The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections just sent me the email equivalent of a Harry Potter ‘Howler’. It is about my latest entries.  They are not upset at the contents, nor do they take issue with my style.* What they took umbrage over was the lack of comments. The raucous rascals are becoming more obsessed with ‘what sells’.  I think it is Walter Cnut Fafner (the dear!) who is leading the jeremiad. He is an acolyte-thrall of one of the more insatiable Nordic gods who is forever wanting more.

I’ve been told (on pain of death) to avoid the following topics:

Funny words

Office psycho-babble


Curious things around the house

Photos of shirts.
I told them this doesn’t give me much to write about but they have no suggestions other than to go consult The Norns. Alas, their voicemail is full and “can not take any messages at this time”. So what the eff and I supposed to do?  Blast it Jim, I’m a writer not a comment-whore.

Achilles-like I think I will go sulk in my metaphorical tent for a while. Perhaps a Patroclus can come and rescue me etc. I don’t want to go too far with this simile. In the end Mr. Achilles does not do well.**

I think I will stop now and go walk Harper, which is another forbudt topic according to They-who-must-not-be-named.  I hope to run into the Muses while we trot around the neighborhood. I need to get me a quick twenty comments or there will be Hel to pay. 264402

*I thought yesterday’s entry on sex was very good, thank you very much.

**If I have spoiled The Iliad for you, I apologize. It is a thumping good read  to tackle anyway.


A common complaint from my patients is they want sex but they don’t get much – or any. At first this sounds a bit superfluous or petty.  On the list of life’s needs –  security, a stable income, good health, etc. isn’t the lack of sex petty?  I take the matter seriously. According to one study ~ 70% of people who file for divorce list ‘lack of sex’ among the top reasons for incompatibility.

Sex is more than a mere physical act; it symbolizes intimacy, trust, and the absence of loneliness. The person who wants sex often doesn’t clearly ask for it. To initiate sex they creep up upon sideways crab-like using indirect speech acts on the hopes their partner connects the dots and responds in kind. Alas this is all easily deflected.A blunt ‘I want to have sex, do you want to have sex?” (with a blunt ‘no” response) is too hard to do for most people. In the disappointment of being sex-deprived emotions arise such as anger, bad behaviors, and laments to others who will listen. Sometimes the sex-deprived person starts acting out, becoming monstrous or distant or whiny, which further reduces the chance of consummation.  They often have affairs – not because the sex-deprived person doesn’t love their partner, but they are acting out on unconscious revenge.

The discussion of ‘why are we not having sex’ is a very difficult one to have. Getting a ‘no’ response is too often painful to chance the topic. A lot of the avoidance is based on shame: it hurts to feel sexually unwanted. It brings up ones worst fears – is there something wrong about me?

Let’s look now at the sex-rejecting partner. He or she often has a problem they are not sharing. They might be thinking “I might be more interested in sex if you were more interested in my day, or if we spent more time with my family, or you weren’t so (fill in the blank)”.  Sometimes they have desires not brought up “I might be more interested in sex if we did more cuddling or if you were open to some role-playing  or an open relationship or (fill in the blank).”   The person deprived of sex usually hasn’t had any opportunity to hear these matters at all or not in a matter of fact no argumentative process.

Marriage counseling sometimes helps – provided the therapist doesn’t take sides and can get both to own up to their own contributions and not let the session turn into a catalog of complaints against the other.

Back in Michigan I knew a sex therapist named Brian. Brian often recommended “the letter exercise”. Both members write a letter titled “What I want from sex”.  The letters are to be honest, matter of fact, and forthcoming.  Afterwards, each would read the other’s letter, taking it seriously and in earnest. From these manuscripts they would negotiate to find some common ground.  Brian was Jewish; he often recommended something I was not aware of: in Orthodox Judaism G-d commands couples to have sex every Friday.  Brian would counsel couples to do likewise– maybe not Friday per se but at least once a week regardless. What an idea! He explained this outside order bypasses issues and excuses to enhance the possibility of regularity and comfort of having sex while the couple works things out.

Every couple has different wants and  levels of libido. There will always be distractions like children, the internet, and work. Regardless, it is hoped despite  distractions and inner-issues something so important as sex and intimacy can be processed without fear or shame towards the goal of a more loving and satisfactory relationship.

I spent the entire weekend doing paperwork and house chores. I am now quite tired but satisfied in my industry. Yesterday and today I ran a lot of errands. I got my shoes shined, the laundry done, and whole lot more. I think I deserve a snort.I will have one as a night cap.

May’s ‘Soup of the month’ is a monastic minestrone; it was good. Unfortunately I haven’t gotten the hang of how to make modest amounts, for  I have made enough soup to feed an entire monastery.  I sometimes fantasize about running away and living in a monastery. My friend, the late Brother Frank (of the Franciscans), often snorted at my rather naif notions of group living. I see it as a quiet and happy life with a group of guys without care.  Well, what do I know. I can’t even make soup for less than a dozen.

I am very happy I actually have home grown tomatoes. There are only a few of them, and they are not much larger than russet potato, but they are home grown. They don’t have much taste, alas.  However they are more tasty than the wretched ones you buy in the supermarket.

I was hoping for a Memorial weekend getaway – I did not care where, but Someone has lots of ushering to do. I may get of dodge anyway, a road trip for one. I have broken a mug purchased from a potter in Flagstaff. I may use this as an excuse to drive up and back just to do something other than more home and housework.  It would give me something to look forward to this week.

Three Spo-fans have asked me to write upon the following topics:

Medicinal marijuana

Sex starved relationships

My book

Hang in there, I will get to them.

If anyone else has topics they are wish me to tackle, please leave them in the comments.

This morning Someone ironed the shirts I ironed last weekend. I questioned the motive: hadn’t ironed I them properly? Obviously no. Even I could see the shirts were enough wrinkled to want a touch-up. I was certain last weekend’s iron-job had been good enough when I hung them up in the closet. Apparently some wicked sprite (distant relations to the car-key gnomes) spent the week making mischief to them. I suspect Nargles.

Pupil-like I watched Someone iron a shirt or two and he does a fine job and his technique looks no different than my endeavors. This was no help to ascertain what I am doing wrong.   He doesn’t use starch – but he uses steam – which may be the missing magic for proper ironing. Happily there are lovely Youtube instruction videos on the topic; I plan to watch a few this weekend.

When it comes to less than satisfactory ironing logic says I have three options:

A -Let Someone do all the damn ironing

B- Send out the shirts for ironing

C – Learn how to iron properly for goodness sake. 

Option A has the advantage I don’t have to do any ironing and the finished product is superior. The downside: Someone prefers waiting for the ironing to accumulate until he has to iron. A pile of ‘to do’ ironing the size of Fafner’s horde lying about rankles my Swiss-German genetics. I can’t abide work-to-be-done clothes sitting around making the house look like a Goodwill charity table.

Consider Option B: I used to have a housemate who was horrified I would even consider ironing my own shirts. He had me convinced we would bring down the economy by depriving the dry-cleaners their livelihood.  The local cleaners beats Someone for crisp wrinkle-free shirts.  No matter who irons the shirts the task is quite time consuming. Most weekends are consumed with ironing. Alas, with twenty shirts per week between us this is a pretty penny price to pay indeed.

As I can’t abide option A and Someone isn’t wanting Option B this leaves C.  C gives the mild satisfaction of mastery and autodidact. I really don’t mind ironing, especially if there is a lecture to listen to while I iron.  (Someone irons to Law&Order)

Today I plan to practice. On my shirts only, I will apply massive amounts of starch and steam enough to withstand Nargles and pass the inspection of captious Someones.

If any Spo-fans have ironing advice for dress shirts I am blithe to receive them.

Who knows, maybe if I master the art of ironed shirts I can try trousers.

Spo-fans take note: I had to sneak this one by the Board.  – Spo. 

I am not a hoarder; I don’t usually keep things for some mythical day in the future ‘when I might need it”.  The exception to this rule is my collection of useless facts.  Back when Trivial Pursuit (remember that?) was all the rage, I was a constant winner. In the penetralia of his pumpkin Urs Truly has a morass of factual tidbits. They wait like jinns for someone to rub the lamp in order to leap forth in gleeful edification and servitude. This happens whether the person who triggered it wants knowledge or not.  These fun facts are often are received with a blank stare as the recipient doesn’t quite know what to make of them. Sometimes they give  a polite ‘Oh, really?” while at other times the person continues the conversation as if the non-sequitor hadn’t occurred.

The other day people asked what did I think of shopping at IKEA. I replied “Did you know in Sweden it is illegal to name your child IKEA?”  Of course nobody knew – and nobody cared.

Last week I quipped to a patient complaining about thinning eyebrows human eyebrows replace themselves every sixty days.

King Richard II of England’s invention of the handkerchief got a smile at Macy’s by the salesperson, but I suspect she was being polite, too Macy-like to say who the f-ck cares.
Sometimes I fear my desire to diminish World Ignorance is just pearls before swine, but I persevere. In someways I can’t help myself. Blurting comes so easy and natural to me, so I may as well say something possibly of interest.

Spo-fans know I am fond of gummy-bears and no I won’t give you any useless information about them. But, did you know you can get scurrilous gummies on the internet to send to your nearest and dearest?  This trivia piece actually succeeds in stopping conversation for a few beats, as people are apparently curious to get more information about them.  Sometimes I tell them, but only after I tell them something first like did you know houseflies buzz in the key of F.  It is a small miracle I have not been slapped silly.


Lately I have been longing for Kellogg’s Frosted Corn Flakes. I have not had a hankering for such sugar-coated rubbish since I was eleven. Why on earth I should be jonesing for saccharine cereal is a mystery.  Sometimes when I vow to ‘eat more healthy’ some demon from within gushes forth the gherlins and pregnant-like I get weird and unnatural cravings. Last time it was Pop-tarts*. When I think back to my youth on all the sugar I consumed I wonder how I made it to middle-age.

quisp-buzzBack In the 60s it wasn’t just Frosted Corn Flakes. My jentacular diet had a ‘wide range’ consisting of Lucky Charms, Froot-Loops, and Rice Krispies, which I ate with relish. My all-time favorite cereal was Quisp, which resembled concave bowls as if someone had pressed down their thumb on softened orange marbles.  I have a vague memory Mr. Quisp nemesis was named Quake, which I never touched out of loyalty to the pink demented Quisp with a propeller on his head.  Who dreams this stuff up I wonder?

Happily I have more or less lost my taste for sweet things; eating anything sweet sounds sickly – most of the time. As mentioned, once in a while I get a sudden rapacious appetite for gummi bears, Sweet-tarts, or NECCO wafers (which are near divine in their communion wafer shape). The sugar demons are never exorcised. I suppose if Mother insisted on “no sweets” this would not be. Alas, she was no match for Saturday morning cartoons with their endless ads to make sure you eat breakfast every day and aren’t you crazy for Co-Co-puffs?



*Frosted Raspberry, to be specific.


Last weekend while I was out and about I ran into some patients. It is rare to encounter one patient but on that day I saw two. Patient encounters out of the context of the office can be ticklish and always a bit awkward.  My big-bad-doctor role is blurred.  Sometimes a patient tells me in an appointment he/she was rather hurt that he/she saw me in the grocery store but I did not say hello.  I have to explain HIPPA laws forbid me to ‘out’ them public.  If a patient wants to make the first move of recognition, then I may follow.

On the whole, patients have no qualms to speak up in public; they like to schmooze. At some level most patients want to be palsy-walsy with their physician, or at least liked more than just another 15 minutes perfunctory job.  The two patients seen on Saturday were no exception.

I went shirt shopping only to discover the salesperson was a patient of min. She had no reservations to pretend we hadn’t met. Indeed, she seemed to enjoy herself, giving me fashion tips such as “Oh, Dr. Spo, I know you wear bow ties and that shirt’s collar simply won’t do”. At the conclusion, while wrapping things up, she asked whether I wanted to take my items now or pick them up later or shall she bring them with her for her next appointment which was next week.  I declined the latter.

The other encounter was more blurry in boundaries. On Saturday night I went to the watering hole to wait for Someone to get off from his evening ushering job. I was engrossed in my iphone learning new words, when two young men tapped me on the shoulder. They were delighted to see me, as this was their first time here, and how did I like it, etc.  All the time my internal database search was busy scanning the recesses of my pumpkin trying to determine how the heck do I know them.  Having had a couple of cocktails did not help. At first I thought they were bar mates I had spoken with in the past, the sort you say ‘Oh we must get together sometime’. After a few minutes of small talk (and bluffing) I connected the dots: one was a patient and the other was his beau. A chum of theirs joined the chit-chat. The third fellow, a bit tipsy and apparently not knowing the context,  got a little flirtatious with me.  It was at this point Someone arrived. Seeing me surrounded by a trio of young handsomes, he gave me that Spock raised eyebrow look as if to ask ‘And how do you know these chew toys?” Needless to say I could not tell him “No dear, they are not Scruff boys, but let me introduce you to my patient and his pals.”  The  two of them were delighted to discover I had a partner (the third not so much). They asked polite personal questions about us and LTRs and Someone was happy to provide, and why not?  Eventually one of the called me ‘Doctor” and I saw Someone’s face relax and register why I was keeping mum.  As is often the case he finds it a bit amusing to see me squirm.

I needn’t worry as I do about encountering patients in public. Thems who don’t want to talk with me don’t and thems who do, do so without qualm.  Someone is quite used to reading between the lines when I am greeted by somebody and I won’t say how I know them.  He is no dummy – and he is under the unofficial HIPPA law of doctor’s spouses not to breathe a word about things even when they know. :-)


I had some ironical comfort taken today while driving and listening to a lecture on multi-tasking. The lecturer confirmed what I have often wondered: the ability to do multiple tasks is quite overrated. Few people can do so and even they aren’t too good at it. The truth is the more we try to do the less well we do well at any of them. Our reptilian brainstems like to do one thing at a time. People who say otherwise are itching for a fight.

What a relief. My hummingbird brain barely manages to do one thing at a time let alone more. I was pleased as punch to have confirmed my envy for those who can walk, chew gum, talk on their cellphone and push a pram is groundless. It feels similar to my metanoia it is OK not to want or have the goal of a wife/two kids/Irish setter/living in suburbia I was given as a boy.

Nevertheless striving for tastes great/less filling focus is going to a challenge. I really want to do many things at once; there doesn’t seem to be enough time in a day to achieve all I want to do. I will have to learn to do without.  I may not achieve as much but perhaps by day’s end I won’t feel like a pad of butter obliged to cover a whole loaf.


So I’ve been practicing a) doing one thing b) abjuring shiny distracting objects and c) staying with it until its completion.  I suspect this is old hat for Spo-fans but there it is.  Even as I type my mind is bouncing around with ‘what I could be doing while writing this’ and ‘what are you going to do after this?”  It’s a wonder I don’t have headaches and a greater puzzle how I manage to get anything done.

I think external distractions will be easier to appease than internal ones. I have to self-analyze the complex that has the greedy anxiety to juggle balls while reciting Shakespeare.

Now, the entry is done. I will try not to bounce around the house as if in a pinball machine but focus on one task, which is putting away my new shirts. Oh all right, I may listen to a medical lecture while I do it. Naples wasn’t rebuilt in a day.


The elves and spritesI seem to be misplacing things more than my usual. The office keys disappeared last week for nearly a week, which is hard to do as they are attached to a rather large electronic key card the size of an index card. At first I worried I had left them in the loo.  My telephone number and email address were attached so I waited for some kind person to contact me, but to no avail.  Only yesterday I found them on the bookshelf. This elicited the usual emotions of relief, self-rage, and bewilderment how on earth did they get there / why haven’t I seen them during my frantic searches.  It is a happy happenstance most of what I lose is eventually found.

The elves and sprites who move my things are never satiated. As soon as one item is retrieved another goes a-missing. Presently I cannot find my beloved back scratcher.  I daresay I left it in Michigan, although Father says he has looked everywhere for it.(1)  This is a great loss – worse than the office keys, for my neurons are on fire and my back constantly craves a good scratch. (2)

I continually make noble efforts to put my keys, watch, rings of power, and other items easily transported to the Twilight Zone into proper bowls or visible resting places. This sometimes helps.  Someone leaves his things almost anywhere and everywhere without consequence for his mind is a sharp as a razor.(3)  My losing things matters are lifelong and it is doubtful they will go away but I hope to improve notthestanding.

On the return flight from MI I sat near a young woman with a iphone. Attached to the telephone was a large fuzzy pom-pom the size of a grapefruit.   I bet she doesn’t lose her phone.


(1) While home, Mother managed to lose her cheque book for the first time in decades. Father went so far as to cancel the cheques. In his search for my back scratcher Father found the cheque book, so it is an ill wind that blows nobody good.  It is a comfort to know my dimwit-doings didn’t originate out of nowhere or are the results of poor nutrition during some crucial part of my development.

(2) Someone scratches my back as if he is touching a water-filled balloon that might pop suddenly if given too much pressure. My grunts and requests to “go deeper and harder” only make him more timorous.

(3) My consolation is he has poor sense of direction while I have a built-in compass.

The Muses are capricious. Since last week when they threw their thunderbolt about Urs Truly writing a book they have been as silent as the grave. I am bereft of writing ideas. It hasn’t helped work has been busy. Perhaps the Muses are trying to contact me but with my head surmounted with dictation headphones I can’t hear them.   Happily I brought home from Michigan all sorts of family bits upon which to write. Just please don’t tell them.

During last week’s get-together Nephew #1 announced with some trepidation he has made his college choice: Michigan State University. Brother #2 confided in me the boy was a bit worried his ‘coming out’ as a Spartan would be met with rejection.  The vast majority of Spos attended The University of Michigan. He made the announcement looking like he was about to be shot before a firing squad. This was immediately met with enthusiastic cheers and excitement. ‘Our first Spartan!” was said as if a baby had born.  Nephew #1 looked quite relieved.  I was pleased nobody sounded disappointment or asked ‘why not U of M?”.   He added he could always transfer to another school after a year, as if he needed further assurance.   It was not needed:  the family was thrilled.

As Tania says, I am grateful for having an open and accepting family. At Mother’s birthday she made certain she had all her kin, making clear this included Brother #4’s two step-children. The step-grandson brought along his girlfriend; by now they are a staid couple. In the photo titled “Mother with all the grandchildren” there they were: two step-kin and the girlfriend.*

In future family photos, among the maize and blue Wolverines, will be a smiling green and white Spartan, I hope looking just as excited and no less proud, as if he were saying to the camera:

‘I am one of them”.



*The girlfriend, a very nice woman, looks a bit overwhelmed in the photo. Later on that evening Uncle said to her: “if you survived this, you’ve made it in. ”.

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