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Walking the dog

On Wednesday at work I wrote a witty and wonderful entry. Unfortunately I forgot to post it. This Thursday morning I have no new notions. So, there is always “Walking the Dog”.  I don’t think The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections will notice until it’s too late. Apparently it’s rather cold in the Midwest and even they aren’t venturing out of doors.

One can not rely on a dog to look at the stars while on a walk. This morning around 5AM there was a beautiful astral arrangement of four celestial bodies in a row: Venus, the crescent Moon, Jupiter, and the star Antares in Scorpius rising. I took a photo but it didn’t do the stelliferous spectacle half justice. Meanwhile Harper was snout to the ground inspecting the sniffs entangling me in leash as I was looking up not paying attention to the human Maypole she was creating. It nearly caused a fall for the both of us. There goes dignity and our good Henley Street name.

Spo-fans – especially Old Lurker – will be relieved or shocked to read I harvested two lemons mentioned in previous “Walking the Dog” entries. Twice a day we walk by this tempting tree, taunting us with its lemon-burdened branch which hangs over the sidewalk just out of reach. Yesterday night we went out with some long handled pincers and when the coast was clear we picked us a few. Mercifully there was no shooting.  I carried the booty home in a black doggie-waste plastic bag we always take on these outings. If stopped and questioned I would hold out the bag to imply if you want to look into this be my guest.

Harper seems less interested these days in exploring new routes than ‘checking in’ with the  more familiar bushes and posts to see what’s been happening since yesterday. This makes dog walks less time consuming. At this time of year this a good things as it is still too cold and dark to stay out long  in the wee hours of the morning (5-9C brrrrr). The evenings are pleasant enough (20C) for longer excursions.  I look forward to the return of the morning sun to warm us up and keep us safe from coyotes and javelinas that might be lurking in the dark of the morning.

At the Spo House I am the Dog-walker but Someone sometimes fills in. I’ve learned never to take out Harper while he’s outside as she figures he’s supposed to come with us. She seems to panic when he stays behind or goes indoors; she pulls me back as if afraid to be separated from Someone. Harper Hound is indeed his dog and I am merely The Other Dog with the advantage of opposable thumbs to open doors and get us going.

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Most of human misery derives from our need to feel included in a group. One of mankind’s greatest gift – and curse – is our innate need to form into tribes. This would be OK by itself but history shows Tribes always have some element of ‘us vs. them’. Defining the group if often done by villainizing those not in the group. It is chilling how quickly and arbitrarily this happens. A difference as trivial as who has a green ID badge vs a red one is enough to quickly form people into opposing sides, that old us vs. them. We’ve been doing this since we came down from the trees and I daresay we won’t be rid of the habit.

It’s bad enough we do this over moot things but go look at history when the differences are more palpable: sex, race, religion, and nationality. Exclusion, pogroms, and wars are often rationalized over rights or resources but this is superficial stuff compared to the archaic simpler explanation of ‘us vs. them”.  Those who are “them” are a threat and if we don’t wipe ‘them’ out they will certainly wipe ‘us’ out.  When ‘us’ creates a ‘them’ their members cease being fellow humans but something less.  The more ‘them’ the ‘us’ group can make them the easier it is to justify their exploitation and annihilation.

Another sad element of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ is how quickly and/or unconscious the ‘us’ members will go along with the ‘us’ rules and beliefs. This is to assure ‘us’ status; the loss of ‘us’ is to become a ‘them’ with all its consequences.

It would be nice if Sylvester McMonkey McBean or something like him came along to teach us a lesson so we will rise above our monkey brain parts but fat chance of that. History is full of Mr. McBeans and they are mostly assassinated. The best we can do it be forever diligent of going into the primordial  ‘us. vs. them’ mentality. If we are to survive as a species we must keep dialogue with ‘them’ to remember they are really only different versions of ‘us’.

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While I am on a roll of tidy-up projects I thought to confess my actions at the office. Where are work there are two kitchenettes used by many and supervised by none. From time to time I take it upon myself to organize the kitchen drawers and throw out what I believe needs purging. No one objects and no one seems to notice either.*

Thanks to continual pharmaceutical luncheons we are up to our oxters in packets of salt and pepper, soy sauce, and other condiments. I daresay they multiply on their own. I tried once to put them all into a clear glass container on the shelf at eye level so others would use them. Alas the amounts that come in weekly overwhelmed the jar.  When the drawer is overflowing I throw them all out and no one is the wiser. Plus – the mayonnaise packets tend to plumb up like overstuffed helium balloons and that can’t be good.

In another drawer dwell enough chopsticks to supply all of Shanghai despite a relatively lack of Chinese food at these shin-dings. These look perfectly useable so throwing them out seems silly. I imagine taking them en mass to Pei Wei and leaving them like a box of unwanted kittens but I worry if caught in the act I would be looked upon as an object of suspicion.

Who keeps bringing in the multi-colored coffee sweeteners is a mystery especially in light of the fact no one seems to bring in coffee. I don’t throw out the sugar substitutes as blithely as I do the condiments but I do like to organize them into taxonomic trays keeping the yellows away from the blues and the pinks. As Rocky says to Bullwinkle but that trick never works – or not for long. By week’s end they have all crept back into a communal pile in the back of a drawer usually behind the condiments.  The columnar boxes of unused sugar and coffee creamers stay put on the counter like Ozymandias.

I recently threw out the clinic can opener. It’s been sleeping in a drawer underneath a thick blanket black plastic fork/knife/spoon/paper napkin sets. I suspect no one has used it in years. I recently tested it as it is inoperable.

On the kitchen counter is a glass jar into which I make a periodic contribution of nibbles. These are quickly consumed but no one asks where they come from or even says thank you. This doesn’t bother me really. I feel like one of those Elves in the Shoemaker story and it gives me a good feeling to do a small good for my fellow man.

On the other hand after a round of tidy-up I get peeved enough to consider bringing in not trail mix but something else for the glass jar.

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*I realize this perpetuates the problem viz. self-responsibility and an agreed-upon plan to keep things clean. Alas, years of remonstration has been to no avail.

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I swept and mopped the floors today; it was some job. They were quite dirty with dog hair and dust bunnies the size of tumbleweeds. Oh the embarrassment. The weather was warm enough to open the doors for awhile and let in some relatively dog-free air. Piles of laundry, high as Fafner’s hoard, were cleaned, ironed, folded, and put away. I can sit down now wholly satisfied how much tidy-up was accomplished. I can be proud in my industry. 

Tomorrow is Monday and the whole bloody business starts again. 

I sometimes wonder what other people do on their weekends. I imagine while I am running errands and doing the tidy-up others are out jet-skiing and hand-gliding followed by dining, theatre, and dancing. I want to know when do they buy the groceries and iron etc. Probably the have hired help or indentured servants to fry the eggs and dry the sheets for them.

Perhaps there is no greener grass to wit even the hoity-toity 1% lead mundane lives on weekends staying home to clean their kitchens

Unless Mary Poppins should unexpectedly shows up housekeeping here is strictly do-it-yourself and that’s that. Henry II (or one of that crowd) once said “There’s no point in asking if the air is any good when there is nothing else to breathe”. No one is going to pick up the dog poop for me.

On the positive I got through all my podcasts and a medical lecture and Harper got in a couple of good walks. While I ran around with mop and broom she basically slept all day. I gave her one task to do to earn her keep: change the bed. It is 7PM and she still hasn’t done it. It is so difficult to get good help these days. 

I am sitting on break from the Saturday “There’s work to be done” chores and wondering what to write. I am sipping a cup of tea as is my wont.  It dawned on me teapots would make a cheap and quick ‘Curious things around the house’ entry.

I don’t know how many teapots I own – ‘a lot’ comes to mind while ‘too many’ comes to Someone’s mind perhaps. They vary in size, shape, and how often I used – like my men.   Here’s a few to amuse:

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This King-size-Titanic-unsinkable-Molly-Brown metal pot sits on the kitchen counter. It was purchased in Canada and carried home on the airplane where I worried it would be mistaken for a bomb. It is my most often used pot. It makes a lot of tea, most of which I cool down and store for iced tea purposes.

 

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This little fellow is at the opposite end of the Universe of Teapots. It is used for ‘one cuppas” loose leaf tea, usually green.  It’s fine for an afternoon tea when I don’t want to be wired.

 

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The Lovely Neighbor gave me this  she she moved away. It was her late Mother’s teapot. I don’t ever remember her using it. I suspect TLN was trying not to take it with her, so she gave it for my collection. As you can see it isn’t very practical as its top is rawther narrow, making it difficult to insert teabags ( no loose leaf here!) She traveled the world over so I thought I was getting something exotic from India perhaps. It turns out it’s from Pier 1 Imports made in China. I’d throw it out but for the guilt if I did.

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This fine little pot is Polish-made. It is a gift from Canada. Laurent and Will (the dears!) gave it to me when we visited them in Ottawa. Such fabulous take-home prizes they give out !

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This fine specimen is part of my Spo(de) china collection. It sits on a shelf,  wrapped in bubble plastic, waiting for those gay times when we entertain 8-12 for formal dinners and afterwards tea is served.  The pot comes with 8-12 cups and saucers and I can’t remember when last I used any of this. I’d give it all away but no one want this sort of stuff anymore.

Tell me about your teapots! How many and which is your favorite?

Someone listens to a podcast that always ends with the panel question: “What’s making you happy this week?” The panelists then take turns answering this inquiry. I thought I would give it a try.

What is making me happy this week?

My laptop has a new battery, which frees me from the necessity to be plugged into an outlet. The old battery was holding only ten minutes of juice before the screen went dark.  The Apple store was able to replace the battery. Mr. Salesman (who looked about 15yo) explained to me the battery had to be ordered . My laptop and its battery are considered ‘vintage’. Vintage? He explained mine was a 2012 model and anything over five years old is considered ‘vintage’. Urs Truly does not consider 2012 ‘vintage’. Back to the point – I can use Vintage Mac sans cord. I look forward to reading and writing blogs n Palm Springs  by the pool without the need for a long orange extension cord. 

Once again it is grapefruit season in here in Phoenix. Everyone’s citrus trees are putting out fruit en masse. Sacks of yellow and pink grapefruit are thrust upon me at work. From now until March I can have one every day, which I eat with relish. 

I can fit into my dress trousers again! Let’s hear it for diet and exercise! I’ve had to stay in khaki Dockers the ones with stretch waistlines. Maybe I can soon again wear some T-shirts I put away. 

At work we won’t be doing paper prescriptions anymore; all scripts are to be electronic. This cuts down on errors and the constant need to be on the lookout for prescription pad theft. Medicine is moving into the modern age.

Also at work: I am told AHCCCS (Arizona’s Medicaid program) no longer accepts prescriptions from non-AHCCCS providers (hey, that’s me). The AHCCCS patients will have to see AHCCCS doctors. They won’t be happy of course, but they will actually get more resources (including Rx coverage) and I get to purge my overloaded patient roster. 

Finally,  speaking of podcasts, I was mentioned on one! https://almostforgotten.squarespace.com    I was pleased as punch to hear my name mentioned.  It’s a small thing but it made my week. 

 

So, what’s making you happy this week?

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The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections recently had their annual first of the year pow-wow in which they set goals (for me), make terms (mostly forgotten), and eat herring (which they do with relish). The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections and I are at odds over the revision of The Mission Statement for the blog. My mission statement is to have an online blank page or canvas for composition to express myself via prose for whatever I or the Muses feel like writing and share it with what readers there may be.  Their mission statement: lure in as many readers and comments as possible in order to pick their pockets.  Obviously it’s a work in progress.

Walter Cnut Fafner, the only member of The Board with computer skills*, did some research on blog traffic and grammar mistakes and sent his findings via email. It is titled “A disputation on the efficacy of Spo-entries”. I won’t bore you with its 95 critiques. The treatise is profusely illustrated with crude drawings of what happens to incompetent bloggers who write badly. The TBDHSR – greedy gannets that they are – love to rub their unwashed hands together in glee whenever ‘traffic is high’ and they want this to continue.  According to Mr. Fafner ‘I do my best’ when I write on these three topics:

Foodstuffs

Personal struggles

My sex life

He sent a separate email of a roster of foodstuffs I could use in future entries. It resembles a grocery list for someone who hasn’t been to the store in a while or is expecting a major blizzard.  He also suggested I go out and get some fresh hurts and disappointments upon which to write. Walter’s colleague Sven added some things. He sounds like Mrs. Danvers suggesting I throw myself in front of a bus so I can blog about the aftermath from hospital. As for my sex life, The Board simply said make stuff up.

I suppose I will write on these topics from time to time, especially when I sense TBDHSR is breathing down my neck. Otherwise I plan on pursuing my Mission Statement as described. I wait for t+The Muses or somebody like them to provide my next profound entry. Until then it’s impromptu – and no “Curious Things around the House” entries unless they have jars of pasta sauce.

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*The rest of them are notorious Luddites and rather smug about it. They like to point out Vikings managed to ransack Europe quite easily and without the benefit of email, IMs, and social dating apps. They have a point albeit an idiotic one.

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Some folks have jobs in which they move about; they are constantly on foot at the workplace or driving/flying to interact with clients. My job is the opposite: I sit still and my clients (A.K.A. patients) travel to see me. Some of them (the dears!) travel a long way. Some come from other states rather than find some local doctor. I listen to peoples’ comings and goings while ensconced and sessile in my chair.

This iniquitous arrangement makes me sometimes jealous. This was apparent the other day when “Peer” showed up for his appointment. He pops in every 3-4 months for a routine check-up. As usual he’s a bit late to return to clinic as he’s been vagabonding.  As I escorted Peer into the office it seemed to me he’s aged – not in a bad way but simply I’ve watched him grow older. Peer reported he was fine and he feels a fortunate fellow. He is retired; he has a cabin in northern Arizona that he adores. When he isn’t there he is traveling – a lot  – for he loves it so. After a few formalities to convey he’s steady and the meds are worth continuing I asked what’s coming up. Oh, he replied, he’s traveling to Chile ‘for the millionth time” to hop a cruise ship to NYC. Maybe afterwards he may visit Canada, he isn’t sure, or perhaps he will just relax at said cabin.

On his way out he joked he’s seen me growing old which makes sense as ‘I’ve been coming here for five years or so”. I looked this up: we first saw each other in 2005 – 14 years ago.  This made him laugh and he doubled his gratitude for my care taking. Well, see you after I get back from South America and he waved good-bye.

I went home that night feeling a bit melancholy. We have watched each other grow old and the years have flown by. The difference is he’s circled the globe countless times while I, Solveig-like, have stayed home. In a way it seems a disappointment to spend one’s life growing old in chair watching others live out their lives.

A lot of my success at being a shrink and as a physician is being constant. In a world of perpetual change my patients appreciate I’ve been there for nearly fifteen years and counting. I hang in with them while they go on their peripatetic tumultuous Journeys. I’ve received many thanks for ‘doing well for me’ based not so much on making them better but just being there.

All the same, I don’t want another 5-10 years of watching patients grow old. It is very difficult for me to take time off from work but it isn’t impossible. I don’t want to see Peer in another ten years under similar circumstances. It’s time for me to get out and be more than everyone’s rock.   I can be both Peer and Solveig.

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super-bowl-sandwichIt is only 21 January and I am already tired of The Super Bowl. Last weekend while I was in the loo at our favorite bar I saw a poster advertisement for a 2PM Super Bowl party,  scheduled for 3 February. [1] I learned then what date was the game  (I thought it was always the last Sunday in January). Last night Facebook exploded in the fury of an orchestra of scorched cats mostly making reference to some recent football game upset that established which teams will be participate. [2]  One of my podcasts is talking about the history of chicken wings and how they came to be the proper food for Super Bowl Sunday.

Oh the pain.

As you see I’d sooner eat rats at Tewkesbury than watch The Super Bowl. This is mostly out of boredom about football, thrown in with some inability to sit still. Someone and I are doing fairly well on our diets so neither one of us wants to consume the countless calories seemingly required to properly attend the American mysteries.

Perhaps I would be more ‘into it’  if I attended a party. Super Bowl is sort of like Thanksgiving that

a) you are expected to be with others

b) allowed to consume huge amount of high-caloric foods without feeling guilty about it.

In my life I’ve been to a few Super Bowl parties and they are all boring. People tended to put on the gam and proceeded not really to watch until the commercials came on. [3]

I will probably spend Super Bowl Sunday as I usually spend my Sundays quiet at home sans television sans chicken wings sans beer sans everything. I will feel good about the calories not consumed. After all Palm Springs is coming and I want to look my best. That’s the real Super Bowl for Urs Truly.

 

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Oh the pain.

[1] The advertisement promised (in this order): drinks; food; fun; football. The game looks to be almost an afterthought.

[2] I don’t recall now which two; I wasn’t pay that much attention.

[3] I should point out the parties I’ve attended were all hosted and attended by thems light in the loafers. The food was fabulous but no one gave a damn about the game. I hear tell in the straight-arrow versions of such parties men actually watch the game. Can you imagine?

“Savor” is a podcast about foodstuffs. In their most recent episode they talked about – of all things! – Ranch Dressing. Not only is it the most popular salad dressing in the USA but is now being used/promoted as a condiment ‘the new ketchup’ as it were. This was all news to me. The podcast episode made me meditate on salad dressing in general.*

I am suspicious of bottled dressing the type found in the grocery stores. “Fat free” dressings taste ‘off’ and they are full of sugar, gums, and other ingredients to resemble a chemistry class. The ‘real ones’ evoke in me the sense I can make this at home for a fraction of the cost.

I generally don’t use salad dressing actually; I prefer vinegar and oil and not much of either. I use balsamic vinegar and proper olive oils – no rubbish! I make mine using a glass container that once upon a time came with a packet of desiccated dressing (Italian probably). To it I add my vinegar, my oil, and whatever spices or herbs are at hand and viola! Good-enough salad dressing. When the concoction is not used for salads, it makes a good dip for bread and pizza crusts. Ranch dressing as condiment be damned. 

Someone doesn’t like v/o; he buys the plastic bottle types at the supermarket – usually Ranch. 

I haven’t the foggiest how many types of salad recipes there are but if an alien were to beam down and eat at any typical restaurant they would come to the conclusion there are only four:  Italian, ranch, bleu cheese, and 1000 island. I remember from my youth my elders liked“Russian” and “Green Goddess” but apparently these went out with the bell-bottoms. 

I am curious to hear what Spo-fans use/like for salad dressing. If anyone has a good recipe for such I would be blithe to try it.  

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*The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections was apoplectic over my proposal I do an entry on salad dressing. They even proposed “Walking the dog” be resurrected. TBDHSR abjure salads and vegetables in general, other than rutabagas. For some reason they adore rutabagas, which they eat with relish. 

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