A few weeks hence Someone and I pack up our glamor and drive The Precious to Palm Springs for the annual winter holiday. This year we will be joined by two other couples . [1] There will be a special guest appearance by Mr. Fearsome Beard himself.  I am pleased as Punch.  Every year I turn more into my mother who considers sitting pool side reading books and talking to others while sipping Diet Pepsi the best way to spend a holiday. [2]   The coterie is on its own to entertain itself while Urs Truly is ensconced in his beach chair channeling his mother.  This is fine until evening arrives and supper plans are proposed. Then a crepuscular transformation then occurs.

Most of the members of this merry group originate from the Midwest.  Can you imagine a bunch of Midwesterners trying to make dinner plans?  For thems not familiar with Midwesterners, let me explain.  Midwesterners feel uncomfortable  to plainly assert his desires lest he be looked upon as bossy.  The usual ritual of making dinner plans  is a combination of indirect speech acts and  deflections. The dialogue is a predictable as a train on an open track and I know every stop every junction along its way and the precise time it will roll majestically into the station:

Someone [3]  says out loud “Where does everybody want to go to dinner?”  Out of politeness people then ask each other what the other wants;  in turn the recipient replies “Oh I don’t know” or “Why don’t you decide” or “Oh, anywhere at all is fine with me”.  I’ve gone on holiday with some of these guys for years so I know what happens next. After a few rounds of this rondel it results in Urs Truly taking charge and making the decision of everyone. [4]  By now the usual ritual is discarded and people look to me as Dinner-master.  I remonstrate the same protest why the hell should I always be the one to make the dinner decisions, which is met with “Oh, you I do it so well” and/or “It’s why you’re here”.

Noblesse Oblige.

I suppose it is a complement my pals unconsciously and unanimously  vote for my continuation as Timekeeper, Whistleblower, and Referee.  Perhaps they are just more Midwestern than I; perhaps my years living in Arizona has made me more of a bossy-boots.  Maybe I just happen to remember all the swell eats in town thanks to my journaling. [5]  Whatever the reasons I put on my proverbial cruise director cap and go to it.


So every day I wait for the 4PM incantation “So, what shall we do about dinner”. This year I might save time and energy by immediately quipping  “Tonight we are going to Copleys that’s what. Dinner at 8.”  It would at least save the time to play Midwest tag and have another highball.


[1] Fine lads all – and well over four feet.

[2] I differ from my mother I will be drinking highballs.

[3] Not necessarily Someone but someone.  He knows this game too well to start it. He too is from the Midwest.

[4] I immediately start to worry about everyone liking the dinner choice. My inner-Midwesterner will take it personally if someone is dissatisfied with dinner, and it will have to take personal responsibility if the restaurant screws up. Really.  This is why Midwesterners never want to take charge and make a group decision –  he who does so must do likewise. Oh the pain.

[5] Perhaps they are all a bunch of lazy-louts.



Some of the blogs I admire most are written by men and women going through difficult times. In Jungian terms they are into The Journey, the part of life that isn’t certain nor comfortable.  Jung used the Greek word nekyia to describe the “perilous adventure of the night sea journey”, which he described as a “descent into the dark world of the unconscious”. These heroic bloggers are trying to survive and make sense of their lives which have become like unmoored boats without charts to guide them. We all go on nekyia to some degree and most folks will face a major one at least once in their lifetime.  The bloggers I am referencing deal with some whoppers. Their writings help them make meaning of what they are suffering; their readers provide witnessing to their efforts.


In contrast Urs Truly isn’t facing anything even close to a crisis. My Dark Journeys and troll-battles happened in my 20s and 30s.  I had to face issues most men have to deal with in later life.  Happily I got through them with with gained wisdom – and I got them out of the way early.

On the negative, my life feels at times banal; my problems are quite ordinary old-man problems. Instead of channeling Warrior and Hero energies I make sure I get enough sleep. I watch that I take my blood pressure and cholesterol medications.  There is no Equus torment – or passion.

Careful here. I am most grateful for a happy life without turmoil or threat. I do not ‘need’ demons to fight. All the same, I need some Hero energy back in my life.

It is OK to accept quiet good fortune with gratitude and let things be. However have you ever noticed Man’s stories are about The Journey. After the Journey ends, so the does the story, because what comes next in happily ever after may be pleasant but it isn’t very interesting. A positive way to evoke Journey and Hero energy is to step out of your comfort zone and perhaps do some travel.  Yes, I think that would be good for me.


3aed9afbe77048aa86b5f1626b574025  Staying home happy may safe and comfortable, but Bilbo Baggins did well to leave the Shire. I need not worry. Psyche finds ways to shake things up if she feels there is compliancy or a lesson to learn. I merely need to be conscious of opportunity – and be content if the gods will it so.



Ta da! Here is my latest Spo-shirt. Batik fabric is easy to work with as there is no need to precisely line up patterns or keep careful watch on the ‘right side’ up.  I’ve had the fabric for some time. I christened it “Sunflower”. It is probably better for the fall time; I will place it among the Autumn Collection. At 5C it is certainly too cold to wear now.

It is a relief to have a ‘new shirt’ made in time for Palm Springs. I think by now all my holiday-chums know my wardrobe and can spot repeats at a thousand paces. “I so like your blue; I never get tired of seeing it” type remarks.  As you can see I daren’t show up wearing last season’s lest there is talk. 



My afternoon ironing was interrupted with a loud stentorian trumpet sound, as if my cellphone was announcing we were about to go into one of history’s more bloody battles.  I was being paged. It was not a patient ‘in crisis’ but The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections. They were in hysterics I hadn’t posted in several days and the traffic was dropping like a paralyzed pigeon.  I was to stop everything and put out or else. They didn’t tell me what the ‘or else’ entails but I’ve learned from experience truculent Board members are not to screw with.  So – I am writing an entry impromptu, which I do not like to do.  These types either go over like lead balloons or hit the jackpot. Let’s see what happens.

It’s the nadir winter weather in Phoenix. It is cold, rainy, and damp, with lows at night dropping between 5-10C. This feels like Seattle without the coffee.  It is a groovy time to stay indoors and drink hot tea and such.  Although my winter holiday is still weeks away, I am already packing and preparing things in my mind.  Before I was paged by bellicose Board members I was working on the latest Spo-shirt as I daren’t show up in Palm Springs with only last year’s products or there will be talk.  Someone is working all day and night, which allows me to sew to whatever music or podcasts* I please. No TV!  No Law & Order! I’ve enough murders and mayhem for a life time. On a similar note I haven’t turned on the news in a while. I suspect the government shut down while my back was turned and now everyone is blaming each other and Hair Furor is blaming everyone but himself.

Last night I was pleased as Punch to finish my ‘first book of 2018”. Unfortunately it was boring as hell; I only read it to the end to say I did so.  This doesn’t bode well of my reading roster. It’s one thing to tolerate a boring job but boring leisure reading makes no sense.  The next book is a Piers Anthony ‘Xanth” series adventure novel. This isn’t great literature but I won’t find a dull page in it.

Someone just texted me (without trumpet) to relate someone at work just hit on him. He is doing the concierge thing at the convention centre today.  He was a bit offended by the gentleman caller, a fellow from Manitoba.  I texted back to cheer him up at least the man had good taste if lacking tact.  I will no doubt here tonight the details. Someone will wonder if he sends out ‘vibes’ which is not the case, although I told him to stop singing Sondheim show tunes while working.

OK, I hope that appeases the TBDHSR.

Come back soon for something less rubbish.


*I paused my writing here to count up how many podcasts subscriptions I have. I stopped counting at fifty, and that was only into the “M”s. I have to come to reality I can’t learn everything there is to learn despite a voracious appetite to do so.  Happily many of them don’t post often and I think a few of them are dead as doornails. It’s time to purge.

Someone and I often go ‘up north’ at the end of January for sort of anniversary celebration. This year 31 January is smack-dab in the middle of the week, which is rather inconvenient for a ‘weekend getaway’.  He wants to work that weekend so we won’t go this year, alas. He reminds met we soon go to Palm Springs anyway, and that should be enough.  Spo-fans may recall Someone and I got hitched last year on 22 February in Palm Springs.

It is not clear which date  – one or both – should be commemorated. This is a common problem for queer couples viz. what day do we celebrate the union.  I know a couple who keep track of six anniversaries:

1. The day they actually met

2. The day they went on their first date

3. The day they engaged in the masculine mysteries.

4. The day they had their non-binding ceremony

5. The day they got married on a trip to Canada


6. The day they got married in Illinois.

I think this is a lot of dates to remember but I suppose it is easier nowadays. No one worries about that sort of thing; it is all  done with  electronic reminders and such.  Someone and I have settled on three dates:

31 January – when we met.*

22 February – when we married.

4 April – when we became proud parents of the dog.

After twenty years together the 31 January date is often just passed over as another work day. At most there is a nod we made it through another year without Someone throwing me out for a younger better-looking man who doesn’t blurt or write a blog.  I don’t know what if anything we will do for our first ‘proper’ anniversary mark. Probably nothing. We tend to be a bit more up for the 4 April date though.



*There is great controversy and contradictory recollections of the date we met and date we did ‘more’ as it were. One of us is resolute in his opinion there were a few days between the initial greetings and our first dithyramb.  It’s a ‘Rashomon’ experience.


A week ago The House Manager told me at the end of the work day to clean out of my desk as quickly as possible before I left for the weekend. For a moment I thought I’d been given the sack but it was only due to a new desk was coming in over the weekend. How exciting.

For ten years I’ve had a large gray metallic utilitarian desk. It is a too large for the room.  I’d been asking for a new desk for some years but to no avail. Then The Boss-woman recently decided she was going to use my office to do counseling on the days I wasn’t there. Soon after she moved in, she declared the lummox desk and nasty chair both detrimental to the therapeutic process; I would be getting a new desk and chair toot suite. Oh how jolly!

I came to work today quite excited in the anticipation of a new desk. Lo! There it was. It is a cherry wood desk half the size of el grise, with a pull out shelf for the keyboard. The room now looks capacious. Alas, I soon discovered its downside: as I sit at the desk, looking forward at the screen, I am more or less completely with back turned to my patients; there is hardly any eye-to-eye contact.  If a patient sat at the far end of the coach, I can go back and forth from screen to patient in a 90-degree back and forth metronome motion .  Patients in wheelchairs or thems unable to get down and up from a coach must sit behind me and address my backside. Oh the pain.

Another downside to the situation: the screen is visible to all. Now I can’t surf the internet or look up FB etc. without patients seeing I ain’t paying attention. Oh the embarrassment.

I now have the ticklish position to compose an email to The Boss-woman. I need to find some politic way to convey while she may be pleased as punch with the position I can’t do my job. We will have the challenge to rearrange the furniture to achieve feng shei and sufficient eye contact and hidden screen for looking at blogs and things.  I have a marvelous Boss-woman, well over four feet, so I am certain we can come to an agreeable arrangement of the furniture.  All the same there are challenges:

1 – She is right-handed; I am a lefty.

2 – She doesn’t want the desk between her and the patient; I do.

3- She doesn’t use a printer; I do.

4 – She is The Boss-woman; I am her bitch.

I suppose we will go back and forth at rearranging the furniture for a while until we tire each other out or we settle on something neither one of really wants. On the other hand I will probably get it my way in the end.  After all –

5- She is a squatter; I am the big-bad doctor.

6 – She is straight; I am homosexual. Who better than one like me to do the furniture, right?   🙂

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.

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