Spring has sprung The Valley of the Sun and all mesquite trees are all in bloom with fluorescent yellow flowers. It’s a pretty sight, but the pollen is wracking ruin on my breathing. Apparently dogs are not so effected as Harper sniffs as much as ever. A dog’s ability to smell is a marvel. When I can’t smell it is a nuisance, but if a dog should become unable smell it must be like blindness.

The HOA (or somebody like them) recently dumped a fresh layer of small red rocks ’round the ravine where we go for our walks. The place looks better but the new stones are sharper than the last lot and they hurt Harper’s paws. When she goes off the sidewalk to sniff or pee she has a pained Jack Benny expression on her face. Every time a puppy takes a poop, the owners pick up a few rocks with it. Over time the rocks deplete and new ones are brought in.

More on this topic: the neighborhood app has as its latest outrage complaints about dog owners placing the poop bags into their garbage pails. Normally one uses the rubbish containers along the walkways or wait until you get home. On Tuesdays all the rubbish bins are out by the curb and dog walkers use them to discard their droppings. Apparently the complaints apply even to the garbage pails about to be picked up by the sanitation trucks that morning. I guess there is some law about the disposal of one’s rubbish into other people’s receptacles, however a small black bag placed discretely in nearby barrel that is about to be picked up by the truck, only an hour later, seems a bit harsh. The neighborhood app is up in arms on both sides of the debate.

Harper and I, we don’t care. She’s learned with sad looks and body language she can easily steer me wither she wills it. Lately she’s zeroed-in on a specific path, apparently choosing this familiar path to repeat rather than roads not taken. I wonder if this is an age matter. As I grow old beside her, I tend to choose likewise.

It’s getting warm here, hot enough to not go out at noon time, for the mid-day son on the sidewalk burns sensitive old-dog paw pads. I’ve thought again to buy her some booties, but I sense she would not like to where them. So our dog walks drop from three in a day toward two for the season, going out before and after sunset to avoid scalding. I make up in quality for the cutback in quantity. Perhaps after many years of this seasonal cycle she remembers and takes it in stride.

That does it. I am calling a handyman. The office ceiling fan is loose and I daren’t turn it on as it starts to swing back and forth as if an invisible entity is hanging from it (possible) or its screws are coming out (more likely). While I am a wiz at loose screws in humans, I have no experience with such in ceiling fans. Last weekend I got out the ladder and held an inspection, screwdriver at the ready, and I can report I know no more about ceiling fans than I did before I went up to look at the blasted thing. When something goes bust at La Casa de Spo, the usual approach is to learn to live without it. Not so the ceiling fan It is getting too hot to work in the office without it, so this will not do. The Rubicon has been crossed; I am looking for Archibald Tuttle or somebody like him.

Father was not a handyman; I did not grow up with the sense real men fix it themselves. Nevertheless, it got into  head I should be able to do fix myself.  I think most men feel this way viz. they should be self-sufficient, an audodictat in all that they do.  Even the womenfolk buy into this. “What do you mean you don’t know how to change a tire/fix a broken what-not? I thought all you men knew how to do that!”  A man who knows how to ‘do it himself’ is admired for his abilities.

I am certain if I spent time learning about fans and electricity I might be able to fix the fan and feel good about my achievement.  However, there is the risk I will make a mess of things and the fan descends like the chandelier at the end of Act I of “The phantom of the opera” and someone will have to come to address the damage, no doubt rolling his eyes up at the idiocy of my amateurism.  

At my age, time is more important than money or vanity. If it costs 100 dollars for someone to do it right so be it. This sounds a genuine bargain compared to the hours I would spend learning and doing it myself.

So – today I am calling a Mr. Wilson, whose name I got from the neighborhood watch app. Someone routinely follows this app. From what he reports, the contents sound more toxic than Twitter, if that’s possible. Among the rants about kids on lawns and reports of suspicious people of color, some neighborhood dame was looking for a handyman good with tools for her needs, and another recommended this fellow, followed by another who writes she found him satisfactory too.*  When he shows, I don’t have to defend myself with reasons why I am not doing it myself. I will let him practice his craft there are other tasks. I have heaps.

Spo-fan: are you handy? When do you call in the professionals?

*As I wrote this, I paused to wonder if there were any scurrilous undertones to this handy man and his rave reviews. I want my fan fixed not oh well never mind.

What’s top of my mind – whether or not to see patients again in the office. There is some advantage to this. After all, it is better to see folks face to face. I get more information this way and person to person still has therapeutic value. Since my bosses are not pressing this issue, this is mere conjecture for now. There are downsides to this mostly exposure to germs and back to driving. 

Where I’ve been – Nowhere. Since last Wednesday I don’t recall going to the grocery store. On Saturdays we go to to Einstein Brothers Bagels, I think we went there. Someone always orders the same thing and I always order something different than last time.

Where I’m going – Next Monday it will be two weeks since my second dose of vaccine. I will go to the gym and have a look-see if it looks OK to use the facilities. I still plan on wearing a mask and gloves. The risk of getting covid19 maybe less than the ongoing risk to my health from twelve months of weight gain and a sedentary life.  

What I’m watching – I found a delightful history subscription on YouTube called “Ten minute history”. The clever narrator summarizes world events in a ten minute lectures using cartoon figures who often have ‘protest signs’ of pithy remarks.  Jolly good fun. 

What I’m reading – I started another mystery in the “Alfred Hitchcock and the three investigators” series.  This is book #8: The mystery of the silver spider”. These books are fun but dated. The three white boys team up with some ethnic lad who helps them solve the case all the time admiring their superiority. Oh the embarrassment. 

What I’m listening to – My latest podcast find: “Season’s Eatings”. It is done by someone I actually know: Glen W, blogger buddy and podcaster too! He does a charming job on the history of Christmas eats.  I hope he expands into other holiday treats.  

https://www.seasonseatingspodcast.com

What I’m eating – due to negligence of monitoring the home delivery apps, tomorrow we get a box from ‘Hello Fresh’ and ‘Blue Apron’. Usually they come every other week. We are up to our oxters in meal plans. 

Who I’m paying attention to – Dr. Fauci – not through social media outlets but through the medical apps and journals. He recently listed what he feels is still not OK to do, such as eating in indoor restaurants or going to movie theaters.  The good doctor reminds me of Willy Wonka telling impudent children to heed his warning. I have an evil urge to see the Violets of the land all turn into blueberries for their lack of listening. 

What I’m planning –  no good that’s certain.  Tune in next time if any shenanigans were realized. 


As Urs Truly awoke this morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic crank. It is disappointing and upsetting that when I remember my dreams they aren’t numinous Jungian-based metanoias but Kafkaesque monstrosities that leave me sad and discombobulated. Last night’s drama was no exception. In the dream I was waiting for a doctor’s appointment – one not to be missed – when Psyche decided to put up absurd barriers making me lost and impotent to find, let alone reach, my destination. I woke with the dreadful emotion I would never achieve my goal and I had no power to change it.*

My dreams are often like this one; it is a variation on an ongoing theme. It doesn’t take Freud to figure out this one. I am up against insurmountable and unsolvable powers that are indifferent or perhaps hostile to my hopes and goals. In these dreams I often feel a need to get somewhere but not sure where I am going and then things pop up to make sure I can’t figure it out let alone get there.

It parallels a sensation in my waking life of not going towards anything but just existing. There is a part of me that wants a plan – whatever that means – something like a retirement goal (where, when and what).** Even if I should make one, I have the unsettling sense I will be deprived of it. Deterioration in health will probably undo all my future hopes. Then there is the economic element. Someone assures me my social security will be there but I cannot shake the sense it is a huge Ponzi scheme that will collapse just prior to when I qualify. My mutual funds are equally suspect. I am beginning to doubt the certainty of my job: the bosses hint of retirement which I translate as closing shop.

We always live with uncertainty and everything is ephemeral. My stoic approach assures me not matter what happens I will manage.  The Cheshire Cat assures me if I don’t know my way and I want to get somewhere if only I walk long enough.

These are my philosophies when awake. My unconscious reminds me I am not that certain.

*When I went back through the archives to find a photo (preferably a cockroach) I saw I’ve written on this topic more than once before. Bad dreams like this one continue.

**In these interesting times I will settle for something to look forward to this year or next. 

Tony (the dear!) recently asked me in an email if my loved ones read my blog. We’ve had a correspondence on this topic. He gave me the ‘thumbs up’ I could publish one of our letters. For the sake of discretion I’ve edited the length and tidied up the grammar errors. We thought our blogger-buddies may relate to the content. I am curious to hear from the Spo-fans your thoughts of the topic. Spo

Dear Tony,

Once again I take mouse in hand to write to you. I’ve been waiting for a quiet time to respond to your last email, but since there is never is any, I’ve made some by putting aside all other recreations like ironing to attend to it. First – I am horrified to realize your blog has dropped from my reading list. Recently, WordPress did some changes and the consequence of these shenanigans is I lost a few blog sites, including yours. I am ashamed to admit such but there it is. Please send me your link as soon as possible. Now to your email and its contents:

I concur with your thoughts on who writes blogs and who reads them. Thems that don’t are not great readers of such. Other forms of social media draw their attention. My friends and family want to know what I am up to, but they do so via Facebook. My personal thoughts (erudite or inane) are not much interest to them (hopefully my blogger buddies are). 

You ask if Someone reads my blog. No, he does not. I don’t mind. I am writing for myself, not for others. Once in awhile I read out loud an entry to him when I think one is well-written. I ask his opinion on grammar and syntax; it is my indirect way of sharing something important to me viz. my artistry.

Blogging is a bit of a paradox: it allows writers to express their most innermost thoughts but the receivers are not the ones most intimate in their lives. I think it was Robertson Davies who said it is always the stranger who hears our stories. Blogging is a quirky hobby, like collecting doorknobs. Our nearest and dearest know blogging is important to us. They support our endeavors, but they politely decline to polish a few with us. 

I confess, I am not so indifferent as you are about having a readership and getting comments. I catch myself at times writing not from the heart but for an audience. I try to avoid this. When I do the later, it is primarily driven by loneliness. I don’t have local friends (worse luck!); my blogger-buddies are the closest thing I have to pals. 

I thank you for being intimate with me on this topic and allowing me to write to you. I will write a variation on this as a blog entry, for I think many of us feel similar.  

You are a dear; I hope we grow in friendship,

Urs Truly,

Spo.

The news apps mention there is another shortage, this time not of toilet paper but of ketchup. Due to circumstances I didn’t read, ketchup – at least Heinz ketchup – is either scarce or about to become so. Suddenly those ubiquitous worthless white and red foil packets, plumb with ketchup, given out by the handful at fast food joints, are now hot commodities, coveted and even being auctioned to the highest bidder.

Oh the pain.

People get awfully queer about their ketchup. I wouldn’t be surprised to visit Uncle Albertsons to see the ketchup shelf barren as the toilet paper aisle was last March. I wonder if other types like Hunts will be gone as people desperate for ketchup buy any type available. Or will the non-Heinz types sit there unwanted?* I am not found of ketchup anymore and they taste enough the same it doesn’t matter what type I buy.** Someone feels otherwise. He is a “Heinz man’ or nothing. However we both prefer salsa so there it is.

I recall a report stating salsa had surpassed ketchup in sales as the condiment of choice in the USA. Here in the Southwest, conservatives lost their minds, seeing this as an ominous sign ‘they’ were taking over. Folks that didn’t care tuppence for ketchup were suddenly putting it on everything to boost sales and reverse the report. I once saw a man refuse salsa and demand ‘American ketchup” which he got and put on his burrito, which has some irony, no?

If I actually read the ketchup shortage articles maybe I would have learned how long this ominous condiment shortage is projected to last. At the office in the kitchen drawer sit countless packages of condiments left over from numerous pharm rep lunches. I could scoop up the lot and go out in public and sell them to the zanies going through Heinz withdrawal. Unlike toilet paper, this shortage I don’t need to fret over. I can sit back and watch the lunacy and not know whether I should laugh or cry.

Meanwhile, I am fine with hot sauce. Albertsons has heaps.

*I remember last spring when people were snatching all the flour, pasta, rice, and peanut butter they could find what remained on the shelves were gourmet/organic section types. There were plenty of these. Price trumped all.

**When I was younger I preferred Hunts. Now it tastes cloying.

A couple of Spo-fans who are well over four feet recently wrote to wonder whatever happened to The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections. These rapinigous rascals were last located lodging at the JW Marriott after that tragic fire that was Heorot Johnsons. I had forgotten all about them, being distracted with my houseguests. I called the resort. A man at the information desk informed me they had checked-out. Using a different voice I called back and this time I was told they had been ejected weeks ago after some shenanigans involving forming pyramids in the swimming pool. The staff person went on to tell me the pool filtration system is shut down, clogged with excessive hair, and they are looking for The Board to pursue legal damages and did I know them. I tried to explain who they are and he became rude so I hung up.

The new hall* under construction promises to be quite opulent with real wooden floors instead of dirt ones and with WIFI. In their emails to me The Board is keeping mum to their present whereabouts, but I’ve connected the dots: they are at their time-share in Alfheim. I hope The Light Elves locked up the liquor; they are mean drunks.

Speaking of rundown mead halls, Someone is refinancing the house. Someone was pleased as Punch to read the appraisal report: the house was appraised at about the same prices as we bought it. We moved to AZ in 2005 just at the peak of the housing frenzy, only to buy a house and watch its worth plummet like a paralyzed peregrine. We were ‘upside down” for many years. I was rather shocked by this good news and wondered if the appraiser knew about all the dilapidated and dysfunctional house parts in need of repair. With all that wants fixing, the house resembles Heorot Johnsons without its charms. While La Casa de Spo lacks a functional outdoor water and lighting system, it makes up in ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night and sprites that move about the cups and car keys. **

Someone calculates when the two mortgages combine into one we will have a substantial amount of extra money per month to buy gummy-bears or outside lighting or a new car or an exorcist whatever we think is most needed. I think the first lot of loot should go towards helping build Heorot Johnsons II – at least the part that is to be my new office. I would like a window that opens and indoor plumbing. Perhaps I should take some of the money to pay the repair bill that is/was the JW Marriott pool.

*It will be called “Heorot Johnsons II”, a precise if not too imaginative name.

**Between the exterior and the interior there is no need to decorate at Hallowe’en.

What’s top of my mind – putting the house back together today after the visitors depart. The beds need stripping and towels want to be laundered – the usual things one does after guests depart.  Brother #4 et. al. had a nice time I reckon. 

Where I’ve been – to the dentist. My back molar chipped a few months ago, leaving a slightly sharp ridge that continually draws my tongue to it. I had it capped and now it feels smooth. I don’t know what my tongue will do now, when it’s bored. I hope it doesn’t turn to food – particularly hard candy. Root beer barrels are what got me into that mess to start with. 

Where I’m going – Back to the gym. Maybe I will wait 14 days post 5 April when I got my 2nd vaccine. I still will wear my mask and gloves*. I look forward to getting back to some sort of exercise. 

What I’m watching – Brother #4 was keen on watching some sort of “Vikings” series, which looks to me a lot like “Game of Thrones”. While I am all for shouting and burning down public buildings I can pass on the Sven-style soap-opera aspects. I don’t think I will watch the rest of it. 

What I’m reading – I just started “The faceless old woman who secretly lives in your home”, which was written (they say) by the good folks at “Welcome to Night Vale” podcast. ’Night Vale” has been one of my favorites for years. Occasionally they write a novel about one of the characters who lives in the remarkable town that is Night Vale. I was going to read “Peter the great”, but so soon after reading Tolstoy I need a break from Russian shenanigans. Mr. P. Great will have to wait. 

What I’m listening to – Tom Jones. Traveling to and from the ghost town last weekend, SIL #4 played his hits. Someone knew every song after hearing only a few notes. Most of his tunes I didn’t know but but I recognized a few of them. Mr. Jones has a sort of sing-song-y Welsh prosody, which reminds me of Dylan Thomas if the latter read his works in E-flat. 

What I’m eating – A mixed grill. Brother #4 is proud of his grilling skills and he does a good job. I hauled out the Weber and he went to town. We’ve had grilled salmon and T-bone steaks. Harper got her first taste at a T-bone. She loved it so. I may get another for her sake for she ate it with relish. 

Who I’m paying attention to – Matthew Gaetz. Mind! I don’t have the details on this one, so I don’t know what’s really going on. What I do know: he’s another politician caught in a sexual scandal. In the old days or if you are a Democrat you get impeached and pressured to resign. I am curious to see if Mr. Gaetz will test the Trump approach viz. express no shame and wear the badge proudly, as it will be admired and dismissed. Many miscreants under the Trump administration did this, and it worked very well. Will he able to pull this out without Trump in charge?  Will his colleagues turn on him? It is an interesting situation to watch.

What I’m planning – Making bread – again. I’m going with the useful delusion it is practice and better resources that is needed rather than I’m no good at this.  I got me some fresh flour and yeast and I will try again this weekend to make a decent loaf. 

*For all their obsession with their looks, gym-goers are pigs. I never see them washing their hands nor keeping on their masks.  They don’t shower either. I almost sense they are fearful to have their bodies seen this way.

Yesterday Sunday Brother #4 wanted to see the local ghost town, so we went to Vulture City AZ, which was once upon a time a booming mining community but then fell on hard times, was abandoned, and recently resurrected as a tourist trap. I enjoyed it more than I expected. The tour guide, who was well over four feet, talked about the community and its resources, many suspect and lacking propriety. There was murders, riots, a whisky mill, several jails, and some talk of building a church.  My favorite building was the one which housed the brothel and the medical clinic.

At the south end of the building was the bordello, where the madam lived with her various nieces. At the north end was the doctor’s office and bunk. I thought it nice how both branches of the profession were conveniently under the same roof. One can imagine the traffic going back and forth between these establishments, including the doctor, going back and forth for consultations and so forth. One wonders (well I would) if a few of the miners looking for services sought out the doctor rather than the madam. 

The tour guide told us the ladies of the establishment were often paid merely for a home-cooked meal or even conversation. Most of Medicine is careful listening, so you take your pick.  Apparently, the doctor was fond of ‘the mercury cure’. Whether due to exposure or self-medication this fellow ended up in a graveyard of an insane asylum. This usually means mercury-induced dementia or neurosyphilis.  What a dear the doctor was to have done house calls (even if it was only next door) but one wonders about doctor-patient boundaries.  The madam, “Mexican Rita”, were were told insisted the men take a bath before entering the boudoir; it is not known if the doctor required likewise.  One can only imagine the stench of the miners, having worked in the mines all day in the ardent Arizona sun and who slept in a bunkhouse and whose diet consisted of baked beans and roadkill.  Oh the horror.

The doctor’s office didn’t look as comfy as the other rooms in the building. The doctor had a capacious couch upon which the patient could pass out from the vapors, or lie back for psychoanalysis or (perhaps) have other medical needs attended to. Given the architectural set up, I could see how it could be confusing for the clientele/patients who happened to mix up the doorways – intentional or not. 

There was a lot left to the imagination on the tour. Like all old mining towns, this one is reportedly chockful of ghosts. In the room with the vault where the gold was kept prior to shipment was a ‘no women allowed’ policy. Tourists of the female persuasion often report feeling stared at or even touched when they enter the room. I didn’t feel anything myself (more’s the pity) but I did sense a menace in the doctor’s room. Perhaps I had missed my appointment time.

This morning I went to the kitchen to put the kettle on when I found this on the counter. It is curious indeed as it certainly wasn’t there last night. It is quite a spread of chocolate, jellies, and two types of chocolate bunnies.

The Easter Bunny hasn’t visited La Casa de Spo since 2005. The irony is I don’t need no sweets thank you as I need to get in shape and lose some weight in time for my first face-to-face appointment in over a year with The Good Doctor. Happily, my niece AKA Warrior Queen is visiting this weekend. I hope she eats it all, especially the Peeps. I had a Peep once and found it inedible. The package says it is made of nothing but chemicals so there it is. I know some sorts (shady types, well over four feet) who insist Easter is no complete without these spongy ersatz marshmallow monstrosities. I am curious to hear from Spo-fans if you like’em or loathe them.

Although the Easter holiday is the key point of Christianity it sure has heaps of pagan trappings. I remember being told word Easter is derived from the goddess Eostre. She once turned a bird into a rabbit, but forgot to finish the corrective surgery so the newly transformed animal continued to lay eggs. Thus we have The Easter Bunny and not The Easter Chicken. Brother #4 plans to grill The Easter Chickens this evening on the Weber.

Soon the household wakes. I’ve made a pot of coffee for Brother #4 and a pot of tea for SIL #4 and Urs Truly. I’ve made the coffee strong, strong enough to wake the dead. It seems apropos for Easter.

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