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Last weekend in New Mexico I went to the splendid Santa Fe farmers market where I was dazzled by vegetables. I was on a mission for proper tomatoes and I was not disappointed. There, lying in a shallow green rennet, sat Brandywine toms, plumb and remarkable. I bought six of them; I was elated.  Alas, four of them did not travel well home to Arizona. They were bruised and already feeling like a touch would make an explosion of ruby red. What to do?  Answer: make gazpacho.

Gazpacho is the soup of the gods, or at least the demigods. It is Ur Truly’s favorite summer soup. There are many varieties on the recipe. Mine is simple, fast, and delicious – like my men.

This is a good time to admit I am not good at chopping vegetables. I am amazed and a bit envious of folks who can chop whole objects quick as a quarter note into homogenous little cubes. Perhaps it is a matter of having the proper knife and instruction and practice. Whatever is the key factors are I ain’t got them. As I chop pieces fly away as if trying to escape. They never come out looking nice. I call it “country style” but no one buys it.

With gazpacho ill-chopped veggies is sort of a moot point as most of them go into the food processor, which has its own challenges. No matter how careful I try to be pureed tomatoes etc. go all over and making the kitchen look like an abattoir.

I chopped and pureed my NM tomatoes with a cucumber, a red onion, and a green pepper, along with some olive oil, and garlic. The William-Sonoma recipe calls for red vinegar and tomato juice but I wonder if a little red wine would be better. I was not about to experiment with these tomatoes; the gazpacho must not be bungled and be tossed down the swanny. I stuck to the usual instructions.

I have made enough gazpacho to feed a popular restaurant at lunch hour. Alas, Someone doesn’t like gazpacho. I purposely left out the ‘bready’ ingredient of which he objects, but this was not enough to lure him into a bowl. I sense I am going to eat gazpacho all week. But I don’t mind. There is nothing more delightful than a cold cup of gazpacho on a hot summer evening.

And for Spo-fans who are ‘in the know’: I leave out the barbiturates.

thEBGIJNOK

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This was written while whizzing down the highway coming home from a weekend in Santa Fe. The drive is six – or seven hours long; it’s a bit confusing given the time zone change between states. Either way it gives me plenty of time to think and write. Although Someone sits next to me in the driver’s seat, he is miles away into his Broadway tunes.

As we slowly descend from the heights of New Mexico back into the oven known as The Valley of the Sun I get to think or perhaps just sit and stare out the window and go into a dwam.

It was a predictable pleasant time in New Mexico. I saw two operas and I had a couple of good lunches. My wallet may be empty but my ghost-bag are full of souvenirs.* Nothing more need said.  I tried to avoid the laptop and cellphone and read a book rather.**

I’ve  just finished going through old GOURMET magazines, which were mostly from October through December, so they got me thinking of the holidays. I realized this year I will probably be ‘home alone’ for the first time at Thanksgiving and Christmas. But wait! August lies ahead. Time to squeeze a bit more out of summer before it’s time to take out the autumn trimmings.

Tonight I have to do my charts I put off to have a weekend holiday. I want to catch up on my blog reads. I may pay a visit to The Lovely Neighbor, whose days are numbered – maybe a week left or less.
Spo-fans should stay tuned for it’s in the dog-days of summer are when the entries get more erudite and entertaining – or so I hope. One never knows what’s around the corner. It’s just when you get complacent the gods upset your applecart.  I will let you know if there is anything interesting.

 

*For interested Spo-fans: a Santa Fe Opera tea mug; another glass chile pepper christmas ornament; a print of shamans for the Mesa office.

**The Spider’s House by Paul Bowles.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. – Mark Twain. 

There are many sources of depression but the one I think saddest (and I hear quite often) is the one of regret.  This one starts usually in patients over 40. They have settled into situations from which it is hard to disengage and try other routes.  Regret is a ticklish topic in therapy. One needs some space to bereave what is lost but one shouldn’t dwell on regret. Like the fellow in the tarot card ‘Four of Cups’ it is too easy to fixate on the Life’s losses than what you have  – or even the exit from your lot.  Indeed, too much reflection on the past worsens depression. One has to move on.  Like the sobriety prayer one has to know what you can’t change and what you can.

I recently heard the song “The Bus from Amarillo”. For thems not familiar with the tune, a woman recalls a time from her youth when got on a bus when all of life lay before her, but she got scared and got off. Now middle aged and trapped in her lot, she recalls the opportunity she missed and the what-ifs of that route.

“The bus from Amarillo I can hear it still go by

I missed my only chance and now I swear I don’t know why.”

Life is a one-way ticket to nowhere.

As I heard the song I wept a bit. I has been a very difficult work week the sort that made me wonder why on earth did I go to medical school. I too have a list of roads not taken and regrets. I won’t bother to list them; I know better than to dwell on them. All the same I wonder what my life would have been like if I had been brave enough to stay on the bus.

As I age I am more forthcoming telling my patients – especially the younger ones – to take the undiscovered journey, the less than certain route, and the scary way.  I want as little regret in life as possible.

Meanwhile I may not be able to be return to those forks in the road but I don’t have to accept complacency.  If the Bus from Amarillo has an open seat I may buy a one way ticket and go.

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dentist-showing-tooth-doctor-medical-character-concept_Myf9MJdu_MTomorrow morning I meet my new dentist. I am not looking forward to this. For the longest time my gnashers on the upper left have been troublesome. It is difficult to chew on that side of the mouth as it is sensitiv. There is a gap guaranteed to get food stuck up with every bite. Oh the pain. I fear my teeth need a lot of work. It’s my own fault; i’ve put it off. It is difficult to arrange time off from to go see the dentist and frankly I don’t like to go.

My last dentist was always pressing me to buy expensive work I didn’t feel I needed. It was sort like that scene in “Young Frankenstein” where the doctor offers to fix Igor’s hump and Igor replies what hump.  I’ve used the excuse of having new insurance to dismiss him.

This is a good a time to admit I don’t like dental hygienists who are chatty. The last one  wanted to act like she was my personal trainer. She was a bit dismayed I was more interested in scheduling appointments by convenience of time and not about matching up times always with her. Not only did she want me to confide and talk she reciprocated with her own updates. I was always too embarrassed to admit I couldn’t never remember her name let alone her personal matters. As she cleaned and chatted I would withdraw into the inner compartment of my mind and try to shut her out. I hope her ilk isn’t around tomorrow.

Unlike the last dentist who was a swanky posh Scottsdale type, tomorrow’s DDS is in a teaching institution. Someone goes there and he has had good experience – and the price is a fraction of the last dentist.  I suppose this being a teaching institution I am certain to encounter students, some won’t be very certain or tactful. I don’t mind; once upon a time I was a medical student rather frightened of meeting patients.  I will try to be a patient patient.

I plan on showing up in dress shirt and slacks with a proper bow tie for I want to make a good first impression and be treated properly.  Someone tells me the first appointment is mostly fact gathering and lots of inspections and x-rays; I am not likely to get a cleaning job. This is too bad, for I was hoping to get it all done in one swoop.

I hope to get in/out quickly and without a horrible prognosis.  If the dental school is a bust, I have a backup plan to see a dentist recommended by one of my patients.

The correspondences from The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections have been more truculent than usual. The summer monsoons of Phoenix must be creeping of the collective necks like hot hands. I don’t blame them. July through August in Arizona is the equivalent of February -March in the Midwest when people become stir crazy staying indoors waiting impatiently for the weather to turn. All the same their usual threats of sharp implements inserted up my orifices have been supplemented with threats of blackmail. Unless I put out something of worth pronto they plan to spill the Nordic beans as it were.  I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and write a tell-all entry guaranteed to bring in the comments – or so I hope.  Please keep in mind pointed sticks and hot pokers.

With that said, here is a list of things I either can’t do or have never learned.  Spo-fans may be shocked or feel incredulous by the contents but I assure you they are all true. Some of these shortcomings I am resigned ain’t ever going to happen; most of them are “lost causes” and not worth learning.

Throw a ball

Whistle

Spelled ‘calendar’ without relying on spell-check.

Discussed philosophy with a woman, or something like it.

Operate the entertainment system.

Swing a baseball bat and hit a ball

Feel at ease in an Apple store

Grow tomatoes in Arizona

Smoked anything

Made decent onion soup

Seen a “Rocky” movie

Solved the mystery of life, universe, and everything.

Worn a dress

Thrown a punch

Made Pancakes Barbara

Gone to Columbus, Ohio

Fought with my parents

Set fire to a public building

Ordered a rental car

Played craps

Watched Fox News

and

Know where I last put down my tea cup

While reading JAMA over the breakfast bagels this morning I was reminded by the American Heart Association (or something like it) we should consume no more than 40g of sugar per day. When I returned home I got out the kitchen scale to eyeball the amount. Alas, 40g of table sugar is not much. There goes the summer sweets such as small chocolate cone and the otter pops.

It is difficult to eat the proper amount of salt, sugar, and what not.  This is an especially ticklish task as my monkey brain is in a dastardly alliance with my taste buds. They both adore nasty chips and the like. Limiting the lovelies in favor of a PC Mediterranean diet is no small feat if not impossible.

Each week the dears at Blue Apron send us three meal kits. The dinners are tasty, nutritious, and properly portioned – not like my men. I am the first to testify they are delicious and I feel virtuous in eating them. Afterwards my body screams in sharpened famine for more – particularly something with cheese.

The Personal Trainer wants me to ‘eat more’ to bulk up but I don’t think that means Big Macs and the like.*  There is only so much chicken breast and tins of tuna a man can take. Then the peanut butter and crackers call out their siren song.

In the end I wonder really if it is possible to eat ten servings of fruits and vegetables each day or whatever the number is nowadays and abjure sweets, salt, and alcohol. At least I am not going to Canada next year so I won’t get no Tim-bits.  I hear tell in SC and GA they have a lot of fried objects.  Oh the pain.

cookies-dark-side-diet-food-Favim.com-2438932

 

*Spo-fans may be interested to learn I have never had a Big-Mac. Or at least I don’t remember ever having one. I think it would be memorable if I had.

‘But don’t forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor. “

John Dickenson – musical 1776  On why colonists are not going to support the revolution despite English taxation and suppression. 


I have an app called Duolingo which is to learn languages. I am learning Spanish and I am reviewing my  German.* The Duolingo app is free; it has a lot of ads one has to consider before moving on to the next lesson. I can live with this. It seems fair: if I am getting lesson for free they have to find some way to pay for it.

However it dawns on me it is playing on my psychology to keep going lest I lose my spot. It sends me daily reminders “I am on a roll” and if I miss even a day it all goes ‘back to zero’.  Curious: if you miss a day and the ‘days in a row’ calendar starts again at ‘0’ you have the option of shelling out five dollars to erase the gap and pretend there was a continuous record. Imagine! Shelling out money to avoid the pain of loss by creating a lie!

I now realize the dastardly app is based on the psychological phenomena called ‘The Sunk Cost Fallacy”. We feel pain and embarrassment if there is loss. We continue something long after it ceases to be worthwhile (or meaningful) simply because to conclude ‘I’ve lost’ is too upsetting to consider. People will shell out more time/energy – and money – in order to keep up something.

I remember years ago a game called FarmVille, which worked on the same concept. I never played it. It was awesome in its lure. I remember friends putting enormous time into keeping up their farm not because it was ‘fun’ but lest it fail.

The more you invest in something the most reluctant you become to abandon it.

The Sunk Cost Fallacy is not just about individuals and their pocket money. Communities and governments are no better; they continue things long after they should. The Vietnam war comes to mind.

I see The SCF in my patients who have invested time/energy and money into relationships, a house, careers, etc. they are loath to put it down for it means admitting defeat and a dead end.  I am not criticizing; this is human nature. We all do this.  However it is inimical and costly.

Now that I have connected the dots about Duolingo I think I will purposely not do my lessons this weekend. I want to practice letting go of things and feeling OK to do so. I’ve already stopped reading some books I was continuing just because I’ve read so much of them this far.  There are a few nonrefundable tickets for shows coming up; I’ve decided if I am disinterested at the time or too tired or better entertained I will not go merely out of obligation.  It may feel foolish but I think it will do a world of good.

sunkcosts

 

*Going from Spanish to German and back again is making my mind mate them together into a sort of mutt the type you have never seen.  Mein Hund geht nach la Casa.

I apologize I’ve been up to my oxters in work work work. I haven’t had time to write or reciprocate with blog visits. I will get caught up anon this weekend. Meanwhile here’s a bit of impromptu: I hope it entertains. 

For the longest time I’ve had a swarm of thought-gnats flitting about my mind,  none of them I can catch to create a proper blog entry. More’s the pity for I am itching to write something wonderful. Alas, The Muses et. al. are away in the Bahamas on one of those last minute too-good-to-pass up discount cruise offers.

Is it too early to think about Hallowe’en? Apparently Joanne (of Joanne’s Fabrics) doesn’t think so. Last weekend when I went to the store to get some buttons I saw the staff (well over four feet) setting up items and fabrics apropos for October. Normally I don’t get excited about All Hallow’s Eve until mid-August but this heartwarming spectacle set off something in me that wants something to look forward.  Monday last Someone set up the  king-size-titanic-unsinkable-molly-brown bed. As I lay in bed staring up at the bare iron canopy frame they seem to call to me to wrap them with garlands of plastic fall leaves – now.  I hate Christmas things before Thanksgiving so I refrain myself from pumpkins and such until after Labor Day. Maybe.

I like having things to look forward; I dot each month with events for which I quiver with antici .. pation! Not this weekend but the one afterwards I go to Santa Fe for the opera, chiles, and real simulated Indian jewelry. This feels like ‘forever’ but it is nice to know it will eventually happen. I am already preparing a ghost-bag for the road trip.

Someone says I should be more in the present, but that’s just work and hot humid days.  Phooey to the dog days of summer. Not even Harper seems interested in the here and now.

I skim website news headlines during patient appointments when a they start repeating for the umpteenth time the chip is on their shoulder that still bothers them after all these years. 

The only thing worthwhile to do is snuggle up with the snoozing dog.

I take a swig from the BacOs jar to get a euphoric rush of unami. Oh the embarrassment.

The GOP voter registration stratagems start to make sense until I remember the ultimate reason they make these modest proposals is to block people from voting Democrat.

Like “Groundhog day” I fall asleep listening to the same recording hoping someday I will actually hear it to its end. As Rocky says to Bullwinkle: “But that trick never works”

Random texts are sent to various Spo-fans and relations to keep them on their toes. It is rawther exhausting being people’s guiding conscious.

I pepper my food before tasting it. After all almost everything tastes better with pepper. 

Going into hysterics is the only proper response in a situation.  Examples: scorpions in the utensil drawer, rattle noises coming from the garage, and statements by Ann Coulter.

I stop listening to a podcast or reading a book even if I am amore than halfway through. I don’t have time anymore to complete things for completion’s sake if they are boring me. 

The lint trap becomes quite clogged. Someone in the house doesn’t clean it between loads. I won’t  say who lest he reads this.

I have to turn off the media if Hair Furor is talking.*

I am envious of other bloggers who seem to have happier lives than my own.

“People of Walmart” photos makes me smile even when I feel guilt about being there. 

I buy something at the store thinking we are out of it only to find out we have plenty already at home.

When I feel out of control I put things in order. 

Eating rats in Tewksbury doesn’t sound too bad.

Retirement is seen as something that will never happen.

Books on the ‘To read’ shelf evoke so much guilt in me for never getting to them I give them away rather.

I mix up German and Spanish.  Meine Tia gehe nach la Casa.

 

 

*Better make this one all times.

Last night the first ‘monsoon’ of the season came through like a locomotive. Normally these storms are disappointing they are mere short intense downpours. Yesterday’s sky-drama was worthy of Ragnorak. It would have been quite entertaining but we were driving home from the Sunday night showing of “Falsettoland”. We were nearly blown off Highway 101.  At home all the backyard furniture had been blown about and the umbrella (usually poolside) was now in the pool. Aaron, The Pool Boy, will have is work cut out for him.

The disarray now matches the mess inside. Yesterday afternoon we disassembled The Lovely Neighbor’s king-size bed and brought it over to our place. We’ve had no time to move things about, so its pieces are lying about the living room with mattresses up against the walls. The many iron rods and beams gives the ambience of a giant version of Pick-up-stix.  Goodness knows when we will put it up.  The provisional plan is to empty The Dragon Room (the guest room) and move the contents of The Blue Room into the Dragon Room (the future den/office) which opens up The Blue Room for the old queen-size bed (transforming The Blue Room into The Guest Room) which allows space to erect the king-size bed (keeping the Master Bedroom as is but with a larger bed).  We were ambivalent about the bed but now we are thrilled. Someone is excited as this means shopping for new sheets, pillows, and the such; Urs Truly is pleased as punch as he can don the iron rod canopy with gay garlands apropos for the season.

Who knows when we will find the time to do all this; we both have full work weeks. I worry we will be ambulating around the upright mattresses and criss-crossed iron poles for some time. Happily no one is coming over until November. Last weekend I was mortified Brother #2 and family had an impromptu stop-by in the middle of my ironing/folding/cleaning/laundry/sewing/dishes day. Oh the embarrassment.  Happily they have two adolescent boys and didn’t notice anything odd.

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