Last night when I should have been falling asleep my hummingbird brain got a sudden hankering for buttered noodles. I have not thought of buttered noodles in decades so its sudden implantation in my hypnogogic mind is a sure sign of demonic forces or an unexpected pregnancy. This morning I followed up on my unnatural cravings first looking for buttered noodle recipes on Youtube and next online. This led (no surprise) to the website of Zehnders of Michigan. These are the buttered noodles I wanted in the first place. 


Zehnders make the best buttered noodles; do not dare to question this. The restaurant is located in the sleepy town of Frankenmuth MI. Frankenmuth is the Michigan equivalent of Mecca or perhaps it is more like Disneyland. Thems who live in Michigan* must go at least once in their lifetime and better yet go every year at Christmas time. The ritual is straightforward: first you shop at Bronners and then you go see the sights and afterwards you have the chicken dinner at Zehnders with its buttered noodles.

Right now I would sell my own grandmother for a serving – or your grandmother anyway.  My mouth waters at the mere memory of this ultimate three-way of starch, butter, and Zehnders seasoning.

Hot puppies! Zehnders dot com not only sells a cookbook with the recipe it also sells their seasoning and noodles to make a do-it-yourself-buttered noodles kit. Suffer IKEA! This blessed package ‘should arrive in 5-7 business days’ which will feel like a fortnight.  

Someone will question the logic of the purchase so soon after I went on one of my rampages to clear out the clutter which included several old unused cookbooks. I will have to think quickly; I will tell him I’m pregnant. This will be a bit of a shock I suppose but chances are it will slip his mind and never come up again. Besides he will be bedazzled by a bowl of proper no-rubbish buttered noodles (dammit he’s a Michigander too) and the threat of pregnancy will be quickly forgotten. 



*What to call people from Michigan these days is not clear to me. When I was growing up thems from Michigan male and female were called “Michiganders”. This now seems a bit sexist and not ‘PC’ these days but no one seems to have come up with a good-enough  substitute.  Blobby need not leave any suggestions either.

Last weekend my brothers and I went through our parent’s house sorting things for keeping or not. The most ticklish matter was what to do with all the photographs. The picture were in four categories:

Photos in frames, on the wall or on tables and bed stands.

Photos in photo albums.

Photos in envelopes tied up in strings.

Photos in the form of slides, in Kodak grey carousels.

What does one do with all these photos? Toss most of them out I suppose. There is something disagreeable about throwing out someone’s photos. These were the precious memories of somebody’s lifetime some of them preserved for over half a century in bridal books and ancient frames. With a simple toss they go into the rubbish as if they never existed.  

Is it a waste to take photos I wonder? I have stopped taking photos. At an event where everyone is frantically waving about the cellphones I am gazing intently hoping to appreciate the moment better than they are. Based on some fair-at-best data I am hoping this way is better to solidify memories. Every year in December Brother #3 asks for contributions for next year’s family album and I panic to remember if I took any.  Sometimes I wonder if my life has no meaning without photographs to document it, along the line if there is no picture it didn’t really happen.  The last ten years of my life have been a blur in which it is hard for me to remember what happened. Would some photos have helped? 

Perhaps photograph albums and framed pictures aren’t as important anymore thanks to social media outlets including blogging. People post photos and then discard them from their phones and household – presumably. Perhaps photos are like the landline telephone: it was emotionally very difficult to give up as it has always been but once it was gone you don’t miss it really.  

On the other hand I come from a family of genealogists who depend on photographs (preferably labelled) to preserve history. What is deemed trivia and ‘of no value’ is precious to generations ahead of you. 

The weekend’s task inspired me to get out from the desk in The Blue Room the several packages of photographs from decades of travel. I am slowly going through them and pruning in anticipation of making some sort of album I suppose.  For example the Alaska trip 2002 has lots of pictures of beautiful mountains and glaciers but how many of these does one need really? As I edit these envelopes I make a mental note to remember Father’s photo advice to always get a person in the photograph.  The photos of people are the ones I seem to want to preserve. 

In the movie “Harold and Maude” when Harold first visits Maude in her railway car you can see for a quick moment behind her she had a set of photo frames sitting on the counter with nothing in them. There is no explanation why this is so.  A friend thinks as a Holocaust survivor she didn’t have any photographs but has the frames up as a monument to the dead. I have a different hypothesis: she took the photos out as she preferred her memories of people and places to their actual photographs. I don’t remember the details of my beloved house on Hood Street in Chicago but I have enough in my mind. Yesterday in the first round of sorting I found a set of photos from the backyard circa mid-90s.  I may throw all these photos out. 


It was Memorial Day 2005 when we moved to Phoenix; today marks 15 years of living in the desert.  This weekend is usually the Comic-con convention and Someone works four days nonstop – not this year of course. I’ve made it a sort of tradition to try cooking some recipes I’ve not ever done before. Here’s the report card.

Bread and butter pickles: A-  

Tasty but next time I will cut the cukes more thick and  use less sugar.

They were quite tasty. I plan to make this one again. 

Five ingredient oven ribs: A

Ribs; orange juice; soy sauce; brown sugar; cumin. They were easy, tasty, and not too difficult – like my men. 

Homemade bread: C

My loaves are coming out not ‘firm’ making them too crumbly to cut proper for toasting. As I eat them slow they go bad quickly and I’ve had to throw out a lot as they turned fuzzy. I suspect the quality of the bread is a matter of practice particularly with kneading.

Macaroni Salad: A+ – with reservations.

Following the advice of the great experts I made a truly good salad. The vegetables and add-ons made a beautiful looking and good-tasting dish. The vegetables are just the right combination in size, shape, color with a good combination of soft and crunchy. It is a ‘proper’ pasta worthy of standing up the scrutiny of an all-gay pot luck. I now realize what I really wanted was nostalgia viz. a bland wet Midwest pale imitation of what I made.  

Hopping John: B+

It is a tasty dish but the black-eyed peas were a bit overcooked.  If I can find some okra next time I will make Limping Susan.

Aunt Roberta cocktail. F

I’ve longed to try this monster so I bought the ingredient bottles to make such. The cocktail consists of absinthe, vodka, brandy, gin, and blackberry liqueur.  One booze expert writes:  

“The Aunt Roberta is less a cocktail than a cry for help. A brain-destroying mixture of absinthe, vodka, gin, and brandy, it will strip the enamel off your teeth, and several years off your life.”  

If I ever to try it again I will use only a whisper of absinthe and more blackberry liqueur.  

Chile-infused vodka: A-

I took the inexpensive stuff found in the back of the pantry and infused it for a few days with dried cayenne peppers to make a sensational tasting vodka.  Oh the pain. Next time I use more vodka and fewer peppers and less infusion time. It was too fiery even by my Southwest tastes.  It made sensational Blood Marys which we drank in lieu of Aunt Robertas. 


It’s been two months since I went to the gym.  I’ve had no exercise and I am eating more than usual. As a consequence I’ve gone to pot and I’ve gained weight. Last week the gym announced it has reopened. I am more than dubious about things reopening especially the gym so I am not going anywhere. I admit I want to exercise again. This morning I proposed to Someone let’s go to the gym and hold an inspection. If there is the slightest sense of hazard we would turn 180 and go home.  He agreed.  Folks going to the gym (I presume) are generally health-conscious so thems attending ought to be careful about their well-being? We would see.

We purposely went early when folks are fewer. What we saw was assuring: the machines were carefully closed to keep people apart. At that hour there weren’t many people.  The locker room was empty of others and it had only a few open well-separated locker spaces. We decided to stay. We had generous wipes for washing the elliptical machines before we used them. It felt funny working out in a mask but I did so. After exercise we wiped down the handles like good citizens and we washed our hands; we felt good for going.

Mind! Things were not all to my satisfaction. Many of the members were not wearing masks nor wearing gloves or holding handles with barriers.  The free weight room was the worst. Nobody was practicing social distancing. None of the beefy bros were wearing masks or using gloves as the grasped the dumbbells and barbells. It will be a long time before I will be using the machines or weights. This is a disappointment but I will wait.

I guess I feel OK to have gone. After two months it felt good to do something anything. I still work from home; I don’t see myself going to the gym after work after 5PM when there will be more people. That means more people who are likely to be careless if not defiant about the stated rules.

Now that I write this I suppose I won’t be returning until next weekend.  It seems a reasonable – or so I hope.


I spent the day on the phone with my brothers going through our parents house preparing it for an estate sale. We were on FaceTime for seven hours. We went room to room sorting things. It was a quite a job. My parents have lived in the same house since the 70s. They were not hoarders nor was their house cluttered yet it seemed it was loaded up with old things of no worth. It is amazing how much they have/had. Once upon a time these things were precious or valuable but it is now no longer so. Mother has chests of silverware. The letters on the utensil handles suggest they are from several generations passed down from woman to woman. We four sheepishly agreed it is probably better to sell it en masse to a silversmith for the metal as no one uses silverware anymore. Whenever we opened a cupboard or closet we found heaps.   We would pull out figurines and plate and such and Brother #4 would look up on Ebay to find these things aren’t worth much. Mother had lots of costume jewelry we think she haven’t been worn in decades. The sister-in-laws don’t want any of it. I hadn’t thought One explained women just don’t wear such any more.  Father had drawers of old receipts and manuals many for things no longer in existence. Once in a while we ‘hit the jackpot’ as it were to find something we thought lost for ever. 

We each found a few things to take but I was the one actually ended up getting the most booty.  These are mostly old books and my artwork.  I didn’t need/want anything of value; these things are to be sold rather.

There were a few funny moments. I asked Brother #2 to please carefully go through Mother’s cookbooks as there was a particular one I wanted he couldn’t find it I pressed him to look more only to realize last time I visited I took the cookbook and I have it already. “I guess it’s not there” I told him.  

By 6-7PM EST we had gone through the first and second floors. The basement resembles King Tut’s tomb and needs a day all to itself. 

It all presses me to minimize my own place. It is a funny goal knowing the guest rooms in Michigan is piled up with things  someday coming my way.

Writing is a helpful to organize thoughts and handle emotions. I’m afraid my blog is going to be grim for awhile what with Mother’s decline. Yesterday she nearly died during an attempt to get her out of bed into a wheelchair. CPR was done and EMT was called and there was a lot of drama. Afterwards she seems OK however I sense the consequence of this: she won’t want to get out of bed now and everyone will be fearful to try. Father witnessed it all and he is quite frazzled. It’s hell watching your loved ones deteriorate; he feel so tired and helpless to do anything – and he is feeling guilt about his impromptu decision for the folks try CPR (despite her ‘DNR’ status).  I counseled him no matter what decisions we make they always come with doubt that they were the right ones. The same day as the near-death event folks from hospice care came for an interview. Brother #3 texted me ‘this went well”.  He asked me matter of fact when she dies would I want to be  told as soon as possible or should he wait until the end of the day so I may get through my work day?  I opted for the former.  I am as prepared for her passing as I can be which I know will not be enough. 

Meanwhile the brothers are preparing their lists of what we may want to take from 563.  Last night in my dreams I walked through the rooms remembering what is there and what might I want. I ‘found’ several knickknacks and childhood things of mine. Somewhere in the kitchen is my first tea mug with soldier rabbits on it (pictured in the header today).  Their walls are full up with drawing and paintings I did in my youth when I thought I would become and artist; I should take them too.  I still haven’t made a decision about the baby grand piano.

Apart from things technically mine I want some simple souvenirs of both of them. Brother #3 can take the Stobart paintings and a nephew can take the car. Just give me Father’s collection of swizzle sticks he’s had since the ‘60s. As for Mother I want her formal card decks the one with the Japanese prints that she only used for special bridge parties.

I may think different tomorrow when the actual sorting commences.  I’ve haven’t determined if I want my parents on the phone participating in this or should we let them sleep and do the deed in a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ manuever. Mother is beyond caring about her left possessions. 



After yesterday’s delve into macaroni salad The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections has asked me to lay off writing about food for awhile. I was told to stick to less invidious topics like politics. This is a surprise as they  like a good fight especially if things end in murders and carnage. Perhaps they just don’t want any blood or mayonnaise spilled on the recently cleaned rugs of Heorot Johnsons.  Sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury than write a political entry especially if it means dragging The Supreme Dimwit on stage.  This doesn’t give me much to talk about but some Spo-fans wanted to know if there were any updates about the parent’s house. So here it goes.


This weekend two maybe three of the brothers will meet at 563 * with Urs Truly joining via zoom or FaceTime in order to go from room to room looking for items to take.  We each found a list given to us by Mother with inventory what is what. Fascinating! Like a Venn diagram the contents of the lists overlap but not entirely. Each one has some items not on the others and a few that overlap have contradictory data. Perhaps this makes them not so much a Venn diagram but The Four Gospels in which some but not have Our Savior doing different things. Needless to say this is causing confusion and making it more difficult to discard things. On one brother’s list the seemingly nondescript cradle in which Mother keeps her childhood dolls is down as been used for babies going back five generations. Damn. Now it goes off the ‘easily discarded’ list onto the ‘better save this one’ although no one is expecting a baby anytime soon.

That innocuous oriental-style winter coat hanging in the upstairs closet one brother was ready to give to Salvation Army? My list tells me is a great-great-great aunt brought it back from Peking after her missionary trip was canceled due to a fracas known as The Boxer Rebellion:

Chinese Coat 2

Peking winter coat  

I fear we are not going to get of anything if every son’s list suggests everything is precious and/or valuable.

Another challenge is when we all happen upon something that makes everyone turn towards me with ‘this is yours do you want it?” I would like to be prepared with an ahead-of-time answer but this may not be possible. I should take the art I have done and I would should take some of the cookbooks but I am still on the fence about the baby grand piano. I have a few more days to figure it all out.    




A Spo original pencil sketch. “Lighthouse #4” in a series.  circa 1980


*’563′ is the unofficial name for my parent’s house. It is a precise if not too imaginative name for it is the address. 

When it comes to food Spo-fans know I want to experience the best. I don’t want just any recipe for something but the proper one –  whatever that may be. It’s a silly unrealistic goal as most recipes have countless variations to them and (more important) there is no accounting for taste.  With that said my next Don Quixote mission is the quest is for the ultimate macaroni salad.

I have loved macaroni salad since I was a lad. It has pasta and a tasty binder that tickles the taste buds and it is associated with summer picnics. What’s not to love about it?* Whenever I attended family get-together I would scan the spread of potluck dishes looking for some and if there was any I would try not to be too obvious at loading my plate with the stuff. Back then quantity mattered more than quality. Now that I am a proper adult I want a proper macaroni salad – no rubbish indeed!  I’ve been on a pursuit for such for a week now. Oh the horror. There are countless variations on the recipe (pasta, binder and add-ons) and as many opinions.  People throw almost everything into the stuff. My friend in Hawaii uses … wait for it…. SPAM and pineapple, while my nearby chum mixes his in salsa and black beans. The NYT actually has one with caviar and lobster.  Come on now! Mac Salad is the epitome of humble eating and there is no point in making it gourmet.

I asked folks on Facebook for their versions of this delectable dish. I received a dozen replies all along the line ‘this is mine and it is the best one there is”.  How to choose?  I could take ingredients from all of them to make a pasta pastiche as it were.**  Among the myriad of ‘best ever macaroni salad” recipes I found one with peas, diced red peppers, celery, and red onion which sounds almost healthy.  Perhaps I will try this one first.

Better yet if Spo-fans know of a king-size-titanic-unsinkable-Molly-Brown macaroni salad recipe(no rubbish) please leave the link or the recipe in the comment section.  I couldn’t be more pleased. 



*My macaroni salad mania is not shared by Someone. I’ve offered to make it with salad dressing or sour cream but no such luck. For him cold pasta in a mayonnaise-based dressing is the epitome of “sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury” cuisine. On the positive what I make will be all mine; I don’t have to share it, thus fulfilling a childhood fantasy at family picnics to take the bowl all for myself. 


**Well not all of them. One of my Midwest grand aunts sent her recipe promising it is the proper one. Oh the pain. It sounds like an open jar of mayonnaise into which some elbow macaroni fell into it and the gunge wasmixed with chopped dill pickles and a dash of pepper (if you want it spicy she adds). 

My poor parents remain in lockdown in the nursing home and their days and night are blurring into a sort of delirium. They are failing in health and spirit. Mother is nearly bedridden; most of the time she is neither awake nor cognizant. Father’s eyesight is failing and he feels helpless to do the things that give him a sense of control and worth. If only my nearby brothers could visit to do things for them and give them company – and get them out of there for a break. It is like watching someone drowning and feeling unable to do anything to rescue them.

Yesterday I made a loaf of bread; it was my third attempt. Each one is coming out better than the previous as I learn from experience and my mistakes. Alas Babylon! Now it not the time to be consuming too many carbs. I feel I am as large as a boat. Oh to be back in the gym!

Insanity  Speaking of the gym I got a cheery email announcing the gym opens today. They assure me they have done all sorts of things to keep matters clean but I know better. There is no way I am yet going. Under the best of times everyone touches everything. I’ve seen what happens in the locker room; few bodybuilders bother to wash their hands before or after using the bathroom or the equipment. I have a theory the more brawny the fellow the less likely he will wash his hands. Gyms are a filthy place really.

Someone and I played the game Jaipur for the first time last weekend and we both enjoyed it immensely. It is a card game of strategy whether to buy or sell commodities (gold, silver, spices, and camels) with the goal to accumulate the most wealth. If you are looking for a fun two-person card game I recommend it. The Indian fellow on the box has a beard worthy of an entry at Fearsome Beard.

Yesterday I was pleased as punch to see a comment from Old Lurker! He went a-missing and I was beginning to worry. He explained he was locked up in Heorot Johnsons with The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections. It isn’t clear was he the unfortunate victim of bad timing being on a guided tour when the dimwits suddenly decided to close the hall doors to into quarantine OR they dragged him back after one if their raids on other blogs looking for booty. Either way I hope O.L. gave them all a good tongue lashing and they will be better behaved for it.  Time will tell.


I am not big fan of mystery fiction. I suppose it is because I am impatient. I have to hold myself back and not rush-read to the end to find out who was the murderer or what was the matter.  I am also not certain if I am supposed to have figured it out by the time things come together. I never guess right but then again I don’t really try.  All the same I thoroughly enjoyed the “Brother Cadfael” series and I like an Agatha Christie novel from time to time.  This is mystery #1. 

I never read any of ‘The Hardy Boys’ or ‘Nancy Drew’ series. When I was a boy I read a mystery series called “Alfred Hitchcock and the three investigators”. This is mystery #2: why did I read these and not the others.  I remember boys in the series were a trinity of a smart one, a funny one, and a sort of jock who was brought along for physical matters. I was particularly drawn to one of them (I forget which) either because I wanted to be like him or maybe I wanted something else. I believe my brothers and I had all the books although I don’t remember having ever purchased any of them. So where did they come from?  Mystery #3.

In the lockdown I am reading a lot of books. I have a fancy to reread these. The series sits in Brother #3’s library. I’ve asked him to mail me the first book and after I have (re)read it I will sent the book back to him along with a five dollar bill inside its cover to pay for postage and handling for the next book in the series and so on until I’ve read them all. Brother #3 has informed me the series is incomplete; three books are missing. Neither of us can deduce if they were lost over time or we never got them in the first place. Mystery #4.  I have looked on line and at least one I remember having and reading. 

Out of whimsy I thought I would buy the three missing tomes and send them to Brother #3 in their turn and see if he notices. Patience above! My first attempt at buying these books reveals they are selling for about thirty dollars each. Mystery #5. Boomers get awfully queer about their childhood things. I think there are over forty in the series. At these prices the set could go for over a thousand dollars.  I feel obliged to complete the it so I will shell out the bucks. Oh the pain. I start with “The mystery of the green ghost” . I recall the plot is after being chased about they manage to trap and unmask the ghost to reveal it was only some a-hole adult running around in a ghost suit who curses the kids while he is dragged off by the police, shouting he would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for you meddling kids – or is this “Scooby-do” rather? Mystery #6 – how is it I can’t keep in line which mystery series did what?  Perhaps this one isn’t so mysterious viz. age and it wasn’t Colonel Mustard with the candlestick in the library.  



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May 2020

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