What’s top of my mind: Christmas. This happens every year about now: I start to panic that I’ve done no shopping and there is nothing ‘up’. I would like some Christmas cheer; it isn’t going to happen unless I make an effort. The only sense that it is Christmas is I my iPhone. On it is a playlist of Christmas carols and tunes. What’s on it could be an entry onto itself. Starting this evening every night I will do something: I will put up some decoration and send something out until it’s all up and done.


Where I’ve been: Hanny’s. Now we are going back to some in-house theatre, we are stopping by our favorite watering hole after the shows. We were happy to see some of the staff is still there, having somehow survived the pandemic shut down. The place is packed more than ever, mostly with young folks, for it is a ‘hip’ place to be. Unfortunately, the demand for seats is high and the number of wait-staff is low. This makes for long waits and less-than-stellar service. “If we had never been here before,” said Someone the last time we were there “I wouldn’t return”. Hanny’s makes the best cocktails in town, including three new ones for Christmas. When asked which one I would like, I quoted from ‘A Christmas Carol” when Scrooge is told by Jacob Marley three spirits were arriving:

“Couldn’t I take `em all at once, and have it over?

Our server didn’t catch the reference. Oh the pain.


Where I’m going: Petsmart. Uncle Albertson has some shortages, no surprise, but what surprises me is what isn’t available. One item is dogfood, particularly the one our dog Harper eats. There are plenty of other brands, but Someone is wary to buy something else. He states changing a dog’s diet causes havoc on their digestion. We need to drive around looking to see who may have some. Petsmart has heaps or so we hope. By the way, it makes my eyes cross to see the shelves of various dog food – how on earth is one supposed to know which one is right – or are they all the same?


What I’m watching: Chiles en Nogada. Mexican stuffed poblano peppers in a walnut sauce. Someone was fond of them when we visited Puerta Vallarta. The red and green and white colors of the dish makes me think to make some at Christmas time, provided I can figure out the recipe. On line there are heaps, and I don’t know which one is the ‘proper one’. Some of the recipes are quite elaborate. As it will be my first time making some -and we don’t have a baseline reference for comparison – I may make a simple version.

If anyone knows of a good and/or proper recipe for this dish, please tell me.

What I’m reading: Tool of Titans. I bought this lofty tome a few years ago and only recently started to read it. Mr. Tim Ferris interviewed a whole bunch of celebrities on how they achieved their successes in life – not just money or prestige (although most had both) but their inner-peace. These great beings all had their individual thoughts and techniques and philosophies, but there were some habits that regularly appeared. I give you the some of the bigger ones, so you don’t have to read it:

More than 80% had some sort of daily meditation ritual.

A large amount of the men skipped breakfast, and many (men and women) ate scantily in general.

Almost all took their ‘weaknesses’ and turned them into huge competitive advantages.

One of the most influential book read was “Man’s search for meaning”.


What I’m listening to: Ana Gasteyer. I recently asked friends and family on FB to suggest some charming atypical albums of Christmas music. Sean (the dear!) suggested I listen to a Ms. Ana Gasteyer, someone I am not familiar with. Love this! I bought the album right away. Thank you, Sassybear! When I hear it I think of you.


What I’m eating: Chicken pot pie. Someone doesn’t do much cooking, but he likes making chicken pot pies. They do not vary; he uses the same recipe every time. They are delicious and we eat them with relish. He recently made one using the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. We deemed it a success, indeed I thought it slightly superior to its predecessors, possibly as there was more meat in it than usual. I enjoy them with dashes of whatever hot sauce is at hand. Yesterday I used one called ‘Serrano Claus’ hohoho.


Who needs a good slap: My CME (continuing medical education) company. Doctors are obliged to earn so many credits per year to show they are keeping up on things.* With in-person talks on hold, one does this via audio-lectures. Mine source is, Audio-digest, has been sending out several ‘it’s time to renew your subscription’ emails, what feels like several months before it was to actually expire. Last week I called to renew my subscription, which I did after waiting 15 minutes on hold to do so. A few days later, I got an email from my ‘personal representative’ reminding me it was time to renew my subscription. I called and left word I have already done so, but please call me to confirm, as her email seemed to imply it didn’t happen. She has yet to call me back.

On the 1-5 scale, I give Audio-digest one slap.


What I’m planning: Cookies. I am not supposed to be consuming sugar and refined carbohydrates, and in my defense I am doing fairly well at this. However, Christmas without cookies sounds bleak, so I will be making some if only to give them away. So, if I am going to make just one type, what will it be? There are the traditional types of Spo-cookies, gingerbread and “S”, of which I have written. Maybe I will make something new and adventuresome. I may make one that doesn’t sound especially ‘good to me’ so I am less tempted to eat them. I am starting to look on line and in my cookbooks for ideas.

Do you have a favorite Christmas cookie? Please share the recipe in the comments.


What’s making me smile: Ivar Gunnarsson. This fine fellow (whom I assume is well over four feet) makes delightful videos on all things Icelandic. Like he did last year, Mr. Gunnarsson is counting down the days to Christmas with a daily chile-based candy/hot sauce advent calendar. Watching him swallow and gag on hot candy balls and sauces makes me smile every time.

*There is no good evidence this actually makes a doctor ‘better’, but there it is.

I miss snow, especially at this time of the year. When I was smaller and people were taller, it seemed to snow all the time in December, and the snow was remarkable and deep. There was nothing so cozy feeling as a snowfall outside while you are inside, knowing you don’t have to go out. One could stay home, isolated from the world, drinking something hot, and watch the world turn white and wonderful. Some of my fondest memories are times of peering out the window at the quiet falling snow. It made Christmas magical; without it Christmas seemed not quite right. Falling asleep, snug as a bug in a rug, while hearing the blizzard howl outside was a lullaby like no other.

Snow is all well and pretty while sitting inside sipping cocoa. It is another thing having to venture into it. Thems in Iceland have a word for this:

Gluggaveður: (n.): Weather that looks pretty when looking out at it through a window from inside, but it is actually cold and nasty to enter into it.

There is a Shadow side to snow: isolation and insanity. Before phones and such if one became snowed in you were stuck, unable to escape, or do much really. In Western literature, snow is often used as a metaphor for losing grip on reality or going insane from isolation.* Snow is dangerous; it can kill. In Japanese folklore men lost in a blizzard may encounter Yuki-onna, or ‘Snow woman’ who lures them to their doom.

Nowadays no one stays home any more due to snow. We go out into it like any day. Snow is seen not as something lovely but as a nuisance, something in the way, thwarting the daily doings we insist happen come hell or high water.

It may be the great snowfalls of the past will melt away with global warming. Yoki-onna will disappear as there is no snow to house her spirit, and we have snowplows and salt to clear the roads.

I would like just one more time to be in a house or cabin, while the weather outside is frightful but the fire is so delightful, cup or tea in hand, and watch the world fill up with white again, as I drift into a quiet detachment that only being snowbound can do.

*”The Shining” is a good example, as is “Miriam” by Truman Capote. My favorite is ‘Silent snow, secret snow’ by Conrad Aiken.

Heorot Johnsons II is in need of a strong purging and I’m not talking about the bones and ashes of countless feasts (which no one seems to bother cleaning up) but the junk. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections are hoarders; they don’t throw out anything. When Heorot Johnsons I burned down, it took with it all things accumulated from The Time of Legends. I thought this fresh start would see the end of their pack-rat activities but HJ II filled up quickly with all sorts of rubbish gathered on raids and garage sales. When I ask why they bother to keep rusty suits of armor and charge cords from discarded cellphones, they shrug and say they are holding onto everything ‘just in case’. Oh the pain.

“Just in case” is the bugbear at the bottom everyone’s stuff. This weekend, while rummaging around drawers looking for scissors, I came across several touch-tone phones, books we will never read again, countless VHS tapes etc. All of it I had forgotten about, which tells me something. In our closets are items of clothing neither one of us will wear. Why do we bother holding onto this? “Just in case we need it” of course. The likelihood of needing again a green landline touchtone phone or a Sony Walkman is slim at best. I say out with it, out with it all. If an item is neither necessary nor cherished, than it is what we call in classic Freudian psychoanalytical terms junk.

When I have a patient dealing with OCD or hoarding problems, I tell them about the ’20/20′ rule.* If the hoarded item can be replaced for less than twenty dollars or it can be bought by driving less than twenty miles, then out it goes. It turns out somebody made a study of this, and the number of times one actually has to replace a thrown-out item is (wait for it) 5x every twenty years.

More ticklish and challenging are the items considered ‘sentimental”. It is not the item itself but the memory that is important. Take a picture of everything, put it in an album, and get rid of the actual items. Keep the ones that are vital but you can discard your grown children’s kindergarten artwork.

Other than when the mead-hall burns down around you, the only time you are really forced to take a hard look at your possessions is during a move. Anyone who has ever moved knows it is better to clear out the crap now rather than box it and move it with you. Why not do this now? I wish my parents had done so. Dealing with all their things after Mother died was a long pain-in-the-butt endeavor. Brother #3 still has boxes of Mother’s knick-knacks and dishes in his basement no one wants.

I’ve decided 2022 is the year of ‘The Great Purge’ here at La Casa de Spo. I’ve started bringing things to Goodwill or throwing things out. Craig’s list can get some things to people who may actually want things like old VHS tapes. I won’t go so far as burning down the house, tempting as it is at times. I will start with little things like that fat folder of take-away menus** and work myself up to Grandmother’s Hammond organ which hasn’t been played in over twenty years as it does not work. This is going to feel good.

*This isn’t so much a ‘rule’ as a guideline; the 20 number varies depending on the patient.

**All restaurants have their menus online now. Try to tell as many people as you can in town.

This Sunday Spo-bits almost was a Monday Matters entry, but I figured I would post a half-baked entry today, rather than letting it marinate in the fridge overnight. If it is seems a bit under-cooked, that’s why. Spo

This morning I drained the hot tub. Its replenished water now allows one to sit in it without asphyxiating on the fumes. While I was bantering about the backyard, I planted in pots some acorns taken from the backyard of Brother #3. I also planted some palm tree seeds that were gathered on hikes in Palm Springs canyons.  It is nice to see something sprout, although the real challenge isn’t germination but growth. The Arizona climate doesn’t take kindly to seedlings. How many times have I done this before!

Last Friday Brother #4 drew names for the family Secret Santa. Someone got Father and I got Brother #3. We both got off easily. Father needs are not extravagant; he wants a specific UM woolen cap and he always appreciates ground coffee.  For my Secret Santa I will make a Spo-shirt.  What to give the niblings? This remains a mystery. 

There’s been no word from work about a Christmas party and I suppose this means were won’t be having one. There wasn’t one last year, so I wondered if we would have one this year. I suppose covid19 is the main matter. With The Bosses having sold the place to The Overlords, perhaps they don’t feel obliged have shin-dings anymore. I admit I was looking forward to this dinner party with prizes. Christmas 2021 so far has few if any cues to let me know it is Christmas; that party would have helped.  Someone teased me what I was looking forward to was the Christmas card with its traditional $100 dollar bill in it, which I always use to buy a bottle of scotch I am too cheap to buy myself. Truth is, I have heaps, and I don’t need more. It’s not the money but the mention I miss. Sometimes it is the only time I get a concrete expression of gratitude that I am appreciated. 

I am starting to brainstorm the meals for Christmas Eve and Day. I like something to look forward to, and dreams of dishes help. I am starting to drag into the house from the garage the containers with the Christmas trimmings. They are piling up in the hallway. One of these chests holds the holiday masks I made last year and it looks like they are needed again. I will slowly unpack them over the next few weeks until it’s all up and running. It’s a lot of work but necessary if it is going to happen. 

I lead a dull life. That’s all the news that’s fit to print.  

 

While doing the ironing and listening to a podcast I realized I was smiling to myself. I paused and gathered my thoughts on the experience. I stopped everything to write the following:

It’s Saturday morning and I am running about doing Saturday morning tasks. I’ve packed the weekly pill boxes (as is my wont); the laundry is advancing and the dishes are too. I have a handful of ‘there’s work to be done’ chores to do today. Do not mistake this for a compliant. I have a day off and this industry is providing much satisfaction. Later today Someone and I go to the ‘Live from the Met’ opera (I forget which one). Harper and I had a good dog-walk this morning and when we returned there was a package on the doorstep.  Lo! St. Nicholas or someone like him delivered a Christmas prize! In the package was a box of colored pencils and a coloring book! I was pleased as Punch. As Noel Coward says: I couldn’t have liked it more. 

One of our tragedies is we so rarely notice when we are happy. I try to be conscious of this when I am busy or engrossed in something, for it is so easy to not recognize happiness in the ordinary daily doings. It is good to stop to acknowledge its presence.  In the middle of a game or a gathering I will say: 

“If this isn’t nice, what is?”

I invite Spo-fans today to pause when they are feeling any happiness, and say to themselves or outlaid to others something likewise. 

Try doing this on a daily basis, why dontcha. 

Please leave in the comments something that is making you happy.  

Krampus (n); German: a demonic-like entity who accompanies St. Nicholas on 6 January, who scolds or beats the bad children, sometimes carrying them off in a wicker basket to goodness-knows what sort of end.

Fressen (n); German: food eaten by animals.

St. Nicholas Day is soon upon us and I fear good Saint Nick will find it hard to find good folks this year. On the other hand, his sidekick/boyfriend The Krampus has his work cut out for him. I hope his wicker basket is a big one as there are a lot of naughty ones to attend to. There are the usual obvious ones, like the politicians and the CEOS of medical insurance companies. As his agent in Arizona, I have kept a little list of miscreants Der Krampus might have missed. I thought I would share a few of them with you. Feel free in the comments to add other villains to the roster.

Cellphone users in grocery store lines. Once in a while, more often than I care to happen, I get behind someone on their cellphone at the check-out line at the grocery store. This nuisance is usually speaking loud enough for me to hear all of their one-sided conversation. They tuck their phone into their shoulder, their head at an angle like that of a barn owl, talking nonstop. They don’t acknowledge the cashier but keep talking. Somehow they manage not to drop their phone while unloading the cart and pulling from their purse or pocket their credit card. I think they will be easy pickings for Herr Krampus as they are oblivious to their whereabouts. I imagine Krampus covering his pointed ears trying to drown out the noises emanating from the wicker basket of cellphone users still yakking away in there.

Telephone agents from my alma maters. Oh the pain. I foolishly think calls from the (313) area code are from relatives, so I answer them and become trapped. The friendly script-reading person at the other end goes through their pleasantries finally getting around to the task of reaching out for hands for my money. The University of Michigan, Wayne State U., and The University of Chicago are rich as Roosevelt and what money they have is squandered so they don’t need any from me, thank you very much. Curiously, Northwestern University never calls me. Perhaps they cannot find me. Perhaps they were carried off by Krampus years ago. I sure hope so.

Makers of Dayvigo. This is a new sleeping medication and I am getting inundated with daily emails on this drug, more than Land’s End or The Great Courses, if you can imagine. Come get them, Krampus.

Gym managers. It must be written in their manuals to play music as loud as possible and plaster any wall space without mirrors with TV screens. Between the blaring music and news channels everywhere you look the noise in the gym resembles one of the levels of hell from Dante’s Inferno. Krampus can haul them away to a dark and silent place that occasionally plays songs by The lovely Lennon Sisters.

Thems who live on Robin Street. Just to the north of La Casa de Spo is a small street with households known for their decorating. Just about every house on the block participates and each tries to outdo the other in the amount of lights, inflatable objects and such they cram onto their front lawns. Over-zealous Christmas displays! Oh the horror. The block lights up like a carnival cruise ship out at sea at night time, readily seen from outer space. Krampus can beat some taste into them and The Grinch can haul it away to Mt. Crumpit to dump it.

Thems who use the word penultimate to mean ‘the best’. Penultimate means almost or next to the last, not the last/most. A Krampus-whipping is not enough for’em.

I haven’t written the Jolly Old Elf in decades. There are many reasons for my lack of writing. The main one is the lack of correlation between composition and results. It was the Late Anne Marie, not Kris Kringle, who finally provided that blasted pony I’ve been wanting since I was six. Now that I have such (thank you WQ!), there doesn’t seem much incentive to write. On top of this, I pretty much have what I want and need. What ideas I have for Christmas go to Someone and my family Secret Santa. On the other hand, it wouldn’t hurt to write St. Nick on the grounds ‘no harm asking”. I thought I would CC the Spo-fans. They may find my letter amusing and who knows, maybe some munificent Spo-fan could come through if the Big Guy Up North* doesn’t put out – again.

Dear Santa,

Once again I take mouse in hand to write you. Despite what you may have read on social media I have striven to be a good boy this year. The Elf on the Shelf may have mentioned a few slips and shenanigans but if you consult The Cup Sprites and The Car Key Gnomes (overall more trustworthy types) you will learn I haven’t been that bad. I’ve tried to be nice and make my bed everyday, and avoid curried snacks. Please consider coming down the chimney this year to La Casa de Spo this Christmas Eve. Due to doctor’s orders I’m avoiding sweets this season, so I won’t have any milk and cookies for you, but I promise pretzels and bourbon, no rubbish-type. I remember doing once before when I was a boy upon Father’s recommendation, and I recall you gave us an extra swell prize that year for our thoughtfulness.

I would like a box of crayons. I know this sounds funny, coming from a man nearly sixty years old. I haven’t had any since I was ten. Back then there were eight crayons in my box; I hear tell today’s boxes have far more numbers and variations. In first grade I sat next to Erin; she had a box of 24. She implied I had less-than-ideal parents who apparently didn’t have the money or the knack to provide me with ‘a decent set”. The little bitch wouldn’t share any of them, even though I asked her nicely, explaining my ‘blue’ was an inadequate a tone for my picture and her ‘sky blue’ would have worked. I’ve felt deprived and emotionally scarred ever since. I recently found via Facebook Erin now looks like Baby Jane Hudson, minus the charms. This is mild justice at most. I box of crayons would do a lot of good and heal long time wounds, especially one with sky blue.

Yours,

Spo

P.S. What I really want is a box with a ‘Prussian Blue’ crayon. I was quite saddened to read on-line this color (my favorite!) was discontinued on the grounds children today don’t know what “Prussia” is. I do know what Prussia is, so if Herme or one of his crowd can recreate one for me, this I would be better than all other colors combined.

*That’s St. Nick, not Justin Trudeau.

What’s top of my mind: Crayola crayons. Some nostalgic demon has possessed me to reflect often on a box of crayons. I suppose it is the collection of colors that attracts me. I haven’t had a box of crayons since I was ten years old. Perhaps Santa or someone like him will bring me a box at Christmas.

Where I’ve been: The hot tub. ‘Tis the season hohoho to use it, now that is cold enough outside to make it worthwhile. I like to sit in it and look at the stars. The other day Someone and I took the top off to hold an inspection. It seemed OK and we got in. Alas, Babylon! When the bubbles came on, it was so heavily chlorinated we were literally asphyxiating on the fumes. The chemicals need adjusting to allow one to sit in it while breathing.

Where I’m going: Goodwill. Speaking of possessions, I’ve been also channeling my paternal grandmother who could not abide ‘dust collectors’. The office and the home need purging. I have a sack of a size worthy of The Grinch; I plan to climb Mt. Crumpit in order to dump it – at Goodwill. I hope they haven’t grown picky with their acceptances. I have heaps.

What I’m watching: Sabine Hossenfelder . I recently discovered her marvelous lecture series on The Tube of Yous. She’s a scientist who presents entertaining and informative lectures on physics and astronomy. She does this using a no-nonsense approach, while with a dead-pan look that is hilarious. One of my favorites is titled: Flat earth ‘science”: wrong, but not stupid.

What I’m reading: “Hero of two worlds” by Mike Duncan. Mr. Duncan has an excellent history podcast called “Revolutions”. He recently wrote a biography on Lafayette, a French fellow whom I don’t know much about. I’m only a few chapters into the book and it is a delight. Fine job, Mr. Duncan!

What I’m listening to: “Messiah” by Handel. I tend to listen to ‘Christmas music’ as certain times of the season. Mr. Handel’s oratorio is one I like to hear ‘early on’, as a sort of prelude to the rest of the season’s music. I’ve heard it so many times I could sing it myself. By the way, I dislike “sing along Messiah concerts’ as I always seem to sit next to someone who sings loudly off-key and be completely unaware of it. Oh the pain.

What I’m eating: Thanksgiving leftovers. Still. They never seem to end. We are almost through the turkey soup. Someone plans on making one of his delicious pot pies with what’s left. I love them so; I eat them with relish.

Who needs a good slap: Myself. This week realized I have a doctor’s appointment scheduled for Monday. Not only did I forget the appointment, I forgot to arrange for time off. It is not nice now to tell staff to clear out my Monday afternoon scheduled so I can attend it. I will call and reschedule for a later date. How many times now have I vowed whenever I make an appointment to immediately put in a request at work for the time off, to give the clerical staff time to arrange so.

I give myself on a 1-5 scale four slaps.

What I’m planning: Nothing. Usually ‘what’s making me smile” is the stumper; this week is is ‘what I’m planning”. I can’t think of anything. There are no parties or get-togethers arranged. I suppose I am beginning to think about what to have for dinner on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day; this gives me something to look forward to at least. By realizing I have nothing planned otherwise, it spurs me to come up with something. I will keep you posted.

What’s making me smile: Emails from the bell choir. Back in Michigan, before I moved to Arizona, I was a member of the bell choir at my church in Ann Arbor. I enjoyed this, especially the comradery. Ginny, the intrepid choir captain, continues to include me on all her emails she sends out to the members. I get to read about the rehearsal times and the members’ activities. It feels nice to have this connection, even though I haven’t been an active member since 2005. I hope someday to return this church and hear the choice and see Ginny before this correspondence turns into a ’84 Charing Cross Road’ scenario.

Last year when we cleared out our parent’s house (1976-2020) we took trinkets of our time therein. Hardly anyone took anything of value or bulk. What we wanted were mawkish things, to remind us of our youth. As an example, I took the avocado green plastic butter dish; it makes me think of our kitchen back in Grosse Pointe Woods.

I also took was Father’s collection of Christmas music recorded on cassette tape. Every Christmas morning he recorded off the radio their morning programme of carols. We heard these while eating Christmas breakfast and opening our prizes. Curiously, I don’t recall him every playing them after they were made. The next year he merely made another. Eventually he stopped doing this, apparently having lost interest in doing so, or there was no more room in the cassette tape holder (remember those?). The recordings were crudely made that he didn’t bother to edit them. Most of them start in the middle of a tune already in progress. Last year I got a cassette player that allowed me to hear them. They hadn’t been played in nearly two decades.

I was curious to hear what was there. The tunes are ‘background’ style of familiar carols. There are a lot of violins. Once in awhile there are vocals, mostly Johnny Mathis or one of that crowd. What I didn’t remember is the music stops once in awhile for the radio host to announce “This is WJR (or) this is WFMT in Detroit). There are also commercials. I think I like these better than the music. They sound ’80s’ and ’90s’ and have a quaint quality to them.

I plan on playing these ancient recordings as background music next month while I do things about the house. They may not be ‘quality’, but they remind me of Christmases long long ago, like an ornament made from paper and Elmer’s glue you made in grade school that your parents put on the tree every year next to the proper ornaments.

Cassette tapes are ephemeral; they do not last. Over time the recordings fade. Often they ‘warp’ or become a snarl. A part of me thinks I should translate them to the computer but

a) it will take a long time

and

b) it probably doesn’t matter.

In the long run the memory of these tapes is more important than their contents, which are admittedly a bit cheesy. Maybe I will save a few of them, particularly the ones with some vocals. After all, nothing sounds quite like Christmas than Mr. Mathis singing about chestnuts roasting on an open fire, followed by an ad for a Detroit business now defunct.

Picture it: Someone and I walk in the door at Einstein Brothers on Saturday morning. The sales people look at us coming in and start putting together his breakfast sandwich consisting of sliced ham on an asiago bagel, no cheese. They wait for me to approach the counter as I always order something different than what I had last time. This is illustrative of our approach to things: Someone is quite regular in his ways and I look for novelty. “What do you have that is new and adventuresome?” I like to say to the bartender or waiter. When we go out anywhere, I know what he will order, often doing so for him while he is parking the car or in the loo. So which way is better? He scores 100% on being satisfied. I often get bombs and disappointments.

I’m sure it isn’t a shock to know as we age we become less likely to try unfamiliar things. When young, we see everything as a curiosity, something to experience. This boldness starts to drop off by our 30s. I hear tell if people haven’t had sushi by 35 years old, chances are slim they will ever try it. There is an evolutionary element to this: we need to find out early what is good/not good for us and stick with the familiar, to live long enough to have offspring. Now we are living longer way past our 30s, and the choices are now almost limitless as to what we can drink, eat, hear, see, and experience. Becoming set in our ways in our 30s means for sixty more years we aren’t going to be open to new things. Father, now in his 80s, has scores of CDs; now he listens to maybe twelve at most, over and over. On the other hand, Brother #3 finds it easy to cook for him, as he wants the same meals.

Thems who are regular in their ways and thems who seek novelty are like introverts vs. extroverts: both find each other’s mode of operation odd if not appalling. Poor Someone. Here’s another area if he had asked a few logical questions when we met he wouldn’t be saddled with somebody who is always looking for new and adventuresome recipes rather than a routine like Monday hot dish and Tuesday taco day, that sort of thing.

The downside to my approach is there is an element of discontent to seeking novelty. This pursuit can be endless and often comes with disappointment. On the positive, I’ve tried many things and I hope to experience as many as possible. My inner-Auntie-Mame is pleased. There is a part of me that doesn’t want to end up like Father eating grilled cheese sandwiches and soup every day for lunch. On the other hand, he’s content, and often I am not – so who’s the wiser?

The Christmas season is approaching. This time of year is always a challenge: does one go for tradition or novelty? I say if you can’t have tradition, have an adventure. What we will do this year at Christmas is yet to be determined.

Part of my Journey (and psychology) is constant striving towards individualism and growth. Will I be up to it in what time I have left? Next year I hope to spend my sixtieth birthday with chums who live in an island known for their seafood, particularly oysters. I’ve never had an oyster, fearing the hazards of raw foodstuffs. For that momentous occasion I’m planning on ordering just that. This may disappointing or a disagreeable, and if vibrio is present could mean a trip to the P.E.I. hospital for a birthday prize curtesy of Canadian national health care. At some point one one has to step out of one’s comfort zone and taking risks. I hope I don’t ever stop doing so.

Are you staunch in your ways? Are you one to try ‘today’s special?” Do tell in the comments.

Do I dare? Do I want to?

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