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Pensive

New Years Eve evokes retroactive reflections and thoughts of things ending. This can be positive meditation viz. deeds accomplished or a negative one viz. people and things lost along the way. There is plenty of the latter, which sounds depressing yet isn’t too bad when you see it in perspective. The vast majority of the people, places, and things in our lives don’t go on with us. What’s current is a mere drop in the evolutionary ocean of things now extinct. This is especially true in our relationships. 

I recently counseled Patient ‘K’ who usually comes to his appointments with good affect. He came in last week looking sorrowful. He explained his partnership of seven years was ending. Despite effort and hope his mate won’t stop drinking, won’t get a job, and hasn’t sticked to their budget despite years of promises to do so. K finally decided to break it off. He knows this is for the best; he’s been miserable for years. All the same, he is sad, which is understandable. There was a bit of thinking that raised my eyebrows: his belief the relationship would always last.  

Back to my point now. Think back on all the people you’ve ever known in life including the more in-depth relationships. Most are gone either dead, disappeared, or dissolved from lack of mutual interest. For better or worse this seems to be the rule not the exception for human relationships.

I consciously try to nurture and keep in touch with the friends and family I have. I continually work (for I made a wedding promise) on my marriage. All the same, there is a fair bet some of these will not be around when December 2019 rolls around.  

Where is this going? There are a lesson to learn here. Relationships generally don’t last. If you see yours drifting apart you can work on them. However if some sour it is sometimes best to recognize the situation and cut it out and cash in your chips without too much shock.  For Patient K, he will go through a bereavement that I will witness with him. After a reasonable time, he will move on for I won’t let him wallow in self-pity and Victim energy. I hope he will then be ready for a better beau and give that one a try – both parties going in with eyes open with the knowledge there are no guarantees. 

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It’s the end of the year and I am doing major tidy-up this weekend. 2019 may be The Year of the Pig in some parts of the world, but The Cosmic Calendar decrees here in The House of Spo it shall be The Year of No Clutter –  and it starts now.  Here are a few photos that never got to into a blog entry in 2018. Before tossing them out with some moldy humidifiers I thought to put them into one inane blog post to appease The Contract of Obligation per The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections. Not to be worrying: a proper post is on its way tomorrow.

 

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This is the infamous 70$ fruitcake. It was very good; we ate it with relish. There you go Old Lurker! I did not forget! 

 

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This is Princess-Goddess and Warrior-Queen tripping down the aisle at Nephew-in-law’s wedding. They are NOT well over four feet but probably will be.  

 

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We have a few humidifiers; none of them are usable. Even if I should find filters for them they look a little sinister what with black spots inside them all. It is probably better to toss’em and replace them all with one shiny mold-less new one – with a large box of filters. 

 

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Here is the Spo-house Christmas tree hohoho. It looks more or less like every year’s tree.  

I leave you with this philosophical tid-bit:

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At every Christmas my brothers and I got some a board game. Later that day we would put it down on a card table and learn it and play. I remember we got many of the classics: Monopoly; Clue; Sorry; Candyland. Board games were hit or miss; some of them were played once or twice and then forgotten on the shelf while others kept going. One never knew which would ‘hold’. I liked board games which is surprising as in my memory I seldom won any of them. I never had a good head for strategy – I still don’t as demonstrated by my continuous losing streak with Someone at Spite& Malice and Cribbage and with the blogger buddies who play Scrabble.*

I didn’t get a board game this Christmas; I haven’t received one in decades. My annual week holiday to Palm Springs is coming up in two months and I’ve taken a fancy getting a board game for the occasion. So I’ve started looking. But which one to try? GAMES magazine tells me they are legion and new ones come out all the time.  So which one to get?

The game should be mostly strategy-based but some luck/chance element is wanted. It should accommodate 2-5 players. I am partial to finding ‘the latest’ but I am not closed to a trying a ‘classic’.  I want something unique or at least not common.   The game can’t be too complicated to learn -we will only have one week to get it going and play for lord’s sake! 

Monopoly being common is right out although parcheesi may do. Card games are fun but  I’ve got plenty and they are not what I’m after here. I want a proper board game with a proper board.  I have two months to research and ask my nearest and dearest what did they like to play.

Spo-fan recommendations would be most appreciated. Have you a childhood or present board game you recommend?  Thank you. 

 

*I  can not imagine how they find it fun playing Scrabble with me. They always win and I always loose. It is like throwing darts at Jello; there are no satisfying hits.

It is Boxing Day; after years of continually looking it up I still don’t know exactly what one does on this day.  I know what I am doing: I am back at work for three days. Each one should be jam-packed as many folks want their prescriptions filled because the new year commences and either their insurance ends or their deductibles goes up.  

The last week of work tends to have more than usual ‘no-shows’; people forget to come in at this time of year. In my copious spare time I plan to purge my office of saved journals that were squirreled away for later that through waiting long enough have become obsolete. I will also clear out the aged teas and pens. 

At home I will reread my 2018 journal to remember what did and didn’t occur. Every year I remember less and wonder more about what happened to the time. Each year I vow to be better in every way possible and I usually don’t then I repeat. 

Having managed to get up all the holiday decorations in the nick of time I am not in any rush to turn around and take it all down right away.  I am content to keep it up until Epiphany. Someone is superstitious if it isn’t all down by New Year’s Day there will be disaster so he can lead the way for a quick packing. 

That’s all I can think of on this 2018 Boxing Day. I hope to get in one more entry of great depth and/or delight before the year ends. 

We canceled Christmas Eve dinner for we weren’t really hungry. Throughout the day afternoon we nibbled on imperial tidbits to the point we were crapulous. [1] Not even a long dog-walk to see the lights helped create an appetite. We disassembled the menu, placing some things for Christmas Breakfast and some other things went to join Christmas Dinner and what items were freezable went into cryogenics.  Although I had planned the dinner for weeks, this cancelation really wasn’t a disappointment. It feels good knowing we can do as we please and not feel pressured into any ‘should’ statements. 

Although we canceled dinner I do want a piece of that cake I made this afternoon for Baby Jesus. This year’s Geburstag Kuchen is a gingerbread cake from a recipe circa 1750. It is served warm with some cream on top. [3]

It is only 7PM yet it feels much later. Fifty may be the new thirty but 9PM is the new midnight. Once upon a time I would stay up with excitement to attend midnight mass. Ah youth! I suspect we will soon snerdle with dreams of sugar plums etc. and wait for Santa or somebody like him. [3]

There isn’t really anything to do between now and bedtime so I am doing that rarity of events: sitting still and not doing nuttin’. Oh the joy! All is calm and all is bright. I am sitting in the dark with the glow of several burning candles in sight. I am by myself yet I don’t feel alone. My mind is presently circulating the world Kris Kringle-like dropping in on all my friends and family wishing them a Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year. I don’t need anything else. 

I wish Spo-fans near and far a quiet lovely Christmas. May this day and the days to come be marvelous for you.

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[1]  Someone made meatballs; we ate them with relish. 

[2] I hear many churches no longer do midnight mass as the attendance is down. The oldsters can’t do it and the youngsters don’t want to. 

[3] Add some cognac and that’s all the Christmas eve victuals I want  hohoho.  

[4 ] Snerdle is a verb meaning to wrap up cosily in bed.

Many of the holiday food traditions for Spos originate with my maternal great mother Eloise. Conversations via FB with my first, second, and third cousins revealed many of us are doing  the same cookie called an “S” cookies. It is a simple cookie; it is easy to make, it not too cloying, and with simple good flavor – like my men.  However whenever I make S cookies they don’t seem to come out as well as Mother’s. For years I attributed this to lack of maternal magic – until this morning. I asked Father to send me her recipe as I was suspicious something wasn’t right.  He sent it and my worse fears were realized. In my version of the recipe there are three – count’em – three! – sizable errors in measurements. On the positive, this explains why mine don’t work so well and the matter is easily corrected.  Oh the relief.

On the other hand ‘why’ my copy is corrupt is a dark and sinister question. Rationalists in the house think I merely copied the recipe wrong.  I wonder if Mother purposely gave me false information so I would have to rely on her to provide proper cookies. Another explanation: the gremlins who rearrange my perfectly edited blog entries after I press the publish button also rewrite my recipe cards in their spare time. 

This is a humble reminder that recipe measurements are there for a reason: they make for the best turnout. When cooking something from a recipe I often want to wing it and/or cut corners. As Rocky says to Bullwinke this trick never works. Tomorrow when I make “S” cookies I will follow Mother’s recipe to the letter.  

Even more humbling than the lesson to follow the directions is the axiom Mother Knows Best. 

“S” cookies – the precise recipe no rubbish version. 

1/3 cup margarine **

1 and 1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 Tablespoons  cinnamon

2 and 1/2 cups of flour

1/2 Tablespoon of brandy

3 large eggs

Rub butter** into sugar; add eggs, brandy, and the dry ingredients (flour; baking powder; cinnamon).  The dough will be firm. Flour your hands and make small dough-balls. Roll these into small fingers and curve them into S forms . Lay them on an un-greased baking sheet.  Bake @ 375 degrees for 7 minutes.

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**Despite what I wrote, I am going to use butter. I can’t imagine great grandmother at the turn of the 20th century had/used margarine. Later into the recipe it says rub butter not margarine.  I will tell you how it comes out. 

 

Every year starting in late December all the citrus trees in Phoenix start putting out their abundance. Soon everyone will be inundated with lemons, oranges, and grapefruit. Not too far from our house is this lemon tree: it routinely has its bounty hovering over the owner’s back wall onto the sidewalk. Harper and I walk by it twice a day. I’ve been watching the lemons slowly ripen and lo! They are ready!  Sometimes the tree drops its goods onto the sidewalk where they are up for grabs. This has to be timed right lest the rats get them first or what is on the ground is way past their prime.  Alas, the ones hanging here are just out of reach.

Every year I am tempted to come in the night with a stepladder and pick some. This leads to an ethical question: are they really mine to pick? I have no qualms to pick lemons up from the sidewalk so why not just pick them now? The owner has plenty of them on his side of the wall and he probably doesn’t even know these exist.  Apart from the ethics of it all is my vanity. Imagine a car coming around the corner only to see Urs Truly up a stepladder picking lemons! Oh the embarrassment!  And it’s not like there are no lemons. There are plenty of them baby, not only in the grocery store but on all the other trees.  If I wait just a few more weeks The Boss Man will bring me a sackful of citrus.

So – what is it that makes me covet these low-hanging lovelies? I guess there is an evil streak of greed going on. I want them as they are there.  I think it’s in the Bible (Wisdom?) ‘Stolen sweets are sweeter” or something like that.

Spo-fans who are wondering if I’ve gone crackers can rest assured I am not planning on pinching the produce. I will wait for luck drop one or two on our heads the next time we go on a dog walk.  If there are none coming my way, so be it.

Sometimes when life doesn’t give your lemons you can be assured you didn’t want lemonade anyway.

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This I go downtown to see “The Nutcracker”. I wonder why I bother. I’ve seen it countless times and the Arizona Ballet hasn’t changed the production since I first went in 2005. I know the music and choreography by heart; there will be nothing new or noteworthy.  On the positive, the ticket is free  and I will see Someone who is ushering*. Afterwards we will go to Hanny’s to see their tree and have an aviation while we wait for the traffic to clear.  Even this is ‘routine’ and nothing new. On a similar note, I put up the Christmas decorations today. These are the same ornaments and knickknacks we’ve had for decades. I know where everything goes. This is the nice thing about tradition: they repeat over and over and in the unsurprising rhythm you feel good about it. In a world of constant flux seeing the same ballet and house decorations is a comfort. While I age they stay the same.

I doubt I will fare well tonight as I’ve been working nonstop today running around the house decking the halls and donning the gay apparel. It all raised a lot of dust to the point I began sneezing. Foolishly I took an allergy pill. There is a safe bet by curtain rise Urs Truly will be sleeping with sugar plums dancing in his head.  I hope to make it long enough to see the rats. Every year I think maybe this year they will win the battle but that bitch Clara always does so in the end. Most of the time she throws her shoe and it doesn’t hit anything let alone The Mouse King but it causes him to drop dead anyway.  Talk about efficacy!  The second act of ‘The Nutcracker’ doesn’t much appeal to me what with all those wretched stereotypes running amok.  All the same, I suspect I will enjoy it merely for the sake of being there again. I’ve been cooped up all day and want to get out. Seeing the little girls is a heartwarming spectacle, particularly if they are being escorted by CDs. **

That’s all the news here. When Someone gets home  I hope he likes the house now festive with trimmings and enough votive candles to light up a carnival cruise ship.  It’s been a lot of work but I think it worth it.

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*It is ‘high holy days” for Someone as usher captain. Some years he ushers over a dozen of these things. Oh the pain.

**Cute dads.

Every year at The Winter solstice I write an entry of great thought the type that best happens in the cold bleak midwinter. [1] In this annual meditation I want to wish Spo-fans in both hemispheres a happy new year/season’s greetings and I try throw in a nugget of inspirational wisdom. The Winter Solstice entry is The Spo-reflection equivalent to The Queen’s speech at Christmas. Lord only knows how Her Majesty manages to do this year after year but if she can do it so can I.

If modern man bothers to celebrate The Winter Solstice at all it is a quiet time to light some candles or the fireplace and drink wine or hot cocoa. [2] In my comfy chair with a roof over my head it is hard to imagine how frightening and foreboding it was for my ancestors to witness the retreat and standstill of the light into darkness. Every year my ancient ancestors had the collective angst the winter sun may not return. Lighting fires at The Solstice wasn’t a jolly celebration but a fearful ritual imploring the gods to bring back the sun which was Life. [3] There was also the worry about food supplies: would there be enough food to last until spring time.  It was a dark and ominous time.

2018 seemed a slow slide into darkness and ignorance. I won’t rehash the politics and events; you know them yourself. The minds and hearts of the nation – nay world – resemble my Vikings ancestors with their fears will we see the return of light or sink into Hel? [4]  On a hopeful note perhaps like the Solstice we have hit the nadir and it is ‘all uphill from here’. This day of Winter Solstice I once again light the candles to welcome light and say a prayer for the return of light and wisdom.

 

[1] The PC name for this month’s solstice is The December Solstice to remind us as half the world isn’t experiencing winter but summer. My Nordic genetics finds this a hard one to do, so I will continue using The Winter Solstice. Please don’t write in. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections are Nordic as the Northern Lights and won’t get a herring.

[2] If you are Urs Truly a good snort of scotch.

[3] Sometimes sacrifices were done to help with the petitions. You would think the yearly return of the sun would comfort their worry but it didn’t.

[4] In the Norse mythos Hel was a frozen dreary place; it was where we got our word for Hell.

Every morning at 5AM when I wake I have a slight surprise I have done so.  I say a quick prayer of thanksgiving to the gods or whomever may be listening that day and get up and get on with it.  At this time of the year I see the sun rise from my office desk around 730AM which makes me pensive as to what the day may have in store for me. Today’s patient roster looks like any other work-day: I have about two dozen folks to see; many of them will be well over four feet and with pending angst about pending change of insurance/co-pays etc. There will be a fistful of prior-auths to do. I will get ~ 20 requests for prescription renewals and more than a few fires to put out. If I am lucky, the pharmaceutical lunch won’t be too mundane or tedious. It’s the same old stuff really. Throughout the day I will wonder how on earth am I going to get through it all and then I always do. After work I try to get myself to the gym even though all I will want to do is go home and curl up with Harper and Samuel Pepys.  I will do some homework and phone calls. Perhaps I will strive to do some Christmas decorating which are still not up. I will go to sleep and wonder if I will wake in the morrow although it’s a pretty safe bet.

Daily living with its daily tasks can easily slip by without conscious thought. We go through the motions, responding to the matters at hand. It will hardly feel like anything, ‘Just living’ I suppose is said with a shrug of indifference. It is both soothing and disappointing.  Most of us want lives filled with pizzazz when in fact they are not. Mr. Pepys in his diary basically tells the same sort of day: He gets up and he goes to his office. He interacts with people; he has his supper; ‘and now to bed”.  Life. As I age the mundane rhythm of daily doings is seen as a comfort rather than a sign for a shake up.  My Midwest genetics sees this sort of existence as proper while my Nordic roots wants to go a-Viking and soon dammit.  However even the Vikings were sensible enough to stay home at winter time. I shall focus my day on doing the best I can for my patients and take some comfort I got through another day hopefully well enough.

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