I noticed one of the pillows was in a sorry state of beint. “It’s had the course” as Father likes to say about something when said item is worn out and wants replacing. I put the lumpy cernuous thing aside and got out a new one. A pillow case was put on and I thought that’s that. Someone took the pillow and immediately asked what did I do with his pillow. I explained but this only worsened things. I was to retrieve said pillow and so no more. It’s back on the bed newly cased but no better. I’ve tried to reason it is hygienic to replace them once in a while, but to no avail.

People get awfully queer about their pillows. I am no exception. I like a pillow that is firm, holds it shape, and has no lumps (like my men). If they start to droop or lumpen I like to get a new one (the pillow, not the men).

In hotel rooms if I discover the pillows are of the soft persuasion I try to push a few together to make ‘one good one’.  As a boy I sometimes saw airplane passengers traveling with a pillow from home, and thought them daft. I now know better.

I also like – nay, require – a pillow between my legs when I sleep. I sleep on my left side; if my knees contact each other they send a electrical current up my spinal cord to the brain to tell it not to go to sleep. So I require two pillows: one for the support of my head, and the other for separating my thighs. The later type of pillow is best if it is very long so I can hold the upper part in my arms.


Sometimes in summer if I am hot I sleep on top of the bed but this makes me feel exposed to the night monsters. A few pillows to cover me (in lieu of a sheet) suffices as armor without being hot.

I have a vague memory from my early youth of putting the pillow tip in my mouth. I am happy to report I no longer bite the pillow.



This night I am ensconced  in the bedroom lounge chair. The room is lit with candleglow. It is peaceful. The closed door keeps out the Someone’s TV which is blaring away in the west side of the house. With each passing year I grow more grateful for solitude and quiet: I have to make some for finding it is rare as white blackbirds in hell.

So far it’s been a relatively quiet Labor Day weekend. I have nothing to report. Last week, at work, at noon, there was a sliver of sunshine peaking through my south-facing office window. This sundial of sort announces it is autumn. By the December solstice the noon sunshine will be across my office floor and touching the hallway threshold.


I was “good” this weekend. I ate more sensible and I kept up my exercise. I hope this translates into some weight loss. My thighs and backside are quite sore from my gym endeavors.  I started a new shirt, a batik fabric, purple and blue. As I work on it I realize I ‘already got one of these”; it may become a present for someone else. Who knows.

The end of the year stretches out before me. I am rather fond of the ‘ER” months viz. September, October, November, and December, for each has its charms. I’ve not wanted to go to sleep these past few nights, which I recognize as not wanting Time to progress – it goes so quickly.

It’s 9PM now. Someone is already asleep with Harper in his arms. All I hear now is the whirling of the overhead fan. I suppose I will stay up a few more hours and read something. The pile of books on the ‘to read’ shelf is beginning to resemble Fafner’s hoard.  Oh, there is so much I want to do! Reading, cooking, home repairs – there is no end to my desires.  Four months is but a drop in the bucket of Time. But my eyes are betraying me. I am beginning to nod as I type. They tell me what I really need is to retire. I have reached the age where the night is for sleep.

Good night Moon, and good night to Spo-fans far and wide.

Warning:  This entry is loaded with links to some of my favorite Youtube channels. I’m hooked on them. I recommend them but if you too become an acolyte / addict I won’t take the blame!


youtube_addiction_mousepad-p144794975773679136td22_210There are many definitions of what enumerates an addiction. For work I call something an addiction if the person is doing something repeatedly despite the negative consequences the behavior provokes. 

Applied to Urs Truly, then I have an addiction to Youtube subscriptions. 

I subscribe to approximately two dozen Youtube channels. In my defense,they are all educational; most of them are science-based.* They are a bricolage of medicine, physics, biology, history, and what not. I am rapacious for knowledge; learning stimulants my dopamine more than drugs could ever do.  **

This isn’t bad in itself; I could be watching rubbish rather. Where the addiction comes in is the amount of time I consume/waste watching these things gets in the way of tasks I ought to be doing – especially sleep. I get into bed; Someone and Harper are already sound asleep. What do I do?: start watching Youtube. Bright light and mind stimulation at 11PM (with a 515AM wake up) is bad bad bad for sleep and health in general. I know this. But here I go looking for more science stuff anyway. 

Besides sleep, my habit takes precedence to house chores and homework. I’d get a lot more done and sooner if I didn’t stop for un divertissement when I receive a text message there’s a new video to see

Alas, there is no YA (Youtube anonymous) groups or sponsors to call “Help! I’m jonesing for a fix!” I need to “just say ‘no” and get the phone out of the bedroom. Perhaps it’s Ritalin time to make me less distracted by shiny objects and Youtube alerts. Perhaps I could take up a more common and less brainy drug of choice. Sexual addiction sounds attractive. I may not know as much science but they like the dumb ones anyway.


*One exception: Ralfy, who reviews whisky. However, he does it in such a way to make him sound like a professor. How lovely!

** Worse: most of the lecturers are cuties. I tune in somewhat just to see them – just like those college girls in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” mooning over Indiana Jones. 




Note: this was written after a few tough days at the office when Urs Truly, Cassandra-like, couldn’t get anyone to listen to me or do what I recommended.   

Call me naif but I trust my doctor. When I hear of some sort of fiddle-faddle treatment I ask The Good Doctor what he thinks of it. If he tells me it’s rubbish I believe him and that’s that. If he asks me to do something (such as stay on the cholesterol Rx) I do it. I trust him more than the internet. 

My own patients don’t return this trust. Although I have twenty years experience and I regularly keep up with the research and data my opinion is often poo-pooed or even argued. Some tell me I’m wrong and let me tell you how to properly treat something. Oh the temerity to have a 23yo tell me I don’t know what I am talking about. 

A patient recently informed me she is seeing some sort of ‘prescriber’ who did ‘sixteen pages’ of blood and saliva tests and now promises to better her diabetes and obesity through supplements (of which she doesn’t know their contents) which are changed weekly. For her convenience he sells them to her.

I have a college who makes very good medical instructional videos on hot topics such as ‘vaccinations do not cause autism’, ‘you probably don’t need to avoid gluten’, and ‘sugar doesn’t cause ADHD”. He points out the data/research in most-sensible presentations. Apparently he is regularly flooded with hate mail for his efforts,  some to the the point of death threats. Mostly the negative comments are along the line he doesn’t know what he is talking about. 

The internet has been overall bad for our health. We self-diagnosis and make themselves into cyberchondriacs. We locate folks who will confirm what we want to believe. Complainers like to go on line to execrate a medicine, a procedure, or a physician.  

I have three rules for taking medicines, supplements, herbs or whatever:

1 – Why am I taking this?

2 – How or what do I measure to see if it is working?

and most important

3 – How long do I take this item before I decide it’s no good and I am wasting my money and should stop it. 

Too many times I hear people taking supplements who say they are taking this or that for ‘general health’ but can’t really answer 2 or 3.  They take it for awhile, get bored and stop it only to pick up another one. This strikes me as a waste of time and money.

I had one patient come in nearly every month with the latest weight-loss treatment (my favorite was something injectable made from monkey glands). She never bothered to alter her diet or take up exercise, nor did she didn’t lose a pound in the long run. She also complained her the cost of her co-pays.  

I’m a scientist at heart. I want to give my patients facts and data and ‘evidence-based’ options. Alas this is too often dismissed for “something I read on the internet’.


Brother #3 has chickens. When I went to visit last weekend Princess-Goddess (my niece) immediately took me by the hand and led me outside to the side of the house to show me her birds. Lo and behold! There was a chicken coop,containing five young chickens.She was very excited about them;Brother #3 was justly proud of his industry.The ‘job description’ of pullets is primarily to produce eggs and secondarily to entertain Princess-Goddess. She asked me what I thought of them. 

I replied by reciting the only poem about chickens I know:

“I was down in the henhouse, down on my knees

When I thought I heard a chicken sneeze

But it was only the rooster, saying his prayers

Thanking The Lord for the hens upstairs.”

She seemed to like it although I doubt she caught the subtlety. 

I have no experience with chickens so I haven’t the foggiest what it is like to tend to some.* Apparently they are not meant for eating. B#3 didn’t tell me what happens when the layers get old or won’t lay eggs. I was told they eat a lot of bugs and they are not picky about table scraps. I didn’t observe any sort of ‘pecking order’ but I am told this will develop in time. If so my money is on “Cheat”.**

Brother #3 made several fences making the chicken coop a sort of gulag. I am told this is to keep out the foxes, coyotes, and raccoons.  They have already lost one or two chicks either from disease or disappearance.  The death of chickens (I am told) is a regularly occurring event.  

I asked Princess-Goddess to give me regular updates as to how the ladies are getting along and when the first eggs arrive. She states she will keep me posted but can one really trust five-year-old girls to faithful in their journalism? Time will tell.*** 

So that’s all the news from the henhouse. Without me mentioning anything Someone spontaneously warned me not to get any poultry-notions into my hummingbird brain as we don’t have the room and it’s probably too hot and what would the HOA say? He is right as always, but I like the notion of fresh eggs. Perhaps Someone will allow me to raise aardvarks rather. 


* I hope Brother #3 knows what he is doing. It looks to be quite a frightful time and money loss if they are a bust. 

** Yes, all chickens are named.

*** The chickens are all hens; there is no rooster. I guess this is to keep down the population or to keep the neighborhood quiet. 

It was a lovely week away; my annual trek to Canada was all I hoped it would be: food and good cheer with chums (thanks, William Laurent,Ron, and Patrick!!), great theatre, a happy family reunion, and some shopping. Here’s a photo of future shirts:


Now it’s back to the salt mines……

No, it’s not that bad! hohoho. It’s merely a matter of having no more trips or holidays for the rest of the year.** I suspect we have a lot of bills and repairs to attend. I want to be serious on losing some abdominal adiposity, so not eating out will save us money as well as calories. Life is to be rather austere for the rest of the year. 

The late August trip to Canada marks me for the end of summer. I have a sense of the year ending. I need to take inventory as to how well I am doing my resolutions and if I have checked anything off on the bucket list. If this last week I’ve ate well and tasted good food. I want to make some soup and prepare some proper (albeit low-cal) meals. I’ve got books to read and exercises to do. Perhaps it is good we aren’t traveling for there is work to be done, indeed. Pretty soon the opera/symphony/ballet seasons all begin as well.

Well that’s all there is. I hope this week the Muses send me something fabulous on which to blog. Rumor has it Someone plans to post, so Keep Calm and Carry On. 


**In October we hope to host Cubby and Nate, and there is a tentative excursion to Palm Spring in November if DougT and Leon AKA The Wild One solidify their plans, AND I lure Fearsome Beard and spouse to come a-visiting. So we won’t be completely asocial.

Most people know one or two ‘strong’ people. These are the folks who are overall happy. Other folks are attracted to them like moths to bright light. We like to be around them, for strong people emanate a positive presence which seems to make others more happy and feel better. 

The paradox of strong people is they don’t consciously broadcast or boast of their happiness. They simply are that way. They have several attributes which are happily not copyrighted nor secretive. Happily, you can learn to be a strong person. 

Perhaps you are a strong person. Maybe you know of a few. How ‘strong’ we are is somewhat indicated by how strong are the others in our life. 

Patients sometimes tell me they are not happy and they want to be more so. I tell them about strong people and their characteristics. I advise them to practice their traits. 

Happy people like themselves as they are. 

They don’t feel perfect; they don’t feel special. They know they have blemishes and could lose a few pounds. All the same, they are at ease with who they are. They are not trying become someone else. 

They look within for answers. 

When something goes wrong or there is a challenge, they first try to look to their strengths to address the situation. They don’t run to Mother, the boss-man, or the authority figure. This is the opposite of co-dependency. 

They celebrate rather than envy.

When they encounter someone better than they in talent or strength or asset, they don’t grind their teeth feeling deprived or inferior. It is the opposite of ancient Greek concept of ‘stasis’ where your gain means my loss, and all life is competition.


They live in the present.

How many religions and philosophies have reminded us of this? Happy/strong people don’t dwell on the past nor are they hag-ridden by the future. They live for today; their psychic energies are towards the needs of this day. 

They are not afraid of change.

Change is inevitable, and they don’t fear it or attempt to stop it. This attribute is more apparent it elderly strong people who are open to new things and going with the tide when needs be. 

They trust things have reason and meaning. 

I had a hard time finding the words to describe this one. I am trying to portray the opposite of howling at the world/the gods ‘Why is this happening to me?’.  There are elements of deriving meaning and lessons from events which otherwise seems senseless. 

Money doesn’t rule them. 

Money buys convenience and comfort but it doesn’t buy happiness. Strong people are not obsessed by money; they do not let money dominate their life. Somehow they manage. People see them as ‘rich’ nonewithstanding.  

Relationships are an extension.

They often have lovely strong relationships but are strong and happy by themselves. Remove their friends and partner and they stand strong. 

They don’t succumb to the Victim Complex.

When hurt by someone or something they apply the already-mentioned attributes to strengthen them rather. 

They don’t ask ‘why’; They don’t have expectations. 

One of my teachers said this, which may be just another way of saying ‘live in the present’.

mosquito-clip-art-9I have a few mosquito bites on my ankles and I am wondering how on earth did they get there considering I’ve kept my feet covered in thick white athletic socks whenever I step out of the motel room. Perhaps the Canadian mosquitoes have evolved a diabolical proboscis capable of puncturing clothing. It is a gruesome thought. They have enough advantages already.  

I am not used to mosquitos. Dwelling in the desert has its share of pests but blood-suckers are not one of them. It’s lovely being back in the Midwest but the woodland wonders come with a myriad of mosquitoes**. 

There are ~3,500 species of the little bastards and several of them seem to be hovering around me at the moment. I am not usually one to be bitten, so they must be desperate. Whatever the reason(s) the bugs are disturbing the peace. It’s hard to relax while being hypervigilent for each little buzz I hear. 

Each bite I itch makes me ponder what dreadful disease has been introduced. There seem to be more of them each year; the mosquitoes seem to be winning. The thought is unpleasant. 

My one hope is global warming and drought literally dry up their breeding sources and mosquitoes become endangered or (better yet) go extinct with the polar bears. I will miss the bears but not the bugs. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good. 

** The word to describe a group of mosquitoes is simply “swarm”, a precise if not too imaginative name. I propose “hegemony” as more apt.

My life has a lot of regularity; I do a lot of the same things at their appropriate times of the calendar. This provides not only rhythm but a means to mark The Procession of Time. This entry is an example of this clockwork. Every year on my annual August holiday to Stratford there comes a point Someone goes off to a theatre-talk programme leaving me at the motel to ponder Life’s mysteries. If you read my entries dated at this time of year you will find similar entries; I dare say they relate the same ideas. 

The scenario is always the same as well: I am lakeside at The Forest Motel. I am watching the swans. I drink something hot. This year it’s overcast for we had a large rainstorm last night. It’s pleasantly cool, in the mid-60s. On the downside, it is humid. Worse – mosquitos disrupt my attempts to become one with the cosmos. 

Being in the same place at the same time (more or less) makes me think about Time. I have a mild satisfaction I made it another year to experience this constancy. I do this trip at the end of August; there is a nip of cool in the air. I see some red/brown in the sugar maples to suggest autumn is close at hand. It all says to me the year is ending. What will the next year behold? How much do I covet ‘more of the came’? 

Given time, energy, and financial constraints I feel I have a choice to follow my patterns of set holidays OR forgo something in favor of something new and adventuresome. Last night we had a marvelous dinner with William and Laurent, who told us marvelous tales of their many travels. It made me long to see Ireland or Greece or Spain or anywhere other than the usual places. This is in counterpoint to our planning our annual November trek to Palm Springs i.e. another usual and regular holiday in lieu of someplace novel. 

The desire for novelty vs. the need for constancy is long time balancing act for me. As I age I feel Time running out. If I am to accomplish my bucket list I need to be more proactive towards change.

For those interested in knowing ……….

We had a delightful weekend in Niagara-on-the-lake, where we took in several shows and had a couple of great meals. There’s been little time else.  I did have a moment to pop into the Christmas store and purchase this charming little ornament:


I have moved from ‘merely curious’ to ‘acolyte’ for I have my first Dr. Who item !

We drove to Toronto to meet with Ron T. of “Retired in Delaware” and his chum Pat (or local host). Ever since our arrival Ron has continually taken photographs. I defer you to his blog for all the visuals. We are stepping out this evening to go to a fair, complete with rides. This will be my first amusement park-ride in forty years. I hope they have a tilt-o-whirl, which was my favorite ride once upon a time. I wonder if it will feel as exciting as I remember it. I will either find it boring/disappointing or it will make me ill. Growing up and growing old is sometimes like that.

It should be amusing to walk around a fairgrounds. This is not what I normally envision doing when I come to Toronto. I think this makes it rather special, doing something this off-beat. Afterwards Someone and I will go for a more traditional item: a beer on Church St. Tomorrow we pick up Laurent and William for a ride to Stratford.

Ah, the gaiety!

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September 2014
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Spo-Reflections Years 1&2


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