99bb16dbbcdda6e500b82e285febc725Are the any Swedes in the house? I want some Vasterbottensost.

According to one of my podcasts this cheese is remarkable that every attempt to recreate it anywhere but a small village in Sweden has failed. Even the manufacturers can’t make it elsewhere. My soul swoons. This cheese captures many features I enjoy in a nibble: mystery, fascinating properties, imperial tid-bits, and of course – cheese.  Like Mr. Wallace, I am crackers for cheese. I like them complex, tangy, and unique – like my men.  I haven’t pursued yet how I go about getting some.  I hope it isn’t too expensive or difficult now that the cat’s out of the bag.

I’ve grown to prefer ‘proper’ food stuffs to the mass produced type. This is not so much out of snob appeal but the better just tastes better dammit.  Last Christmas I could not find a proper Edam cheese from The Netherlands so I purchased a mass produced slice from Wisconsin. It was OK but not as good as the Dutch version.  Oh how I love me some Edam!



With that said I never say no to an offer of a piece of cheese and I seldom encounter one I don’t enjoy –  with the possible exception of the orange rubber stuff one finds in wrapped individually in clear plastic.* I have developed a sort of cheesy Bucket List.  Vasterbootensost has been added to that list; it is right there among proper Cheddar, Stilton, Stinking Bishop, and the legendary Venezuelan Beaver Cheese.  If these are available via the post, I better get a-going before it gets too warm to do so.  One does not ship perishable items to Arizona in the months without an “R” – like oysters. Things show up looking like a Brie out of control. Oh the pain.

Spo-fans are encouraged to leave in the comment section the names of their favorite cheese.

Any European Spo-fans who can get their hands on something special like Stilton or Stinking Bishop please send me the information link.

‘And for those Swedes in the audience: tack för osten !




*This is written by someone who within a month’s time will be consuming the anti-christ of cheese: Cheez-Whiz. The ersatz dairy product is a traditional food stuff for our winter holiday. I don’t think even the manufacturer dares to call it ‘cheese’. Oh the embarrassment.


Walking the dog

Dog walks in January are challenging that morning and evening strolls are done in the dark.  The gelid temperature is another factor. Evening walks are lovely at ~ 20C but in contrast the 5AM romps see temperatures below 10C (into the 40s F). oh the pain.  One has to wear a jacket and sweater and perhaps gloves.  Hot or cold, day or night, it is all the same to Harper. She is ecstatic to go on a walk in all conditions other than in rain.*

Sundays are the best in her eyes as Someone often goes with us; nothing delights her more than having both The Friend Beast and The Other Dog (Urs Truly).  We go later in the morning to appreciate the apricity of the winter sun.  We often head to the nearby municipal park.  Harper loves the park.  If the coast is clear we take her off her lease to have her run widdershins and willy-nilly even if only for a few minutes.

She was kept on -leash this morning for the park was full-up with tots at soccer practice.  The municipal munchkins looked quite young and nearly all of them were Hispanic.  Curiously everyone was speaking English.  There were several hombres as coaches, many well over four feet and quite gaupo. One coach was rawther cross; he seemed to be conducting his class like a union leader during an unpopular strike.

While Someone was talking about this, that, and the other, and I was wondering about one of the coaches for private lessons, Harper paid no attention to any of this. She was engrossed in smelling all the shrubs. I often wonder what she gets out of these olfactory intakes. Occasionally she decides after a close inspection to squat or even lift leg to add to the redolence.

We have just returned from a long and merry walk and now there is work to be done. While Someone and I will spend this Sunday doing chores, Harper is already asleep on the bed. Later she gets a long-overdue bath. She won’t like it (for water is involved) but the aftermath is another walk this evening.  It’s a dog’s life.


*She abhors water, whether in puddle-form or precipitation. On rainy days we have to shove her out lest she pee the house in her obstinance to stay dry.

imagesMeditation has been on my ‘should-do’ list for a very long time. Everyone says it is a very good thing although folks get a little vague what meditation is supposed to do exactly – or even what it is.  Whatever it is I have some reservations about trying. Sitting still or having a blank mind are two states of being quite unknown to me. My hummingbird mind finds the former impossible and my Midwest upbringing thinks the latter suspiciously indolent. Learning to meditate just so say I’ve done these two things would be quite a Bucket list achievement.*

As is my wont, I want to learn proper mediation and not some rubbishy yuppie past time.  I would like it to help lower my blood pressure although this sounds like the Edina Monsoon approach towards meditation viz. chanting and imploring Karma to send money.  The last time I checked Buddhist monks (pros that they are) do not learn meditation to meditate away hypertension or to get temple donations. They are learning meditating to better their human compassion.  If that is the real point of meditation – and I suspect it is – then I think I should skip. I want lower BP.

I mean to read up or hear a podcast on the topic or watch Youtube provided I don’t get no quack. I recently downloaded an app called  ’10% Happier’, which shows promise. A staff member emailed me welcoming to the place and she can help. At first I thought this a computer generated email but no she is a real person. This gave me a bit of the creeps rather than assurance. I’ve already let her down as I’ve had no time to take the first step  whatever that may be. I’ve a lot to learn obviously.  This may take months just to get going.

Or I may try just try closing my eyes and sitting for five minutes just to see what happens provided my brain doesn’t explode.  Last time I tried this my mind was mugged by a myriad mundane memos although there was one or two inspirational bits as well.   Alas, they weren’t as numinous as the type experienced in a small café in Rickmansworth.  I don’t think that is what meditation is supposed either but  it was jolly good fun.



I’ll have what he’s having.


*Someone sure would appreciate that I did. He can easily sit for hours ensconced in a chair with no need or urge  to continually get up and move about.

I probably shouldn’t write this one, as I will come across as a big baby. However the Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections felt it would be a jackpot for comments. Skunks. 

I never outgrew the magical belief children have about stuffed animals being ‘real’. Teddy bears and their ilk are not inanimate toys but have souls. A lost or or discarded stuffed animal experiences fear and sorry like an abandoned pet. Even now as I type this I feel my inner-Child starting to blubber at the sadness of it.

Once upon a time the office in Mesa where I work used to be a ‘floater’ type that different people used.  One day, many years ago, I came in to work to find a blue bear sitting on the floor. It must have been forgotten by some patient’s child the other day. I immediately felt the separation anxiety the child and bear must be experiencing. Several counselors used the office; none could recall a patient or child having left behind said bear. I put him* on the shelf in plain view and then I waited, hoping the patient would return in a week and reclaim him.


That was nearly ten years ago if a day. Mr. Blue Bear has sit on my shelf all this time. He watches me work. On occasion patients bring their children into their appointments and the kids pick up the bear and play with him. Today a ill young girl drooled on him in her play, which made me realize he hasn’t ever been washed. Tonight I took him home, removed his shirt for separate washing (lest the colors run), set the washer for ‘delicate’, and gave him a good wash.

He came out fresh and clean but on close examination I realized Mr. Blue Bear is actually  a dog. How could I be so unobservant? Stuffed dogs get me even more emotional as they make me think of pooches locked away in shelters.

He also has never had a name. Shame on me. I will sleep on this and wake in the morning and give him one. Then it is back to the Mesa office he goes. He is my work companion; he is my secretary. By now the original owner is probably in his or her adolescence and the blue dog has been long forgotten.

He is my blue dog now; I am getting tearful at the joy of our finding each other.



*The sex of stuffed animals is seldom clear. I call him a male as he wears a polo shirt.

As a ten year old boy I spent a lot of time looking for (and sometimes in) faraway fantastical lands. My penchant for reading combined with an overactive imagination like Wonder-Twins, resulting adventures in chock-full and fun filled alternative places. Life in the Midwest seemed so dull in comparison. Now I am fifty-five years old; it is hard if not impossible to fit down the rabbit-hole or into the electric car to go through the phantom tollbooth into The Lands Beyond.  I rely less on magic wands and more on my Kindle to keep in touch with Erewhon and all its contents.

Before Miss Tickle closed The Magic door on me for good, a few habitants stayed on this side of the looking-glass. The Cup Fairies have either multiplied or upped the ante against my new year’s resolution to keep half-consumed beverages from cluttering up the house. There have been no recent Henrik the Ghost sightings, but there are tell-tale signs some sort of spook is throwing dirty clothes about the place for nothing seems to be making it into the hamper. The Muses, Graces, Norns, Fates, etc. continue to text and email.  The backyard has  fewmets I know don’t come from to Harper, and by their stench I suspect Bonnacons – or Nargles with terrible IBS issues.

Someone doesn’t have imaginary mythical creatures bouncing about his personal space. Being the rationalist he is, Someone always explains missing keys and such as ‘operation-error’ rather than dastardly Car-key Gnomes. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections and I know better. We may have our differences but we both know a Stirge from ADHD.



del_monte_peach_halves_in_heavy_syrup_825gI found a tin of Del Monte peaches in the back of the pantry. I don’t remember when or how it was purchased. Perhaps it was for some recipe I meant to make that I forgot to do. I plan to open it soon and eat it with relish. *

For thems unfamiliar with canned peaches, they were a stable in my Midwest upbringing. Mother had several tins on hand for quick family desert or company. If she was whimsical she added a maraschino cheery.  Sometimes someone requested cottage cheese go with their tinned peach, which I thought hideous.  Brothers #2 and #3 and I would take our turns who got the ‘heavy syrup’ as a chaser.

Nowadays tinned peach has everything against it: it is ‘canned’ and swimming in nasty sugar and preservatives. Worse of all: it is the opposite of gourmet. Oh the embarrassment.  But darn it, I remember it was tasty and brought comfort. Company never wrinkled their noses at it and ask for organic fresh fruit or nothing.

I confess I am not a fan of vegetables or anything else for that matter that comes in a can but tinned peach remains the exception. I suppose if I were to survive long enough to live in a home I can still ask – and get- tinned peach for small chocolate cone. Just hold the cottage cheese and the cherry can go in the sweet manhattan rather.


*This is a word play, a pun. It is not literal. Please don’t write in.

Unknown   I’ve been feeling guilt. *  I don’t usually feel much guilt in life, thanks to a narrow definition and some human rationalization, but lately I have felt a lot. I think penance is due. Alas, the local priest is near impossible to get hold off and I think he would be bored by my list of transgressions so I will write them out here or Spo-fans to see and judge and provide finger-pointing etc.

1 – After boiling some eggs I rinsed out the pot and put it away rather than putting it in the dishwasher. I figured just boiled water isn’t bad enough for yet another load of dishes. I didn’t tell Someone either, so there is Deceit as well as Sloth.  Oh the embarrassment.

2 – Last week I had several uncharitable thoughts towards many people, ranging from Hair Furor** down to that awful cow on her cellphone in the BMW who cut me off on the freeway entrance. I tried to channel a Biblical blessing for the latter; I spake onto her to go forth and be fruitful and multiply – but I didn’t use those words.

3- I lied to Someone. I went to Uncle Albertsons for some milk  and I came home with a load of impulse items. When he questioned the purchases I had to think quickly so I told him I was recently diagnosed with cancer and now I can eat anything I want. Happily it has slipped his mind and hasn’t been brought up again – but it was a close call.

4 – At the gym I banged my knee. I let loose a category of expletives enough to cross-eye a sailor.  I think I felt embarrassment more than guilt.  No one seemed to have noticed. I was raised in a house that did not use hot language.  Too bad, as profanity seems to offer a relief denied even to prayer.  By the way this accident occurred as I was staring at a few of the gym patrons, making me both guilty of Lechery and a peeping Tom.

5 – I felt the most guilt for some broken promises. I failed to follow-up on a handful of things at work and at home, although this is more having forgotten things than out of disobedience. So I don’t think this is guilt so much as being a dingbat.

I suppose a few Hail Marys would be help but I think trying to do better is more practical – as is writing things down. Spo-fans with practical penances are welcome to leave such in the comment section.



*I define guilt as stemming from knowing something is wrong but doing it anyway.  I try to limit ‘wrong’ to two items: doing something cruel or something uncaring. Shame is another cup of tea, worth another blog entry another time.


**Another guilty admission: I have prayed for him to drop and I would smile a bit if he did.


Every January I see the same sordid situation at work in Medicine which I call ‘The Change” . This is a collection of disrupting alterations patient insurances and co-pays. Most people’s deductibles again kick in now and Rx regiments are suddenly altered usually without warning.  To top it off, the clinic where I work insists all patients fill out up-to-date insurance forms even when they insist nothing about their insurance information has changed.  More than a few patients come to clinic for their appointment only to learn their insurance is no longer taken here. (either the insurance pulled out or the clinic pulled out from the insurance).  Oh the pain. It is all quite predictable and repetitive every January.

“The Change is coming” says The Wonder Receptionist every mid-December. Alas, there is no way really to prepare for it.

It’s Wednesday night and I am pooped from it all – and I am only two days into it!  As I see most patients every 3 months ‘The Change’ usually lasts that long then is drops off to relative quiet until next January.

On the positive, lots of patients now bereft of coverage get quite upset they are losing me. For once I hear I am valued; it is rather sweet. I will be getting soon a bunch of new patients in need of a new shrink; the majority seem surprised and pleased I do a better job than the quack they just came from hohoho.

Less jolly are the patients who feel they can’t afford their medications anymore despite the fact the meds were working and sometimes they were the only Rx that worked. We spent a year getting them right only to learn they can’t continue.  It is curious to see what a patient is willing to continue or let go.  I believe if all tranquilizers became ‘not covered’ every one would sell their grandmother to pay for pills rather than give them up for $ sake.

I wonder in more civilized nations if they have all similar January chaos. Perhaps universal or governmental coverage has no yearly square-dance of changing doctors, medications, and coverage.  I dare say if Americans were to vote on health care issues  in January when deductibles are active more people would go for a new system.

Oh well. We all bitch about the system but never enough to demand real change. People seem to accept “The Change” as an unalterable truism rather than a sign of a system that needs overall.

Well that’s enough ranting. I need to get my beauty sleep to face another round tomorrow.  In my day schedule patient types are color coded.  As of yesterday my schedule is awash in lavender, the color of  thems who need insurance updates. This is rather pretty compared than the dull beige of patients without bills or issues.


This is the time of the year when calls from Canada and back East sound surreal viz. chilly tales of gelid weather and freezing ones wrists off. Chatting on Facetime I see the other one looking over my shoulder (for I am sitting out of doors) at the sunshine and the swimming pool and potted palm trees and looking like they have never seen such things before. It’s January. Cold is a relative term. Nowadays I have to sit outside in a flannel shirt and in the morning a jacket is needed for a while, but that’s about it. Feeling sheepish I explain the air is bad at this time of the year, but this carries no comfort to my Michigander relations.

I enjoy wrapping myself up burrito-style in a thick white terry bathrobe and drink hot things, snug as a bug in a rug. However, this ambience is rather spoiled with no snow in sight and the porch door open. I think of traveling to see the parents and experience some proper January but then I see the temperatures and it’s no-way-Jose.

Piled up in the closet from our move twelve years ago is our collection of sweaters, down jackets and other winter wearing apparel. We even have a snow shovel somewhere in the garage. I’ve often thought to give them all away but my Midwest mentality holds onto them on the chance we may someday move back to Michigan, Land of Perpetual Snow and Ice. It is a retirement fantasy of mine. Alas, as I’ve acclimatized lizard-like to 40C plus summers and 5C winters (oh that’s cold!)  I wonder if I have the constitution to live anywhere but the roasting desert.

I suppose certain Spo-fans aren’t finding this entry very amusing but they can just wait 3-4 months and the temperature-tables will turn. Everyone in Zone 6-8 will be delirious and intoxicated with spring temps and tulips while Urs Truly (zone 10) is turning on the AC and going into premature estivation.

I hope Spo-fans in colder climes are keeping their appendages warm; one loses heat at an enormous clip at the extremities. I recommend drinking hot tea (the panacea of all ills) and in temps below add a drop or two of the usquebaugh.


I am dismayed to discover I have lost my Bucket List – again.  This seems to happen on a regular basis. I put it in “Lists” on my phone only to have the periodically disappear.  I suspect Nargles. This time I am recreating it on yellow foolscap. This sounds awfully regressive but I am certain I shan’t lose this one.*  Now I have to recall what they were.  I figured I could post a few here, lest the house and list burns down.  Here’s a few in progress:

See Ireland 

As always,Ireland is first Bucket List item that returns to memory, not so much as it is THE Bucket list item but it is always is the exordium.  I am not Irish, but I wish to see the land that gave us Yeats and Joyce and Yellow Spot.  There are a few other travel items after this one I remember: See Norway; See the Northern Lights; The Southern cross.  These Bucket List items need conscious planning and the cooperation of Someone. 2018 may be the Year of the Dog in the Chinese Zodiac but it may need be the Year of the Nag at the House of Spo.

Buy and hear all of Jethro Tull albums.

This one goes into the category of ‘ do all of them” of various artistes. I’ve read all of Dickens so that’s off the list. I have not yet heard all the operas by Verdi, which is doubtful to do so I shan’t rewrite it.

Fit into a certain bathing suit again.

Remember the other day when I wrote resolutions should be “SMART”?  This one may not be that smart given “R” is for ‘Realistic’. However if I can trim down enough in time for the February trip to Palm Springs this will suffice for now.  In the health department  for Bucket List items I recall I had accomplish the ability to touch my nose to my kneecaps.

Make coq au vin. 

There are several food and drink items I wish to make or taste.

So as you can see, my provisional Bucket List has four basic food groups: travel; accomplish; health; creativity.

I will flesh out the list when The Muses remind me what they all were.

Oh, there is a fifth group, intentionally left blank, lest my Mother be reading this. 🙂


*The Cup Fairies et. al. had better keep their pixilated paws to themselves.

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