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I seem to be in a dry period. Nothing important or entertaining leaps to mind at the moment. It’s Sunday and while there is work to be done none of it feels pressing. I sit here at the office computer with nothing to write upon. It is usually about now in mindless typing when a quiet theophany enters my mind and lo! Off and running I go to compose an amazing entry full of laughs and insights.

No such luck.

Perhaps my allergies have something to do with it. It’s been a horrid week for such. I don’t know what is worse: the allergy symptoms or the medications for them. I am choosing the latter. I feel both sleepy and restless from the antihistamine/decongestants but at least I am not sneezing. Allergy sneezes are noteworthy for their hurricane-like velocities. I could blow away small children with them. Being zapped by Zyrtec is important later on for I plan to sit outdoors to and try to sit still and read, if possible.

Speaking of reading, does anyone know 20th century Spanish history? I just finished a read on my kindle. After I concluded  the horrific but fascinating chapter on Franco and the Spanish civil wars, I turned the page only to find the book was done. What? Somehow that mess evolved into the happy land I see in Mitchell is Moving and I want to know how it happened. I feel cheated.  That’s the trouble with Kindle-books: it is hard to see the end of a book sneak up on you.

Between now and evening with its outside reading with its pomegranate julep* I hope to work on some shirts, read blogs, advance my cookbook, and edit a few more blog entries. Night will be here before I know it. There is nothing like indolent past times to make time go quick as boiled asparagus.   I hope Spo-fans have a pleasant enough Sunday.  Come back tomorrow when I have something more substantial, why don’t you.

 

 

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*Pomegranate julep

Bulleit Bourbon (or any good bourbon no rubbish)

Luxardo Maraschino Cherry Liqueur

Pomegranate Molasses or juice

Vernors Ginger Ale.

Using an iced shaker shaped like a penguin add ~ equal parts bourbon and Vernors. Add a few tablespoons of pomegranate juice. Add a swig of the cherry liqueur.  Serve either on the rocks, or in a chilled martini glass. Experiment with the ingredient ratios until you find what suits your people.  Garnish with a Benadryl or Allegra tablet. Enjoy.

I have just returned from boxing up a collection of cookbooks; it is a ponderous parcel. The Lovely Neighbor (who is in the process of preparing her house for a move) gave me a pile of cookbooks the size to rival Fafner’s hoard. I did not have the heart to refuse her. In the same week Someone cleaned the pantry. This left my cookbook collection overflowing their shelves and TLN’s donations piled up on the dining room table. It was time to take action.

OzkyU_8n  I recently listened to an interview of a Japanese lady who is apparently The High Priestess of tidy up and organization. She inspired me to tidy up my tomes. Her approach rests upon the axiom one’s possessions should elicit joy and anything else ought to be discarded.

It was not easy applying this philosophy to old books, especially cookbooks. I’ve kept a lot of them out of guilt that someday I will use them, yet I haven’t and I doubt I ever will. Many I had forgotten they were even there. I took this sage’s advice to express gratitude toward each book as I put it on the ‘out-it-goes’ pile. Indeed, while many I never used, nearly all of them had given pleasure at their purchase. Some cookbooks have memories of trips when I bought them. Her approach made tidy-up and letting go a bit easier. My messy shelves are now organized and stream-lined to the ones I cherish. I threw out the many “Oriental” cookbooks from The Lovely Neighbor as there were nearly a dozen. I now have only two or three, which is enough.

Ironically I am working on making my own cookbook, a collection of Spo-recipes which are my favorites. They are not exquisite but the ones I use over and over. I think it convenient to have them all in one volume. I am separating the sheep-dips from the goat-cheeses to only include the recipes I find delicious, memorable, and worth repeating, like my men.

The end point: a shelf of cookbooks few but useful, along with my own. I am keeping The Cooks Illustrated magazines and the plastic filing-box of TV-recipe cards. Any additional recipes I need in life is covered by the Betty Crocker, Epicurious, and NYT Cooking apps.

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This vision bring me joy indeed.

The Japanese lady would be proud of me.

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This evening I see the play “Wittenberg”. It is a play about a young physician whose problem patient is Martin Luther.  Apparently Herr Luther had bad bowels. In the play the doctor acts as an ersatz analyst to the young clergyman. I am curious to see if the play implies Martin Luther goes on to infamy because of the doctor’s treatments as helpful or inimical. [1]

Martin Luther was a fascinating fellow. Like a lot of shrinks I find it fun to psychoanalyze figures from history and wonder what would have happened if so-and-so had had a good therapist and how different would the world have been for it. Herr Luther had a lot of Daddy issues and anxieties about needing certainty in life.  Marty had appalling traits to be sure [2] but you’ve got to admire a fellow who stands up to authority with conviction and shakes up the status quo. He was one of history’s best back-talkers and he would not shut up, even when told to do so. He wrote better and more often than his opponents. He simply out-wrote them.  The power of the pen is also something I admire.

I am sure to enjoy the show but I have to be mindful this is a play, not history. It worries me dramatic history will be misinterpreted by the audience as fact. After a production of “Richard III” or “A Man for All Seasons” I sense most folks do tend to think Richard P. and Thomas M. “were really like that”.  Martin L. has so much whitewash and mud slung at him over the centuries it is hard to get to how he really was.  Some pooh-pooh my worry comparing it to “The Roadrunner Effect”. [3] I don’t think it is quite the same

Nevertheless I think it will be a jolly time at the theatre. I sense the neurotic Martin with his writer’s block (and constipation to match) will be greatly assisted, mentally and bodily, by the good doctor, which will lead to evacuation and 95 theses nailed on the Church door bulletin board. It is a sobering thought: we would still be all Catholics if Luther hadn’t gone over to a morning cup of Joe.

 

[1] Apparently the medieval doctor gives Martin coffee, which does the trick in so many ways. I’ve often thought coffee as a Lutheran sacrament.

[2] His hatred of the Jews is notorious. Even the Lutheran scholars and theologians do not try to whitewash his wicked polemics.

[3] This is named after the removal of old-time Saturday morning cartoons from television on the grounds young children may ‘try this at home” viz. the stupid things Coyote tried out on the Roadrunner. The opponents of the process argued as kids we were not idiots we could tell right from wrong and we wouldn’t try dumb stunts purchased from ACME – and neither would today’s kids.

Walking the dog

It is again warm and bright enough to do dog-walks at 5AM. Harper is glad to go any time of the day, provided there is no rain (she hates it so). Unfortunately it is high season for allergies and I am not very comfortable out of doors. Dogs don’t seem to have allergies. ‘Dog-walk’ is a misnomer. These should be called ‘Dog-sniffs” for the highlight of these outing is stopping at as many bushes and posts as possible to inhale what olfactory delights are present.

Tuesday mornings are especially good for canine peripatetic outings, for it is ‘trash day’: everyone has their rubbish bins out at curbside. This is convenient for discarding waste bags, rather than having to bring them home or locate a local rubbish can. Throughout the neighborhood are ‘doggie stations’ discretely set so man and dog can get black plastic pickup baggies and discard waste. This is to promote good citizenship to pick up after your pooch. From the looks of things, not everybody does this.

Returning home from our walks I report to Someone. Always the scientist, I describe the weather and the conditions of the walk, as well as its timing and pace. Harper’s urinary and bowel functions are presented as if I am conducting a medical conference.

While I do this Harper goes first to her water bowl and then she stands outside the pantry in excited anticipation of a post-walk treat. I wonder if she loves walks so much knowing they end with a treat. She doesn’t like dry bones but proper treats (no rubbish) of ersatz pepperoni sticks or bacon. O I’ve been tempted to try one myself, but then I look at the bag and conclude they are all just chemicals and ‘beef products’ – whatever the hell that is.*

Soon it will be hot enough to limit dog walks to the twilight hours lest the sidewalks burn tender paws.  After a hot walk Harper gets a treat and I go into the pool. There is nothing so delicious as a dip after a dog walk.

*Snouts and such. I’ve read “The Jungle”; I know how these things go.

David G. (the dear!) recently posted a thoughtful and erudite entry with the title

“What do I need more of in my life?”

Rather than giving him a short answer in the comment section, I am replying with an entry of my own. My first respond to the question was rather flippant. I responded with “a houseboy AND something I won’t write out lest my family be reading this”.  The entry could be comical or with gravitas.  I am going with the latter.

Yesterday I had plenty of time to contemplate this lofty question. I was busy around the house tidying up and tending to things that needed doing. I was quite happy to be alone and lost in my thoughts and activity – a true sign of introversion!

What do I need more? I need Time. I shall be cautious here, for Time can not be made or lost, only spent wisely or foolishly. Everyday (Lord willing) I wake up to 24 hours in which to do – what? Three things:

1 – Work. Like most folks my day is mostly consumed with my job and its needs. When I am not seeing patients, I am dictating note/charts, filling out forms and returning phone calls.

2 – The daily tasks of living, the mundane things like making meals and the bed, and taking care of the dog. There is always the ‘house problem de jour” that demands attention.

3 – Then there are the things I would ‘like to do”. These are legion. I started a list of them but it became as long as a line at Best Buy on Black Friday Best Buy. It made me shudder so.

#3 is what I want more of in my life. It sounds like the lyrics of a Jim Croce tune.

What I try to do each day is delegate some Time each for 3 and not  just 1 or 2 of time consumption. I might read, or work on my two books, or sew a shirt (many to do).  #3 type of Time is usually conducted in the portion of day formally known as Vespers. Alas I can’t do too much of #3 lest it eat into sleep.

So that’s your answer, David G. I want more Time, untainted with the demands of work and Life’s’ mundane maintenance. I suppose this makes my request to be a “Man of Leisure”.  How lovely that sounds.

A Spo-fan asked me the other day (or was it a few weeks ago?) please write out my thoughts on the topic of Introversion vs. Extroversion. I was about to write a most-fascinating entry about the drainpipes but this topic topic sounds more vital. There is a lot of rubbish about on I. vs. E. and perhaps I can banish some ignorance.

If you get one thing out of reading this, it is the following: the difference is “where do you go to get recharged?” [1] When you feel drained do you prefer to be to yourself or do you prefer doing something with others?  That’s it. That’s all that matters. That’s the difference.

Jung wrote a lot on the topic. He saw the two modes of operation as how does one process the world, internally (introversion) or externally (extroversion). His goal for mental well-being is always to get one’s psyche in balance as much as possible. One finds out which is your ‘major’ and go to work on the other.

It is nonsense to see these two terms as black and white, or it’s one or the other. “I’m an introvert!” I hear someone say in a bar or at a party. I have to hold my tongue to respond so what are you doing here.

Urs Truly has a predominate introverted psyche. There is nothing so pleasing to me as spending a day to myself reading and doing chores only to realize I haven’t spoken to anyone all day. Some friends find my statement hard to believe, seeing me mingle and interacting well with others in social settings. After all, I am in the blogging community for pete’s sake – that’s a very extroverted endeavor. Introverts do not lack social skills, nor do they hate socializing etc. It’s just if given a choice between happy hour or staying home with a good book they find more ‘charge’ in the latter.

People who predominately relate to the world through extroversion [2] often  find the other kind a bit bewildering. Es are more likely to encourage/push Is “out the door’ as it were. [3]  However even Extroverts see value in ‘down time’ and peace and quiet – at least the more balanced ones.

There is no war between the two types.

One is not ‘born one way’ and one is not destined to be just one way or the other.

Do not try to put yourself as one or the other.

Goal of learning this: balance out as much as possible while keeping an eye on what recharges your battery – a book or a telephone call.

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I thought I would put up one cliche summary picture.

Get the gist and now discard. 

 

[1] If you like more fancy words: in what setting does The Ego find replenishment for spent Libido (viz. psychic energy).

[2] I purposely don’t use the words Extrovert and Introvert as they enhance labels. Nevertheless it is hard to avoid the lexicon.

[3] Thems mostly introverted seldom bother to try to make extroverted types stay more at home.  It’s an iniquitous arrangement.

On Monday while stooping down to survey the contents in the back of the fridge I felt the familiar dreadful spasm coming from my psoas muscles. I knew in an awful instant what this portends: 2-3 days of intense back stiffness and pain.  Indeed, I’ve been hobbling about with a pained Jack Benny expression and a gait like Groucho Marx. Oh the pain. It’s an ill will that blows nobody good; at least I am getting back to regular stretching – the type I should be doing all along to prevent this sort of nuisance.

Under my bed lies a bright blue plastic sponge-rubber folding mat, the type useful for yoga and stretching. It was quite covered in dust bunnies and dog hair so you know it’s been a long time. I wiped it down, turned on some sonorous sounds** and off we go towards harmony and healing. It feels good to stretch; I always why on earth I don’t do this regularly.

My favorite stretch consists of lying on the back and turning my bent legs port to starboard and back again. Another salubrious stretch consists of laying on the floor with my backside up against the wall, legs up so the bottoms of the feet face up towards the ceiling. Then I slowly open to make a “V” to stretch those inner thighs tight as cable cords.

This would all be serene but for Harper Hound whose decided this must be quality playtime. She hovers over me like a coach but rather than giving me words of encouragement she licks my face and forehead. It is difficult to concentrate on meditative breathing and healing etc. with a slobbering tongue going across my closed eyelids.  It’s in her job description so I can’t complain.

After a good stretch and tongue-bath I next pull out the black foam-rubber rolling cylinder. This blessed device goes under my shoulders and I slowly roll it down the back to the bum. This is not as easy as it sounds as I have to not to fall off. In theory I am staying in place going back and forth but invariably I slowly proceed down the bedroom floor although I seldom get out into the hallway. The cylinder presses on those bellicose psoas muscles that tell me they don’t appreciate being pressed so.  The point of cylinder rolling is to break up fascia knots and turn my muscles from beef jerky back to filet mignon. Fat chance of that.

I hope twith regular rolling and stretching my lower back spasms will grow discouraged and leave me. Then I must be mindful and stretch and roll regularly. Perhaps I can become limber like a lad and open legs like the splits. This sounds a bit suggestive but you get my point.

Dw-Foam-Rolling-Lower-back

 

**Urs Truly has several ‘white noise’ settings which produce at the tap of an app lovely sounds of ocean waves, rain on a roof, or spring forest. My favorite is ‘Snowstorm in Chicago’ so you can imagine.

Office

I get to work around 7AM although the first patient is not scheduled until eight. 7-8AM is a pleasant time and at this time of the year the rising sun shines on my side as I sit at my desk; it feels as pleasant as a cat in a sunbeam. I get a lot done in these serene sixty minutes. Best yet, I can write out a blog entry while having a nice hot cup of morning tea. There are no interruptions or phone calls to mar my meditation. It is a lovely way to start the day.

It’s Wednesday, which have been christened ‘Wacky Wednesday” for most of the week’s shenanigans happen on today. I get more calls/reminders and fires to extinguish than on any other day.**

I’ve just learned today’s pharm representative has called to cancel lunch. I have some backup protein drinks which will do me no harm. I worry I am scaring the reps away. I don’t think I am ‘mean’ to them but I do not buy their song and dance at face value but ask questions for which they often don’t know or exposes jiggery-pokery. Oh well. I never was happy having them.  Pharmaceutical representatives are only doing their job of course, but as a group they come across as rug salesmen trying to sell me something I already have or don’t want.  They move around like Bedouins: one day Sally Sue is working for “A” and next week she’s with “B”.  It is hard to get them straight as who does what.

I’ve scanned my day’s roster and did not have any “Frau Blucher” responses to the drama personae on my dance card. It’s nearly starting time. I can hear some mild commotion coming from the lobby. Mr. 8PM has arrived; it sounds like he is not in a good mood and having his crisis de jour. It looks to be a long day, as is the wont on Wednesday.

Happy Hump-day to Spo-fans far and wide. Don’t stick no beans of your nose. And always ask who was excluded in the double-blind trial of your medication.

 

**I may be at ease now but I won’t be so jolly by 3PM. Happily, my track record for getting through Wednesday’s Woebegones is so far 100%.

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A few days ago I was rummaging around the office drawers at home, looking for something I can’t recall, when I happened to open the file drawer only to discover the clerical equivalent of King Tut’s tomb or Fibber McGee’s closet. A cascade of files leapt up like a litter of puppies all eager for me to pick them up. I am slowly going through them to see if there is anything worth keeping.

I grew up in a family with genealogists who believed in saving even the most mawkish papers lest they contain precious data for future generations. I also grew up Protestant so throwing things out is almost sacrilegious.  I am surprised I haven’t become one of those hoarders whose homes are stacked with items up to the ceiling. However the file drawer is verging on such; it’s time for tidy-up.

It is fascinating to see what I once thought important enough to keep. The majority of these ancient papers are receipts and records circa The Punic Wars. I find it fascinating that my first emotional response upon seeing these ten-year-old-or-older papers is surprise to their existence. If I can’t even remember they are there, then there is no value to them. Into the rubbish went all the car repair receipts from 2000-2010 and my medical licenses from the 90s and taxes prior to 2010. It felt lovely to purge it so; the Protestant and OCD angels did not strike down for doing it.

Having achieved this wizardry I am ready to move up to the next level in the Dungeons & Dragons dreck of my den: books. The shelves are overflowing with tomes I will never again read; most of them I didn’t recall are there. Throwing out a book is not as easy to do as old paycheques. I used to give old books to the library, but it seems the local branches have become snippy about accepting my donations. They can fill their bins with discards. I know some folks who surreptitiously drop off their unwanted books via the return bin, sort of like dumping a box of unwanted kittens off at the local pound. I think I would feel guilty doing likewise.

I imagine an office/library with some books that comfort and a file drawer with minimal papers of importance. After this feat then I can try out for “Dungeon Master” status and skill by tackling the contents of the garage. Oh the pain.

It’s a stretch but I think I can handle it.

PensiveOne of my favorite poems is Ithaka by C.B. Cavafy. This poem tells us it is not The End that matters but The Journey towards The End. However, one needs an end goal, something towards which you travel. It gives you the incentive to make The Journey.  Without an Ithaka one is likely merely ‘drift’ – or make no Journey at all.

Last weekend I did the usual there’s-work-to-be-done chores. I got through all the necessaries: paperwork, some exercise, and the laundry. I had a few niceties such as supper with the The Lovely Neighbor, and a show.  I cleaned the backyard so it is once more decent for sitting. It all felt good to do. It was a pleasant enough weekend.

Now it is Monday morning. I sit at my desk, preparing for another week without surprise or difference. They go by faster and faster in the spiral known as zenosyne.

I have a good life and job; I am not unhappy. Yet, there is something missing. I have no long term goals other than some half-baked Bucket list goals which never seem to transform into reality given all the daily doings demands. In short, I have no Ithaka.  And I want one.

Now, the opposite approach to Life is a sort-of ‘zen’ philosophy of living and loving Life’s contents allowing the years to go by without a worry where it all goes. It is a rudder-less boat you allow the wind to take where it wills. My parents never worried about ‘going somewhere’. They grew up, went to school, married, had and raised children, and retire to now make up their retirement days as they wish. They are very happy and content people. I wish I could be that way.  Alas, something else is in the recesses of my pumpkin that resonates with Mr. Cavafy’s poem. My psyche is not human but X-man that must find its Journey.

I suppose I would feel a bit more at ease if I had concrete tokens in place such as a will, a retirement vision and plan how to do my Bucket-list items. At the moment I have none of these – and the week’s demands will keep me busy enough to get to Friday as before.

I don’t know where this is going, which is the point. I am not content with The Cheshire Cat approach to Life.

I want an Ithaka, and soon.

journeys

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