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Hallowe’en, or Samhain, was when my Celtic ancestors ‘celebrated’ the end of the year. Summer was over and winter began. It looked like the world had died. We can not imagine the angst whether or not there would be enough food to last 4 months. We also don’t know if Samhain was a time of fear or excitement or both. It was important.

Hallowe’en has been around for 3000 years or more. It is constantly evolving. It is like a large river receiving many tributaries from many cultures and times. I suppose that is why I like it so much. It touches on the need for the archaic while allowing you to make it whatever you fancy.

Remembering the dead has always been a vital part of the holiday. All Soul’s Night is one of the day’s many names.

Today while we carve pumpkins and toast seeds and attend our block party for the trick or treaters, I will pause at times to think of my ancestors.

So I hope everyone has a Happy Hallowe’en, whether you are partying or conducting a solemnity.

Boo !


Cousin Monica sent me this photograph. It was taken at our cousin’s wedding.  The photo is good, and downright miraculous considering how hard it is to round up my relatives to stand still for a photograph.

It is not unlike herding cats.

Top row, going from Left to Right

Cousin Matt, who is the boyfriend/long time companion to cousin Ann. Next to him is my father.  It is an ongoing joke I grew a beard so people  could tell us apart.  Behind The Father Figure is Cousin Matt (another Matt!) who is the brother of cousin Ann.

To my father’s left is Sister-in-law Michelle, married to Brother #3, William. Next to Michelle is Cousin Ann.  Next to Ann is Someone, who is looking good and trim in his suit.  Next, holding a glass of wine, is Brother #2, David. I was surprised  he grew a beard. He is looking good in his whiskers.  The young lady in the red and white with heels to die for is Celine, Brother #4’s daughter.

Behind Celine is Brother #4, Jeffrey, who is a good man. He may be the youngest but he is the tallest. On his far right is Brother #3, William, in the green shirt.    Someone and I go visit William and Michelle for Thanksgiving. They live in Seattle. That is where Cousin Matt lives too, so we’ll have Thanksgiving with Matt and family.

The two children are Matt and Monica’s children, Stella and Oscar.

I am the one down on his haunches, holding a beer, sporting a bow-tie, as is my wont.

I apologize I haven’t been active in Blog-land this week. It is 6s and 7s here as we run around trying to get ready for All Hallow’s Eve. This Saturday night we will cook a five-coarse banquet. We invited some chums;  the more the merrier.  Someone is making a costume for Harper (Super-dog).  Then there is Hallowe’en proper – pumpkins need carving, seeds need toasting and block party food need  preparation.  Our lawn decorations are up:  strands of orange lights and plastic pumpkins bedeck the cacti (thorns make easy ‘hooks’).

Meanwhile I try to keep up with my exercise and paperwork. Tonight we took a break and we went to the movies to see The Met’s ‘live’ broadcast of “Das Rheingold”. Awesome!  The set was designed by the same fellow who put together Cirque de Soliel. It had lots of moving spinning floors. The whole production was rather, well, ‘Wagnerian” is the word that leaps to mind!   I love Met broadcasts.

We were good citizens and did our early ballots. I am proud of Someone who carefully researches all the candidates and propositions so  our votes are educated.  Arizona propositions tend to be mean-spirited. Often they are wolves in sheep’s clothing. We live in a Red State, but thanks to us it is a little more ‘purple’ now – or lavender to be precise.

I made a widget of the men and women who had a turn with the traveling Spo-shirt. I have a list of takers; I promise not to forget anybody!

Well, I need to do some vital paperwork for the morrow.   I will try to catch up on bloggers this Friday night.

Psychiatry has a lot of variation. One minute I may be dealing with somebody who can’t stop washing their hands. In the next minute someone comes in with anxiety attacks – or mania, or depression, etc. I have a lot of folks with ADHD.  It is never dull. People bring in their sexual problems as well. Men talk about sex more than women. Women are already talking about sex with their PCP or the OB-GYN.  You may be surprised to learn discussions about men’s sex lives are not very interesting. Other people’s sexual fantasies are overall boring. When someone talks about ‘what floats their boat’ human nature makes the listener imagine his/herself in the scenario. Usually this evokes indifference or disgust, not excitement.

Men don’t usually discuss their sex life with others, nor do they read magazines with such information. More men than ever are spontaneously talking about their sex life and concerns. They often feel they are alone in having this or that sexual matter.  I always bring up sex when interviewing new patients, hopefully to let them know it is an OK topic to discuss.  Besides, if you can’t talk about your John Thomas with your shrink, where can you?

I have a lot of men with concerns about their lack of desire for sex. A lot of this derives from overwork, exhaustion, and stress. Men do too much and then they wonder why they would rather go to sleep than have a cuddle. I am often asked ‘What is the normal frequency for sex?” Few are satisfied with the response “Whatever makes you content”. Men are often worried they are not doing it enough compared to others.*

Occasionally wanting more sex becomes a ‘should’ statement. Men think they are supposed to want sex all the time, and when they don’t, they feel somehow wrong. For straight men this is like admitting you really don’t like football anymore. I have to figure out when to see low sex desire as a problem to be addressed or a matter to assure.


* Once a week seems to be the number I come up with in my research on the topic.

Last February I promised a friend I would make him a shirt.  He wanted one with horses. He is a horse trainer. His favorite horse is black with a white mark between its eyes.  It took awhile, but we found a fabric with such a horse in it.


The shirt is done. Finally!  I never had such an irksome project. The shirt seemed thwarted from the get-go. Twice I thought I had to abort. However, a few clever re-dos saved the day. I am pleased I stuck to it and figured out how to fix the problems.

Joe tells me if he wins any competitions while wearing his shirt, he will be photographed in the New York Times. He will mention me and the ‘designer shirt”.  I feel like a designer on Oscar night !   Imagine, my work in the New York Times!

I will settle with him pleased and happy, for he’s been very patient  !!

It’s been a pleasant weekend; I had minimal paperwork to do and is concluded. The Hallowe’en decorations are up and this is cheerful.  I’ve put together a shopping list for my All Hallow’s Eve feast next Saturday. Someone and I  both did our exercises.  We loved “Boris Godonov” it was excellent.  Someone enjoyed “The Pirates of Penzance” more than I –  the auditorium was very warm.  I kept nodding off.

Only one negative; I gained a pound last week – bummer! I attribute this to some early Hallowe’en eating (my festive trail mix, which includes candy corn).

I have some upcoming trips which gives me a pleasant anticipation to go forward. Next month, we go to Palm Springs for a weekend. For the first time in maybe five or six years, we will travel for Thanksgiving.  We go to Seattle to see family and friends.

So life seems to be rather pleasant and relatively quiet nowadays.  I have a few books going. It is cool enough to turn off the air conditioner and sleep with the windows open. That’s about all the news, which isn’t much.

I’ve reached the age where ‘boring’ is not only pleasant, but coveted!

What a theatre day marathon we have today !

This morning we go to the Met HD Boris Godonov.

This evening we attend The Pirates of Penzance.

 I hope I don’t confuse the two.

See you this evening !

I’ve been writing Hallowe’en blog entries for 4 years. By now my memories and thoughts on the holiday are pretty much exhausted.  I am proud of my entries; they are there for all to read.

Hallowe’en is a week away and I haven’t had much Hallowe’en spirit, pun intended.  It is hard to be hyped about any holiday in the desert as the weather is homogenous. I rely on seasonal conditions to put me in the proper mood.  There is no snow, no spring flowers, nor autumn leaves to discriminate the seasons.

The Lovely Neighbor announced she will conduct the annual block party Hallowe’en buffet bash. I am relieved. I feared we weren’t going to have it. She hasn’t mentioned it until now. The neighbors get together and drink and eat, sitting in her driveway. The trick-or-treaters get to stop by this only at this one house. The buckets of goodies are in line ‘buffet style”.  It is a lot of fun.  I will bring my pumpkin dip –

Pumpkin Dip

1 15oz. can of pure pumpkin
1 8oz package of softened cream cheese
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped sliced jalapenos from a jar
3 tablespoons of the jalapeno juice/water
1 cup (8 ounces) light sour cream
1 4 ounce can diced green chiles
¼ teaspoon garlic salt
1 can sliced black olives
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
2 green onions. Sliced
1 orange bell pepper
1 large tomato, diced
Tortilla chips

1- Combine pumpkin, cream cheese and jalapeno juice in a bowl. Spread into an 8 inch square dish.
2 – Combine sour cream, chiles, jalapenos, and garlic salt in a small bowl. Spread over the pumpkin mixture
3 – Top off with diced tomatoes, then top with diced black olives, diced orange pepper, green and purple onions.

3a (optional) – make a pumpkin face on top using lots of diced orange pepper . Diced black olives make the face.

b (also optional) – do a little jig 3x counterclockwise around the kitchen island and chant
“Eye of newt and gopher knees; make this chip dip people please” and cross your eyes and click your heels 3 times too.

4 – Refrigerate the dish for at least 2 hours. Serve with chips.


Someone is going to make Harper a costume. I will wear my Hallowe’en Spo-shirt.

Every Hallowe’en season I make some potpourri. This is usually done on the night of the month’s full moon, I will use the mixture throughout the year at the office. The Wiccan who gave me the recipe tells me it helps removes negativity; there is no lack where I work !

This weekend we go shopping for the three strata of candy. “A” candy is a special treat for really good costumes and proper manners. It varies year to year.  The “B” candy is for the masses.  The “C” candy is for nasty kids or ‘no costume” . We buy only candy we like, lest we are stuck with leftovers.


* Spo-fans know I read Tarot cards. Hallowe’en is an excellent time to do this. Last year I asked Spo-fans if they wanted a reading, and it seemed popular.  So, if you want your fortune this All Hallows Eve, drop me a note or comment and I will do so !

Spo-fans know Hallowe’en is my favorite holiday. I take it seriously; I prepare for it the way others do for Christmas.  I like to make a formal dinner for All Hallow’s Eve. It ranks up there with Thanksgiving. But unlike Thanksgiving I get to try new and adventuresome dishes.

First course is some sort of Hallow’en cocktail and hors d’oeuvre. A few years ago we found a black vodka, which is ideal for spooky martinis. An orange pumpkin PEEPS
This years’ nibble will be bat wings. This is BBQ chicken wings in a black bean/soy sauce to make them as dark as possible.

There is always a soup. Often it is a pumpkin variety, served in a small hollowed out pumpkin. This year I am trying an acorn and apple soup.

The one stable is a flank steak.  I wrote about this before. It is a time honored Spo-tradition. I am not a big beefeater, but it touches on the tradition the Celts brought their livestock in for the winter, and what they could not house, they slaughtered and ate now.

There is no lack of possible Side dishes.  I surf the internet for neat to eat treats.  This year I hope to make a fettucine, using black noodles (made with squid ink) with sauteed orange peppers.

I haven’t determined what will be for dessert…..

Candy corn pudding.  Layers of yellow and orange pudding with whipped cream, topped with candy corn.

Or perhaps devil’s food cupcakes    

or pumpkin spice bundt cake

Any votes?

Non-sequitors from today’s lunch break.

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October 2010

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018