My Sunday was spoiled by a migraine headache. I was surprised as I haven’t had one in years. I never had any in life, until 2000 or so when I had a week of them. They disappeared and I had none until yesterday. The headache had the usual symptoms or pain with light and sound sensitivity and some nausea.  Tylenol and Motrin hardly touched it. I had so much I wanted to do that day but it was all curtailed by the nasty headache.

Yesterday’s migraine was not as sharp as the ones I had in ~2000 but it was enough to completely ruin the day. I spent all of Sunday trying to find a comfortable position (with little success). The doctor/scientist in me kept trying to figure out ‘why’ it happened. There were many possible contributing factors. The dirty secret of Medicine is often when something happens and the patient and physician try to figure out the etiology the answer more often than not is there is no clear reason ‘why this is happening’.  It’s a disappointment for everyone likes a clear simple answer of cause and effect.  Better to just work on ‘what to do about it”.

Alas there wasn’t much I could do but close all the drapes and crawl into a ball. It felt a day lost. I couldn’t do any of the Sunday plans, including bake pumpkin spice snicker doodles.

Today I feel weak but not in pain. Having a sour headache raises my empathy level for my patients who have them. One of my patients told me his migraines can last a week long. Yikes. I should count my blessings I get a mine every ten years apparently.


‘Tis the season hohoho to put up the Hallowe’en trimmings!



Don we now our gay apparel. The ocotillo gets covered in plastic pumpkins. Every year I lose a few to the winds or to  pumpkin-pinchers. Don’t worry: they make more. 


Mr. Bookwus dons a witch hat. It makes him even more scary than usual.


Starting 1 October I start hanging a daily ornament on the dead oak tree.  It is my Advent Calendar for All Hallow’s Eve. 



Here’s an attempt at arts and crafts. I painted a small clay pot white, orange, and yellow.  I stuck in a candle and filled up the space with candy corn. I made two of them.  

I replace the candy every year. 


Us Truly has a disdain for spiders along the line as Indiana Jones’ aversion to snakes.  These lovely tea candle holders are fun without evoking arachnophobia. 



Behold Harper, always alert and ready, to model the bed.  On Labor Day I bedecked the beams with garlands of autumn leaves. I didn’t add orange lights  this month as scheduled, for they give Someone headaches.



I am preparing a costume to wear on 31 October. I will be at work, my doctor’s appointment, and later that day for handing out the trick-or-treats. I am going as a Board Director Here at Spo-reflections.  



hands-on-earsWhile Someone and I ate this morning at Einstein Bros. (as is our wont) the ubiquitous background music suddenly blared out “Black Dog” by Led Zepplin.  This evoked a bricolage of emotions in Urs Truly: annoyance and mild upset* but mostly curiosity.  Mo and Elmo seemed contempt to play pleasant nondescript tunes – so why the change to cacophonous tunes to please thems too old to rock and roll but too young to die?

Background music! It is everywhere. The genera is often purposely chosen to set a certain mood. Slow-tempo soothing tunes help to relax thems at spas, but they also to get shoppers to stick around and spend. In contrast fast-moving tunes get people to go faster; busy restaurants wanting to turn tables use these tunes to move people on.

I still vote for no music but silence. I am one of those old-timers who finds silence lovely and not a blot that needs covering up.  Loud music in public areas promotes everyone to talk louder, adding to the Kingdom of Noise. Bleh.

There is one fascinating exception to the need to have music everywhere: public toilets. These are oddly silent. I don’t know why restrooms are the exception to ‘music everywhere’ approach. I don’t know about the ladies loos but the gents’ are often quite too good at resounding noises. The sounds of male effluvia reiterate loud and clear. This is where I vote for the insertion of background music – any. I warmly welcome Mr. Plant’s Black Dog or anything playing over the silence. I’ve heard rumors the ladies loos are not silent as they talk to each other. If so, I wonder how successful that is to cover up body noises.  Alas, men would rather eat rats at Tewkesbury than talk to each another while standing at a urinal or (worse) sitting in a stall.

Getting back to breakfast, it was difficult to converse due to the distraction provided by Mr. Plant shouting over head and by my internal slideshow of memories of middle school lunch hours.  Afterwards, I went to the restroom to wash my hands. It was dead quiet. There was a sign up saying in a euphemistic way to mind the fact what noise happens is easily echoed.  Life is strange but true.

*This is what is referred to as a ‘trigger’ in PTSD. I was in Junior High School when I first heard this awful tune. Oh the pain.


It’s official: I can’t do everything I want or should do. 

I did some research to see if I could accomplish in a day everything on my self-honey-do list.  First step was creating the list of daily activities. This list consists of:

The Oughts. Examples: floss; stretch; walk the dog; get 7+ hours of sleep.

The Wants.  Examples: read; blog; journal.

The Spo-projects.  Examples: sew; roll down grass hills.

Once completed the list is as long as my arm.  I didn’t trim it at first. The tasks were divided into into what could be done prior to work, after work, and prior to bed time.

After a few week’s attempts I have concluded I don’t have enough time in a day to do my work, keep up housework, and accomplish all on the Spo-list. Not by a fraction.

It is a disappointment.  There is so much I want to do, ranging from learning a language to keeping up on my blog reads.  Alas, work and daily chores do not leave me enough time. In my youth I would shave off sleep time or eating time but I don’t function well if I don’t get sufficient sleep and food.

The solutions are not great. One is to come to terms I can’t always read or stretch or walk the dog or write. Another one is to trim down the Spo-list to only a few ‘high priority’ activities (yoga over reading or walking the dog over catching up on the ironing).

It is 930PM. I want to do a few Spo-list items but frankly I am too tired. I am going to bed, for I’ve under slept this week.  The house messes and the unread books and journals must wait for another time and day.


Here are a few handy Spo-hacks. None are profound, nor are they likely to cause apotheosis but they are useful all the same and some of them are jolly good fun.

To cool down on those still too hot October nights: take a dip in the nonheated pool wearing a T-shirt and boxers. Dry off the excessive dripping water. Parade around in your damp undergarments while the hot dry air causes evaporation which leads to quite a cool-down. Instant AC !  

Kleenex boxes make marvelous hats.

Clear the lint trap every time before you operate the dryer. Someone hasn’t yet grasped this truism so I will assume others don’t know this as well. Try to tell as many people as you can in town.

There is no such thing as too much pepper. Do not dare to question this.

Costco chicken that has become too dry and shredded to be palatable can be added to Kraft M&C. This goes also for slightly-off vegetables and that saved chili no one wants to eat but feels guilty to just throw out. Really M&C makes any old thing edible again. Just remember to add a lot of pepper.

Cellphone charger cords all look alike; to discriminate them tie shreds of Spo-shirt fabric into bows around the cords. Use a different color for each. This way you are not accused of taking more than one leaving the others in the house bereft of a charger cord.

Impudent dogs ensconced on your side of the bed can be made to move by blowing on their ears until they are annoyed enough to move. Another means to move indolence hounds is to go to the kitchen and open up the bag of shredded cheddar cheese. This hack is 100% efficacious at moving mutts.

Never trust trout.

Open all utensil and vanity drawers slowly, so you do not upset or startle the scorpions.

The dishwasher is more efficacious when you put into it one of those square little cake things with the red button tops – or so I am told. This isn’t a Spo-tip but a Someone-hack. Who knew?

For those things that get moved about by The Cup Fairies and their associates: create designated areas in which to place the keys and phones and such.  Good ideas:  the bowl on the dresser; the bowl on the butcher block table just inside the back door; the bowl under the Bookwus. Bad ideas: the drawer with the doggie supplies; under Someone’s pillow; laundry basket; beneath the ottoman.  

Urs Truly had a frustrating Sunday as his cellphone was lost.* Spo-fans may recall a few weeks ago I propose a ‘day without the cellphone”. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go, but I got the goal I wanted: a day without a phone.

Unfortunately I spent the near full day searching for it. Oh the irony! I fantasized I would have tons of freed up time did not happen. Rather my cellphone consumed time in an another way.

There were some benefits being sans phone. I got a more done; I read a bit more than usual. I was not continually checking for vital Facebook posting if missed would cause the world to fall apart. There were no pages or friends calling in dire need. It was a relief.

On the other hand I felt a bit saddened no one bothered to call or text me; I had a funny feeling I had disappeared yet no one noticed or cared.

I was bereft phone while sitting at the bar prior to the Sunday matinee performance of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”. While Someone was engrossed in his iphone – and 100 miles away as it were –  the situation gave me the chance to watch others, like Margaret Meade among the Bantus, observing primitive tribal rituals. Most everyone had a cellphone; many were looking at them while sitting with others and apparently ‘talking’ too. If I were a maleficent man I could have readily stolen a collection of purses and wallets or attacked**, as no one was paying the slightest attention to their surroundings.

I think I will try another ‘Day without cellphones” but this one shall be a planned one. With practice, I see this becoming a regular salubrious exercise – with savings on data.

After all I have a pile of books I want to read.


*Someone finally found it, in my trousers that I had taken off and put in a box of Halloween costumes. I swear I looked there.

**The fellow selling T-shirts I thought was quite jumpable, but he didn’t have his cellphone on, alas.


I have just woken from an unsatisfying nap; I could not get quite to sleep. There is a part of me that believes if I fall asleep in the afternoon I won’t wake until the morrow, thus spoiling what I want to do that day. I fear it is mainly due to neurosis viz. decades my Protestant physiology refuses me a lovely snooze on moral grounds there is work to be done and to stop to take a nap is wicked indolence.

I won’t bore you with the laundry list of ‘must-dos’ as it is as long as my arm and that is not the point here. Letting go of Life to nap – or do nothing productive – in lieu of things needing doing remains a challenge for me.
Mind! A good nap sounds quite lovely; someday I would like to have one. I can imagine the scene: I lie down knowing I don’t have to do or go anywhere, I fall asleep deep, and I wake (say after an hour or two) with the quiet satisfaction of salubrious slumber.

A half-baked nap feels worse than no nap at all, for I feel no refreshment but only the guilt.

It has been a very busy fortnight of work and Red Queen activities; I could use a good nap. Certainly I’ve not slept well for a week. Body and soul both shout out to slow down or else. However, some recusant part of my brain (probably the posterior insula) just won’t have it.  It tells me to drink caffeine and get going. Stirge.

It is about 4PM on a Saturday. I think I will get up, make a cup of tea, and write out the list of to-dos. Someone is about to leave for usher work so I will have the whole evening to get somethings done.  I would start with “walk the dog” but she’s been asleep all day it looks like. It’s a dog’s life. Obviously she wasn’t raised Protestant.

Video Snapshot


Doing things you are fearful to do is sage advice. The dreadful action often isn’t as bad as you fear it will be and doing so gives one a sense of accomplishment. I’ve never gone on line to the ‘Rate your doctor’ sites to read what people have been writing about me – until last night.

Before I tell you the findings, let me reflect on these sites. If one is feeling OK about a service, restaurant etc. one generally doesn’t go on line to say so. In contrast, if one is mad, frustrated, or disappointed, one is more likely go write a negative review. This is done  to ventilate upset or elicit sympathy but sometimes it is done out of spite.  Responding to negative reviews on line is difficult as this blows confidentiality. A doctor can’t easily the patient who wrote ‘He didn’t listen or took care of my needs” was a crafty drug seeker whose request for Valium was declined on the sensible grounds the person was caught doctor shopping.

I suppose the authors hope their reviews will cause others to think twice about going to said physician resulting in the doctor losing business and feeling remorse.

I’ve never been worried about negative reviews on line. Patients wait months to see me; I do not lack for business.  I can’t please everybody. Always doing what the patient wants is bad medicine. Sometimes I have to tell them their ways/requests are not good. If they leave in a huff and write on line how bad I am so be it.  Conversely I never read on-line reviews about professionals knowing what is written is probably not reliable.

With that said I thought to go on line and have a look-see.

The majority of my reviews are good ones at ‘4-5 stars”. However there were a handful of ‘1s’ as well. There were little if any in-between reviews.  I am described as either brilliant or the worst doctor there ever was.

Like most people I zeroed in on the negatives. Most of them were tirades with little logic or point. Some of them were amusing in a way. Here is my favorite:

“Freakin (sic) bow-tie guy, dressed to the nines, very uppity butt crack kind a guy. Wants you to relate everything to him and he types it all down on his laptop and asks you personal information that isn’t any of his business.”

Fascinating! I don’t use a laptop at work, so that was an eye-raiser. On the other hand the writer isn’t wrong I do ask a lot of personal questions about the condition of their periods, bowel movements, sexual functioning, and troubles at home. It’s something I picked up in medical school, I suppose.

Rather than merely dismissing all negative reviews as rubbish, I am analyzing them for any tidbits that sound like genuine criticism upon which I can improve. Here are some possible valid lesson:

I need to keep vigilance to make adequate eye contact and not get lost on the computer screen.

Overall people see the bow-ties as distancing rather than making me seem dapper.

I think I will continue to ask nosey personal questions.

Someone described me as “pompous arrogant and godlike” . I will leave off the eye patch and keep the two ravens at home.

I am going to interpret the butt crack kind of guy comment as a callipygian; my work outs are paying off.

Harper 14 (1)

Harper has peed the bed – twice. I am trying to make a diagnosis of the matter but the differential is diverse. She doesn’t show signs of sickness, nor is she confined indoors but let out regularly.  Perhaps she is doing so out of spite. Both times were on my side of the bed. I suppose I should take her to the vet for a check-up. Whatever the cause I am rawther tired of changing bed sheets.

Another shenanigan is the ‘poor starving dog’ routine. I will be in the kitchen only to see those terribly depressed eyes looking up at me conveying neglect and deprivation worthy of calling the ASPCA. So I give her a treat and I fill her clack-dish – and she perks right up in gratitude. Soon afterwards Someone tells me she was just given all that only ten minutes ago.

Now that we have the windows and doors open at night Harper will suddenly sit up in hyper-vigilance with a ‘Hark! Look yonder!” expression and want out. Whatever is out there elicits a canine chastisement until I tell her to knock it off and get back in here. This is usually accompanied with another round of ‘poor starving dog” routine, which makes me wonder if the whole thing was a set up.

Someone tells me I need to stop giving table scraps despite her barbarous weapon of putting her snout in my lap and gazing up in love and adoration etc.

Clever dog. When you love them they drive you crazy because they know they can.

Every once in a while I get it into my head to see or hear all the works of a composer or author. This is not as easy as it sounds for I have to rely on others to provide such works. I’ve read all of the novels by Dickens as they are readily available. I’ve seen all of Shakespeare’s works thanks to my thirty years attendance at The Stratford Festival.

Verdi wrote 26 operas and Harold Pinter wrote 29 plays; Mahler’s lovely symphonies total 10 (or so). Alas, opera companies seem loath to produce Mr. Verdi’s ‘lesser’ operas in favor of the same 5-6 bromides of which I am tired.  Mr. Pinter’s dramas must be box office poison for no one puts them on. I saw “The Homecoming” a few years ago at The Shaw Festival and even then the place was half-empty. I remonstrate The Phoenix Symphony every year if they neglect to play one of Herr Mahler’s cosmic symphonies (enough of the Beethoven already!).

The more contemporary bucket list to hear the entire repertoire of Jethro Tull is just a matter of time – and money. This is also true for the plan to see all the films of Mr. Hitchcock (and all of Katherine Hepburn’s movies. I don’t think they overlap any).

I suppose I could ‘cheat’ and watch/hear everything on Youtube but this would feel a disappointment. I want to be in a live theatre among other acolytes of culture.

I have my fingers crossed I will in time make the Mahler goal. Alas, hearing all twenty six Verdi operas probably ain’t gonna happen. Perhaps Mr. Verdi wouldn’t mind either. It may be some of his never-performed operas are understandably avoided as they are simply no good.

When I look back at my early blog posts I cringe at some of their rawness. To the ambitious Spo-fans thinking of reading all of my work: I say don’t bother but start about half-way through.  🙂


I am curious to hear from Spo-fans if you have a ‘bucket list’ for an artist who is ‘must see/hear all their works”.

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