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Someone has a cold; he got it from me. I am surprised it took this long. I’ve been sniffing and coughing for a few weeks, so how he managed to dodge it until now is a mystery. Poor Someone. I hope his doesn’t last too long.

Harper still needs her exercise, so I am doing all the dog walking.  Dog and I are making the rounds, inspecting the neighborhood Christmas lights. Tonight we saw some lights I’ve never seen: they were hanging in a horizontal line from the gutter. They were in the size and shape of large carrots. They changed colour, going through the rainbow, about a dozen at a time. This produced the effect of a rainbow flag whizzing by. They were rawther unusual.

The winter constellations are coming up in the east. They are my favorite, being so bright and easy to spot.  Like old friends who drop in for the holidays, they bring comfort and cheer.  Orion is my favorite.

Harper is getting more assertive on our dog walks. She likes to stop and sniff the shrubbery.  Sometimes we get into a mild tug-o-war; I want to keep going and she wants to stay put.  She has developed sudden change of mind to wit she’ll slow down, pause, waffle back and forth, and then turn towards home, pulling me at a mighty clip, apparently determined to go home NOW.  Well, a girl can change her mind, can’t she?

At the end of our walks she makes a beeline to the pantry, eager for a treat. Sometimes I think her excitement for a walk is really about the anticipated dog treat.

The neighborhood didn’t waste any time putting up the Christmas lights. Our neighbors don’t go for the discreet look but for the over the top type of displays. Many homes look like a Carnival Cruise Ship. It remains macabre to see inflatable snowmen and reindeer amongst the prickly pears and cacti.   If we put up lights this year, it will be mid-December and not before. This is interpreted by some as another aspect of those God-less militant queers who want to force people to sing The National Anthem in Spanish etc.

An insurance agent came to clinic last month to review my charts to see if I have proper documentation. I got the review today – I have perfect score of 100%, ‘beating the market’ standard of 85%.  This makes me the Mary Poppins of Medicine viz. practically perfect in every way – at least when it comes to charting.  I have to find some way to convey this to my bosses without looking too boastful.  I would like a pony for my achievement, but I will settle for groveling adoration of how fortunate they feel to have me and can they offer me a raise.

The parents are being sneaks. Brother #2 and Brother #4 convey Mother is not doing well. She’s lost weight, she has weak legs; she had a fall and she got stuck somewhere unable to rise from a sitting position. When I confront P&M they dismiss these matters as exceptional. They are too polite to use the words ‘nosy kids’ or ‘drama queen’. Yet and still, I smell a rat. Perhaps ‘a confession’ will get their kids into a ‘what are we going to do with mother?” mentality when all she wants is piece and quiet. Oh Parents !

Our gym (Bally’s) is being bought by L.A. Fitness. On 1 December I will have a new gym to attend, for there is a L.A. Fitness literally within walking distance of work. I hope this promotes more frequent exercise and less time to do it.

 

It is time to address the painful topic of Christmas music. While I dislike Christmas music at the office (and everywhere I go), and I despise Christmas music before Thanksgiving, I confess I love Christmas Carols. After 50 years of Christmases, the one constant to the season is the music.  I still take comfort hearing the albums and tunes from my youth.

I collect Christmas albums. Most of them are “tasteful”. However, out of whimsy, I have a handful of silly ones. It’s nice to have amongst the ‘nice’ decorations some cheap Christmas trash, some gaudy tin garlands and plastic Santas, as it were.  I made it a tradition to give Someone a new Christmas album. The joke is he doesn’t like Christmas music; not once have I heard him play any of them. He feigns surprise and delight upon receiving another Christmas album*, which he throws on the pile – my pile – of Christmas CDs.

Last year I decided to “play them all”, shuffling them in my ipod, going by time, from the shortest (from the Grinch) to the longest (from the Nutcracker). It took the entire holiday season to complete the task.  This year I decided to take each carol I know, choose one from the many versions in the collection, and compose a playlist  titled “Spo-Christmas”.  Heavens! It has 101 carols! Who knew there were so many?  I was intrigued to see  which ones I picked, ‘who did what’.
Here are some examples:

 

“Adeste Fidelis”- Pavorotti

“White Christmas” – Bing Crosby

“Snow” – Loreena McKennitt”

“O Tannenbaum” – Charlie Brown Christmas Album

“Santa Baby”- Eartha Kitt

“Santa Claus is Coming to Town” – The Partridge Family

and

“Blue Christmas” – Elvis Presley

 

No doubt “Spo-Christmas” will be edited, as more preferable versions of this or that carol tickle my ears.  At last count I have over two dozen “Silent Nights” from which to choose, including that depressing Simon and Garfunkel rendition.

I made a promise not to play this compilation in the presence of Someone.  Hopefully we can get to Christmas without a divorce.

 

*Last year he got the Beach Boys. 

**The list is available, upon request.

Dear Santa,

I will start off with an apology. I realize this is the start of your busy season. I acknowledge most “Letters to Santa” are delegated to your Elf minions. Alas, I have an urgent matter I believe only you are qualified to handle. 

For the past few years I have been in e-mail correspondence with Elf  named Bundlesquirts. Mr. Bundlesqurits was initially helpful, but in time our interactions have degenerated, his manners less than civil. To wit, we are at an impasse. So I am taking the liberty to bypass the usual routes and ‘speak to the manager’ as it were. 

The matter is a certain Christmas in which you failed on a promise. I recently was reading my old journals where I discovered the matter. The Christmas in question is 1972.  Being a wise old Elf, you have no doubt  saved my letter from that year.  In it, you will see I was especially good so I asked for a G.I Joe Adventure Team Headquarters. According to that year’s journal, you brought me instead a blue sweater and chinese checkers.  

Mind! I am not complaining. You have consistently been spot-on when it comes to doing good on my childhood requests (although the stuffed pony from 1968 didn’t quite fill the request for ‘a pony’). For this, I am most grateful We’ve been on good terms. You seem to have enjoyed the milk and cookies. I treasure the thank you note you left the year Father suggested we put out beer and pretzels as a surprise. 

So, I think you will find it fair and reasonable I ask you fulfill your promise and bring me this year the GI Joe Headquarters. I realize your Elves may be out of touch with the manufacturing of such an item. I took the liberty to surf the web; they are available on Ebay, in a pinch.  I am open to compromise. You could send me a real live military man, with same fuzzy auburn features. 


Wishing you a hohoho,

Urspo 

I hope one and all have a good Thanksgiving.  Regardless of where they are and what they are doing today, I hope Spo-fans far and near will pause and feel gratitude for all they have in their lives. That is the point of the day for me – feeling grateful for what they have.

I have a few favorite nibbles and imperial tid-bits which are an integral part of my Thanksgiving tradition.  Like lots of traditions of mine, they started ‘by chance’. Once associated with happy memories, I wanted them again and again.

On Thanksgiving morning I have toast with cinnamon-sugar and a glass of orange juice. I normally don’t consume either, but Thanksgiving breakfast would not be the same without them. It is what my grandmother served us when we were tots. It heralds the start of the day and the whole holiday season.  I also make a pot of tea, using a better grade of leaf than the ‘usual’.

 

 

Before dinner, there is shrimp cocktail.  When growing up, shrimp was ‘holiday only’ food, making its debut on Thanksgiving and Christmas days. It is forever associated with holiday dining.  Mother would make a crab dip as well, but Someone is allergic to some of the ingredients. Out of whimsy, we will have a fondue of goat-cheese and sun dried tomatoes.

The dinner itself has the usual turkey and trimmings.  I usually eat a drumstick (I like the dark meat).

For sides, I like best green bean casserole.

Pumpkin pie comes with a few tasty Spo-treats. I always get some edam cheese. This is a tradition inherited from my Dutch relatives.  Thanks to Brother #3, we brew a pot of oolong tea to wash down our pie and cheese.  He informs me he still does this, in my honor. So we think of each other as we sip Imperial Gunpowder or some other good grade of oolong (no rubbish).

Some new favorites are settling into our routine.  Someone and I enjoy a Gewurtztraminer wine with dinner.  He likes real whipped cream on the pie – no nasty spray can crud or (worse) glop from a plastic container.

He is very good at taking apart the carcass to get off all the meat. He makes turkey noodle soup, which I look forward to  more than the turkey itself.

New tradition – walking Harper after dinner. This helps with the post-prandiol “kef” state of being.  The neighborhood HOA forbids Christmas lights going up prior to Thanksgiving. But sometime today many of the neighbors have theirs up already ready for the Harper walk.

It’s been a rotten week when it comes to health. Last week I woke to a headful of congestion. I thought this was just a bad allergy attack, until I began coughing. I haven’t had a quiet day since. The continual cough is bass in timbre and loud in volume. It feels like my whole chest cavity is trying to bring up something deep within. Alas, no such luck. My hacking is annoying. At both office branches the receptionists give me cough drops, not so much out of charity as they are tired of hearing my coughing.

Tonight at the gym I sprained my back. I was picking up a heavy weight and I felt the sudden twinge my lower back sends out when it announces it’s had enough. Right now it is sore, but I know by tomorrow I will be walking like Groucho Marx.

Tomorrow is the day before Thanksgiving, which is traditionally a quiet day at work.  Patients are too busy trying to get out of town or organizing Thanksgiving to come in for an appointment, and who can blame them?  If time, energy, and money are at a premium, seeing a shrink is last item on the agenda. The patients who do make it in are the ones with time on their hands. There is nothing like a major holiday to bring out depression, loneliness, and nasty family/relationship dynamics. Getting sucked into self-pity and the Victim complex is very tempting for many at this time of year. I’ve learned the wisdom of telling people Thanksgiving is only one day and just forget it.

I want to get through the morrow with as little fuss and coughing as possible. I’ll be quite medicated with anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine, and decongestants. Lord willing I can get home quickly and crash and wake up on Thanksgiving feeling better.

Thanksgiving, not Christmas, is the national holiday. For better or worse, our nation is the descendent of the New Englanders, with their beliefs, both positive and negative. It comes out the most at Thanksgiving.

At Thanksgiving time, my WASP Puritan blood boils up and I am reminded yet again I am – for better or worse – of that stock. Mother’s side came over on the Mayflower; Father’s in 1635 to Dorchester Massachusetts. No matter how conscious and liberated I feel I am, these Protestant roots remain.

By now, the Pilgrims are quite whitewashed with all sorts of nonsense and fantasies of what we want them to be. The actuality of who they really were is lost in quaint costumes, virtuous piety, and projections of national needs.

The Pilgrims were a subgroup of a Puritans of England; radicals from radicals. The name “Puritan” comes from the expression ‘to purify’. They didn’t call themselves Puritans; it was used by others and not in a positive way.  The originally called themselves “Precisians” as they wanted everything in religion precise viz. this is how it should be (translation: things should be OUR WAY). The Puritans thought Queen Elizabeth I had not gone far enough in eliminating all traces of Catholicism from the newly formed Church of England. She had no love for Catholics but she saw these pushy people as just a threat to political stability as the Papists. When they tried to boss her around and/or ‘take over’ she persecuted them as well.  This annoyed the Puritans who saw themselves as ‘real English’ and not at all like Papists. As far as I can tell, The Pilgrims left England for Holland not so much out of persecution but wanting their own way. In Holland they were shocked to find the place too lax in their religious tolerance. Worse, the Dutch didn’t care to be converted to Puritanism.  Finally, their children were taking a liking to Dutch culture. So they scrammed for North America to make their own theological community.

They were blown off course and landed in New England just in time for bad weather. These genteel idealists had little if any experience with frontier living, so many died off that first winter. Rather than concluding it was all a big mistake, they saw it as God testing them. The next year the survivors gave some sort of thanksgiving service and supper, which no one to this day knows what they ate. It certainly wasn’t turkey and pumpkin pie.

Eventually other Puritans showed up. They tried to make a “City on the Hill” but this splintered into various Protestant factions. Merchants rather than ministers made the area grow prosperous.

This week when you see cheery smiling cutesy pilgrim figurines, dressed in those absurd hats they probably did not wear, arm in arm with happy smiling Indians next to the equally smiling turkey, do pause and reflect on some of the ironies, why don’t do?

Last week synchronicity brought together three items to inspire a blog entry on God. In my office is a photograph of my godfather, George. He is Lutheran. A patient inquired who he was, and with the explanation she replied she could tell he was close to God for he looks happy. True!  I know a lot of people who fear God, or use God as a weapon, but George loves God.

Then there is my blogger-buddy Jim. He is a pagan. From his writings I sense he too is full of love of the Divine. Although his theology differs from George’s, they have in common a zest for living derived from  their connection to Love.

In contrast, I have a couple of patients who are members of the LDS church. Some of their sorrows arise what their church dictates them to be and do. This is in conflict with who and what they are.  They fear or hate God – or at least the God of their church.

My job is to guide my patients through the difficult waters of Self-growth and Tribal laws, but what I want to tell patients trapped by their religion is something like the following:

“Look, there are two types of religion: good religion and bad. Bad religion makes you fear God. Good religion makes you love God.  If your Church stifles your Self to serve their version of God, and the result is you hate both God and Self, go, get out. Find God somewhere and somehow else. Ask, and Heaven responds. You will be utterly and completely surprised with the answer.”

George and Jim are in touch with The Divine. Praise God and Blessed Be. Go thou and do likewise.

They say there is nothing more inconvenient than an old queen with a head cold, and this is particularly true today.  Alas, I arrived in Palm Springs with a dreadful URI (upper respiratory infection). My ears and nose are clogged, and all my coughing is failing to extract the phlegm deep in the chest.  If I were Christian Scientist, I would merely ‘un-see it’ and tell it to go away. Unfortunately it refuses to ‘un-see’ me.  Taking decongestants help. At the pharmacy I had to show my drivers license and swear I wasn’t going to use them to cook crystal meth.  I must be the only queer in town doing ‘crystal meth lite”.

Nevertheless, I am determined not to let a URI ruin my weekend. This morning I am going out shopping. I want a new tarot deck. DougT requested I read his cards, and I forgot to bring a deck (worse luck). This gives me an excuse for buying a new deck. There must be some new-agey head shops in town with decks for sale.

It is bright and sunny so I think I will spend the afternoon doing “light therapy”. I hope the sunshine can burn out the bug.

Apparently the last few weekends in Palm Springs were booked with festivities and we arrive on a ‘down time’ to a resort practically deserted.  As usual, I am never on time. It is quiet and pleasant, but a bit of a let down not to see others. Perhaps it is for the best. I wouldn’t make a great impression lying by the poolside, hacking.

If anything interesting should happen, I will post it.

Several Spo-fans recently e-mailed me either titillated or angered that in the “Queer Meme” I mentioned having a history of “sex in public” but failed to give details.  Well, some things are best left to the imagination, no?   Provided the URI doesn’t develop into pneumonia, maybe I will write about this later as well.

This weekend we are going to Palm Springs and I am excited to go. There is nothing particular about the place; I merely like to be there. We will visit Jerrold, who moved to PS this year. He has a new condominium, and new boyfriend to boot.  I want to see how he decorated it (the place, not the boyfriend).  We will also see DougT of Gossamer Tapestry and his partner Leon, who are already there, having a holiday.  Both Jerrold and Doug texted us this week they were in a bar which was raided by the police. I don’t have details: apparently there was no shooting or arrests, nor was anyone handcuffed or jostled (to their disappointment).  I fly out after work while Someone drives The Precious.

Going to Palm Springs has a ‘cost’ for I have plenty to do between now and tomorrow’s flight. Why is it always so much work to go out of town? The house/Harper have to be tended. I need to pack and somehow get through the next 24 hours.  It would be better to cancel exercise and tonight’s symphony.  Alas, I am too vain to cancel the first, and too cheap the second. At least I will show up looking buff if only under slept.

I’ve been asked what I want to do in Palm Springs, and the simple answer is basically nothing. I wouldn’t mind just sitting poolside reading a book and drinking a nice hot cup of tea (no rubbish) while watching the bathers, making sure to turn the pages from time to time, for appearance sake.  I am sure I’ll go to the stores to buy the latest book and look for fey-christmas items. There is nothing like filling up the suitcase with unnecessary plastic objects.

Jerrold wants to go two-stepping, but I don’t care to drag my cowboy outfit through Airport Security. I will sit in the back, drink beer, and keep time.

Someone wants to go to the Palm Spring “show tune bar”, which beats our local pub by a desert mile. I forget its name, but they do a good job. The show tune bar has an advantage of attracting ‘the younger set’, which in Palm Springs means 40-50 year olds. Once in awhile we see some younger lads lurking about. The chew toys are often seen helping their grandfathers cross the street.  In a way.

I also like the swing chairs at Azul. Jolly good fun, especially with Bloody Marys.

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