15 December is an important date in The House of Spo for two reasons: it is Someone’s birthday* and it is International Tea Day. For the sake of the day I am having some Twinings Earl Gray. I’ve written ad nauseam on this blessed brew so newer Spo-fans can peruse the entries. I’m off to find some stocking stuffers, so I will leave you with this little ditty: 

 

*For his birthday prize I got a set of kitchen knives to replace the ones he’s had for decades.  If I should suddenly disappear this weekend please connect the dots and don’t eat the pies. 

I miss snow. Really I do. I suppose it’s my Nordic genetics that makes long for the stuff. I know many people who find snow depressing. In contrast, nothing makes me happy so much as watching a snowfall. I suppose it gives me a sense of security; I don’t have to go out or anywhere. I can stay indoors and go into an introverted dwam the type only a blanket of snow can provide. 

More perverse is the pleasure of shoveling the stuff. There was a satisfaction to be out in the quiet night of a snow fall with the scrape scrape scrape of a metal shovel clearing the driveway and sidewalks. Even more was the return indoors to warmth and a hot cup of cocoa. As a boy I used to sit in the bay window, wrapped burrito-style in a heavy blanket and watch the snow encompass the neighborhood.  Like Gabriel Conroy in “The Dead” my soul slowly swooned as I heard the snow falling faintly through the universe, faintly falling upon all the living and the dead.  

Needless to say this no longer happens in my life, at least not where I live anyway.  Christmas has never been quite right since. When we first moved to AZ we used to go to NM at Christmas time just to see some snow to let us know it was Christmas time. Christmas doesn’t seem proper without some snow to it. 

Retirees generally move to warmer less wintry climes but  I want to return to snow country. I want to have proper winters and Christmases before I die or global warming makes snow a mere memory.  If I am fortunate I will find a modest home with a bay window to it and – oh the joy! – a proper fireplace.

Yes, that needs to happen, and soon.

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insanity  The Wonder Receptionist informed me I have no openings available for appointments until early February; please stop telling patients to ‘come back in a few weeks’ as there is no place to put them. This means I can’t ‘squeeze people in’ and the new ones scheduled later this month won’t have their first follow up appointment for months later. I can hear the orchestra of scorched cats tuning up as patients will be calling frantic they can’t get in to see me this is an emergency dammit. I emailed The Boss-man with the modest proposal the clinic call the new evaluations who are scheduled in January and cancel them all. They will be understandably very upset but I need to attend to the patient I already have. My goodness it’s exhausting being wanted. 

Today among the fresh set of Christmas catalogs and junk mail was a package from Post Canada. I got another package of sweeties from the Great White North.   Thank you !!!   It made my day!   They are Canadian delicacies some of which I have never seen.  Hot puppies!

Also in the post today was a package of graph paper sent by Brother #4. He recently asked me to design a map for his upcoming Dungeons and Dragons game.  I’ve not done this sort of thing since the 80s. Don’t worry he says, he will provide the basic design and all I have to do is draw the details and give names to some of the places and points of interest. I am going to have a lot of fun inserting easter eggs and obscure references into this map, most will probably fly over the head of his players. Imagine Brother #4 telling his (straight) D&D buddies they are now approaching The Stonewall Inn. There will be the small town of Tweeksberry which is infested with rats. The burg is located near the Rolling Grass Hills and just down the path from The Cave of Caerbannaog.*

Insanity  So far there isn’t a shred of Christmas decorations up at the House of Spo. I sense Someone hasn’t any interest in doing so, so if I am to have any hohoho I better do so myself. We are the only house on the block that isn’t decorated up like a whorehouse in Kansas.** This weekend I want to wrap the cacti up with some modest lights just enough to ward off the wrath of the neighbors who would think us godless otherwise.

This weekend is the feast day of Someone’s nativity. He doesn’t have any plans but work work work all day. He’s no fun, he falls right over.  All the same I got him a fabulous birthday prize, one which I hope he likes. I like it anyway. Spos are notorious for giving prizes they like themselves, just in case the recipient doesn’t so the prize is not wasted.  Very practical, no?  I shan’t tell you what it is, lest he reads this or The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections shoots off their mouths the stirges.  I may have to banish them to Brother #4’s D&D game.  I’ll put them in The Island House Inn and see if anyone catches on.

 

*Go look it up. 

**I heard my great Uncle Milo say this once while driving by a house bedecked from top to bottom like a carnival cruise ship.  “It looks like a whorehouse in Kansas” he said, which made my great Aunt Lois quite upset.

As a boy I didn’t often eat lunch at school, but when I did I recall it was nearly always a brown bagged tuna fish sandwich. My mother, the gourmet, made these with the holy Midwest trinity of tuna fish, mayonnaise, and white bread. I suspect the recipe was mostly convenience: just open a can and a jar and slap it on bread and Bob’s your uncle. My grade school colleagues ate similar sandwiches, although their mothers were more racy than mine. Theirs included celery bits, pickle relish, or paprika – something I had never seen before.  I remember one poor girl was ostracized as a radical when her tuna fish sandwich was revealed to have chopped apple in it when all our lunches had the  delicious red apple separate from the sandwich.

I am not complaining; I liked tuna fish. I still do. I don’t eat it much anymore as when I do I feel guilt I am killing off the dolphins and contributing to the demise of the sea. Then there is all the mercury I am inhaling with each bite.  Nowadays when I make a tuna fish sandwich I prefer them open-faced and broiled with lots of bubbly cheese on top.

Mother would not recognize my tuna fish sandwiches if she were to have one. I learned tuna is quite obliging for all sorts of add-ons. Nowadays I use lettuce, tomato, chopped onion – even hot sauce. More often than not I use some binder other than nasty old mayo. Someone can’t eat it and mayo is as bland as bland can be.  I recently learned a tip to grind up a tin of sardines in oil and mix it with the tuna. This provides a tasty oily binder and some umami and perhaps diminishes the amount of tuna/mercury/guilt in the sandwich.

I can’t remember the last time white bread entered the Spo-house. Do they still make Wonder Bread I wonder?  I use bagels as they keep longer via the freezer. In a pinch I use hamburger buns especially if they look to be in need of using up.

I sometimes think to return to my Midwest roots and make me a sandwich using the original recipe. Perhaps it will make me feel back in grade school. Too bad I won’t have other kiddies with me with whom to swap half the sandwich for something else as was my wont. Mother never knew.

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Last night I put out my Christmas list for the family Secret Santa. For fifty-five years at the top of my list is a pony.  I still haven’t gotten it. However I’ve learned what I list second is a pretty safe bet, so I need to be careful as I am likely to get it.*  My list is quite an amalgam of items ranging from expensive DVDs (no harm asking) to underwear. Honestly I would be just as happy to get a T-shirt with “Hello from the magic tavern” on it as “The Ring Cycle”.

Truth be told I don’t really care what I get for Christmas anymore. I’m at an age what I really want is food and good cheer.  I am planning a nice Christmas Eve dinner, complete with a birthday cake for Baby Jesus. I found a recipe for gingerbread cake circa 1750; this sounds good and all I really need for Christmas.**

I’ve got news for you and it’s either very good or very bad news depending on your perspective. What makes for longevity and good health (and a happy holiday) is NOT fame or self-actualization or financial security or a chiseled physique (although these don’t hurt). What does the trick is …… a social network.  Jean-Paul Satre got it wrong. Other people are not hell, but heaven.  We are better off being among people.  This isn’t profound or foudroyant but it is the best thing for happiness.  Ms. Carey sings it well:

I don’t want a lot for Christmas
There’s just one thing I need
And I don’t care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree

I don’t need to hang my stocking
There upon the fireplace
Santa Claus won’t make me happy
With a toy on Christmas Day

I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas
Is you baby

I wish with all my heart Spo-fans have friends and family especially at this time of year. They don’t have to be quantity but quality.  Just one other will suffice.  If you don’t I am heartily saddened to know this: I wish I could have you over on Christmas day.

We all need to work on this in 2019. Forget the social media apps and go out and encounter others.  This is not easy but it is not impossible – and it is vital. It is worth all the top hats and ponies there ever ever was.

*What would really float my goat is a genuine top hat, the sort you see in “A Christmas Carol”.   I swear I was a Dickens character in a previous life.

**That and a good snort.

house-cleaning-11688-570x403I am taking a break from today’s tidy-up to sit still for a moment and write out some thoughts. I am drinking Earl Gray; I am signing my death warrant drinking such at this hour. It isn’t too strong but I daresay I will be up late. That’s not too bad for there’s work to be done.

The last load out of the dryer had with it some sort of gizmo among the socks and undies. It is a large round gray push button-like object; a spring connect to it. Neither one of us can deduce what on earth it is let alone from whence comes it. I’ve been wondering the house looking for something to press that is missing its button. This is not the first time the dryer has delivered onto us some strange and unfamiliar object. They are usually in exchange for a sock or some other wearing apparel.  I have a theory the dryer has a connection to a wormhole which warps time and space at least in the regular settings. Rationalists in the house don’t agree with me but they can’t come up with a better theory so I am sticking with mine. 

Speaking of laundry we finally remembered to purchase some Pine-Sol to clean up the laundry room floor. I am always dubious to move out the washer and dryer for last time we found quite a few scorpions albeit dead ones. On the positive I usually find a handful of coins – not enough to buy a small chocolate cone I suppose but enough to make the job a satisfactory one. 

After the laundry/room is addressed there is all the ironing. Oh the pain. Somehow we’ve managed to wear in a fortnight every shirt imaginable and they all want ironing.  Happily I have a lot of podcasts to hear which makes it bearable.  Whenever I spend an evening making hot steamy love with the Proctor & Gamble I ponder the time/cost analysis. I dont’ recall how much it costs for the cleaners to clean and press a shirt (Spo-fans can help me here) but I can’t help but wonder if the time savings is worth it. Besides, the sweet ladies at “Quick-cleaners” do it better. I do what’s called ‘good-enough ironing” much to the chagrin of Someone. 

Apart from the washing and ironing I need to compose an email of a list of wants for Christmas prizes for my family’’s Secret Santa.  This will be the 56th year in a row I will ask for that blasted pony.  Odds are I won’t get it again but I’ve learned whatever I list as the second wish is a certain bet. Be careful what I ask for here. Perhaps I can kill as many scorpions with one stone as it were and ask for a clothes press. 

A man ironing a shirt

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The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections are a little peeved I haven’t ‘put out’ as it were. They are rather unsympathetic with my explanations about work and time restraints. Normally they merely threaten with setting fires to public buildings or causing me bodily harm. This evening they sent an email with the ominous title “CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATION”.  Attached to the succinct note ‘Read this” is a PDF of a lengthy contract dated from 2006 when the blog started. Translated from the Runes, it says I am required to write on a regular frequency as determined by The Board. It also says I promise to make whatever mutually satisfactory accommodations necessary to reduce tensions and arrive at whatever previously agreed-upon goals both parties have harmoniously set in the appropriate planning sessions. The section on punishments – if the suzerain (them) is not satisfied by the minion (Urs Truly) – is profusely illustrated and there isn’t a dull page in it. The wretched thing is signed in blood, apparently mine.

I smell a rat. The fustian words are far beyond their taciturn concrete Viking lexicon and I have no memory of this document let alone signing such. Until I find an impolitic attorney to challenge it I better write something pronto. Being vindicated in a court of law months hence would be small comfort for today’s missing digits. 

It’s hard to be creative or funny under such duress. Happily the fine print doesn’t say the entry has to be ‘good’  just there. 

I have dry skin this week; it is so bad it itches. I’ve had to put on lotion, which was a relief.  I guess the shower water temperature should be less hot.

There.

Come back this weekend when I am under less duress. 

I apologize to Spo-fans near and far I’ve had no time to write a proper post. I am in  conferences all day long, powwowing with my fellow wizards, learning things to make me less stupid.  The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections are down the street at Treasure Island” playing poker.* Here are some tidbits I have learned along the way.

Try to tell as many people as you can in town. 

20% of the body’s energy is consumed by the brain, although it is only 2% of the body’s mass.  Pig. 

Speaking of rapacious brain matter, 50% of our genes are for brain development. 

Despite ‘depot shot’ medications’ proven benefits towards keeping patients stable, patients are loathe to use them. They want control; they want to stop meds if they should want to.  

There are five main types of dementia: Alzheimers; Frontal lobe; Lewy body type; Parkinson-type; Vascular-type. I remember them with the mnemonic  “All Fags Love Pink Vests”. I admit it isn’t a nice way to remember something but it works. 

Before the onset of dementia, the first sign is ceasing usual activities and the second sign is developing a depressed or apathetic mood. 

Estrogen has anti-psychotic -like properties but androgens tend to cause psychosis. This means women are generally sane while men are basically crazy.

The leading cause of traumatic brain injury isn’t car accidents or assaults or sports injuries; it is falls. Try not to have any please. 

Haldol kills neurons via 15 different toxic ways. Don’t use this. Ever. Besides, it’s so 80s. 

There is a growing prevalence of autism. No one knows why. It could be because what we call autism has become so broad. 

Giving amphetamines to patients makes them feel good, something called ‘the halo effect”. Just because a person feels better doesn’t mean they have ADHD or depression. It means they are taking speed. 🙂 

 

*They were banned from “Paris” for reasons I won’t mention lest you are eating.

Greetings from Lost Vegas!  I am attending a three-day conferences, powwowing with my fellow wizards, many of them well over four feet. Most folks when they think of a shrink envision a Freud-like old man in glasses and bow tie (if only!). Truth is the profiles in the conference room resemble a GOP nightmare of diversity.  It also resembles a night at the theatre viz. everybody is old. There are few who look under forty. Like the opera or the symphony there is a general decline in attendees for ‘live conferences’ ; the older ones die off and the youngsters don’t come. There are many reasons for this. Truth be told I wouldn’t have bothered but it is only a 4-5 hour long drive and I get to spend Lost Vegas as a tax deduction and Someone promised he’d go with me.

I am pleased as punch Someone came with me; I hate being alone in hotels. Neither one of us are good at “doing nothing” so it was a challenge to get him to come with me. He doesn’t like to sit in hotels either. He has to play doctor’s wife all day and try to keep himself amused while I learn things.

More challenging than Someone doing nothing is Urs Truly sitting still for eight hours. My hummingbird-brain goes less patient with long hours of concentration. During the more dull or unimportant lectures today I plan to look like I’m listening but do something else.  Spo-fans with blogs shouldn’t be surprised to see comments popping up on their blogs.  Take it as a compliment: I would rather read what you are up to than listen to “The practical approaches to managing ADHD co-morbidities”.  I think there’s some irony here but it looks like the lectures are commencing so I’m off.  

It rained last night much to our surprise. I don’t remember when it last did so. It was a gentle type rather than the sudden downpours we usually get around these parts. The sonorous sounds of this unexpected heaven-sent precipitation was quite soothing and it made for a good bed time lullaby. As I lay dying, I held Harper’s paw in mine. We both had good dreams: waterfalls and gummi bears for me and ‘the hunt’ for the hound. This morning there was wet pavement and the air was filled with moisture. I saw rosy-fingered dawn as I sit in my office.  The sunshine dried everything up and it will be as it was.

It is a comfort to know I am still thrilled by little things like last night’s rainfall. Yesterday I found a ‘new’ Christmas carol  – new for me anyway as it was written sometimes in the 17th century. Its delight is as remarkable as if I had discovered I had won the lottery.  Tonight after work I have no plans at all – I can do what I want including nothing at all.  This too evokes a quiet satisfaction that might as well been the radiance of a brilliant sunset.

I see these as the consequence of gratitude. Finding Joy in the mundane and the simple makes the mundane seem marvelous. A bowl of hot soup is as good as a banquet.  After work  I could go to the pub, the gym, or just go home to be with the dog. All three have their charms.  These are the same Friday choices really, happening month after month without variation. Some would see this boring as all get out.  Urs Truly will be quite content. How many of us can say likewise?

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