Urs Truly loves to listen to podcasts. I have seventeen subscriptions. They make good listening as I travel to and from work, while I exercise, and when I am doing chores such as the ironing. I thought I would let you know my favorites; I hope Spo-fans can recommend a few in return. My taste in podcasts runs mostly toward the educational type but I have a few that are just fun.  They all have lovely websites for thems not wanting to listen but read’em.

Educational Podcasts:

Stuff you missed in history. Tracy and Holly (the dears!) like to take a lesser-known topic from history and tell you all about it. They are lighthearted and make history fun. I recently heard the fascinating and controversial history of margarine.

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Stuff you should know. Josh and Chuck are the male counterparts to Tracy and Holly. They are more chatty than Tracy and Holly. They talk about a wide range from night terrors to wholly mammoths.

The Torch. This podcast is brought to you by The Great Courses series. In each episode the host talks to two or three professors for a few minutes on a topic to entice you to buy the entire course.  It’s a nice way to get ten minutes lessons on topics.

 

Linguistic Podcasts:

Spo-fans know I am crackers for fustian words and grammar and language history

The Allusionist – This English language podcast is done by Helen a British lady who talks about the origin and terms of words. She ends her podcasts with ‘Random word from the dictionary’ and the suggestion ‘Try using it in an e-mail today!”.

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Grammar Girl – She is the High Priestess of Prose. She isn’t always discussing prescriptive grammar such as ‘hoofs or hooves”. She also talks about idioms, expressions, the history of words, and how to be a better writer. She makes grammar jolly good fun!  Someone and I will sometimes listen to Grammar Girl and talk about our own thoughts on a grammar matter before she gives out the verdict.

Poem of the Day – This one is self-descriptive. The poems are often less than a minute long.

The Writer’s Almanac – I wake up every morning to Garrison Keillor telling me what writers were born on this day or what happened in history related to writing. It ends with a poem. So I get two poems per day this way!

 

Story Podcasts:

Lore – Oh my goodness, I just discovered this podcast and it is already one of my favorites. He reads ghosts stories and legends. He does a superb job.

Myths and Legends – The reader tells us the ‘real story’ of the Arthurian Legends, Greek Myths, and tales from everywhere else.

Selected Shorts – Live from NYC, actors read classic and contemporary short stories.   I’ve been listening to SS for decades.

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Masculinity Podcasts:

The Art of Charm – Mr. Jordan interviews fascinating people on how to succeed in business and be a better man. “Fan mail Friday’ is fun as he gets letters asking his advice, which makes him the “Dear Abby” but 30yo L.A. types.  I listen to see if I agree with his answers.  I also pick up a lot of book leads when he interviews authors on biology, sexuality, and psychology.

The Art of Manliness – Mr. Brett also interviews fascinating people but his are more about what it means to be a man. The podcast is very thoughtful whether he is talking to a philosopher or a Marine Sergeant.  He also has a marvelous website for ‘how to do (whatever)’ to treaties on masculinity.

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And Just for fun Podcasts:

The Savage Lovecast – Oh, what a guilty pleasure. He talks rather bluntly and unashamedly about sexuality in all its myriad forms.  I listen to the questions and compare my answers to Mr. Dan’s.

And …….

Welcome to Night Vale – This one is possibly my favorite podcast. Cecil the radio announcer tells us the news of Night Vale, a sleepy town in the desert. Think of an amalgam of “Lake Woebegon”, “The X-files”, and “The Twilight Zone”.  If you want to sample a typical show, listen to Podcast #4 in which a time warp releases ancient flying beasts into the Night Vale PTA meeting on student lunch price hikes.  My favorite resident of Night Vale is either Old Woman Josie who lives with the so-called angels (all named Erika) or The Faceless Old Woman who secretly lives in your house.

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Alas, my friend Karen does not blog anymore, but she stays in touch via FB. She posted this MEME.  It was light and whimsical, so I thought I would do it.  Spo-fans are invited to to likewise, if you fancy.

 

1. ARE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE?   Yes, from the song “Michael row the boat ashore’;  I was supposed to be Martha.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?  It was so long ago I can’t remember.

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? Yes, when I do it properly. I am especially fond of my “R”.

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT?  Nasty things and should be avoided.  I love good salami, no rubbish.

5. DO YOU HAVE ANY KIDS?  No.

6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS?    I doubt it.

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM?  Never.

8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Yes, despite repeated injury.

9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Oh, I can’t wait! (said with sarcasm).

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL?  Frosted Salami Flakes.

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? Sometimes, less than I should I dare say.

12. DO YOU THINK YOU’RE STRONG?  No.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR?  Small chocolate cone.

14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE?  Their presence.

15. RED OR PINK?  Red, as incarnadine as blood.

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING YOU LIKE ABOUT YOURSELF?  My stomach.

17. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING RIGHT NOW? I am wearing neither.

18. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE?   Sunday brunch. It was fabulous.

19. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?  Someone in the other room, watching TV.

20. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE?   Nattier Blue.

21. FAVORITE SMELL? A freshly carved pumpkin.

22. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO?  Does Harper count? If not, then that would be Someone, who is still watching TV. He asked me to make less noise.

23. FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH? Depending on how you define ‘sport’ I vote for rolling down grass hills- in its way. It often injures the tonsils to do so.

24. HAIR COLOR THATS REAL? You mean mine? It is grizzled and au natural. I am thinking of dyeing it red or nattier blue.

26. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? No.

27. FAVORITE FOOD? Pizza still ranks #1.  A Chicago deep-dish pizza with spinach is my favorite, oh I miss it so.

28. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? I am all for happy endings.

29. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED. The one about Florence Foster Jenkins. It was charming.

30. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? I am not wearing a shirt.

31. SUMMER OR WINTER.  Living in AZ as I do, winter wins.

32. HUGS OR KISSES?  Hugs.

33. FAVORITE SWEET FOOD?  Gummi-bears!

34. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?  Spoon River Anthology.

35. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD?  Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”

36. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON T.V. LAST? This too was so long ago I can’t remember. I believed I cried, or chocked on a salami.

37. FAVORITE SOUND? Water, in any form, whether in rain, ocean waves, or fountains.

38. ROLLING STONES or BEATLES?  Don’t like no Rolling Stones.

39. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE TRAVELED?  London, U.K.

40. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT?  My Attic wit.

41. WHERE WERE YOU BORN?  In a hospital.

 

Every 28 August I hold my breath to realize another year has gone by. Twenty-five years ago on this day I had a very nasty knock, the type I thought portended Life was over as I knew it. The details of the event are not relevant for this reflection. In my life I’ve had a series of dreadful events each interpreted as Armageddon. 28 August 1991was not the first one nor the last or them. This one was particularly poignant that its date has stuck in my mind. I don’t have specific dates for the others. I’ve gone through five or six of these “Armageddons” – and I am still here. Half the time I have difficulties remembering what they were for they have become irrelevant.

We mark 1 January as the new year. Our birthdays are another way we celebrate the passing of time. Some have July 1 down as the beginning of the fiscal year. 28 August I’ve made “Survival Day”.  On this day I stop to remember I have survived everything thrown at me, including those 5-6 times I believed survival was impossible.

Today I don’t do anything I would call celebratory. In the morning there is a prayer of gratitude, followed by a look in the mirror at my now grizzled hair and crows-feet. I am alive. I look around and see all I have. I pause to count the blessings and assets in my life. Like the rocks at Stonehenge nothing knocks me down. Life will deliver onto me more hardships and ersatz-armageddons but I recognize them now for what they are. I hope to see many more 28 August “Survival Day” holidays, look again in the mirror, and breathe a breath filled with joy, health, and satisfaction.

Then….

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  Now……..

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Seasoned Spo-fans know about Henrik the Ghost, the doleful spirit who periodically pops up on the east side of the house. Someone has never encountered him; Harper has never sensed his presence.  For the novice reader, Henrik is a rather low energy haunt who tends to creep up behind me, evoking annoyance more than fright.  If I sleep over there, I keep the doors closed and the nightlight going so as not to be startled in the total dark lest he comes in and give me the heebie-jeebies.  He disappears for ages at times; I don’t remember when last I sensed his presence.  Perhaps he is gone. I sort of miss him in a way.

The other day I developed a Henrik hypothesis that is down-right eldritch: I wonder if Henrik is I.

Perhaps I read too much science (or science fiction) about time and space and wormholes that suggest linear time is not solid or real as we want it to be. In Sunday school I learned Love is eternal and has no past. Throw in the notion ghosts are the souls of people still attached to a place, and there it is.

I often retreat into the penetralia of my mind where resides my memories of places. I regularly walk the corridors of my grandparent’s house and the rooms of my house on Hood St. in Chicago. When I need cheering up, I am back at Big Ruby’s in Key West, ambulating the familiar decks and pool.  Do the present inhabits sense someone is there? The majority of the places in our memories still stand but contain other people.  Perhaps is what ghosts really are: ourselves trying to keep attached to places which are no longer are own.

Back to the Henrik Hypotheis. How curious it is to imagine he is a my spirit from a future time when I live somewhere else, and I am walking through this Phoenix house, remembering, and coming up behind my past/present self. Maybe Henrik/I am trying to assure me I made it and things are OK really. Perhaps this why Henrik isn’t around anymore; I feel OK and in a sense he/I have moved on.  If Henrik should return I address him as myself and see what happens.

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The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections was pleased as punch to see so many comments about the clothesline. Helga “Pippi” Longstocking was particularly blithe to see a surge in lady-comments. These noble and boisterous barbarian board members sent me a barrel of herring, which is what I get when they are wholly satisfied.* They suggest I dig up some more domestic items upon which to meditate – the blender perhaps, or things in the kitchen drawer (besides the occasional scorpion).

We have not one but two drawers filled with kitchen gadgets. Someone likes to collect them. A culinary gizmo is always a safe prize to give at Christmas. Our bins are full with what-nots, blivets, and the like.

I don’t see much value in kitchen gadgets. Most of them are extremely limited or worse, to one use only. The mushroom brush is quaint but what else can you do with it? Throwing all the mushrooms into a colander and giving them a good rinse seems to do the trick and in much less time.

There are several gadgets for jobs we seldom need. I can’t recall when we last used the little scoop to make melon balls, or the pineapple corer, or the garlic press – the later made useless by chopped garlic in little glass jars.

Several sit unused as we’ve forgotten what they are for. A doggerel mind could interpret the plastic brush and squeegee-bottle as something more apt for the boudoir  not the kitchen.

I suppose we would utilize more kitchen gadgets if we could find anything. I fear there is no humanly way possible to organize a kitchen gadget drawer. One opens the thing to find the horizontal equivalent of Fibber McGee’s closet. I rummage through the bricolage, searching for the radish-rose maker, until I become cross or realize we don’t have one actually.

When it comes to kitchen utensils what I want is a few tools that act as jack of all trades.

This reminds me our knives are dull as plainsong and are in desperate need of sharpening. I have a vague recollection somewhere lurking among the corncob holders and the cheese cutter and the personal butter knives with the Christmas theme tops is a knife sharpening gizmo. Anyone have one? I will trade you for it for a lovely strawberry pincer – nearly new.

 

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*Lest you are eating, I won’t tell you what they send when they are truculent or disappointed.

shirts-clothesline-26395548Once upon a time I announced I fancied setting up a clothesline. Someone gave me an incredulous look I have seen only a few times in my life: once when I thought of dying my hair platinum blonde and another time when I considered taking up Morris dancing.  “A clothesline!?” he asked, what for? We have a very efficacious dryer within walking distance. I explained I’ve read clothes hung out to dry on a clothesline have an amazing smell. In the arid air our undies would dry oh so quickly, we would save on electricity, and sniffing our Mack Weldons will elicit euphoria no dryer can do. I’ve also read there is a quiet satisfaction from hanging up clothes and standing back to admire one’s industry. What’s not to love?

I don’t know Someone’s equivalent of ‘Sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury’ but this may be close. He quickly played the HOA trump card: a clothesline was probably illegal. Besides, the dust and pollutants of the Phoenix Valley air would leave a light dusting on the clothes, spoiling any hopes for a ‘fresh air’ redolence.

He may be right. He usually is. I sense what is really the matter is the perception of what a clothesline symbolizes, based on a difference of backgrounds. For me, a clothesline with sheets and shirts flapping in the breeze sounds charming while for Someone this awful vision conjures up an image of poor folks who can’t afford a dryer. The neighbors will think us no better than Clampetts. With a clothesline you might as well have chickens and a rusty broken car in the front yard.

All the same a clothesline sounds jolly good fun. When we go swimming I drape my towel and trunks on the back of a patio chair to dry and this work fine, but it doesn’t give me the satisfaction like a line of clothes flapping in the breeze like nautical flags.  Alas, I am not going to find out. I suppose if Someone should go away on a long errand I could put one a line on the sly. I would insist on proper wooden clothespins for the total clothesline experience. To complete the scene imagine Urs Truly in bunny slippers and hair curlers. It could happen. Just don’t tell Someone.

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The time between mid-August and Labor Day is a tedious time indeed. There ain’t nothing happening. I can feel the inchoation of the ‘Fall melancholy’, worse luck, so I am not motivated to rouse myself up to do things. There was a thunderstorm last night and more is predicted today, which is cheering. Rain and thunder invariably cheer me up.

The classic Jungian definition of depression is the retreat of libido (psychic energy) into the unconscious to prevent one from running amok doing bad things so one will hopefully ‘go inwards’ as it were to examine what’s the matter. I think it a lovely idea to stay home on this rainy day to meditate and avoid CNN.  Alas, the Adult-Complex compelled The Ego to go to work as I am hired to do so.

I have a full day of “returning” patient, most of them well over four feet. I don’t see too many rock-and-rollers on the roster, but one never knows.  The well ones sometime come in in a crisis and the Zorgenkinder come in serene (for once).  They keep me on my toes and out of my melancholic mood.

After work today I will go to the gym and start a new workout regime. I hope this cheers me up some. I need to be careful for I have not lifted weights in ages. Most of the gym members are young men well-built and with brown hair, while Urs Truly looks (and feels) like a very old out-of-shape grizzle-puss.

It’s Tuesday morning; there’s work to be done. I will spend sometime today trying to dream up something erudite or entertaining for a proper blog-post tomorrow – provided I haven’t hurt myself doing barbell squats.

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OK my mustelids, time for some amusement. Here’s a list of things either Spo or Someone does/likes to do. Match up each activity to the right person.

The Spo-fan with the most correct entries gets a month of Mellaril.

** Answers tomorrow – or so**

8/22/16 updates: I put a (*) next to the ones that are mine.

1 – Puts away groceries as they come out of the sack.

*2 -Puts away groceries first by putting all the pantry items together, the refrigerator items in another group, and the freezer items in a third. Then they are put away – much to the disapproval of the other.

*3 – Listens to the podcast “Welcome to Night Vale”.

4 – Listens to the podcast “Pop Culture Happy Hour”. 

5 – Irons all the trousers for only he does them properly.

*6- Goes to the gym.

7 – Answers the phone rather than let the machine ‘screen calls’. 

8 -Likes wearing tuxedos.

*9 -Likes anchovies.

10 -Doesn’t empty the lint trap as often as the other one thinks he should. 

*11- Harper likes to lick his forehead and only his.

12 – Makes chicken pot pies

*13 – Makes a marvelous manhattan.

14 – He orders all the airplane tickets when we travel.

*15 – Washes the car by hand.

16- No that’s not right, he washes the car at the carwash. 

17 – Dislikes -no, execrates – the tune “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies. 

*18 -He still can’t spell the word ‘calendar’ despite the other one constantly reminding him how to do it.  (even when I typed this out, spell-check told me I had it wrong).

*19 – Gets motion sickness at the movies.

*20 – Adores the opera”Peter Grimes” (and the other loathes it) 

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Mustelids (for thems unfamiliar with the lot) are long sleek furry critters. They are a happy furry family, consisting of ferrets, weasels, otters, and such.*

I have known many in my life, both the four-legged and the two-legged varieties.

I once kissed a skunk. While visiting a national park I met a ranger who had a ‘pet skunk’; tourists could get their photo taken holding it. As I leaned down “Violet’ reached up and gave me a lick. Since then I have been kissed by a several more skunks and not so sweet.

As mustelids go, weasels are long, devious, and tricky, like my men. I’ve dated a few weasels, so I know one when I see one. Someone used to have a boss whom I christened ‘The Sleazy Weasel’. He was well over four feet which is rather large for a weasel.

I come from a family of Wolverines; one of them married a Badger. These two types of mustelids tend to quarrel and become quite fractious during football season.

 

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I am rather fond of Otters, who are lean, furry, cute, and like to hold hands.

Ferrets, skunks, and weasels used to be found congregated in dens such as on Halsted St. in Chicago. Nowadays they are more scattered. They are likely found on line using apps. They are fond of chicken.

If you are interested in locating a mustelid, Wikipedia describe mustelid for you:

“They are typically with short legs, round ears, and thick fur. Most of them are solitary, nocturnal; they have anal scent glands that produce a strong-smelling secretion used for sexual signaling. “

So act accordingly.

Personally I am sticking with bears.

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*This includes the honey badger but he don’t care.

There must be some tsetse flies among the mosquitos for all I want to do this week is sleep. Last night I nodded off about 8PM and this morning I overslept, only to struggle all day to stay awake at work. Several mugs of nasty coffee could not keep me alert. It’s again 8PM and I am dropping as I type. Normally I go along with what my body says it needs but the mind does not want to rest.  I got into bed only to discover Harper got sick on the bedspread. How tiresome. I’m too tired to change the bed so I stripped it and plan to sleep wrapped up burrito-like in a blanket. Someone is ushering this evening and won’t be home until 10PM, so I can beat him to bed and fall asleep before his snoring thwarts my attempts. Harper, sensing she is in trouble, has crept into her cage, into the proverbial doghouse as it were. I have the bed all to myself, able to spread out like a Sanskrit swatiskta. An hour ago I had a tiny snort as nightcap which is the coup de grace as it were. I should be orbiting the moons of Jupiter in no time. And then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

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