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Between work and hosting an out-of-town guest, I’ve had no time this week for much more, let alone writing and reading blogs. I will get ‘caught up’ this weekend.

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Randy of NEB is an interesting guest that he has never been to Arizona. To introduce him to The Southwest we have taken him to Sedona and Jerome, AZ. We made salsa using some homegrown peppers. What next, to capture the urtext of the land? I proposed a few museums or hiking some interesting buttes*. But what does he want to experience? He wants to go to IKEA; apparently he has never been to one. After flying thousands of miles to see the sights I would have chosen otherwise, but he is the guest and I am the host with the most, so off to Tempe we go today to see it. Whatever floats your goat.

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I’ve written about IKEA before. I still suspect it is an outer-space experiment set up by dastardly aliens in order to observe Terran behavior. What else explains the rat-like maze floors with signs in ersatz Swedish, filled with Js, Ks and not really spelling anything? I can’t recall my last pilgrimage to the place, but this is my first time going without a purchase goal. I have an impulse buying problem; I hope I don’t come home with several unnecessary plastic objects and/or kitchen gadgets.  We have bins of the latter, most of which are gathering dust. I think GAMES Magazine could make a jolly good picture puzzle out of them viz. ‘Can you guess what this contraption is used for?” I shan’t go into details but on rare occasion I sometimes confuse what goes into the kitchen drawer with what goes into the drawer of the nightstand. “What have you done with the mushroom brush?” can lead to a feckless search among the kitchen things only to discover its actual location. It is rawther embarrassing.

It doesn’t help while gazing at gizmos at IKEA my mind tends to think “outside of the box” as it were past the manifest purpose of the gadget before me.

If this is the true intent of the IKEA alien experiment than the data collectors on Pluto must be having a field day , thanks to Urs Truly.

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*they’re quite pretty too.

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In the series “A Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy” there is an alien named Ford Prefect.  He finds human behavior puzzling, but what he finds  most baffling  is the human propensity to state the obvious. “It’s dark in here”, or “It’s raining”, or “I see you are unhappy”.  He tries to blend in by stating as many of these obvious facts as possible, which makes him a bit of a nuisance.  I tend to do some of this myself.  Since brevity is the soul of wit, I have decided in June not only to work on my physique but to trim down my chatter.  I have a tendency to blurt, to speak without thinking. This can be nettlesome and (worse) ill-mannered when it happens before the other one (Someone) hasn’t finished his thought.

I am a typical Cancer that it is challenging for me to approach anything or any topic directly but to approach it sidestep with indirect speech acts until the listener hems and haws playing twenty questions to finally drag out what it is I am talking about. * I blame Midwestern upbringing  where we are taught (indirectly of course)  blunt and direct requests of preferences   sound commanding, blunt, and rude.  Take for example the simple question of what do you want for dinner.  Merely saying I want chicken not fish goes against the grain of fifty years of polite Midwestern manners.   I might say ‘Oh, either is good, I don’t have a strong preference”. So Someone says OK let’s have chicken, which is returned with a circumlocution commentary about the value of omega-3 or the announcement I had chicken for lunch and after some minutes of playing verbal tennis fish is finally determined but not without some mild friction including the modest proposal why don’t we just eat out. **

After nearly twenty years of being driven to distraction this way Someone is pretty good at interpreting Spo-talk, but he deserves better. So, in June, I will practice using direct and succinct statements and see what happens. I will probably be accused of taking Ritalin or having been replaced by a pod person or (worse) I’ve become bossy but we shall see. At least I may get fish for dinner.

* Cancers believe if you have to ask then this somehow diminishes the value of the request. The others are supposed to somehow know your needs through keen intuition or telepathy apparently.

** Which may have been the real desire all along.

June will soon be busting out all over but my trousers are already. I have been slack in my habits to wit not watching what I eat and how much and getting enough exercise to create a calorie deficit. I’ve decided June will be an austere month; it might as well be Lent.  \My main trouble (besides lack of consistency and willpower) is there are always “too many exceptions”.  I allow my guard to drop as it is Friday, or we have a guest, or Someone isn’t eating his fries (when I ordered salad) so I will eat them lest they be wasted.

I pledge therefore to take it day one at a time and vigilantly watch what goes into my mouth.  “This is not an exception” is  my motto for the month of June.  I suspect by June’s end I can askew enough nickel and dime-laden caloric imperial tid-bits to have shed a few pounds around the abdomen.  My incentives are vain: There is a high school reunion at the end of the month and I want to be in shape.  In July we travel to Ottawa (Land of 30ft Spiders); I don’t want to shock the natives.

I suspect the intervention most efficacious for belly-fat burning is portion control. * I like to think all I need is some willpower and common sense approaches and I will do fine enough.

I don’t think I will write about it much. This decision deprives me of support from the cheerleaders , but it can be rather dull hearing a person’s struggle on the scale.

* Booze has a lot of calories, so out it goes for a while. That includes nasty chips, which are on the verboten list again.

I enjoyed reading all the comments from yesterday’s entry. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections was delighted of course. They had never heard of coffee but they soon looked it up. They declare they should have bypassed the monasteries of the west coast of England for the plantations of Central America.  After some research they suggested I discuss grumpy cats. Alas, I don’t know nothing about cats – grumpy or otherwise. So the ratings will have to suffer.

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I am pleased and proud to announce I’ve managed to grow some homegrown tomatoes. They aren’t as big or juicy as those I grew in the Midwest but they are better than the rubbishy ones available in the local supermarkets. I now have the same predicament as when I grew them back in Michigan: I have too many at once. I plan to sauce’em or make gazpacho.  A surfeit of homegrown toms is a delightful problem.

Randy of NEB has come to town and I am glad to host his first time in Arizona. He is a fine fellow, well over four feet. We are having a relatively cool spell – high only around 90 – but he finds it quite warm compared to Nebraska.  Tomorrow we may go to Sedona or merely stay in town to see the museums.

I don’t have any Irish background, but I am pleased for Ireland for being so open and accommodating in their referendum – and by popular vote too. They didn’t have endless court battles. Even more astounding to me is their major politicians were mostly for it and publicly so. It is another example how I am ashamed of the USA and its pompous moralistic sense of superiority. The sixteen candidates  in the Republican clown car can take note and go have dinner with the Duggers.

Tea cup 2Spo-fans know I drink tea. Tea is and remains the azoth of beverages and the panacea of all ills.  With that said I have amazing news: I am drinking coffee. I don’t know if this is announce in the vein of an introduction at an anonymous meeting or as a coming out announcement of the (coffee) closet.

I blame Lena the receptionist at the clinic where I work Tuesdays and Thursdays. Everyday she makes a pot of coffee. One fateful cold morning she suggested I drink a cup ‘for medicinal sake’ when she saw I was falling asleep and there was no other caffeinated beverages to be had. It worked. Like experimenting with drugs this slippery slope (with half & half) has led to me low and now I am the the one makes the coffee and then drinks most of it. This makes for a ‘pot per day’ habit two days a week. On Saturdays when I eat breakfast at Einstein Brothers I order a cup as well. This means I am drinking coffee three days a week. Sometimes on Sundays too. Oh the shame.

Worse, there is a craving for the stuff. As I drive to work I think ahead to that first sip of the morning. It feels like I ‘need’ a cup of coffee. I never ‘need’ tea, rather I would like or love a cup.

Interesting: I can’t distinguish a good cup from a bad one. With tea I taste the myriad of types and nuances, including whether the tea leaves are old or the water is bad. Coffee tastes like coffee, perhaps because I always put a milky product into it (plus some sweetener).

bodum-shin-bistro-8cup-coffee-press-1035816usI recently read Cook’s Corner on how to make a proper cup of coffee. Turns out this consists of grinding beans and avoiding the pre-ground rubbish. Percolators should be eschewed for a ‘press’. I am glad I have no taste for good coffee for this sounds like a lot of fuss compared to putting five scoops of Folger’s (six on bad days) into Mr. Coffee and turning on the switch and waiting ten minutes.

I haven’t decided whether or not I should reverse tracks and take the pledge and return to the dignity and purity of tea only. The trouble is as a tonic of alertnes coffee beats tea by a country mile. Maybe I should just go with the (coffee) flow and join the conga-line of agony of pod people in line at Starbucks (or Dutch Brothers).

I think of Lena whenever I have a cup. She has a lot to account for in the next life.

PS – Thanks to WordPress linking entries to suggested similar entries I realize I have written on this before. There is nothing new under the sun.

It was Memorial Day weekend 2005 that we moved to Phoenix. Someone got a job at Wells Fargo. We had lived all our lives in the Midwest; moving to Phoenix seemed like going to the moon. We traveled over a three day trek in a one way rental van in which contained our most important items. This included a couple of cats, Claudius and Tiberius, and several plants I didn’t want to leave behind in Michigan. I had no job; we had to find a house. It was at the height of the buying frenzy of the housing market.

Now it is Memorial Day 2015, ten years later. Someone lost his job years ago in the banking recession. The cats have died, as did all those plants. I’ve been in the same job for nearly ten years. Our house is upside down or underwater or whatever you call it when your house is worth a fraction what you paid for it. We both miss living near by relatives but it would be hard to move back to Michigan. I am gainfully employed with a good local reputation in a job with health insurance for us both. We we tried to sell it we would take a ponderous loss on the house. So here we will stay, indefinitely, as there are no long term plans or goals. Michigan is nasty anyway with its draconian laws to rival Texas and Alabama.

I don’t regret the move, for living in Arizona has been an adventure. The weather is preferable although I admit I miss snow. My disappointment is our failure to create or join a local network of friends even after ten years. Phoenix is so spread out and dependent on driving even the simplest of social dates requires time and driving.

There is a sense of existing for ten years with pleasant pastimes to mark the season which come and go in a regular rhythms and seasons. Yet there isn’t a sense of great accomplishment other than I’ve done my best to see and treat countless patients. The house hasn’t improved (one could argue it is in disrepair) and the jury is still out if I am in better shape than a decade ago.

It makes me think where will I be in another ten years – here still? Will there be the same sense of having nothing great to show for it?

It is a thoughtful time; I wonder what happens next.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I work in the branch of the clinic where there are nine others: two billing staff, two receptionists, the house manager, and four counselors. This ennead is noteworthy it is all women.

I am curious about the ethos and ambience of work environments when it is composed of nearly all of one sex or of equal proportions of both. All day long I watch the interactions and goings-on of these Medical Muses as I pop in and out of appointments. I have heard tales all women staff can be difficult.  They say ‘too many women’ (and worse: ‘all women”) makes for a tense working environment full of catty cliques. I would dismiss this but the majority of people who have told me such have been women.  So, like Margaret Mead among the Bantus I try to observe and wonder: is there any truth to this?

There are no palpable tensions or frictions among my co-workers; they seem to get along and they don’t seem to fuss about themselves or each other. However, I often walk into a group which suddenly goes mum, which makes me suspect I have just crashed a party. Their giggles and talk suddenly drops off. If there is something juicy or gossipy going on they ain’t letting me in on it. I am outcast to these chin-wags. Sometimes I ask if everyone is getting along; I am told always oh, everyone’s fine. I have enough professional intuition (and BS meter) to know they are not entirely telling the truth. Perhaps testosterone-filled MD macho masculine redolence provides just enough authority and stability to keep things quiet and preventing reenactments of scenes from “The Women” . This one rooster makes the henhouse peaceful. Maybe. Maybe not. I wish someone would clear the air for me and fess up. Another conclusion ( more prosaic and less paranoid) is they are just fine and ‘all female worker tension” is rubbish.

I have never worked in a majority male or all-male working environment. I suspect these have their own rubric and challenges. This is even more ineffable for me than the all-female version.

I am cross as my allergies are active and they are getting in the way of just about everything I want to do this evening. I am also cranky from filling out ‘Prior authorization forms’ from insurance companies demanding justification why I do anything  and why haven’t I cured anyone. Not too long ago I reread “The Inferno” but I don’t recall which level of hell Mr. Dante put medical insurance companies. I suggest level 7 1/2 which places them between ‘Violence’ and “Fraud”.  Since I am meditating on uncharitable thoughts here is little list of villains and toad-suckers to accomplish them.

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Urspo’s level of hell.

Floor 7.5

People who pull out in front of you in traffic and then proceed to go slow, rather than waiting until you pass them. 

The makers of pop-up ads. 

Whoever dreamt up the ‘selfie-stick”

People who stand up in “theatre discussions” to ask a question but really show off how much they know about something, more than the actor/director on stage.  

Politicians who champion ‘family values’ and anti-gay bills only to be “outed” via gay apps, where they are found figuratively and literally with their pants down.

Youngsters who reply to “thank you” with ‘no problem” *

The rest of the Fox News reporters who aren’t already there.

SUV and truck drivers who park their contraptions in the ‘compact only’ sections straddling two if not three spaces. 

Bobby Jindal.

And finally –

People who talk loudly on the cellphones in waiting rooms, elevators, buses, and any other areas where people are trapped. **

Spo-fans are welcome to leave in the comment section other yahoos in need of excoriation. 

* OK, level 7.5 may be too harsh for this type. They can go up to Level 2.5 to keep company with the folks who don’t clean up after themselves in fast food joints and outside cafes.

** Come to think of it, these types can go directly to level 9.

Work today was rather frightful: its pace and intensity were of the sort I would expect on a Wednesday. I hope this doesn’t portend a week requiring roller-skates. Many patients elicited the inner emotion ‘What on earth am I going to do with you?” People who think I sit back all day long listening to people’s unfulfilled sex lives should think again. I remind myself I went into psychiatry as I found cardiology boring.

The apricot chicken recipe was OK. The ingredients came together to make a sort of BBQ sauce. I would make it again but I need to move on to recipes new and adventuresome. I was recently reminded I vowed to make a ‘new soup every month’ which is (alas) now three soups behind. It is getting warm enough to turn to cold soups. I have one using smoked salmon and avocados. This involves a blender which is an appliance I distrust; it is worth a blog entry in itself.

I am recently hearing from new Spo-fans, many of them are women. I am pleased as punch of course to have new readers and of a feminine nature (and female at that). I hope the scribblings of a 52yo queer shrink (who well over four feet) are entertaining enough to hold their interest. The pragmatic Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections, smelling comments, immediately sent me an email suggesting I post:

Cute photos of puppies and cats, and less rubbish about your sex life”.

The male readers of my blog I fear will be uninterested but here is goes:

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For dinner I made apricot chicken, which is a recipe from my grandmother. I haven’t had it since the mid-80s. I had a fancy to try it having rummaged through the accordion files of loose recipes, the majority of which are torn out of various magazines. Spo-fans may recall (or don’t know) these recipes are for a nebulous ‘someday’. Perhaps this means retirement or a “bucket list” item. Either way this is not likely not happen. So I thought I will make some of them now before I am becoming decrepitude to the point I won’t be physically able to make them or my doctor forbids me.  Apricot chicken is chicken baked in a pastiche of Catalina or Russian dressing, dried onion soup mix, and a cup of apricot preserves. It is simple enough. Most of the clipped recipes in the accordion file are simple endeavors based on my desire for cooking not to resemble a surgical operation.

I am feeling pensive this evening, and it is not from the chicken. I often feel a schmidgen melancholy on Sunday night as I face the upcoming week. In my youth this was either dread about the start of school or the return to a job. Nowadays these Sunday night feelings originate from the sense of Time going swiftly by.  Another week came and went in what felt like the twinkling of an eye. It’s like each week has a few less minutes to it, an acceleration towards – what? Perhaps among the quotidian activities of the week something marvelous may happen. I can always try a new recipe.

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