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Behold! Shirt #101 is concluded! 

I bought this fabric some years ago when I was visiting Honolulu. The pattern looked fabulous and it captured the ur-text of the place. The fabric sat on the shelf for years until I finally got around to tackling the ticklish task of how to properly line up the front.

It turned out well; the front lines up well enough. I fear the shirt is a bit small. On the positive, I have a new frock for February’s winter holiday. On the negative I need to lose some weight pronto to fit into it. Imagine showing up in Palm Springs looking pudgy! Oh, the horror! Oh, the talk!

The red matches my eyes.

 

264402The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections sent an email remonstrating the last few entries have been too serious and too morose – and this is coming from Scandinavians no less! These ersatz suzerains dictated I write something fatuous or they will hang me upside-down over a nest of hungry rats from Tewkesbury until I cheer up. It is a great challenge to be jovial under threat of bodily harm and on the eve of Jim Kong-Trump taking office, but I shall do my best. Here are a few items to make you smile – I hope.  Keep in mind I may be fed to ravenous rodents if the comment don’t support Spo-fans are rolling in the aisles.

thMy “Learn Spanish” app tells me after two weeks of words I am now ‘1.5% proficient”. Really now. I’ve barely memorized the primary colours, several animals, a few verbs, and some formal expressions the Spanish-speaking staff at work assure me nobody uses. The secretaries are too sweet, too polite to tell me what comes out of my mouth sounds deplorable and/or incorrect.  My favorite Spanish expressions so far: “Aviso, vacas!”,  “Necesito mas te!” and the Spanish equivalent for “Do you want to come to my place bouncy bouncy”.

tht3zhaw3g  I made rice! I got a rice cooker at Christmas and I am pleased as punch. I’ve never been able to make rice without it coming out as soggy or kexy. I used Jasmine rice, crossed my fingers, and lo! The rice came out OK!  Unfortunately there is enough to supply a popular sushi restaurant for a week.  I hope the second batch is less, although I will have to wait a long time before more rice is needed or even wanted.

Harper 9 (1)Last Sunday I decided the house needed desperate cleaning, so I put up as much furniture as I could lift to tidy up. I don’t recall when last I had a proper sweep, but it must have been a long while for I gathered up enough dog hair to stuff a small pillow. I gave a severe talking-to Harper, who didn’t bother to wake from her nap to listen to my remonstration. No more treats for this miscreant. She gets rice.

thjx9v5cmy“Project Danshari”* is being undermined by inanimate objects creeping into the house a bit faster than I can purge their predecessors. Unnecessary plastic objects seem to be multiplying in the cupboard drawers and desk tops. I suspect Nargles. I am hell-bent on tossing out something on a daily basis. Sunday was dog hair; Monday was three-week-old leftovers from the back of the fridge. Tuesday may be ‘rice day’ and whatever I discover next in the desk top.

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*Oh go look the word up why don’t you.

This spring I plan to visit my parents to go over their possessions and take inventory what is valuable and what is rubbish. Last Christmas Mother idly added into holiday chit chat bombshells about the items in the dining room . Example: for as long as I can remember there stands a small Chinese vase filled with  what looks like withered potpourri.  I suggested replenishing it.  Oh no, she said matter of fact, those rose petals are from your grandmother’s wedding day, from her wedding bouquet. She added she was supposed to have them buried with her mother but she forgot to do so and she’s been meaning to spread them on grandmother’s grave. (Grandmother died in the 80s).  Aghast, I would have thrown them out – why hadn’t she said something? She’s been meaning to write this down all these sorts of things – some day. Throughout the holiday weekend she gave me mild chest pains with further examples of curious things about the house, things that have significant family history attached to them. The nondescript bowl on the dining room shelf was revealed to be an 18th century creation my great-great-grandfather received as payment for military valor. It would have gone to a church rummage sale.

So – I decided I make a weekend jaunt and get Mother to tell me as much as she can about the bricolage about the place, what has value and more important what has significance.

My brothers have no interest in attending, as they are assured I will do a good job and pass it all on to them. I know many families who get ugly after the parents die; they fight over who gets what etc. My brothers and I will have the opposite problem viz. each will want the others to take it all so they don’t have to.

I am the genealogist of my generation. I know so much goes when a person dies. When someone dies there are so many unanswered questions as everyone assumed what was common knowledge in one generation will be remembered. Fat chance of that. Even the photographs in the family album, which were taken in the 60s-80s, look as unfamiliar as strangers on a subway. Who are these people? Why were these photo taken ? Oh, Mother would say, that’s your great grandfather’s sister in law, Great Aunt Marion, you know, the one whose clock you have ( Oh lawd!)

This trip will be a bit ticklish with its implication of an approaching death, their death. When my parents die, my brothers and I will probably throw most things out like the last scene in “Citizen Kane”.  I want save a few Rosebuds from the fires of the forgotten – if not for me, then for my niblings and their descendants for when they become curious about their heritage. I can pull down from my shelf the bowl or the vase or the photo album and tell them the stories.

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Solitude

Someone went to work early this and he did not return until late this evening. Between good-bye and hello-again I realized I had not said a word all day to anyone. Nobody called and nobody came. What few words I uttered were to the dog. I spent the day home, alone. It was both lovely and unsettling. I was busy; I did a lot of house cleaning, paperwork, and sewing so I hadn’t connected the dots I had been a proverbial hermit until now.

Most people need a balance of ‘Me time’ and being in the company of others. Unless you are schizoid or introverted with a capital “I” you need some human contact some of the time. Thems who have some sort of social network live happier and longer lives. I suppose my work week is one long social intercourse so my weekends sans others are more delicious than deleterious.

It was a gray and rainy today; inclement weather seems to say ‘say home and stay put”, so I did just that. What did I do under my rock? I learned Spanish*; I swept and mopped and tidied up; I did the laundry and the dishes; I worked on Spo-shirt #101 (stay tuned).

To be sure, I enjoyed solitude, but there is always a tinge of loneliness that goes with it. I wonder how come nobody called or texted me today. Everyone was busy with their lives apparently, or maybe they had similar Sundays as mine. I hear some Spo-fans already wondering ‘Well, you could have called”. True.  Sometimes it is nice not to be the one who always reaches out.

For a day with nothing but self-absorbed activities and tidy-up it went by remarkably fast. Someone texted me about 730PM he was on his way home. We had a simple supper. Now he watches TV on the West side of the house and I am on the East, typing out these Spo-thoughts, prior to getting into bed with a good book. Not a bad Sunday, this. However next weekend I would not mind going out if only to be among my fellow men.

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*Mostly Los Animales.

I saw The Good Doctor yesterday. He said with satisfaction my cholesterol/lipid profile and other basic tests were truly most excellent. Afterwards I awarded myself with rubbish from McDonalds. While I quietly to myself quietly eating my high-fat high-cholesterol happy meal, a group of urban youth came in and sat down near me. The lads, who must have been in their early teens, were loud and talked all at once. They didn’t seem to notice I was there. I felt invisible. Despite my stellar stats it made me realize I am approaching the age of the elderly. I’ve noticed oldsters are not ‘seen’ when they are out and about. They move like shadows among the younger ones, quiet and unseen. The shadows see each other though.

I felt again my age at the barber shop. The young man who cuts my curls hails from Jordan. I don’t know his age but his hair and beard are raven-black, dark as midnight. The burgundy bib catches my clipped curls and makes them shine like silver. I told Mr. Jordan once upon a time I had hair as brown as his. He smiles and nods, the sort I suppose older men get from younger men who are obliged to be obsequious but are inwardly swearing when they get to be my age they will be different.

I thought as I aged I would become an elder, a objiisan, but most of the time I sense I viewed as an elderly non-entity.

Sometimes Someone and I go out after symphony to the nearby ‘hip’ bar, in which the average age of the staff and such seems to be somewhere in the late 20s/early 30s.  Upon entering I feel we don invisible name tags, one saying “Statler” and the other “Waldorf”.

Older gay men have as an asset pups in their 20s often see us as the E-ticket at Disneyland. I sense it is more about the wallet in our pants than our other items but there it is. If you go for that sort of thing.

Another area of elderly advantage is my profession. Older docs, especially psychiatrists, easily channel Sage or Magician energies, especially if you have whiskers and sound a bit like Dumbledore or Gandalf or one of that crowd.

Oh well. I have good cholesterol and thanks to Mr. J a nice hair cut (including eye brows which were beginning to resemble Grouch Marx).

I ran 40 minutes today; I am in good health; I have a bulge in my pocket (a thick wallet).  I can rest on my silver locks that Life is good – for a ghost.

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singing-smileyI dislike violence in television or movies but move it to opera and violence becomes entertaining. Watching people being shot, stabbed, poisoned, burned, drowned, buried alive, thrown off towers, guillotined, or dragged down to hell is quite exciting, thank you very much.

I know a few fellows (many well over four feet but admittedly light in the loafers) who lip synch this or that goddess-diva when her tunes are playing. I reenact opera scenes. Although I am probably a baritone I like to mime the dramatic sopranos especially the ‘tweety-bird roles”. Someone is probably tired of my frequent renditions of Sister Constance in the ‘laundry scene’ from “Dialogues of the Carmelites” which I do when ironing shirts.  Musetta’s waltz is in my repertoire and frequently performed, as is Violetta (cough cough).  When I want to be more butch, I tackle “Wotan’s farewell” – which I actually sing much to the chagrin of the dog it makes her ears hurt.*

It is a perversity of mine whenever I need cheering up I listen to the second act of Strauss’ “Salome”. For thems who don’t know this ditty, “Salome” is 90 minute long toe-tapper based on the Bible story. Salome dances for King Herod and demands as payment the head of John the Baptist. The opera is an encyclopedia of psychopathology. Salome seems to be what we shrinks call ‘a stone borderline”.  The ‘highlight’ is Salome rolling around the stage making out with John’s severed head “I have finally kissed you on the mouth!”  One wonders if she has become psychotic and  she doesn’t see him as actually dead. She’s then executed for being ‘ein Ungeheur” (an abominable monster).

Jolly good fun.

Most of my opera karaoke is best done ‘home alone’ lest I upset other’s equilibrium. It is a personal pleasure and like most of life’s great pleasures they should be done behind closed doors, in private.**

As I age my virtual tessitura seems to be deepening and I need to move on to more mezzo-soprano roles. They usually play the bad bitches. It’s a stretch but I can do that.

 

*Harper prefers Puccini

** Palm Springs being an exception.

 

 

I have overdosed on knowledge nuggets. I’ve gorged on a continuous happy meal of medical journals and lectures combined with side order of a dozen podcasts. These are chock-full of erudite and educational tid-bits. Like a greedy child who keeps eating cookies simply because they are there, I feel crapulous. Worse, my mind has gone on strike; it refuses to incorporate any more insights. I wish to think my mind is a giant black hole of endless educational needs when in fact it is more like a small attic. If I want to put something new into it, I need to toss something out.  The total capacity of cortex seems to be limited to a few dozen facts. I have to choose wisely which ones to retain and which ones fall out through my ears. While it would be jolly to recite from memory the moons of Jupiter it means forgetting my work address.

Having a headful of facts used to be talent much appreciated and admired, but no one bothers with this sort of thing anymore. If someone wants to know the years reign of Mary I of England* they reach for their phone. People ask Siri, not Urs Truly. It’s an example of being replaced by a machine.

I remember my junior high school teacher scolding us kids to know how to multiple two three-digit numbers as the new-fangled calculators won’t always be available. This ominous warning turned out to be completely wrong. I can’t remember last when cellphones were not available and somebody desperately needed to know all the presidents and I saved the day with my brilliant recall of such.

All the same, a lifelong habit of squirreling away facts and trivia is a tough nut to break. I will continue to cram as much as I can into my cranium, not for the sake or entertainment of others but for myself.

There is a quiet smug satisfaction knowing I can recite A.A. Milne’s “Disobedience” out loud if called upon to do so.

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*1553-1558.

Never trust trout.

When in doubt, get horizontal.

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When Viking helmets are not assessable or permissible empty cardboard boxes from Amazon.com can be used as a temporary chapeau.

It is a terrible death to be talked to death; pause every once in a while to allow your audience to escape.

Words to say out loud when you need cheering up: gwot, nerdle, and honorificabilitudinitatibus (but get it right).

Push fluids – but apologize if this is done too roughly.

Leos, Cancers, and most Aries are nice old things; please don’t feed them buns and things. Sagittarians are nice; you can trust them. Scorpions are for smashing and thems who say otherwise are itching for a fight.

In spats with your spouse, it is good to remind the other you are not arguing but explaining whey you are right.

With rare exception, pepper improves everything.

I can no longer remember all the names of the seven dwarfs, nor do I wish to. If pressed I can look it up.

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On the other hand it is a good thing to have memorized several good poems so when one is needed or apropos you can spontaneously break out into verse to the amazement and entertainment of all. I would avoid Shelly as he tends to be a too exciting and a bit wordy.

Regardless what Charlie Thomas told me in fourth grade, an apple is not fair exchange for a Hershey’s chocolate bar.

Flies buzz in an “F” note; The Orchestra of Scorched Cats nearly always play in E-flat.

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No man is an island, but Eugene is a city in Oregon.

Akratoptoes is the roommate or BFF of Dionysus. Mr. A is the ‘drinker of wine, unmixed (with water to dilute it down).”   Try to tell as many people as you can in town.

Urspo’s wicked word of the day: wimbeling (n; old Yorkshire dialect) To busy yourself somewhere when you really should be getting on with something else. Try using it in an e-mail today.

Pensive

I learned via FB the valedictorian of my high school class has died. Nobody knows ‘how’ or ‘why’ he died; the obituary is rather sparse, limited to a discrete short paragraph without detail. K passed away on his birthday and he is survived by his parents. He was 54. My age.

The lack of the listed cause of death (“after a long battle with cancer”, for example) and  he died on his birthday make me wonder. These seem to suggest the possibility of a suicide.  There was also no mention of wife or children or partner; it sounded lonely.  He taught German and he worked sometimes as an accountant.  Not to disparage teaching or accounting, but this man was a genius who always got straight As without effort. It seems an ignominious life. In contrast, I did ‘OK’ in high school and I certainly wasn’t the brightest. Yet, I have ‘done well” as it were.  It touches on the Life is not Fair feelings I get when I hear of someone’s premature death.

I haven’t seen K since a high school reunion in 1990 so I didn’t feel great loss or sorrow but I wondered about the capriciousness of Life. On paper K should have become another Bill Gates or some great university scholar. I don’t know what happened to him. Perhaps he was quite happy and content in. I hope this was so.

Another man’s death – particularly at the age of your own – conjures up introverted reflections on death, life, and such. I too could drop at any minute. What do I want now?  Is something missing? Is Life passing by?  How much of Life is in my hands to master and make my own versus how much of it is beyond my efforts to create it in an image I covet?  And – what about Meaning?

I feel sad if K’s life had been a disappointment for him. Dying at 54yo certainly sounds sad to me. It prompts me to keep to the gym and be grateful for what I have and for goodness sake keep mortality in mind to make my every day count.

 

When people meet each other for a potential partnership, they should ask themselves some logical questions.* Examples:

Are you a smoker?
What if any is your religion?

What do you think of me drinking milk right out of the carton?

I would add to this list an inquiry into how the other one does the laundry. Think about it. You two will be doing decades of dirty duds and if there are intransigent standards it may be best to seek another mate or designate one to do the laundry while the other can take out to rubbish.

At the Spo-house, laundry accumulates faster than boiled asparagus. How on earth two men make so much is a mystery.  It seems there is always some more that wants doing; there is always more to put into the dryer, and even more to fold and to iron.

First area of potential contempt: how often do you want to ‘do it’ – meaning the laundry. Are you one to ‘do it all’ on Saturday afternoon or when there is enough to fill the tub?  Urs Truly tends to the latter, although this makes the washer machine into a sort of OCD case – “I am continually washing the same things, over and over, it never feels done or clean”.

Second area – and fear this can be a relationship deal breaker! – how often do you clean the lint trap. I won’t say who, but there is someone in the house who seems to never think about it.  Oh the horror.

Folding clothes together can be as invidious as talking politics with your conservative uncle.  I tend to dump the clean clothes into a Fafner’s pile and then sort them into proper taxonomies of T-shirts, socks, shirts, etc. and proceed to fold each subspecies to completion prior to moving on to the next (socks always last by the way). Someone finds this nonsense; he folds stating with “what’s on top” and moves down the pile. How things are folded can also be ticklish. We’ve made an unspoken truce to take turns folding clothes the ‘proper way’ while the other is away.

Ironing. Someone does a much better job than I. Think of Buddha on Adderall.  However he gravitates to the “I am now obliged to iron all shirts en masse as there are no clean ones left” while I want to iron shirts as soon as they appear. I don’t iron his shirts as he ends up redoing them anyway.

Two more areas to inquire before moving in together: the amount and type of washing powder and the dryer timer.  I tend to be niggardly about how much (how little) soap to use and I don’t see any difference to add the other liquids. I read somewhere it is bad to dry clothes too dry. Needless to say these are areas best done without pronouncing to one’s pignsie how you are going about it.

We’ve manage twenty years together without ending up in court either for a divorce or as a defendant in a homicide trial, and the togs get tided somehow.

Perhaps it isn’t so much how one does the laundry as giving charity to the other – even thought he doesn’t do it properly and I will just have to do it myself next time.  🙂

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You can imagine their thoughts………

*Alas it is too late for Someone, who should have asked:

Do you like to watch Law&Order?

How many relatives do you have like you?

What is your taste in music?

-Too late indeed.

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