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Now that Thanksgiving is over the Christmas season begins. Christmas 2019 will be a sort-of ‘non-Christmas’ for Urs Truly. Someone and I try to go to Michigan every other year to have our holidays with the family. We haven’t gone in some years now – what with getting coverage at our jobs.  Last summer I promised my parents we would go.  Mother was pleased as punch. In the interim her physical health has deteriorated and what happens next month is anyone’s guess. The main point of this trip is making Mother (and Father) happy. This may entail merely giving Father a break by running his errands and the cleaning house (rumored to be quite shoddy) while he attends Mother who now in a physical rehabilitation centre with an unclear future. 

Another element for a ‘non-Christmas”: Someone will work nonstop. I will go to Michigan earlier than he does. We talked yesterday and decided we will have no time really to put up the tree and decorations prior to my departure on 21 December.  I am not sure if we will even buy Christmas prizes for each other or for the family.   

My brothers have not said so out loud but there is a sense this is to be Mother’s ‘last Christmas” so it would be nice to make it as festive as possible. Unfortunately this may be without tree or gifts given the circumstances. 

I like to know things ahead of time but this year I must live with uncertainty. It’s all up in the air where I/we will stay and what/if any Christmas activities will happen. My priorities are care taking the parents. If there is free time I may see chums but who can tell.  If Mother is happy and Father is rested then I will be content. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Spo-fans know I am home alone today. I am having a splendid time thank you. I am Introvert: nothing charges my batteries more than being withdrawn into the inner compartments of my mind.  I’ve had a some lovely phone calls and Facetime encounters with friends and family.

I cleaned up my blog roster today. It saddens me to delete the ones inactive. As is often the case, the writers just stopped writing without any explanation or closure.You get to know someone then they disappear. . It always makes me feel like I’ve been ghosted.  On the positive, I am pleased as punch to add new reads and blogger buddies to the list.  I hope I haven’t forgotten anybody. I am certain to realize my mistakes in a few days. 

Today I am making a sort of thanksgiving dinner from a recipe given to me by one of the blogger buddies. I can not remember who gave it to me.  I feel bad about this as I won’t be able to give her (I thinks it’s a she) feedback and gratitude. The dish is potatoes, turkey, and bacon in chicken gravy.  This being Southwest I put in a tin of green chiles.  Nothing tastes good anymore without some heat. 

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Someone comes home from work about seven. He made some ‘sides’ for his at-work potluck. If there are any left he will bring them home and we will have them with our crock pot turkey. One of these dishes certain to return is ambrosia salad, something I had never heard of until I met him. He states this dish is a ‘southern thing’, a delicacy made for the holidays.  Ambrosia salad is more or less chopped fruit in a creamy binder. It is what’s for dessert here today at Das SpohausApparently Someone’s recipe (which is his mother’s) is the proper no-rubbish Ambrosia salad and do not question this. I went on line to research the recipe. Talk about falling down a rabbit hole! Not only are there countless variations everyone is quite dogmatic theirs is the best and except no substitutes. All of them sound slightly sickly but I am a mere Northerner and don’t know any better.

My Thanksgiving tradition isn’t gloppy fruit cocktail in coconut; my ‘small chocolate cone’ is cheese – Edam cheese to be precise.  This week I bought me a small block of the stuff to have with tonight’s special scotch. Cheese and whiskey! I am quite thankful. 

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office

The work day before a long weekend or major holiday is usually a frantic one. There are often a lot of ‘no-shows’ as people forget they have an appointment today. There are also lots of frantic telephone calls from folks in hysterics about to leave for the airport needing their medications renewed right now – usually valium. I wrote this entry in piecemeal when people failed to make their appointments.

What I should be doing now is rummaging through my office desk and cupboards to discard old journals and such, the things I’ve squirrel away ‘for later’, papers I’ve completely forgotten about and are outdated anyway so into the rubbish they go.

I just saw a patient with “SAD” which is seasonal affective disorder. This means depression/anxiety worsens in the winter months. When I lived in Michigan I had a lot of patients with SAD. There are not as many of these cases in Arizona. All the same the lack of light this time of year makes even the locals sluggish and logy. On top of SAD are the ‘holidays’ with all their stressful elements hohoho. Unfortunately hibernation is not a feasible option for most: the co-pay on this prescription is outrageous.

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My office – PHX branch

Speaking of winter my office is as cold as witch-tit. As you can see I have the corner office is half windows. When we moved into the place everyone was initially mad-jealous that I got the corner office with its view of the mountains and Evita-balcony. We soon discovered for half the year in the summer months the morning sun bakes it hot as an easy-bake oven and in the other half of the year it’s positively arctic. No one will swap rooms with me now for love or money. I need to remember next week to bring in a little space heater as I am freezing my wrists off even as I type.

Today at noon we are having a telephone conference sales pitch about some sort of device or metric flogged as something useful to my practice. At the moment I can’t think of anything useful I want right now other than someone or something that fills out prior-authorization forms.  The salesman has already lost a few points by putting this at lunch time and not providing food. Thrall #1 (the dear!) went out to fetch us some tuna fish sandwiches served on buns and things.

Later – the  teleconference zoomed in and out in half an hour and I still don’t know what it was about. Imagine someone trying to explain quantum mechanics in thirty minutes. It seems to be an on-line do-it-yourself cognitive exam for patients. It has all sorts of fancy charts ups and do-dads apparently to see how bad is your memory. My soul swoons with questions on its use, privacy issues/HIPPA laws, and the price of such shenanigans. Imagine me telling an elderly patient struggling with memory to go on line to a website and follow the instructions to set up an account and do all the tasks and have it generate a report to send to my office. The saleslady wanted me to sign up before I hung up and she wasn’t one to take no for answer. I’m afraid she had to live with disappointment – at least until I can figure out what the hell she was talking about.

It looks like I may get out today on time enough to go to the gym and then head home for my four days introverted cocoon weekend. This evening I plan on making some bread. It shall be my Thanksgiving treat.

I have an active imagination and this has been so from the get-go. It was later on in life (perhaps around six years old) I discovered I was not alone in my yearning to go down rabbit holes. To my delight I read and heard of people throughout history who have longed to explore imaginary worlds and ride fantastic beasts. As a boy I was a rapacious reader; as a teen I was into Dungeons & Dragons. This sh-t never stops; it got reinforced in my studies of Jungian psychology. I suspect seasoned Spo-fans grow weary of reading fantastical posts extolling cucumber trees and three-legged Cyclops. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections is sick of it all themselves but they don’t dare downright damn the stuff: to do would puts them out of a job.

I used to think thems in touch with the archetypes were the rule not the exception. As I’ve aged I encounter more and more people disinterested in using thieirimagination other than to figure out how to get more fame, money, prestige, and other things of little value.  It seems the world is becoming more dominated by the Gradgrinds. Mr. Gradgrind is a character is Dickens’ novel “Hard times”. He was a practical man who wanted nothing but facts taught to the kiddies – no rubbish topics that didn’t directly help shape them into complacent factory workers.* I was fascinated and appalled by The Gradgrinds who were up in arms over the Harry Potter books. They did so on the manifest grounds the book were ‘un-Christian” but I couldn’t help but think the real issue was their fear reading fantasy books unleashes the mind from the yoke of custom and convention causing the kids to ‘think for themselves’. Paradoxically chasing white rabbits and galloping about with the hobbits makes one better at discerning the BS of real life. Anyone who has read the “Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever” series sees how the our present-equivalent High Council congressmen are a bunch of Ravers.**

Despite their many faults I will welcome the ongoing stay of The Cup Sprites and The Car Key Gnomes – even the truculent Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections.  Some will say I have a few screws loose but wasn’t it Don Quixote (or was it John Lennon?) who said seeing reality for what it is is the worse insanity of all?

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*I cringe whenever I hear people call for a moratorium on classes in art and music or slashing financial support of the arts.  Education is not merely learning a trade but a means to becoming a thinking and compassionate person.

**I hope some Spo-fans get this. Explanations are given on request.

cropped-thanksgiving2008.jpgSomeone is working this Thursday and most of the holiday weekend too so we won’t have a Thanksgiving. I will be home alone. He will be quite tired when he gets home and want to go straight to bed and not eat a full meal, so there is no point in us cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner. In past years we sometimes made a dinner on Friday or Saturday, but he works those days too. We are both on diets anyway, so we are skipping the whole thing.  

I keep this to myself at work and with loved ones on Facebook as the announcement one isn’t doing Thanksgiving is met with all sorts of emotions other than a just a head nod of assertion. Not all Americans ‘do’ Christmas but everyone does Thanksgiving – and to not do so is almost a blasphemy. “I won’t have a Thanksgiving” is often met with horror and/or pathos. People who don’t know me very well sometimes hear this and blurt before even thinking I could come to their place. This is based on the unspoken agreement no one should be alone that day. 

Going without Thanksgiving is something I am used to as I often worked the day myself. No one wants to go to the emergency room on Thanksgiving Day and I got lot paid lots of money for mostly sitting around for eight hours. Someone has long worked on theday too volunteering to work so others won’t have to. 

It will be very quiet peaceful day. I usually have a nice at-home breakfast and then I go to the gym and after that whatever I want.  “Thanksgiving dinner” this year is soup in the crockpot which I will eat with relish.  I will call Mother who is in a rehabilitation center after she had a fall.  

I called her today to find Father was there visiting. He tell me Brother #2 through #4 and various daughters-in-laws and grandchildren have ordered a Thanksgiving dinner ‘to go’ from Costco (really!) to bring in to her so they can all eat something together. When I reflected I assumed they would just cancel the day given she’s in hospital etc. Father was bewildered as the office folks by my logic. It’s Thanksgiving ! One just has to have such.  He asked if I was home alone again this year and I said yes, which didn’t surprise him given my history I’ve mentioned.  He said they would all call me on Thursday so I would not feel left out or alone.  They are dears but you see the point – one can not be allowed alone on Turkey day in the USA. 

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I just hope he has tasty giblets 

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Last night Someone took me to his ushering gig in Tempe to see “American Psycho the musical”.  I haven’t read the book nor seen the movie so I wasn’t going with any expectations.* It was a thoughtful show in-between the murders. Were the 80s really that greedy and solipsistic? I spent mine engrossed in my studies so I missed out on the opulence. I grew up in a Midwest WASP household that did not care tuppence for ostentatious living. Indeed, being showy in ones possessions was looked upon as something ‘not nice’.

The audience in last night’s blood bath/song and dance mostly consisted of college kids, who I’m guessing weren’t born at the time of the show’s setting. They seemed to have enjoyed it. The lanky lad sitting on my left was having himself a ball.** Were they thinking it all quite silly or were they secretly longing for these sorts of times? There was a scene in which the young male executives are showing off their business cards trying to up eaach other in their cards’ paper and ink quality.  No one uses business cards any more I suppose but I wonder what do today’s youngsters have for status symbols?  Cell phones? Laptops? Scooters? The mind boggles.  I don’t hang out with youngsters or members of the “A” lists having ‘the best’ isn’t needed.

Mr. Bateman certainly had money, prestige, and a chiseled body*** so his black hole of endless envy seemed absurd which was the point apart from giving him an excuse to dismember his fellow YUPPIES.  I won’t give away the ending lest Spo-fans have not seen the movie or the musical.**** I walked out feeling a bit deficit about my lot in life compared to the successes of the Hampton-going lads seen on stage. On the other hand I am not a psycho-killer-whore so that’s a mercy. Walking out I felt glum about my lack of status symbols but I cheered up reflecting on my own underwear. I have a few Derek Rose boxers; they cost about forty dollars so all is not lost.

 

*That’s not entirely true. I got it confused with “American Beauty” another movie I hadn’t seen.

**I felt like Margaret Mead among the Bantus observing tribal customs and behavior. I sort of felt like a dumpy wicked old screw.

***The actor playing the role of Mr. Bateman frequently stripped down to his underwear to display his 0% body fat. He wore tighty-whities which seem incongruent to the rest of his wardrobe which he constantly reminded us was top designer-wear.  He mentioned his boxers cost 60$ but there were no signs of such on stage worse luck.

****It ends badly.

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I write entries on four computers (two at home and two at work) only to forget to post them as ‘drafts” at WordPress. As a consequence I am often somewhere else when I have time and inspiration to conclude them. I try to work on the one in the computer in front of me at. Alas, Babylon these are usually not what is on my mind at the moment or they seem stale, so I start a new entry and the cycle repeats itself. Despite  21st century technology my archaic hummingbird brain is no better.

Here is the Valley of the Sun we’ve had anything but that: two days of inclement weather. This sort of weather invariably cheers me up for there is nothing like the sensation of staying indoors dry and warm with a nice hot cup of tea while outside it is wet, cool and gray – like my men. My patients will feel otherwise. All day long I will hear their remonstrations against the weather. The complaints fall into the common categories:

This is why I moved away from the (Midwest, northeast, Washington state etc.)

My (fibromyalgia, lower back pain, arthritis etc.) is acting up

I will also get a lot of messages so-and-so called he/she is ‘running late to their appointment”. They are told there is no guarantee I can see them if they miss their scheduled time. This evokes rancor with the explanation ‘but it’s raining”.

I haven’t checked with the weather gods why we suddenly received blessed bad weather after several months of perpetual sunshine. I suspect the nargles are behind it or maybe it is G-d’s punishment for Arizona allowing gay people to marry or put up signs in English and Spanish. Regardless of the reason I am most grateful for rainy.  I’ve said it before: I should be living elsewhere. On the other hand my relations in Michigan tell me they already have had snow which I don’t particularly miss.

Tonight it may drop into the ‘single digits’ meaning Celsius. I may have to get out some blankets. I hear the snickering of the Spo-fans admonishing me for thinking this is cold but by AZ standards 8C is positively Arctic.

I do hope the drizzling doesn’t stop anytime soon. I have lots of lovely tea, enough to last a long while of gray and rainy days.

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For some time there’s been a creeping circumference to my middle section. I weighed myself this morning: 80 kilos. Oh the embarrassment. This isn’t as bad as I feared but it isn’t good either. I’ve made some goals:

  1. Return to 76 kilos

2. Fit back into my dress trousers – none fit at the present.

3. Go to Palm Springs next March and get in the pool without feeling horrible about it.

My waistline has slowly expanded over time from many factors until things have gone too far and I am officially BMI-impaired – sort of like the fall of Rome. There is nothing drastic to do. I merely have to watch what I eat and go to the gym more regularly.  My downfall (sticking with the Rome simile) is I’ve slowly let in the barbarians only to wake up one morning to realize they have taken over. That’s the dart! Eliminate the nickel and dime imperial tid-bits and hope this takes care of things.

After the golden age of civilization has passed people long for the ‘good old days’ but history shows there is no going back. I hope this is where the Pax Romana metaphor ceases its use. I don’t have to be model thin; I want to fit back into my pants – and look good out of them.

The data is mixed which approach has the better success rate: continually telling others about your weight and diet – or keeping mum about the whole thing. The former has the disadvantage few if anyone wants to hear about another’s attempts at losing weight. The latter has the problem it deprives one of good blogging material when the mind is a blank.

The Most Austere Diet (MAD) commences. All of Rome rejoices.  It is ixnay on the treats found in the office kitchens and there will be no more late night snacks. Time for more salads and less drive-through rubbish – and no booze for a while. I had plenty last weekend in Palm Springs so that shouldn’t be too difficult. Please don’t feed me buns and things and avoid curried snacks.

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Patience above! I haven’t written in a long while! I started this entry a few days ago and have tried to complete it three or four times. It was written first in the future tense and now it is in the present.   

I have just risen from a failed attempt at taking a nap. Someone falls asleep at the drop of a hat but my hummingbird brain says otherwise. On the positive I have time to write.

Someone and I are in Palm Springs for a weekend getaway. As is often the case some wicked fairy cast its evil spell last week making my work quite ponderous just prior to departure. It was long, hellish, and draining – like my men. In our salad days Palm Springs were times of mayhem and spills of activity.  What we are doing this time around is more or less nothing. This is what old dudes do when they go to Palm Springs. I am presently at poolside observing over the top of the laptop two Sweden dudes sweating in the sunshine, turning over regularly with the assistance of an alarm clock. 

In our defense we are doing a lot of ‘new things’ this weekend. Rather than staying at our usual inn we are at at a new one. It is a bit page 71 i.e. a disappointment. It’s not a bad place just not an exciting one – not worth writing about.  Rather than the usual watering holes we are barhopping to some new places and tonight we try a new restaurant. Good for us! It is so easy to fall into the rut of ‘same old’ especially as one ages. 

It is lovely to sit outdoors poolside with a book and an iced tea knowing there is nothing that wants doing and you could do anything or nothing. It must be just how retirement feels. Palm Springs is loaded with retirees. Coming here always makes me wonder about my own retirement: when and where it shall be. Fat chance of that ever happening. The factors against it are legion. It is not worth writing about either.  However for the next 24 hours I have a break for it all and it feels quite nice. After I post this indolent entry I will try again at a nap – or maybe not. Who knows what next happens. Perhaps I may be asked the Swedish fellows to join them in a discussion about Astrid Lindgren.  That is as likely as the possibility of my retirement. 🙂 

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Our weekend abode – minus Swedish gents. 

Some folks hate wearing the same thing over and over. They constantly update their wardrobe for the latest height of fashion.  I am not one of these types.  My closet has two rows for shirts, an upper and lower one like bunk beds. The contrast is striking. In the lower compartment are the Spo-shirts awash in color, gaudy monstrosities of a uniform brilliance although no two are alike. Above them on the upper rack are the dress shirts which are all the same i.e. white long sleeve button down no-iron cotton things from Land’s End.

I don’t have many dress shirts – perhaps four or five at the most. After they are laundered I put the clean ones up on the right side and pull down from the left that day’s shirt. As a consequence they all wear out at once and have to be replaced en masse. This is an easy enough task. Land’s End has heaps. I order the same thing. Once in a while out of whimsy I add a black shirt or one with green stripes but otherwise it never varies: four more white shirts.

People like options but not too many. This is the paradox of choice. Given too many people to ‘freeze’ or feel unsatisfied with the choice the make. I don’t have to think in the morning which shirt to wear.* It becomes a sort of uniform and the patients apparently like the constancy. The APA Secret Police approves of this.  I am dressing appropriate to contemporary professional standards.** Alas Babylon! Even white shirts have become too choice-prone.  What the hell is the difference anyway between six different types of cotton?  I stick to the prescription and I’m in and out in little time.

In contrast Someone has lots of dress shirts – but I don’t wear them. It’s not that they don’t fit but they are mostly blue (after all he is a ‘Spring’)  He likes an all cotton impeccably ironed shirt. I find these a nuisance.  I like ‘blend’ shirts. All cotton shirts never come out well in the ironing at least when I do them. I’ve learned the concept of ‘good enough ironing” which isn’t good enough for  others apparently. Land’s End is lauding ‘no iron shirts’ but I smell a rat. Fat chance of that.

I find it somewhat comforting to have the same boring not too expensive dress shirt. It seems enough for what I do.

 

Spo-fans are invited to tell in the comment section if they ‘wear the same thing’ over and over to work and to give their opinions on dress shirts.

I ordered four of these today. I can’t wait. 

 

* In contrast to the simple white shirts  is my surfeit collection of bow ties.  Bow tie de jour is sometimes hard to choose in itself.  Often I just pick the one on the left so I don’t have to think about this either. Happily they all go with a white dress shirt. Voila! The Dr. Spo uniform.

**White shirt and dress slacks with an oh-so-practical tie. This is done to avoid intimidation which works because you look like a nerd.

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