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I am near completion of making one of those ‘do-it-yourself’ cookbooks on line, where you enter recipes, divide them into chapters, add a few photos, and hey, presto! you have your own cookbook. Mine doesn’t have any original recipes; it is a gallimaufry  of favorites which are scattered throughout dozens of my cookbooks. I will have them all condensed into one tome, my own Sybillane Book of Spo-recipes. As the project nears completion, I step back from the contents and reflect went into it. It is curious to see how these chosen recipes mirror my being.

The majority of  these recipes are not ‘gourmet” but simple Midwest concoctions (think casseroles and busy day hot dishes) the matrons of the family made to feed as many as possible within a budget. These are the ‘comfort’ dishes; they remind me of Aunt This and Grandmother That.

The chapter on cocktails is rather extensive oh dear. In contrast to the intrepid eats these recipes reflect my zeal to try things new and adventuresome. Of no surprise to me most of these libations have exotic ingredients and they are quite colorful to reflect my fondness for such. After all there are few edibles in life that are bright blue.

There are many recipes for dressings, rubs, and sauces.  There are six recipes just for BBQ. As a boy I hoped to find or make a bona-fide book of magic full mysterious ingredients for potions and fairy dust. Culinary magic is as close as I have come.

There aren’t too many recipes for sweets and such, which correlate to my panache for starches rather. There are several recipes for bread for the intrepid bread machine, my adult version of an easy-bake oven.

Fascinating! In among the time-honored old favorites is one recipe I have never made. It is from the first cookbook I ever had: “Betty Crocker’s Boys and Girls Cookbook” . It is for a topping for ice cream. I’ve been meaning to make this now for over forty years. It’s been carried along on index cards and preliminary cookbooks etc. and I haven’t the heart to abandon it now. Perhaps if I include it in The Cookbook of Spo-eats I might finally make it. The recipe reminds me there is more to cooking than the familiar.

Red Devil Sundae Topping

8 ounce can of crushed pineapple, drained

2 T light corn syrup

1 T red cinnamon candies.


Simmer the ingredients over medium heat in a sauce pan, stirring occasionally until the candies have dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool; chill in the refrigerator. This makes about a cup of sauce.


While I was recently walking through IKEA, admiring the signs in ersatz-Swedish, my lower back decided to go into one of its intermittent spasms. By the time I got home I was hobbled. So far a bottle of Motrin and a dollop of Ben-Gay have had little efficacy.  It spoiled my evening. I had hoped to do a few things but the psoas muscles are on strike. I was going to clean out the freezers this evening but this now has to wait. I’ve been obliged to sit still and not move, something that doesn’t come easy to me.  On the bright side, I have time to sit and think and compose.

The House of Spo has two freezers. One is the pull-out drawer under the fridge and the other is a standing white cube-shaped type. Both are full up with tupperware and freezer bags of dubious nature and  unrecognized objects.  I was being naif thinking I would be able to remember what is what and when I put them in. Frozen they all look alike, other than the slices of Christmas pudding which I daresay is two years old now. I suspect even frozen foods have a ‘shelf life’ and I should either thaw and eat what’s there or throw them out as lost causes.

Before I put anything else in cryogenic containers I should come up with some plan of action to identify and keep tabs of what’s in there.  What is obvious are the frozen vegetables and the frozen pizzas. The former seem to stay for months while the latter tend to  escape Houdini-style no matter how deep I bury them under the mystery meats.

Certainly the simplest solution is pull out the unknown blocks one at a time and let them thaw and reveal themselves. As it is nearly 40C here this wouldn’t take long. In the past I am often disappointed along the line of why I bothered to freeze that in the first place.*

Spo-fans are welcome to leave tips in the comment how they manage the contents of their freezers.  The more bold ones can give me their addresses so I can ship them surprise packages.


*I suspect the answer is simple one: guilt. I make a large something or other, and then I feel too bad about washing it down the waste-pipe. So I freeze it for a nebulous later. Like Walt Disney, I hear.

I was watching clips from “Mommie Dearest” the other day when I realized I was silently rooting for Joan. I don’t think that was the original intent of the director, but there it is. Her children are so revolting they don’t evoke empathy.  I caught myself smiling when she lets loose with the slaps.

It is curious how revolting behavior is sometimes seen not as noxious but as hilarious. Sometimes when I have a patient who is being beastly to their spouse I ask them point blank would they pull that rubbish on their best friend. “Certainly not” is the usual response. So why do that crap to your mate. Bottom line: because they can get away with it. I seldom evoke shame in a patient but sometimes it is just what the doctor ordered.

I recently heard a report questioning the supposition the rich are more rude than the poor. I doubt it. Thanks to Hair Furor being arrogant and pushy is now lauded rather than seen as something shameful. If I had pulled any of his shenanigans in my youth  Father would have given me a sensible shaking and told me to knock it off right now.

Miss Manner advises we should never return rudeness with rudeness for this is stooping. My mother said similar about setting a good example. The women in my family were fine ladies all but they all had a bit of Joan’s don’t f-ck with me fellows temperament. I could be cheeky with my uncles but never with my aunts. I am now at the age I can successfully use “The Voice”, a severe tone of chastisement they all pulled out from beneath their lady-like demeanors whenever rudeness was at hand.  The Bene Gesserit could have learned a few things from the Spo-matrons.  “You stop that! That’s ugly!”  I learned if you add a ‘because’ to the ‘that’s ugly’ the power of the Voice magnifies.  Alas, if I use the feminine version of The Voice I sound like a snippy queen, but if I use the masculine (think Humphrey Bogart in ‘Casablanca’) it works better for me. I seldom have to wave around any wire hangers.



Hello Harper here

The Friend Beast went away all day and yesterday leaving me home with The Other Dog. He’s an odd dog for he runs around all day doing things when all dogs know day is for sleeping. He just collapsed onto the raised bed so I thought I would pat this thing for him. He could use a rest.

The Other Dog is very happy for the fellow who goes near the pond in the backyard arrived yesterday. He came with a companion. The two two-foots did something to the water for now it lights up. The Other Dog is delighted. He is taking his baths at night with a light on. I hate baths and I hate the pond. He can have it. He said out loud maybe to me the light turns color whatever that is. He also says some gibberish it is like an. He is a strange animal thats for sure.

He also made things in the food area but he didn’t give me nothing. He says they are banana muffins which doesn’t smell edible. I like meaty things. He says he doesn’t eat rubbish but I don’t mind some rubbish especially if there is cheese.

He is a good dog for we go regularly on sniff-patrol although it is hot now. My poop is precious for he collects it all and brings it home to put into the green bucket outside with the others in his collection.

Tomorrow is a full day of smelling things pooping and sleeping and getting The Other Dog to give me treats. I think he should sit and not run around so.

Harper 31

There’s work to be done and it starts in the kitchen. Would I could call me woodland friends to come to help me tidy up. Alas, I probably would reenact that scene in “Enchanted” and conjure forth only roof rats, scorpions, and a useless javelina or two. I must do it all myself.


No cleaning is complete without a Dobie, and I don’t mean the co-dependent elf from the Harry Potter books. They are probably not ‘green’ but sometimes it is just not humanely possible, especially is one is tackling intransigent black morass under the sink.

The spuds bin is in desperate need of disposal. I like my vegetable gardens to grow outdoors, not inside. 2.jpg

Every time Blue Apron sends us a meal with garlic as an ingredient, they send an entire head from which we only need one or two cloves. I am now up to my ears in garlic. Anyone know of a recipe that needs two dozen cloves?


The Lovely Neighbor is moving so she gave us all her booze. This is being combined with our own stash – and everyone else’s donations we’ve received whenever someone moves away. I got them all out today to take inventory.

Oh the embarrassment.  It is particularly poignant as neither one of us is imbibing at the moment.



As a consequence of being the neighborhood drop-box for unwanted liquors we now have four bottles of Kahlua.  Neither one of us drinks Kahlua. I wonder if it makes good substitute for fabric softener.



Finally, I have this handsome fellow. It was the teapot of the The Lovely Neighbor’s late mother.  Her mother Merle was married to a foreign diplomat; they lived all over the world. She had a mysterious collection of the most exotic of items. I thought I was getting some faraway teapot only to discover it comes from Pier 1.  Page 71 !!


There is a ritual catching on in medical schools called The White Coat Ceremony. I’ve not seen one myself, nor was I in one.  Apparently the schools welcome their incoming students with a presentation of their short white coats. My school has reached out to its alumni to sponsor a student via purchasing his or her lab coat. The recipient of this medical munificence gets a card with the donor’s name. We donors are encouraged to write a few words as well.

Urs Truly always has a desire to write great or witty prose; I am first in line to do so. I’ve decided to forgo brevity and wit so I won’t write such things as  “Don’t bother” or “It was hell” but write a proper letter.

Here is the first draft for Spo-fans entertainment and input.

Dear student,

Welcome to the wonderful and wacky world of Medicine. I wish you well. I am nearly thirty years ahead of you. I would like to share with you some sage words for you to keep in mind as you fall down the rabbit hole.

First of all, keep an open mind. The dirty secret is hardly anyone ends medical school with the same vision they started with. Practically everyone changes their specialty and some do so a few times. Most of what you will learn in med school will be either obsolete or useless by the time you hang out your shingle. Yes it’s important to pass the tests but the real point of school is to learn to think like a scientist with a critical eye. Learn to learn.

It will often seem overwhelming and tedious; many times you will doubt your sanity why the hell did you get into this when everyone else your is making money, having fun, and getting sleep too. It all seems tiresome while you were in training but from my view looking back it is a blink of an eye in one’s lifespan.

You will run into many doctors who will complain and discourage you. They will make you wonder if Medicine was a mistake. Shun them and seek out positive role models.

Above all else: take care of yourself. Even caretakers need care-taking.  You will be no good to others if you are no good to yourself.  If you need guidance – or just a shoulder to cry upon – page.  Despite it all it is a marvelous Journey. I’ve had no regrets; I hope you have the same.

I think it is in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ where someone says something about believing six impossible things before breakfast. It seems I am believing improbable things rather. As The Firesign Theatre says: “Everything you know is wrong”.

I am reading rawhter rancorous research about the brain that isn’t reassuring.  Our ability to accurately remember things is not even close to what we think it is. Rather than being a like a CD to replay when we want it,  our long term memory is composed of past and present elements; the mind puts it all together each time in a slightly altered memory, making objective memory nearly impossible.  It is kind of like making the same dish that never comes out exactly the same way. There is bad news for attention too; we are deluding ourselves how good we are at being minding traffic, hearing something important while in a noisy room. Worst of all are cellphones which basically destroy any other cognitive endeavors while we operate them. Even hands-off cellphones diminish our ability to attend to traffic.

Some curious research suggests when we try to talk to people who are set in their beliefs (ex: trying to talk reason to an anti-vaccination parent, a Trump supporter, or a non-believer in evolution/global warming etc.)  their brains light up in the same areas and in the same way as being physically attacked. This means attempts at dialogue/reason have about the same chance as telling a person to thinks sensibly when they are being lunged at by a lion.

Cognitive bias is so strong and subtle it sheds doubt on our abilities to see anything objectively.

The cerebral cortex has conned itself into thinking its in charge and make all the decisions. Meanwhile the emotional parts of the brain run amok making up rubbish and basically running the show.

Oh the pain. Oh the discouragement.

My science training tells me to be open to changing my beliefs when the facts say otherwise, even when I want to hold onto cherished dogmas and comforts. This stings, but even more  when you feel you’ve been conned.  Enough says my hummingbird brain for all this ‘everything is relative” nonsense. Give me some simple black or white convictions. Alas, more research says when facing ambiguities or pointlessness we create ersatz solids and make meaning out of nothing.   Oh well.  I can take comfort in some simple Truths like tea is lovely and I can refrain from going on to prove black is white and perish in the next zebra crossing.

Last year I visited blogger buddies Will and Laurent who live on a faraway enchanted island, which, in the native tongue, translates as Prince Edward. It is ruled by Her Austere Majesty The Childlike Empress Anne. The dreamy and fanastical island has many lovely things, but one of its best is their lobster. I had a marvelous lobster feast there one evening.

I try to get souvenir fabric wherever I travel and PEI was no exception.


This  whimsical shirt (just finished!) reminds me of my trip. I usually don’t hesitate to wear my wares in public, but I worry I will be mistaken for a waiter in a seafood restaurant and people will ask me for buns and things. On the other hand mio camsio es muy bonito for future PEI lobster dinners. I won’t have to wear a bib.

GoldfishCrackers_EmbeddedIn my grandmother’s kitchen was a glass container not with cookies but crackers, and not just any rubbishy type. They were Goldfish crackers. Most of the time they were pale white (lightly salted) but sometimes they were orange (cheddar). Once in a while they were pretzels. No matter what incarnation they exhibited they were always goldfish shaped. I was dazzled. I’ve always had a taste for starches rather than sweets. Later in life I discovered Grandmother Spo did not make them herself but they originated  from a marvelous faraway place called Pepperidge Farms. I didn’t know where lay this dreamy and enchanted place but I was most grateful for their industry – and I could buy them at the supermarket. I would eat by the handful if left unsupervised.

Brother #2 and I had in our bedroom a little metal lamp which had a grill top which would get quite hot. We discovered we could place Goldfish crackers on top and hey presto! we soon had a hot tasty crunchy treat. We thought ourselves clever.

Later in life I discovered PF made even more delicious delights: cookies and bread. bread.jpgPepperidge Farms Very Thin Bread is Urs Truly’s official bread for toast.* PF makes an array of cookies I still find most delightful for tea. It is hard to pinpoint down a favorite. I am curious to hear from Spo-fans which one is theirs. The Milano cookie is good but my favorite is The Geneva. Geneva cookies with lapsang tea is tea time worthy of the gods.

Alas, alas Goldfish crackers rank up there with nasty chips. I shudder to think of the glycemic index of that self-indulgence. They are official off the menu. I suppose once in awhile I could treat myself to a bag but there is no stopping me from eating the whole bag in one sitting.

Next weekend Someone is away all weekend at the comic convention and I will be home alone for three days. I will be very busy and industrial. I just may treat myself to toast in the morning, tea and cookies in the afternoon, and a bag of Goldfish in the evening. A large one. Cheddar. No rubbish.


Despite having multiple goals and tasks my hummingbird brain decided to flit about more than usual this week. As a consequence I’ve been less focused than usual, which is saying something.  Little has been accomplished. Today I am determined to ‘stay on task’ and get things done – although I am taking time off to write this entry.

“Can I make a suggestion?” Someone says whenever I am not too well organized or am doing something half-baked. His expurgated expression always makes me smile, for he is advice is always sensible and I always take it. I’ve told him many times he needn’t be some polite and roundabout – just tell me what to do. He doesn’t want to sound too bossy so he never does.

Whenever I have too many bats in my belfry it helps me to make a list. I find this ritual quite beneficial viz. extract all the tasks from my mind and get them down on paper. There they become more clear and manageable. Sometimes I lose the list which is both ironical and feckless. Today’s eutrepismus is as long as a winter’s night in Moscow and no prettier. I don’t think today there are any evening concerts or tickets to the theatre, so I should tackle most of my list if I stay focused. There is nothing so satisfactory as drawing a line through a task and marking it complete.*

I’ve often wondered how people go through Saturdays just sitting still or doing leisure activities. I suppose I am unique having charts to do but don’t the mere mortals have (as I do) laundry and ironing and household projects etc.?

All this task-doing is counterpointed by Harper, who spends her Saturdays between sleeping on the bed or in her house. It’s a dog’s life. Sometimes if I am tired I lie down next to her around 2PM for a half-hour reboot. ** There is nothing so sublime as choosing to relegate virtuous industry for indolence.  When in doubt, get horizontal, even if the dord still needs cleaning.


*Someone made the suggestion I make these lists on my phone as I am less likely to lose them this way. For once I will decline his sensible idea. A fluorescent marker (pink, preferably) painted across “Clean the dord” is far more satisfactory than merely deleting it. And it’s jolly good fun!


**On the bed, not in her house.

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