Brother #3 and SIL #3 drive today to Chicago for a wedding. I knew this but I didn’t know they were leaving behind my niblings Princess-Goddess and Posthumous Thomas. I will be babysitting. I think the last time I babysat anyone was my brothers and this was in the early 70s.  I don’t know how to babysit. I suppose I can let them do whatever they want provided they leave me some of the scotch.  My old-fashioned way of thinking makes me worried about providing sufficient entertainment but Brother #3 assures me they will be engrossed in their techie-toys and probably even won’t notice. I have a vague memory part of the job description is feeding them. SIL #3 tells me all they will only want to eat is ice cream and I am not to listen to their B.S. but make square meals. I am ordering out.

Along with my niblings there is Father, two dogs, two cats, and the two chickens to attend to. At least with animals I know what to do, and Princess-Goddess can manage most of them, thus killing two birds with one stone viz. feeding the animals and keeping the kids busy. 

I suppose I can always call any of my sisters-in-law for they have experience with children particularly thems of the Spo temperament. Probably #2 and #4 will just laugh and tell me to make mac and cheese, the panacea for all baby sitting cooking questions. I remember my babysitters managed my TV time and programmes but I don’t know how the TV works so they may be watching things their parents have said no to.  I’ve been told Posthumous Thomas likes to be read to or told stories before bedtime. I have that all ready. I will tell him the story of ‘Jerome the frog’ and ‘Giants come in different sizes’ and ‘The ghost bag’ and (if he is still awake) ‘The tell-tale heart’. Jolly good fun!

In the end I don’t think I will be either Mary Poppins or Miss Giddens. So long as they get to Sunday with clean faces and the house hasn’t burned down I will have done my job.

I remember if things are too quiet that means someone is up to no good that’s certain and find out pronto what’s happening.  

Last night I heard an owl. I don’t know what kind it was. As a result The Muses (or someone like them) has planted in my pumpkin an itch to write about owls. I ran the idea by The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections who gave their usual reflexive reply it sounded like ‘box-office poison’ so I am going ahead with it as they are usually wrong about this sort of things. I think their disdain is based on their dislike for the birds.There are several owls up in the rafters of Heorot Johnsons II. TBDHSR complain about their messes as if they can discern owl droppings from the usual detritus about the place.  Spo

I’ve long  been fascinated by owls, no doubt the influence of fairy tales and Dungeons & Dragons games of sages and wizards with owls on their shoulders, and by spooky Hallowe’en decorations. Owls are mesmerizing; they fly noiselessly and can sense a mouse under the snow yards away. Their uncanny nocturnal abilities give them the reputation for being wise and mysterious. An acquaintance of mine who is of Southwest Native American heritage tells me an owl gives his people the willies for they act as a psychopomp, not unlike a Banshee in Irish folklore.

Spo-fans may recall once upon a time there were one or two great horned owls in my neighborhood. Harper and I would hear them hooting on our predawn dog walks. All owls go by the name Mrs. Oliver from the ‘Georgie the Ghost’ stories. It always made me happy to hear her hooting in the donzerly light. Alas, I haven’t heard her in several seasons and I sense she and her mate are gone and there are no owlets, worse luck.  I miss them.  I believe there is no lack of owls in Arizona – I’ve seen a few small ones when visiting Tucson – so I may make a pilgrimage to go see or at least hear some.  They seem to be calling to me from another world, telling me something if I would only stop to listen. I no longer remember what Mrs. Oliver was telling us on our walks. I need to hear some owls and listen well to their tales.

Are there any owls where you live? What sorts? What are they saying to you? 

What’s top of my mind: A lawyer luncheon. Today Wednesday at noon I take Father to a restaurant for a reunion with a dozen of his law partners. I am hoping he tells me to just drop him off and return in an hour but I sense I will be needed by his side to assist with his lunch. This means I get to sit among a bunch of old attorneys laughing and recalling cases and shenanigans of which I won’t have any part. It will nice to see Father having a chin-wag but it could be tedious for Urs Truly. I remember one his law partners was a hottie; I am curious to see if he is still so.

Where I’ve been: In the Kiefer bed. When I visit Brother #3, I sleep in The Kiefer Bed, a bed my ancestor made and has been in the family for six generations. It is a bit small; my ancestors were on the shorter side but still well over four feet; it isn’t the greatest of sleeps to be in it. Plus I am surrounded by dogs and cats who come and go in the night. All the same it feels good to be in it again.

Where I’m going:  A bookstore. In town is an independently-owned bookstores owned by two retired school teachers and you bet your knickers I am one to patronize this sort of business. A few weeks ago I ordered a few things with them rather than giving my money to Mr. Bezos. While there I am sure to buy even more than I ordered. I want stores like this to succeed, especially bookstores.

What I’m watching:  The henhouse. Once upon a time there were nine chickens; now there are only two. They have figuratively or literally flown the coop and have never returned. I don’t want the remaining two to disappear on my shift. There are only a few eggs, so I am using them sparingly and not wasting any on cooking experiments.

What I’m reading: Boys Life magazines. I am slowly bringing back to Arizona my collection of Boys Life magazines (1950-1972) which were my uncles and then my own. It is fascinating to read magazines from the 50s, the 60s, and the 70s what was in ‘vogue’. The ads are the interesting. Black people start showing up in the late 60s; prior BLM is as ‘white’ as Leave it to Beaver.

What I’m listening to:  Crickets. At night I hear the chirping of crickets which was always a bittersweet sound when I lived here. They herald the end of summer and sing a song of autumn soon here. I heard what sounded like an owl as well – more on this anon.

What I’m eating:  Bread and tea. There is a local bread store so I get us some. Father likes white and I like rye. It’s toast for days, which I eat with relish. Father likes butter while I like Marmite but there is none around these parts. Brother #3 loves teas like me and he has lots of good stuff, no rubbish indeed! We are having several pots depending on our moods and the time of day. Lovely.

Who needs a good slap: Big Pharma. Last week during one of the pharm rep pony shows the salesperson let slip out in the original studies to determine their product useful of not (which they did themselves) they screened out patients rated ‘severe’ to only test their new medicine on the ‘mild to moderate’ cases. This tells me a) they got rid of the folks that would probably skew their data to more success and b) there is no official data that their medication ‘works in severe cases’ – which is what I see.

On my 1-5 scale, I give Big Pharma 3 slaps.

Who gets a fist bump: Brother #4. The dear! He brought me a bottle of bourbon back from his business trip. I brought him and Brother #2 a bottle from Santa Fe Spirits. We Spos love good whiskey!

What I’m planning: Tidy-up of Father’s drawers and cabinets. This isn’t really necessary but it give Father something to do. I go through a drawer, calling out what’s in it. Father reflects what it is/means and decides to have it put back or tossed. He kept a lot of things that over time he’s changed his mind he doesn’t want or need. In the tossing out, I get to keep a few shirts and books as reasonable attorneys fees.

What’s making me smile:  Luna the cat. She’s a dear who likes to curl up on top me when I am lying on the couch trying to take a snooze.

…I fancy calling a car charity (any) to come haul away the 2001 Honda (yes you read that right) from the garage, not only to rid me of this eyesore but to see how long Someone would notice it being gone.

…the suits and jackets hanging in the closet gather dust on their shoulders, reminding me its been ages since I’ve worn them. They probably could all go to Goodwill but a gentleman should always have a suit on hand for needs like a funeral. They get dusted and the cycle repeats.

…I get mad-jealous when I see online my friends traveling and enjoying retirement.

…speaking of cycles, the ‘fast wash’ cycle on the washer machine lasts a fraction of the time of the regular cycle, and it washes the dirty duds just a well, so why use the latter which takes up more water and electricity? I should find and read the manual to discover what the fast setting is actually for.

…I add MSG (Accent) rather than salt to my cooking to see if this makes any difference. The jury is still out on this one.

…the phone is set on ‘random’ and generates tunes I’ve never heard and don’t like and I wonder how on earth did it get in there in the first place. I suspect some sort of shenanigan in the settings is doing this whenever I back up my phone. Oh the pain.

…I forget to ask patients about their habits such as drugs, alcohol, cannabis and are they getting enough exercise and are they in touch with others. All of these inquires ought to be addressed with everyone on a regular basis. Alas, Babylon! In the rush to get ‘everything in’ these are often skipped over. I have some built-in reminders to keep me on my toes on these topics.

…the political signs on the street corners are so vile and upsetting I want to take them down but then I remember if I did I would be no better than the deplorables.

…going to Michigan makes me wonder what is my future really. I never thought to stay in Arizona, especially with global warming warming drying up the Colorado river. Is Michigan the answer? Family and water is there. If not Michigan then where?

…polo shirts are purposely worn when going to the grocery store or out to Einstein Brothers so I won’t be in a T-shirt which is what everyone wears. I don’t want to look like I just came from the gym.

…I can actually taste the differences among the cups of Joe, rather than lumping them all into the common category of ‘coffee’. Good or bad coffee doesn’t much matter really, as I add cream and sweetener to it, thus destroying all nuances.

…I just want to quit. Everything. But then I persevere and this dissipates for another time.

…watching a Marx Brothers movie is the panacea of all ills.

I only work one day this week which is today as I fly tomorrow to Michigan Land of Mosquitos for another round of caretaking Father. Brother #2 is there presently and he leaves today for me to take the next shift. Brother #3’s plans have changed and that one will be home some of the time I am there. This sort of defeats the purpose of my coming viz. giving him a break. The airplane ticket is bought and time off is settled so off I go. I sense Brother #3 likes having me as company and he gets to run errands while I sit with Papa, so it is a win-win situation.

In theory I could ask one of the two RNs at work to ‘cover’ so I could turn my phone off and forgo the daily check-ins, but I didn’t ask them. I haven’t done this ever and I confess I’m uncomfortable giving it a try. How will the world spin without me? I should practice this with a few long weekends prior to asking someone to cover me for a whole week. This is called exposure desensitization. Besides I will need something to do while sitting with Father.

Monday’s daily stoic meditation reminded me to always ask ‘is this necessary’ in deed and reaction. This is particularly applicable for the one day of work as I try to tuck everything in prior to packing. “Is this necessary?” is not my strong suit when it comes to luggage. I tend to take the Boy Scout approach to be prepared and bring lots, as if I were going to Northern Canada* not Southern Michigan. A big suitcase is used on the grounds I always check a bag and seldom do I return without booty. Brother #3 saved a lot of my childhood ‘Boys Life’ magazines and I am slowly bringing them to Arizona.

But that is tomorrow and I have (as usual) a full Monday plate of past times to do. Go slow; go regular. Do the right thing and don’t sweat the small stuff etc. I’ve gotten through sixty years of Mondays and I will get through this one.

That’s all I got to say this sunny Monday morning. I hope Spo-fans far and wide have a good week. Tell me in the comments if anything special is happening this week why dontcha.

*A patient recently told me she is traveling for the first time to Canada and she is going to Northern Alberta. What an amazing first time encounter to the Great White North.

Every Sunday I make a pot of hot something-or-other and do my ironing before the day gets too hot. I listen to podcasts, particularly the ones that need more careful attention. This morning I heard one on the class distinctions of The Victorian Era. Patience above! I did not know how integral and complicated the class was in the United Kingdom. Everyone and everything was determined by class. [1] Having grown up in The States, we are all taught to believe ours is a classless system solely driven by merit and not be birth. Yeah right. We are trained to say ‘middle class’ if anyone should ask, but no one really believes this tosh. It seems we can’t get beyond human nature of putting people into levels and who is above or apart from us, always doing an ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ and who is NQOCD. [2] Here in The States the divisions are not as obvious; one inquires or is more likely told by others where they fit in the food chain. I often read about the powerful elite, the top 1% but never see them. They seem to be hiding away in guarded private clubs and in off-coast resorts so they won’t be noticed or have see the 98%. They communicate with the lower types through social media, at a safe distance lest they are lynched.

Once in awhile I get a new patient with a ‘do you know who I am? I’m very important’ introduction, based on something they will tell me. Sometimes this is based on family (if they are from the South) or name (if they are from the East) or by school (if they are ‘Ivy League’) but mostly it is about money or occupation. Psychotherapy involves stripping away The Persona to get to the Self, which is as welcome as a dead rat in these types, as they ARE their Persona and without they are merely mortal and often not very powerful or interesting. But I digress.

Having been trained in science I like to put things into proper taxonomy, and this includes myself. What ‘class’ do I belong to? It is a tangle. I grew up in an elite suburb full-up with white folks descended from Western Europeans. I don’t live there any more but I remain a white dude with an English name. Once upon a time being a doctor was prestigious but not so nowadays. Thems in the occupation have been demoted to mere minions of HMOs. Among doctors, psychiatrists are considered ‘low class’ down there with GPs and internists. [3]

Being light in the loafers drags any white/doctor privilege I may have had down and out to ‘over there’ class status with the other dregs of humanity ho ho ho. On the other hand the hierarchy of homosexuals often rivals The Hapsburgs. There are two main houses: there are the elite elder queens and there are the pretty boy party 20s types – neither group wants me so even among misfits I’m a misfit. [4]

As I don’t fit in with any group this makes me “in a class by myself” ho ho ho again.

I will end on the egalitarian joke when you check into a Palm Springs resort all class metrics are stripped away (pun intended) and you get down to what really separates men into class.

[1] I hope some Spo-fans across the pond will educate me if there are any remnants of this charming institution still going on in the 21st century. Apart from the Royals, the British class system surely isn’t active any more, is it?

[2] Not quite our class darling.

[3] Once in a while I get a patient like an ENT doctor. Oh the pain. Doctors in higher echelons like cardiologist and surgeons – if they see shrinks at all – only go to ‘the best’ shrinks at prestigious University settings, never to NQOCD types like Urs Truly. It’s a relief really.

[4] Apologies to the inhabits of The isle of misfit toys.

#23. It might sound obvious, but a pint of water before bed after a big night avoids a clanger of a hanger.

Thems who partake in spirits soon learn when you’ve been ‘too free with the creature’ [1] this results in nasty next-day headaches and other woes. The alcohol molecule puts a chock-hold on the anti-diuretic hormone, causing loss of fluid and consequent dehydration and electrolytes imbalance. Oh the horror. Drinking a pint of water before bed after having ‘been to Barbados’ helps with the loss. Better yet is to have a few glasses of water in between your tipples. Salty treats slow down the absorption of alcohol and supplies some sodium. In the good old days saloons used to place bowls of nibbles out on the bar for this reason, but those were happier times. Nowadays one cannot find a peanut or nasty chip in a dive to save one’s life, let along get a a decent dry Manhattan with a twist of lemon, but I digress.

Tip #23-A: Pop a B-complex with sufficient thiamine. before a night out with The Philippians. Demon drink depletes the dendrites of vital vitamins which in worse-case scenarios causes a very nasty memory condition named Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. [2] Take a Centrum Silver along with the mentioned pint of water and you ought to be OK.

Tip #23-B: To improve your life more than lightly is not to become ‘too free with Sir Richard’ in the first place. [3] That way you hold onto your fluids and electrolytes, and it require no pints before bedtime. Indeed, drinking a pint of water before bedtime when sober will NOT slightly improve your life as it mars a good night’s sleep.

Urs Truly is known to ‘clip the King’s English’ but seldom if ever does he get to the point of Mr. Franklin’s more colorful expressions for temulence. When Someone is the designated-driver I may have a dry martini (no rubbish). This is signs my own death warrant as I will be cold as a mackerel come midnight and no amount of pints will prevent the rawther-under-the-weather feeling come morning. Oh the embarrassment. Improving your life even slightly always comes with a tradeoff. I will drink responsibly with my intermittent glasses of water and order my martinis with two olives although olives take up too much room in such a small glass.

[1] Benjamin Franklin had a legendary list of 200 euphemisms for being drunk. Look it up why don’t you; some of them are quite amusing.

[2] Not to be confused with Rimsky-Korsakov Syndrome, which is a musical condition.

[3] I am dying to know the origin of this one. Assumedly Sir Richard was a cheap drunk or one of those closet-cases who lets his hair down to play darts with his buddies only to later swear it isn’t him but the alcohol. Urs Truly has met a few friends of Sir Richard in his lifetime. Oh the horror.

Note: The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections (along with a few Spo-fans) found yesterday’s treatise a bit on the dull side. The former group suggested I write something more entertaining, preferably with violent contents. That’s not my cup of tea. I’ve never grasped the notion of violence as entertainment. In contrast I am all for lasciviousness and lewdness, especially if there is luncheon provided. Here is a tongue-in-cheek entry to provide mirth to most and prevent another bout of being hung-by-my-oxters from the rafters of Heorot Johnsons II. This one is doggerel; more sensitive Spo-fans should tune in tomorrow. Spo.

Dame Public Opinion at the helm

Public Opinion (the dear!) has opined throughout the ages against dissolute living while Public Behavior goes right ahead and indulges in such. Rolling down grass hills and other activities that soil ones Bermudas and grass stain the kneecaps are presently on hold, what with pox appearing. One should avoid hillside somersaults for awhile and not go rubbing up against strangers and don’t kiss no toads neither. Such sensible situations are no problem for Urs Truly, whose worst actions these days are forgetting about the leftovers in the back of the refrigerator. It is another example of being boring can save your life.

I suppose I’ve had my share of shenanigans to last me a lifetime and I can focus now on Spanish and cooking lessons, which are far more practical especially at my age. Plus there are less germs and hand-to-hand combat. I shall lead a life more virtuous and save on laundry and Public Opinion will be pleased as Punch. Perhaps I can learn how to play auction bridge which Grandmother wouldn’t teach me in my adolescence on the concern once learned I would throw my life away in indolence and vice. Joke’s on her I did so anyway. I may have strayed from the straight and narrow but not at cards. I did learn the lesson of bridge if you don’t have a good partner you should have a strong hand.

Note: this one has Jungian Psychology. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections loathes this sort of entry. This is a puzzlement as they are archetypes themselves, so why the fuss? I suppose they are mad-jealous. The Greek gods are, on the whole, are more interesting than thems in Asgard, and they regularly wash. Spo.

I’ve been thinking lately on Hades, Lord of the underworld in the Greek Pantheon. I am not sure why he’s coming front on stage in my consciousness but thems trained in Jungian psychology go with whose around and see what they are trying to say here.

People put a lot of glory to Gaia, or The Earth Goddess, or The Great Mother – whatever name floats your boat – but underneath the fertile feminine, deep down at the base of things, is the masculine Lord of the Underworld. She rules the subconscious but he rules the unconscious, and carries Shadow energy more often than she does.

Hades gets a lot of bad press. Modern folks, who see gods as either all good or all bad, tend to dress Hades up as the Greek version of Satan, full of malice and diabolical machinations, which he is not. He did his job which is running the underworld – where all go, good or bad. He did this with dignity and he wasn’t one to run around doing shenanigans like his younger brothers, Zeus and Poseidon.* There is that myth of him abducting Persephone for a wife, but the actual tale shows a) this was arranged by Zeus (the real villain of the piece) and b) he was a faithful spouse who loved his wife with whom he ran the underworld in partnership. Not bad that – and for a Greek god !

I find Mr. Hades’ attributes attractive. He takes his lot and makes what he can from it. He holds his role with dignity and he does it without fuss and drama. He allows others like Gaia/Demeter to take the glory and adoration while he takes satisfaction with a job well done. He doesn’t need direct worship, but keeps people on their toes that regardless what you do in life, he is yours in the end, so do the right thing and make your life and each day count.

Finally he has a cool pet, the three-headed dog Cerberus, the name can be interpreted as ‘spotted animal” so his dog is literally named “Spot”. The guy has a wry sense of humor to boot.

*As the oldest child of Chronos and Rhea, by birthright he should have been in charge, but he and his two brothers drew lots for the ruler of the sky, the sea, and the earth – and he came in third. Rather than throwing a hissy fit he took his fate fair and square.

What’s top of my mind: My back. My lower back has developed an annoying habit to suddenly stiffen when I arise in the morning. It is not painful, merely very stiff and a dull ache. Happily it goes away in time. I now use and appreciate the heated seat option in the Elantra, something I’ve had no need to use until now. I thought my nightly stretching routine was supposed to help keep this sort of thing away. Perhaps my nightly routine is causing the morning aches? I fear the morning stiffness will someday become sharp or not go away.

Where I’ve been: On the floor. Last weekend I woke to realize La Casa de Spo floors haven’t had a proper cleaning in goodness-knows-how-long. In the donzerly light I saw dust bunnies scurrying on the hallway floor the size of Buicks. I got out broom, dust mop, and the wet mop (with plenty of Pine-sol) and gave them all a thorough tidy-up. It was some job. I would step outside to shake out the dust mop to release enough dog hair to make another Harper. There is nothing like the smell of Pine-Sol in the morning to feel a sense of accomplishment. It was nice while it lasted. That night making dinner I managed to drop various bits onto the kitchen floor. Oh the pain.

Where I’m going: A law firm reunion. Patience above! Father reminded me my visit to Michigan is next week, not in two weeks as I thought. Father has arranged a reunion at a restaurant with some of his law firm partners. Perhaps at an unconscious level I was hoping to miss this chin-way by thinking my trip was the week afterwards. Hearing the names of the attendees I remember many of them. I will be curious to see these fellows (many over four feet) and watch the laugh and gab about cases and judges etc. It will do Father good to be among his old colleagues.

What I’m watching: SCTV. I was recently chatting with blogger buddies ‘up north” and the topic of SCTV came up. I have fond memories of this show, which my college dormmates and I watched regularly. Whenever I need cheering up I go to the Tube of Yous and revisit Edith Prickly and Count Floyd and Dr. Tongue’s 3-D house of pancakes. Jolly good fun!

What I’m reading: ‘The Borrowers’. I finally finished “Tom Jones’! This allows me to turn to some ‘light reading’, something I have never read: “The Borrowers”. I got me a copy in Santa Fe. Perhaps it won’t be so stellar read in ones sixties. I am about to find out. I hope to enjoy it.

Have you read ‘The Borrowers’?

What I’m listening to: Oberto by G. Verdi. In my youth I vowed to some day see ‘all of Verdi’s operas”.* This isn’t as easy as it sounds for many of them aren’t done these days so I may have to merely listen to recordings, particularly the ‘early ones”, like Oberto. I’ve grown less interested in Mr. V’s works. I prefer German and chromatic music – especially if someone is rolling around the floor smooching a severed head. ‘Oberto’ sounds like Verdi alright. It’s a bit cheesy, almost camp, but in his defense it is one of his early works. I find Italian tenors vacillating between jealous rage and moonstruck tedious.

Are you a Verdi fan? What’s your favorite of his?

What I’m eating: Kimchi. Hot puppies! I found a seller of such at the Santa Fe farmer’s market. I bought a few jars and am eating a large spoonful with my meals. Kimchi is full up with wee-beasties that act as super-bugs to make ones innards positively crow with health, beating yogurt and probiotics by a good Korean country mile. I am eat it with relish, which it is.

Do you like kimchi?

Who needs a good slap: Google. I usually use Duck Duck Go when searching for something, on the hopeful grounds the site is less surreptitious about tracking me about the internet. Once in a while I retry Google and it just sucks. What comes up in a Google-search are ad-driven/money-supported sites, which aren’t necessarily the best places for proper searches. The more their engine is driven by ads the less useful it becomes.

On my 1-5 scale, I give one slap.

Who gets the fist bump: No one. Goodness gracious! No one is leaping to mind! Did nobody do an action worthy of a fist bump this week? Say it ain’t so! I hope this is my faulty memory and not a reflection of my week.

What I’m planning: Biscuits. Lori (the dear!) posts recipes on her blog, all of them sounding scrumptious. She recently posted her best-of-the-biscuits recipe and I want to try it. The biscuits I had growing up in the Midwest came out of a carboard cylinder that popped open when you hit it on the counter.** I plan this weekend to give’em a try.

Do you make and/or enjoy biscuits?

What’s making me smile: The verdict on a paranoid bloviate. The nasty to whom I am making discreet references recently had a trial for defamation. Mind! I did not follow the precise matters nor the proceedings. All I know is the villain is ordered to pay millions to the family whose children were killed in an event he claims was fake. It isn’t nice to smile at another man’s misfortune, when I heard this deplorable was squirming and suffering for it, it made me smile.

*I also vowed to hear all ‘Jethro Tull’ albums and see every movie of Katherine Hepburn’s. Ah youth.

**Someone, who grew up in The South, tells me biscuits were an integral part of breakfast, usually with gravy. Can you imagine? Nowadays he makes biscuits he uses Bisquick, which to my inner-James-Beard, is sacrilege.

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August 2022

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