This year I got to my Christmas shopping later than usual. As a consequence I ran out of time for the on-line and catalog merchants to guarantee delivery for Christmas. [1]

Happily what I need can be easily found at the mall.

Unhappily that means having to go to a mall.

I can not remember when I was last went to one. I am one of thems who shops with grim determination: when I determine I am going to a moss-covered three-handled family gradunza [2] then that’s the goal and nothing more. Get in, find, pay, and get out and none of this lurking-about nonsense. [3]  I planned to get to the mall right at opening hour, find my items, and be back in time for tea.

I’ve read malls are fading what with folks like me more likely to buy gradunzas at amazon than step foot in a store.  I was curious to see how it would go.

Whether due to the hour (9am) or day (Sunday) or late in the season (12/17) the mall was nearly empty.  All the stores were advertising major sales; several store fronts looked closed. There was an sad ambien, the type Joyce called ‘a prophecy of failure’ viz. the terrible intuition when you realize you are about to see something lacking vitality.  While I was wishing to avoid the crowds, I was hoping for some Christmas ambience.

Dillard’s lied like a rug on their website; they open at 11AM. Sears was open, so I went there. Remember Sears? They used to be ‘the’ place to shop. While they were open there was no one in it – not even salespeople. It felt like “28 days later”.  Eventually I saw three other shoppers and one fellow who apparently was the sole cashier.  I found Someone’s Christmas items right away [4].  Then I had to wait in line behind the three mentioned shoppers who all had complicated orders and bungles. Here I was and at this hour having the same ordeal I always have in a mall department store: standing in a long line behind speed-bumpkins, wishing I had done this on-line. The cashier sensed my emotions for he apologized for the wait (good) but then immediately started into his Sears sales pitch about getting their membership credit card or something (bad). Urs Truly was in no mood but  wanted out of there ASAP. I think if he had offered me a life time of man-handling and light housekeeping I would have still said ‘no’.

After the purchase, I located Someone outside Costco where I had dropped him off while I did my shopping. He vented his frustration at having to maneuver the crowds, the chaos, as is the wont when shopping at Costco.  In comparison I guess my store experience wasn’t so bad. All the same, I made a note to get 2018 Christmas shopping done by November’s end so I won’t have to set foot in Sears. [5]

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[1] In my defense, Someone’s Secret Santa dragged their heels getting back to me what they got him, which left me with the leftovers on his list and little time to attend them.

[2] Green; medium.

[3] Back before the internet it used to drive me to distraction when Someone would wind0w-shop without any plans to buy anything. Oh the pain.

[4] Polo shirts – on sale too at 10-20 dollars each. Hot puppies!

[5] At the rate Sears is going, they probably won’t be there next December.

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A certain Spo-fan well over four feet has remonstrated my word posts do not have non-English words.  There is a request for French ones.   I don’t know much French and what I do know sounds dreadful so I don’t use them much.  Here are a few choice words – and phrases for you. Try using them in an email today.  I’ve removed some of the pesky accents and unnecessary trappings that often come with French words to make the language more sensible.

 

Passe-partout – something that lets you get by or through everything.

Roue – a debauched man; a man who lives for pleasure; a poor pensioner.

Savoir faire – the ability to act or speak accordingly.

Confrere – one’s partners, especially in scurrilous activities.

Enfuyons nous ensemble sur mon yacht mon petit chou – come away with me to my yacht my little cabbage.

Ciel! Votre mari !   – Sh-t! It’s your husband !

Dis-moi ou est ma tete?   Tell me, where is my head right now?

Vous êtes une super nana – you are one fabulous babe.

Reviens chéri vers moi non nez n’importe pas – come back to me darling my nose doesn’t matter.

Vous avez joue dans Blanche Neige, pas vrai?  You played along Snow White did you not?

Rechauffe – French food/cuisine.

Phillipe – Philloppe –  a French-Canadian who is wearing sandals

Today is Someone’s birthday.  Like honey-badger, he don’t care. He has never been one to celebrate his birthday.  I find this zany; I am one of those types who likes to go all out on a birthday. Every day I check Facebook for birthdays in order to send a birthday greeting.  All the same I think he appreciates my attempts at birthday prizes.  I plan to give him a birthday prize every year whether he wants one or not.

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This year I gave him BOSE headphones, which are supposed to be top of the line for auditory experiences and for blocking out noise. I tried them one once. The king-size-titanic-unsinkable-Molly Brown ear cushions instantly put me into a virtual deafness I found amazing and unsettling.  When have I heard such silence last?  I don’t know how well they will convey tunes but I thought the silence worth the price.

Someone may take exception to this. He claims I am already surmounted by virtual headphones. At least once a day he comes into the room wondering how on earth can I not hear him shouting.  The walk-in closet off the master bedroom must be lined with the same material in BOSE headphones  because when I am in there I can’t hear a bomb going off let alone Someone calling from the other room.

It is sad to think I am losing my hearing.  I was never one to play loud music or operate jackhammers so it is a mystery why it’s happening.  I blame all those years learning ASL and working with deaf people; some wicked fairy decided since I was already waving my arms around I might as well join’em.

By the way we both fall asleep at night listening to our iphones via standard insert plugs.  I don’t think BOSE is going to work for this as he sleeps on his side, but who can say.

On the positive, if the BOSE is all it’s cracked up to be, when Someone wears them he will be quite oblivious to me and my ramblings other than when I am standing in front of him waving my hands and/or signing ASL.  In return this set-up allows me to play loud music the type he doesn’t like to hear.  It’s a win-win situation, no?

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A week ago at the office party I was seated next to The Boss-Woman. It is always a bit ticklish to interact with thems who pay your salary while you share with them a plate of hors d’oeuvres and drink cocktails.  She exclaimed for a long time she has been thinking of writing a blog. Instantly in my mind I held a five second-long ten minute process prior to letting out I write one.  This led to a process resulting in her asking me to send her the link to Spo-Reflections. I said I would. I haven’t done so. That was over a week ago; happily it seems to  have slipped her mind and hasn’t come up again.  It is not that I write anything scandalous or libelous [1] but our conversation reminded me blogging puts us on stage for everyone to see.  Happily The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections are quite draconian to what gets posted. After an entry is written each Board Member takes onto themselves the role of a certain person-type:

A Boss

   A patient (especially thems with borderline personality traits) 

          A  Someone

                An Attorney 

                     Brother #3 (Representative to the Spos)

                                Old Lurker [2]

If one of these five types gives a thumbs-down the entry is expunged or axed and consequently The Board etc. adjourns to got out and burn down some public building. Goodness knows how anything interesting gets by – let alone posted. [3]

These days humor (especially satire) is a hazardous endeavor what with everyone taking umbrage so readily. The other day in my medical conference a presenter told a warm-up joke about Trump which I thought could be interpreted either ‘pro’ or ‘con” Trump. One of the psychiatrists in the audience stood up to say political jokes are not appropriate in a medical conference and he (the speaker) will stop that (not ‘should’ stop but will stop).  I am rather surprised my attempts at wit here don’t elicit more hate mail and comments than they do.It makes me think perhaps I am ‘too safe” as it were. Perhaps in 2018 I should make the blog more bold and doggerel.

Then again The Boss-Woman may try to decide to find me after all just as I brave dropping my pants.  Oh the embarrassment. Perhaps I should post pet photos.  They always safe and bring in the readers.  Even the Fab Five would give thumbs up to that.

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[1] Much to the disappointment of several Spo-fans who want some filth.

[2] Bless him! He is my ‘consistency man”; he remembers all the blog’s details. He keeps me on my toes not to repeat or forget things. I sometimes fantasize sending a team of Old Lurker and Warrior Queen AM of Philadelphia into a Board Meeting . The latter haven’t  a prayer. 

[3] Thanks to their frequent hyggaes involving strong drink they often are asleep at the switch and let some things slip by. Later on, when sober, they realize the blunder and find it horrible. By then it is too late, especially if they see the entry was well-received. 

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I haven’t done a “Wicked Words” entry lately.  My time and libido (psychic energy) has been channeled into Duolingo for Spanish and German words rather.  A Spo-fan recently requested a fresh set of words. He needs some fancy words to use at the holiday parties as his party trick.

Here’s some lovelies:

Addle (v.) – make unable to think clearly; confuse.  I think there is an adjective of this: ‘addled’ as in my brains are addled.

Avolition  –  Having no desire to initiate something but when done you liked it.  This is different than depression; in depression one doesn’t like it even when when dragged to do it.

Brontide  – A sound like that of distant thunder.  Portends of doom or too many jalapeños perhaps.

Claufotis –  a fruit tart.  Thanks Paul B!

Concinnity – the skillful and harmonious arrangement of fitting together of the different parts of something.  I like it when a plan comes together.
Confreres – a fellow member of a something.  Example:  checking in to a resort in Palm Springs and mingling with your confreres at happy hour.

Farrago – a confused mixture.  Like the confreres at Inndulge at Palm Springs.

Grizzledemundy – a foolish sort who laughs at everything.  I meet a few these at Inndulge whenever I am there.  I suspect drugs.

Impecunious – having little or no money.   Can’t go to Palm Springs now.

Lynchnobite – someone who works at night and sleeps by day.

Skosh- a small amount of something.

Tetchy  – bad tempered and irritable

and to make a baker’s dozen:

Howff  – I am told it is an old word from Scotland that means a favorite place where you feel good,  such as your favorite pub.  Howffs should have lovely drinks and confreres and a few claufotis too.   In a howff everyone is well over four feet and none are too tetchy.

Unknown  Urs Truly is in the faraway kingdom of Las Vegas, attending a three-day long seminar, pow-wowing with his fellow wizards. The sponsors of the soiree are a group I am not usually one to attend. This conference has some minor differences to my usual one but overall it is the same set up and style.  The attendants are the same. Indeed- the types of birds who fly in for these shing-dings never seem to vary.

In every psychatric conference there are a groups of Asian women doctors. They travel in together; they are never alone. They are Indian, Phillipino, and Korean. Usually there are all three. They sit with each other and they never mingle.  They tend to talk in native tongues.  They also go through the lunch lines together and move too slow doing it.

Men in suits. These are  the presenters, the pharmaceutical representatives, or doctors over 60.  Psychiatrists over sixty years old still dress up to go to conferences. Indians doctor birds of the male type are always in suits, even at 6AM. Indian doctors dress as if they are going to an interview for some coveted position at Yale.

In contrast are the old hippies type of shrink birds. The males have their balding hairs back in ponytails or little buns and the females are in Birckenstocks with brightly coloured organic looking sun dresses.

There are a few youngsters (residents) but they are rare birds indeed. There are many theories why the young doctors don’t flock to seminars but the chief one is they find it silly to travel and sit in a lecture hall for days on end when you can get credit and information on-line.  How old-fashioned! How mono-tasking! How boring!

Lurkers.  There are always a few in the back who look like they might be patients who have crashed the party to hear about the topics.

I am sure Spo-fans want to know if there are any birdies light in the loafers.  I used to scan the audience playing the game we all know: “who’s gay/who’s not gay”.   Nowadays we have apps for that sort of thing. Yesterday while I should have been listing to the lecture I was texting “Profdad” on Scruff who was sitting (so he said) in the back row.  I asked to meet him at the coffee break – it’s always nice to know a queer colleague. He said sure and then he stood me up and I was ghosted.  I was highly annoyed but also comforted in the fact even psychiatrists are jerks on pick-up apps.

Spo-fans (the brazen ones) are asking about ‘The Blue Room”. Oh the embarrassment.  I wonder why on earth anybody would be interested reading about a room of rubbish but I don’t have any better idea at the moment so here it is.

Few homes in Phoenix have an upstairs and almost none have a basement. This makes it hard to store things Christmas decorations and precious heirlooms you keep out of guilt.  Most garages have room for two or three cars but drive by any open garage and you will see inside heaps of hoardings.  Our garage is no exception yet it is not capacious enough for storage.
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One of the rooms is called The Blue Room,  a precise if not too imaginable name for the walls are painted blue. It was originally Someone’s office. Over the years The Blue Room has slowly accumulated things I can’t get Someone to throw out. Earlier this year when we got the kingsize bed from The Lovely Neighbor Someone disassembled the old bed and put it all into the Blue Room. This is not the first time the Blue Room has accepted something because Someone is not willing to toss it or we never seem to get it hauled to the dump. By now The Blue Room resembles King Tut’s tomb but no prettier. Oh the pain. I keep the door closed as it is an eyesore as well as an embarrassment.

The Blue Room has drawn to it all the old books, which are piled up in corners and overflowing the closet shelves. As it is nearly impossible to enter the Blue Room (let alone find anything) I am tempted to buy another copy of a book than try to find the original.

Nagging Someone to call “We-haul-it-away” or somebody like them has been a feckless endeavor.  I’ve volunteered to haul away the books myself Grinch-like to the top of Mount Krumpet to dump-it but he wants to take inventory for a possible sale at a used book store. Ha. Fat chance of that. I’ve learned not to throw out his things even if they haven’t been used in ages. All I can do is nibble away at ‘my things’ and hope he follows by example.

I think I will have to do something drastic in the new year for I can’t stand the thought of another year of material atherosclerosis. Perhaps I can have it hauled way without his noticing anything. Maybe it’s finally time to fulfill my fantasy to set fire to a public building.  I may have myself a mammoth garage sale. The dog isn’t for sale but everything else is.

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Quick – does anyone in blog-land have an old  cassette player?

I dug mine out –  the old ‘boombox’ with the cassette tape door in front (CD player on top). Alas it is inutile. I rummaged through the junk drawer but no luck finding a Sony Walkman suitable for playing tapes.

Last year when I went home for Christmas I happened to come across Father’s cassette tapes collection. It contained dozens of tapes of Christmas tunes. For reasons never disclosed he started recording carols one Christmas morning in the late 70s. While we opened our prizes WJR or something played tasteful background Christmas music and Father got it all down on cassette. I don’t think he ever played them; he merely kept the ritual going until he ran out of room in the cassette container or when blank cassette tapes became no longer available. I ran my fingers over “XMAS MUSIC: 1978-1992” and wondered out loud what they sounded like. Before you could say ‘White elephant sale” Father insisted I bring them back with me to AZ. I did so and they have been sitting on my dresser ever since. I would be blithe to play them but I have no device to do so.  Oh the pain.

I have a vague memory the tunes are insipid “background” orchestra recordings of the ‘top ten’ types of carols – and they are the same ones year in and year out. Probably they are not very interesting or even well recorded. All the same, they are associated with family Christmases and I want to hear them.

Alas, alas, I foolishly put ‘A cassette player or something like it’ on my Christmas list. Now  I don’t dare go buy one lest I make my Secret Santa quite cross at my impudence. It’s a gamble:  if I don’t receive one then the time I want to play them will have gone past and I will have to wait another year to get back into the season.

There is a store in town I know that translates old VCR tapes and the like onto CDs or computer chips but this is quite expensive to do. I don’t think I want to shell out that much money for twenty years of the same recording of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”.

I thought of giving everyone in my family a tape as a stocking stuffer. No one will be able play them and the niblings will be bewildered what the heck they are but I think my family will get the point.

I do hope to get that cassette player for I also have a box of ‘mix tapes’ (remember them?). Like looking at old photos from the 80s, I’m sure I would be cringe in embarrassment  (did I really listen to THAT?) but it sounds jolly good fun.

I want to thank Spo-fans for their lovely comments and offers in yesterday’s blog. Someone gets off work on Christmas about 5PM; we can open prizes and have a supper then. Next year we will probably go to MI to have a proper Spo-Christmas full up with snow and relations and talk talk talk.

Insanity

In response to yesterday’s post The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections announced they plan on dropping by on Christmas Day and have a cup of glogg. I may  bar the door on this one as the last time they dropped by for a drop they ransacked the house, carried off some of the better pieces of furniture, and drank all the cordials.  Slater-Wotan is a mean drunk too.

Insanity  Last night was Krampusnacht. Alas no demon showed up to carry me off. I was surprised and a bit disappointed. Could it be I was more virtuous this year than I imagine?  I looked this morning:  no congressmen or Alabama candidates went a-missing last night either. I suspect Mr. Krampus was asleep at the switch.

Someone reminded me this morning we go to Lost Vegas this weekend.* I have a conference to attend. I had forgotten about this. Post-shooting/Christmas season Lost Vegas sounds like the 7th level hell from Dante’s Inferno, but most of the time I will be sitting in a lecture hall. Someone can run around and see the sights and gamble etc.  Today he is investigating “Cirque” shows looking for one we haven’t seen yet. “Mysterious” (?) looks to have a lot of toothsome male acrobats; I vote for that one. After listening all day to lectures on depression and suicide I may need a bit of visual cheering up.

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The Boss-persons (the dears!) gave me a cash bonus at Christmas time. I always use this to buy a very good bottle of scotch. Normally I research this to the point of a precise purchase. This year I haven’t done so; I  just may wing it and go to Total Wine and see what’s on the shelf at eye level. Total Wine has lovely hirsute salesmen who are quite delighted to sell me the Scottish version of “Summer Rain”. At some preconscious level they pick up I am a sucker for ersatz whisky experts who look like lumberjacks.  Bless their hearts and no rubbish please.

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*My dictation device continually translates “Las Vegas” as “Lost Vegas”. I have given up trying to remedy the matter. I have grown to prefer “Lost” – it seems more apropos.

It looks like I am more or less on my own this Christmas season. Someone is up to his oxters with ushering “The Nightcracker”; he also works Christmas day poor fellow. He is tired; when he isn’t working he sleeps.  We may not have time to put up a decorations or a tree. If there is going to be any sort of hohohoing this month or on Christmas Day I need to start thinking what to do about it.

One solution is to just cancel the whole thing. I’ve had only one ‘canceled Christmas’ in my life. It was in my internship and I had to work. It was my first time away from home; I felt miserable. 25 years later I think I can do #2 better. So what to do with myself?   I am considering a “A Christmas Carol” marathon with all the available versions.  While Scrooge is being continually reformed I can do some baking.  I can make Christmas cookies of the ‘new and adventuresome’ type rather than the usuals which are associated with family and company.  Since there were be nobody around and nowhere to go, perhaps I can get out all the bourbons and a taste testing until I am satiated or passed out hohoho.

Cookies and booze may be apropos for the day but neither are salubrious to health.  I won’t be making a Christmas pudding anymore. it was a lot of work and in the end Someone only took a ‘no thank you’ helping and most of it went into the rubbish what a waste. Perhaps I will skip the ersatz food and good cheer to read and sew. When was the last time I did that sort of thing? They are hardly holiday happenings but they sound OK.

As I write this out the notion of Home Alone Christmas doesn’t sound so bad after all. I look forward to the “Scrooge” movies and making cookies.  I might also make some imperial tid-bits and have a very good snort to boot.  Harper and I will have a long walk and see the lights.  Sounds groovy.

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