For some time there’s been a creeping circumference to my middle section. I weighed myself this morning: 80 kilos. Oh the embarrassment. This isn’t as bad as I feared but it isn’t good either. I’ve made some goals:

  1. Return to 76 kilos

2. Fit back into my dress trousers – none fit at the present.

3. Go to Palm Springs next March and get in the pool without feeling horrible about it.

My waistline has slowly expanded over time from many factors until things have gone too far and I am officially BMI-impaired – sort of like the fall of Rome. There is nothing drastic to do. I merely have to watch what I eat and go to the gym more regularly.  My downfall (sticking with the Rome simile) is I’ve slowly let in the barbarians only to wake up one morning to realize they have taken over. That’s the dart! Eliminate the nickel and dime imperial tid-bits and hope this takes care of things.

After the golden age of civilization has passed people long for the ‘good old days’ but history shows there is no going back. I hope this is where the Pax Romana metaphor ceases its use. I don’t have to be model thin; I want to fit back into my pants – and look good out of them.

The data is mixed which approach has the better success rate: continually telling others about your weight and diet – or keeping mum about the whole thing. The former has the disadvantage few if anyone wants to hear about another’s attempts at losing weight. The latter has the problem it deprives one of good blogging material when the mind is a blank.

The Most Austere Diet (MAD) commences. All of Rome rejoices.  It is ixnay on the treats found in the office kitchens and there will be no more late night snacks. Time for more salads and less drive-through rubbish – and no booze for a while. I had plenty last weekend in Palm Springs so that shouldn’t be too difficult. Please don’t feed me buns and things and avoid curried snacks.



Patience above! I haven’t written in a long while! I started this entry a few days ago and have tried to complete it three or four times. It was written first in the future tense and now it is in the present.   

I have just risen from a failed attempt at taking a nap. Someone falls asleep at the drop of a hat but my hummingbird brain says otherwise. On the positive I have time to write.

Someone and I are in Palm Springs for a weekend getaway. As is often the case some wicked fairy cast its evil spell last week making my work quite ponderous just prior to departure. It was long, hellish, and draining – like my men. In our salad days Palm Springs were times of mayhem and spills of activity.  What we are doing this time around is more or less nothing. This is what old dudes do when they go to Palm Springs. I am presently at poolside observing over the top of the laptop two Sweden dudes sweating in the sunshine, turning over regularly with the assistance of an alarm clock. 

In our defense we are doing a lot of ‘new things’ this weekend. Rather than staying at our usual inn we are at at a new one. It is a bit page 71 i.e. a disappointment. It’s not a bad place just not an exciting one – not worth writing about.  Rather than the usual watering holes we are barhopping to some new places and tonight we try a new restaurant. Good for us! It is so easy to fall into the rut of ‘same old’ especially as one ages. 

It is lovely to sit outdoors poolside with a book and an iced tea knowing there is nothing that wants doing and you could do anything or nothing. It must be just how retirement feels. Palm Springs is loaded with retirees. Coming here always makes me wonder about my own retirement: when and where it shall be. Fat chance of that ever happening. The factors against it are legion. It is not worth writing about either.  However for the next 24 hours I have a break for it all and it feels quite nice. After I post this indolent entry I will try again at a nap – or maybe not. Who knows what next happens. Perhaps I may be asked the Swedish fellows to join them in a discussion about Astrid Lindgren.  That is as likely as the possibility of my retirement. 🙂 


Our weekend abode – minus Swedish gents. 

Some folks hate wearing the same thing over and over. They constantly update their wardrobe for the latest height of fashion.  I am not one of these types.  My closet has two rows for shirts, an upper and lower one like bunk beds. The contrast is striking. In the lower compartment are the Spo-shirts awash in color, gaudy monstrosities of a uniform brilliance although no two are alike. Above them on the upper rack are the dress shirts which are all the same i.e. white long sleeve button down no-iron cotton things from Land’s End.

I don’t have many dress shirts – perhaps four or five at the most. After they are laundered I put the clean ones up on the right side and pull down from the left that day’s shirt. As a consequence they all wear out at once and have to be replaced en masse. This is an easy enough task. Land’s End has heaps. I order the same thing. Once in a while out of whimsy I add a black shirt or one with green stripes but otherwise it never varies: four more white shirts.

People like options but not too many. This is the paradox of choice. Given too many people to ‘freeze’ or feel unsatisfied with the choice the make. I don’t have to think in the morning which shirt to wear.* It becomes a sort of uniform and the patients apparently like the constancy. The APA Secret Police approves of this.  I am dressing appropriate to contemporary professional standards.** Alas Babylon! Even white shirts have become too choice-prone.  What the hell is the difference anyway between six different types of cotton?  I stick to the prescription and I’m in and out in little time.

In contrast Someone has lots of dress shirts – but I don’t wear them. It’s not that they don’t fit but they are mostly blue (after all he is a ‘Spring’)  He likes an all cotton impeccably ironed shirt. I find these a nuisance.  I like ‘blend’ shirts. All cotton shirts never come out well in the ironing at least when I do them. I’ve learned the concept of ‘good enough ironing” which isn’t good enough for  others apparently. Land’s End is lauding ‘no iron shirts’ but I smell a rat. Fat chance of that.

I find it somewhat comforting to have the same boring not too expensive dress shirt. It seems enough for what I do.


Spo-fans are invited to tell in the comment section if they ‘wear the same thing’ over and over to work and to give their opinions on dress shirts.

I ordered four of these today. I can’t wait. 


* In contrast to the simple white shirts  is my surfeit collection of bow ties.  Bow tie de jour is sometimes hard to choose in itself.  Often I just pick the one on the left so I don’t have to think about this either. Happily they all go with a white dress shirt. Voila! The Dr. Spo uniform.

**White shirt and dress slacks with an oh-so-practical tie. This is done to avoid intimidation which works because you look like a nerd.

Mother used to read Harlequin romance novels. As a curious lad I would sometimes take one down and have a look-see to discover what was the allure of these penny-dreadfuls. What I recall (besides they were boring and badly written) they all had young ladies romanced by roués and cads offering them food and wine and in the end these gals would ‘prove their love’ and afterwards regret doing so.* The settings varied  but the regret was always there.  In contrast Edith Piaf proudly preens she had no regrets at all about anything.**

There are lots things in my life I regret doing. I remember being bedazzled by a boyfriend who convinced me to invest 500$ in a pyramid scheme. Oh the pain. 1988-1989 was twelve months of near constant regret; I often subtract one year from my age as I choose not to count as part of my life the year of my internship.

Most of my regrets are not about things done but things I did not do. This list is a long one. Sometimes at night when I think on them I go right to sleep.

People think daydreaming is a waste of time but ruminating on regret is worse. At least in daydreaming one may develop some new and brilliant idea or get in touch with The Collective Unconscious (jolly good fun!). Regrets have no value but to repeat the errors best left behind.

Perhaps folks in the Edith Piaf school of ‘no regrets’ are actually about moving on from regrettable actions. Bungles and mistakes are awful if all they are is painful.  When I catch my hummingbird brain flitting about a regrettable memory I stop myself and take a deep breath in, call my energies back from the past into the present,  remember the lesson, and continue onward.

The five hundred clams gave me the lesson on how to spot a sham and to be mindful of quick-rich schemes. I also learned how to smell a rat in dating folks – a good lesson indeed! I would like the $500 back thank you but this regret is no longer of any lasting hurt.

Regrets make good blog entries; it is hard to have regrets when each comes with “I can blog about this!” attached to it.



*What exactly ‘proving their love’ entails was regularly expunged from what was otherwise wordy and detailed prose.

**Her story is far more interesting.

It’s Sunday night. I vowed I would not write an another entry until I had made rounds on all my blog-reads. I’ve not read them in a week. Now that I’ve caught up I can write guilt-free on whatever comes to mind. 

As is the often the case my mind’s a blank. 

The weekend was nonstop ‘there’s work to be done’ chores. In my defense I got nearly all of them done. The Hallowe’en trimmings are boxed up and away (finally!) and the kitchen floor is swept and mopped.

I had one bit of adventure: I got my teeth whitened. For some time I’ve been conscious of the coloration of my choppers. They resemble old ivory piano keys. Oh the embarrassment. As a consequence I smile less and less with each passing year. Whether Someone is a dear or he’s just tired of hearing about it he bought me an appointment with some snotty spa to go get my teeth whitened.  So Saturday afternoon I brushed my teeth looked in the mirror at my yellow monstrosities for one last time and braved the 101 to drive to the faraway Kingdom of Scottsdale. 

I was expecting a dentist office setting. What it looked liked was a beauty salon – ritzy one in which I had no business being there. The receptionist and most of the waiting patients looked like they had just whipped through puberty. I immediately felt eighty years old and disheveled as Mr. Nicholson of ‘The Shining’. I was assigned my very own personal consultant whose name escapes me but I will call her Wendy the Whitener. Ms. W.W. was of uncertain age as she had had ‘work done’ and lots of it – teeth, lips, eyes and nose. I explained this was my first time and I hoped she could do something to help me. She instructed me to show her my teeth. I think she was sort of taken aback as she exclaimed this job would require the special extra-strength dose of polish or peroxide or ‘Summer Rain’ – and several appointments. This wasn’t going to be a one-stop job.  I was a bit disappointed but not all surprised. Fifty years of continuous tea consumption isn’t going to wash out in one sitting. 

To my disappointment the whitening room wasn’t a cozy office like a massage but a communal room full-up with massage chairs in which people recline with ultra-violent lamps aimed at their kissers. The room was dark and the radio was loud.  She placed me in one of these chairs and inserted into my pie-hole a vice-like device resembling a speculum used for pelvic exams.  I was to keep my mouth open for twenty minutes and not move. It all had a bit of “A Clockwork Orange” feeling to it. Someone (the dear!) warned me to bring headphones so I could listen to podcasts while I lay there like a bleached whale.  I thought I would become anxious gagging on drool but it was actually sort of pleasant – or would have been but for her assistant. This bouncy young man continually stopped by to ‘check on me’ to ascertain the sinister light device was properly aimed at my buckies. 

After what seemed an hour Ms. Wendy Whitener deemed the ‘operation’ a huge success. While my teeth are far from ‘celebrity white” they are less yellow than they were. I am pleased. I am supposed to go back for Rounds #2 and #3 until they are as white as Moby Dick or I run out of money whichever comes first. 

Curious! Now that my teeth looking more like a man of forty perhaps I should get some nice hairdresser to take out the gray and another nice youngster to work on the Spo-bags until my eyes. I could be young and beautiful again! I wonder if the Scottsdale spa has anything for a fat ass?


No this is not me, but it sure looks like the lad who assisted me.

I hum to myself as I move about minding my business. I cannot whistle and my singing is worse so that leaves humming. It probably isn’t too good either but it’ doesn’t require great talent or even being in key. My boss tells me she hears me humming when I am in the office kitchen while making my tea and she thinks it pleasant.

My repertoire is not vast; I have about half dozen tunes. They are often mere scrap bits. Seldom do I start ‘at the beginning’ but jump in where I fancy. I might start in the middle of the song. Sometimes I just hum a few bars before moving onto a new ditty. The process mimics my hummingbird brain.

“The Ghost of John” is fun to hum although as it is in a minor key. Most tunes are in major to reflect merriment. I sometimes hum this one as a sort of charm against fear.  As Mrs. Anna says:

While shivering in my shoes
I strike a careless pose
And whistle a happy tune
And no one ever knows I’m afraid

The result of this deception
Is very strange to tell
For when I fool the people
I fear I fool myself as well.

“La chi darem la mano” is a happier hum. For thems who don’t know their Mozart this is an aria from “Don Giovanni” . It has a sweet simple melody without a crazy range or rhythm. It is just enough for walking without thought.

My humming doesn’t have a broad range; its tessitura is rawhter limited. I can’t seem to hum the high notes. “With one look” from “Sunset Boulevard” serves nicely until the end of the tune when I have to change keys. By then then I’ve lost interest any and have changed to some other ditty.

Loreena McKennit has a song called “Lullaby” that is quite charming and soothing to hum as it is a lullaby which are designed to calm a vexed child. They are simple, repetitive, and soothing – like my men.

I like to hum about two or three lines of some baroque tune written by Vivaldi or one of that crowd. By now I cannot remember the composer or title let alone the lyrics. I would love to know as I would like to finish the piece.

The final hum I’m willing to admit to is the Disney tune “A dream is a wish your heart makes”. I have to be careful with this one as it’s sweet bouncing melody causes me to flit about Cinderella-like. I may pass one on the streets of Palm Springs but nowhere else lest there is talk.

Spo-fans are invited to tell me in the comments if they hum and what do they hum and what do they recommend I try.

I apologize for not being on line (writing or reading). I am up to my oxters in work/paperwork. Another factor is I can not find my laptop.  The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections burned down the boardroom on “Bonfire Night”. They moved out the furniture including my laptop and now they can’t find anything – including my Mac. Oh the pain. Worse, the Guy Fawkes celebration got a tad out of hand with half the village catching fire. They thought this jolly good fun at the time but now they are homeless. Thralls Inc. has yet to start building Heorot #332*.

As a consequence I am dictating this entry to my administrative assistant** prior to the commencement of the work day.

Speaking of squalor Casa de Spo is not looking too good either. I’ve had no time to pack up the Halloween trimmings which lay strewn about the place waiting for Godot to put it all away. It sort of resembles one of those ‘hoarder houses” in which piles of old newspapers and what-not are strewn about the place making mazes in which the recipients have to maneuver. I guess it all has to wait until weekend, which is already piled up figuratively speaking with paperwork and chart dictations. I do hope Someone hasn’t scheduled us to go to theatre or anything fun as there is mucho work to be done. I lead a dull life. I hope that…… I have lost my train of thought please read back to me the last sentence oh yes don’t forget to edit this part out. New paragraph. No that’s a command not the start of the sentence.

Speaking of Halloween stuff there is a considerable amount of leftovers. I buy sweets  if left behind I am likely to eat myself. My worst fears are realized: there is a full box of Chuckles. I entombed them at the bottom of the freezer and gathered up piles of laundry to place on top of it but little luck so far avoiding the siren song of sweets. Thing #1 to whom I am dictating this asks me to bring them to work for the patients to eat. You are a funny guy just keep writing no that’s not to be part of the narrative look when I am dictating I will give you a sign I am dictating and do this sign when I am not. No this one. Stop that.

(here the manuscript changes hand)

In the heat of composition Dr. Spo said ‘Patience above!” and made universal cutting sign across his throat indicating I was to stop or he’s about to commit suicide.  I guess he will write more later.

Signed, for Urs Truly,

Thing #1




*This incarnation number is a rough guess at most; records burn up on a regular basis.

**What one calls these types is a bit ticklish. I sense ‘secretary’ is considered wrong these days. I’ve never been fond of ‘administrative assistant” (too many syllables).  I use Thing #1 and Thing #2 or My Thralls.


Today is Guy Fawkes Day. For Spo-fans unfamiliar with the topic, back in the 1600s a cabal of Catholics tried to blow up the King of England and his parliament hoping this would help Catholics and assist in the return of Catholicism.* This zany notion was thwarted as one of the dimwits sent a letter to his friend in parliament telling him not to go to work that morning as they were planning on blowing it up. This information was shared and the basement searched and who should they discover standing there surrounded by 26 barrels of gunpowder but Mr. Guy Fawkes. He said his name was a Mr. John Johnson (worst alias name ever!). Mr. Fawkes and chums were executed.

The legacy of this is as follows:

  1. On 5 November people have bonfires and burn Mr. Fawkes in effigy.**

2. “Guy” went from being a first name to a general people term.

3. The Guy Fawkes mask is the official mask used by modern protestors up to no good that’s certain.

4. Today is the one day of the year you can set fires to public buildings and get away with it.***

Guy Fawkes Day used to celebrate the delivery of order (good) from chaos (bad). Nowadays I sense there is more sympathy for thems wanting to obliterate the status quo. We like rooting for the underdog and the Trickster types who are unwilling to carry the yoke of custom and convention. On the other hand when someone or group actually happens to blow up things we are appalled.


I have to be very careful with the next paragraph …..

While I pray for certain persons to drop and would smile a little if they did I know blowing him/them up isn’t efficacious at ousting a tyrant and his cronies. Indeed it often makes martyrs out of them and boosts their ratings. We need less violent means to remove the oppressors. In the U.K. the burning of effigies are less often ‘Guys’ and more often whatever politician is being the biggest bastard at the moment. I can think of several I would like to burn. Photos from the internet tell me I am not the only one wishing to burn at the stake certain snollygosters on both side of the pond.

Rest assured Urs Truly has no plans to blow up anyone or anything on this festive day. This evening I will go on-line and have a look-see at the Guys in all their forms.


*It didn’t work.

**Mr. Fawkes wasn’t burned at the stake; he was hanged drawn and quartered. First time offense.

***The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections (always eager for pyrotechnics) burns down the board room today on an annual basis. They aren’t completely stupid that they first remove the furniture and the sublets are given fair warning. They have a yearly contract with Thralls Inc. to rebuild the hall the next morning. In this continual ‘Ring cycle” no one has converted to Catholicism.







Old Lurker (the dear!) asks why I bother going out to live performances of theatre and ballet and symphony etc. when I often fall asleep in the them or walk out. Wouldn’t it be more convenient – and economical – to watch something similar on-line at Youtube or Netflix? A fair question. I said I would write out a response. I will lump the ballet, plays, operas, musicals, and one-person shows into the common category of theatre.

There are many strikes against live theatre. Tickets are not cheap. Theatre often means traveling a long while to get to the theatre hall. Sometimes this means dressing up. What bewilders the youngsters is how on earth does one just sit still for hours not doing anything else at the same time and cellphone must be turned off – oh the horror!  Old Lurker asked this question yesterday when I was away at the local Shakespeare Company’s production of “Macbeth”. It was dreadful. We walked out at intermission.*

All the same live theatre is like a dinner party in which a lengthy home-cooked meal is shared by many. You don’t know if the food is going to be any good and the company may be dull but most of the time this fare is far better than take-out from Pei-Wei or eating alone in front of the boob tube not paying attention while you text others. 


People have been coming together for centuries to participate in theatre.  The Greeks went as a community in a sort of religious ceremony to share and purge their polis’ hopes and fears. Jung wrote the theatre is where we go to share our collective dreams.


TV and at-home movie watching is passive.  Actors on stage combine with the audience to create a sort of archetypal energy that can’t be emulated elsewhere. I’ve seen ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ countless times, yet it was never more funny as when I saw it in a college hall packed with hundreds of students. As soon as the credits started everyone started howling. It was contagious. That is what an audience can do.

Let’s move this up a notch. Let’s turn off iTunes and attend a live performance of Mozart’s Requiem. In the audience are folks who used to sing this in their amateur choirs in their youth; among them are youngsters who have never heard it before . The feeling in the audience borders on electricity. 


Comedy is better in the presence of others but tragedy is what’s best felt ‘live’. Spo-fans who have seen “Shakespeare in Love’ may remember the closing scene where the players do “Romeo and Juliet”.  It is not chance that the camera goes back and forth between the actors on stage and the audience totally sucked up in such.  This has been so since ancient times and I hope it forever happens. 

Live theatre is aging, perhaps finally dying off as younger people consider live theatre a wasteful bore for the reasons I mentioned.  This is in itself  a tragedy and maybe one of the greatest ones I can think of.  We benefit – nay! we need! – to come together to share our laughs and sorrows in an audience. 

As I age I prefer going to theatre I don’t know rather than return to see/hear the ‘safe’ pieces. I will end this entry on the observation I seldom regret going even when I find the play or symphony a disappointment.  This often means I just didn’t like the show’s contents or interpretation. For every “I walked out, didn’t like it” experience I get three or four “oh my! This just blew me away! I was so moved!”  

In Jane Wagner’s “Search of signs of intelligent life in the universe” the play ends with Tess the bag lady (who has been showing the aliens about) telling us what moved them the most was a trip to the theatre when she forgot to tell them to watch what was on stage. What the aliens watched and marveled at was the audience.  Indeed.   

Next weekend I hear “Akhenaten” an opera by Phillip Glass. I am very excited. This will be either marvelous or a great disappointment. I won’t regret going either way.

That is why I go to the theatre. 



*Let me count the ways: the three witches were combined into one actress who portrayed the witch as a mentally ill street person with multiple personality disorder. Everyone shouted their lines and spoke quickly ruining the poetry.   Page 71 indeed !

I apologize for no entry; I’ve gone a few days without one and that’s not like me. I guess The Graces et. al. flew away with the Halloween witches as I’ve had nary an inkling what to write. Meanwhile I’ve been busy taking down the trimmings. It’s some job.  I spent Saturday emailing the Spo-fans who requested Halloween tarot card readings; hopefully you got yours. Tell me if you didn’t! 

It is apropos I have nothing to write as November is a rather empty month. Back in the Midwest Novembers were gray skies and brown leafless trees. Nothing happened – although there was the anticipation of Thanksgiving and the Christmas Holidays.  I live in Arizona: the skies are perpetually sunny and palms evergreen. It might as well be April. I don’t have the anticipation of Thanksgiving anymore either. I haven’t had one in ages (Someone always works that day). On the positive this gives me a break from the countdown and revelry of the past month. I can concentrate on getting back into the gym and austere eating.  Both are in desperate need. 

I woke this morning next to Harper who was not in her usual ‘curl’ position but on her back, legs up and spread out. I reached over to pat her on her belly. She liked this as her tail wagged a bit and she gyrated back and forth like a freshly-caught fish.  It is an amazing thing when you think of it: exposing your most vulnerable part to another trusting your relationship is fiduciary you won’t get hurt by doing so.*

I lead a dull life. Today I need to finish boxing up the skeletons, spirits, and haunts and complete my dictations.  Several shirts need ironing. It won’t be all There’s-work-to-be-done chores however.  We have a matinee today of Southwest Shakespeare production of “MacBeth”.**  I never tired of seeing it – provided I do ‘see it’. The chances of staying awake in a dark warm theatre at 2PM are slim. I hope the three weird sisters provide me with writing inspiration where the three Graces have failed me.   



* One does not do similar to the sleeping Someone. Patting him on his belly elicits a withdrawal and complaints this is an alleged criticism on his BMI status.  

**It ends badly.

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