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“If you were to have three wishes what would they be?”

Everyone fantasizes about this archetypal question. Every society throughout history has a version of the three wishes tale. Some entity or magical object appears to some unfortunate or smarty pants in need of a lesson and grants them three wishes. Sometimes the three wishes workswell (example: Aladdin) most mostly  they do not (example: the monkey’s paw). Usually there is an element of folly and being careful what you wish for. The wishes usually come in sets of three. Carl Jung thought three was unstable state in need of a fourth to create stability.  The motif of the three wishes illustrate his point:

The first wish is usually done thoughtlessly; its results create regret after its consequences of the wish become apparent.

The second wish tries to fix the first wish often making things worse.

The third wish is done with maturation to return things to order or to create a wiser situation. 

The ‘fourth wish’ is the conscious desire to be content with what actually has. 

The Spo-fan who suggested I write on three wishes isn’t asking for a lecture I surmise; she is curious what three wishes I would want.  

Here they are:

#1 – The ability to transport anywhere in an instant. 

Oh the sights I would see and the time I would save with the ability to pop in and out wherever I wish! I could shop for salmon in Seattle and see all the operas throughout the world. Another perk: I can appear and depart like the characters on “Bewitched” thus achieving my childhood fantasy to be Endora or Aunt Clara or Dr. Bombay or one of that crowd.  

#2 – Cure at a touch.

Imagine being able to alleviate pain or stop a child’s leukemia at a touch. Combining #1 with #2 I would pop in/out of places all over the globe to places with little or no access to health care and eliminate disease. 

#3 – What would be the third wish has varied over time. Once upon a time I thought #3 would be

to always find a five dollar bill in my pocket

but if I were to charge even a nominal fee for #2 I’d ne’er lack for money. 

The ability to find lost objects

has come and gone as well. What seems to return over and over is the wish to

Always know the right thing to say.

an you imagine? This would be better than Obi Wan Kanobi using The Force at getting what I want or getting people to behave. Apart from ‘gain’ there would be the exquisite pleasure of having said just what the moment calls for.  Come to think of it I do what I can to heal others and I have the ability to arrange transportation so this wish seems the most precious.

Let’s click our heels three times (mind the three again!) and say there’s no place like home sans l’esprit d’escalier.


Thanks to the munificence of Spo-fans far and near and well over four feet I now have a treasure-trove of topics upon which to write reflections. Who needs The Muses, Graces, Norns, and Skanks with their exuberant fees when I have this?* One suggested I write about frugality. I suspect what she she really wants to know is whether I am frugal or cheap. 

One should start with definitions viz. what does it mean to be frugal compared to being cheap. Being cheap is about spending less; being frugal is about prioritizing spending. Thems who are cheap are fearful to spend money; they are willing to sacrifice quality/value and time for short-sighted savings. Thems who are frugal are resourceful with their immediate spending so they can later fund big picture wants. 

With that said I can never determine whether or not I am frugal or cheap. Perhaps I am a little bit of both. This is illustrated in our weekly visits to Uncle Albertsons. We don’t have a food budget but buy what we think we need or want. The purchased items are a schizophrenic collection of imperial tis-bits and store-brand sale items. Price doesn’t matter to me – sometimes. Example: I like proper no-rubbish parmesan cheese. I buy it in wedges rather than in sawdust form sold green and yellow cylinders. I’ve done the research; I’ve discovered a Wisconsin brand of parm that is ‘good enough’ compared to the Italian stuff – and it is a fraction of the price. I pay more for Kellygold Irish butter because dammit it tastes better than the rest. Then I get cheap and buy the lowest priced sugar in the store on the grounds it is all the same and the higher cost bags are just hype. After finding the least expensive canned corn down the isle I go I get the organic oregano hand-picked by organic farmers at 3AM – five times the price of McCormicks as the former sounds better.**

I forgo buying clothes (long past when I ought to) to save money for vacations. When on holiday I don’t bother being frugal or cheap. I find it silly to go to a foreign city and then eat only fast-food and cheap eats to save money.  “One doesn’t go on vacation to save money” my Father used to say. However I scan the menus for the more modest priced meals and drinks. 

Over the years I’ve become less concerned about saving money than about saving time. I am willing to shell out the bucks if it brings down waiting time.***  I am quite OK to spend several more hundreds of dollars on airplane itineraries if it means saving travel and layover time. 

I earn a good income, more than most I suppose. I don’t have to be that frugal but seven generations of New England/Midwest ancestry forbids me to live lavish lest Heaven strikes me down for my prodigal pastimes. In a way it feels good to have all three approaches going to some degree: frugal mostly, cheap sometimes, and lavish when indicated. 



*No Spo-fan has sent me a bill so far, not even Travel Penguin who is known for his reasonable attorneys fees and modest billing hours. 

**Someone is not cheap but frugal; he is a wiz at purchasing economics. He can look at a row of tomatoes in various-sized tins and deduce which one is the best buy for the buck per pound.

**This is the exception where Someone is a bit cheap. We won’t spend money on a char to come clean the place but we ‘do it ourselves’ because we can and it saves money. In the end this is infrequently accomplished and done never as good as a professional (at least when I do it) and worse it consumes a lot of time.  


Spo-fans have heard Arizona is a hotbed for covid; I’ve received several texts and phone calls with concern for my welfare. Not to be worrying! I remain ensconced in La Casa de Spo, having never loosened up when foolish folk were going back to the bars.  The Board of Directors Here and Spo-reflections has again boxed themselves up in Heorot Johnsons and The Muses are nowhere to be found. As a consequence I am bereft upon what to write.

Folks, I need ideas. I invite Spo-fans (hey, that means you!) to leave in the comments topics upon which I can write. The proposals may range from cosmic questions about life, the universe, and everything to my thoughts on a household object. I hope to get a handful and turn them into essays full of wit and profundities. If this turns out well perhaps it can become a regular feature like Walking the Dog.  Thanks. 

The liquor cabinet is full of whisky and yet there’s nothing to drink. What this means is there is a fine collection of expensive bottles – no rubbish indeed! – but I don’t drink them. Water water everywhere but ne’er a drop to drink. It’s not a case of being cheap. Drinking fine scotch, bourbon, and such delicacies is a social endeavor; it’s no fun sipping and savoring a rare single-malt on one’s own. It’s like viewing a beautiful sunset by yourself; you want someone there to share it with.  Another matter is it’s bloody hot out; when I imbibe I want something with massive amounts of ice. One doesn’t use vintage champagne when making mimosas and this goes double for Highland Park in the Manhattans.  A simple solution to this hoity-toity hobby is to go get a bottle of Old Crow for Pete’s sake but it feels funny to haul home some hooch when there literally isn’t room on the shelf for another bottle. 

A Spo-fan (who is well over four feet) recently wrote asking for advice about whiskey. I think this is rather sweet as his questions could readily be answered via an internet search, so I surmise he wants my opinion.  Here you are Spo-fan in Florida!

I don’t think it is sacrilege to put the remnants of several bottles taking up valuable space or past their prime into one ‘garbage’ bottle. This pastiche is good for highballs and for serving to the guests who are whisky-snobs. You pour some  and tell them you’ve found a marvelous 21yo blend and what do you think of it? 

Rye whisky is not made from rye bread.  You didn’t ask but neither is baby oil made from babies. Try to tell as many people as you can in town.

Single malt whisky and Coke-zero do NOT go together – ever.  Please don’t try this at home let alone order one in a bar. You will be seen as an interloper an object of suspicion and you will be ejected quick as a quarter note. 

Speaking of evil entities whiskies laced with cinnamon or honey etc. are not made with ‘quality’ whisky but that is not the point of them.  Traverse City in Michigan has a cherry-based whisky which is jolly good fun but I won’t admit to drinking such.  While we are on the subject of cherries I am like Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest “NO MARASCHINO CHERRIES EVER!”  I use Luxrado. They are dark, sweet, but not cloying – like my men. They compliment rather than dominate a cocktail. 

Your question how to make a ‘purple whisky drink’ makes me wonder ‘why’ but let’s stay on topic. The short answer: damned if I know. Potential purple mixers like Gatorade and Kool-aid sound Barney-like while no good comes from mixing blackberry cordials with bourbon. I suggest if you want a purple libation you drink Shiraz.  Australia has heaps. 

What are the best nibbles to use with the usquebaugh? This depends on the attributes of the drink. Bourbon and kettle chips are The Wonder Twins of the whisky world and I am dying to try Win Schulers bar-cheese if I can get my hands on some. Perhaps Brother #3 (the whisky-snob of the Spo-clan) can provide such to match with my mentioned 21yo blend.

I hope this helps.

Finally!  For some time we’ve been waiting for The Electrician or someone like him to appear and repair the faulty lights and outlets in the family room and kitchen. It turns out it was merely a loose wire; it only needed a new connection. The cost of this endeavor was frighting and in hindsight we could have done it ourselves but there is comfort knowing it was done proper.  Soon afterwards (or was it before?) The Exterminator came and sprayed something sinister to eradicate the creepy-crawlies.  We begged him to ban the bees but he wouldn’t touch them. In the backyard behind the wall with the grill a hive of bees has returned. There was a hive back there two years ago and The Beekeeper (who was well over four feet) managed to move them away. That was two years ago. A few months ago the bees returned perhaps the descendants of the exiles ala Battlestar Galatica. This next generation are ornery and more aggressive than the last set. The Beekeeper came back to attend again to the matter. This time he was not so PC but utilized a ‘scorched-earth policy’ to kills all the bastards. Normally I would feel guilty about this sort of thing but the dastardly dumbledores resemble hornets or something out of The Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual.  Fingers are crossed the bees, the scorpions, and the Gregor Samsas coming out from the drains are gone. Fat chance of that.*

What we don’t have is termites.  In Phoenix termites are not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’. I forget which bug-man held an inspection that concluded we don’t got any. Like the dentist it is advised to have an inspection for termites twice a year. One of the dudes (was it The Electrician?) wanted to sell us ‘termite insurance’ where he would come around two times a year but he wasn’t that handsome so we said no thank you. Besides there is The AC Man to attend to next. He will be more expensive than The Electrician/The Exterminator/The Beekeeper combined into one. One could live with bees I suppose and use an extension cord coming from the dining room but one cannot live sans AC (that means without). Happily our unit is going allegro non troppo without signs of illness but one never knows.

As I write this the ceiling fan in the home office is spinning and sounding like every screw needs tightening. Someone suggests we don’t turn it on lest the constant motion worsen the situation and it comes flying down like a sinister spider descending onto its prey.  I don’t have time to fix this; let’s hope The Electrician or someone like him knows of a good Handyman. I would like a nice Handyman.

So much for being an autodidact.


*Brother #3 solved his bug problem by raising chickens. He explains they eat everything and thanks to the pullets they have no bugs. Cute idea but then one has all the chickens to attend. I doubt the HOA allows chickens on the sensible grounds the coyotes, hawks, and owls will see our house as a literal Chicken Shack.


I recently wrote about my apathy towards wearing trousers around the house so I thought to follow with shoes. I am trying to remember to take off my shoes as soon as I come through the door on the hopeful grounds I am less likely to track in dust and allergens into La Casa de Spo. So far my allergies are no better for this newly-initiated habit but I am enjoying the ritual. I’ve heard tell this is an“Asian” custom; not only is it proper to take off your shoes when visiting Japanese and Chinese households not doing so is considered rude.*  I am quite content to parade around the place in my socks or better yet barefoot. Doing the latter is a tad dangerous due to the scorpions. The dastards usually are found leaping out from closed drawers rather than crawling across the floor but one can never tell. You learn quickly when living in Arizona to always look down where you are stepping. But I digress.

For reasons unclear walking around the house sans shoes and socks (that means without) causes foot ache yet staying about in socks does not.  It’s the tile that does it.

Not wearing shoes means you have to remember where you last had them on.  There are four exits here at La Casa de Spo: the front door, the door leading to the garage, and the two sliding doors that lead to the backyard. This means there are four places to drop your Doc Martens and it is a bit of a bother to run around the place trying to remember where they are.

This is as good a point as any to write (boost?) I don’t have many shoes.  A few are presently at the cobbler’s getting face lifts and new heels as I try to extend their lives well past their prime let along their fashion. People allegedly judge you by your shoes but I haven’t cared about what people think about my shoes since kindergarten. Then I was very conscious what I wore lest there was talk.  Then Mother insisted I get black not white sneakers as the former would not show the dirt as much. I was horrified. I already stuck out at gym time thanks to my inept abilities to do anything athletic: I didn’t need The Black Death sneakers to highlight my abnormalities.  I think I tried to throw them out. Once again I have lost my train of thought.

An advantage of taking off one’s shoes in the laundry room is they can go directly into the washer machine. If I had my way I would wash my wellies as often as my Mack Weldons but Someone won’t have it. Tennis shoes in the Maytag make a horrible clunk-clunk-clunking sound that reverberates throughout the world down to the ninth level of hell where Lucifer walks around in his Docksiders . I only wash shoes when they are visibly disgusting – enough to see stains on the black leather which I still just realize with fresh horror I still wear (although a few sizes larger). Happily freshly-cleaned Keds need never go into the dryer as everything here dries quick in the zero-humidity air.

That’s about it.

My feet and floors are relatively dust free.

Life is good.


Do you take off your shoes when at home?

Do you go barefoot?

Do you have cha-cha heels?

* I remember from my college days a chum from Korea named Chong-Bong Lee. Chong-Bong routinely took off his treaders every time he entered anyone’s dorm room. Considering most members of Couzens Hall had filthy rooms to start with I thought this gesture charming but not especially useful.

It’s happened. During a phone appointment a patient said she heard about the death of my mother and she asked me in a concerned anxious voice how I was doing. I replied I was doing fine. There was a brief silence; I sensed I had given the wrong answer. After a pause she replied in careful words well you seem to be doing ok  which was code for as you sound too cheerful for someone who has just lost his mother. We had other matters to attend so will write here what I wanted to tell her.

‘Getting over’ a death does not require lot of time or drama, nor does it demand 100% dysfunction. I am ‘fine’ for a couple of reasons:

Sorrow happens and Life is full of unhappy events. When one is at peace with the axiom Life isn’t always a field knee-deep in buttercups and daisies then when bad events happen it isn’t shocking.  I do not ‘want’ sorrow, nor do I look for it. I experience loss with sadness but I am not wiped out. 

During bad times I remember there are good things too. A vital element of resilience is knowing what you can and cannot do and focus on the later. I throw out the irrelevant questions  like “why did this happen to me?” and “what could have been done differently?” and ask myself rather ‘what can be done now to heal the wounds?” I have lost a mother but I still have father to attend.  He sounds so much better nowadays without the burden and worry of continuous caretaking.  We spoke on the phone today he is looking forward to some things including a large Father’s Day dinner. 

The final word on this topic may be the easiest one to apply. I continually ask myself “is this good for me or is it harming me?” The day mother died I thought to cancel the next day work and stay home. Then I thought ‘really? what good does this do for me?” and I so went in with the paradoxical job of helping others with their losses and sorrows. The Medical Assistant was aghast to see me; he asked if I didn’t want to take the day off – everyone would understand. No I did not. I felt sad but I was OK. That my dears is a pretty good definition of resilience. We do not get over but we do move forward.  


A curious Spo-fan well over four feet wrote me asking the whereabouts of The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections for there’s been no news of the rascals Some fear they have flown the coop. No fear; I will tell you. They’re boxed up being careful about covid19. Good for them! This is not out of a sense of civic duty – far from it! – when it comes to contagion they run like spooked bunnies. They have all their supplies and Maxwell House coffee tins delivered to Heorot Johnson.  On a dark note they are holding as hostage few of the delivery boys for Danegeld or Albertsons coupons and that’s ugly. I attend all board meetings via Zoom which has the advantage there is no smell nor hand-to-hand combat as is typical in these meetings. Another perk of the lockdown is they aren’t paying too much attention what I write.  Rather than monitoring my prose they are engrossed in the Parcheesi set I sent them.  The dears sent me a thank you email for the game and another email thanking me ‘the thrall I sent them” viz. the Amazon Prime man who delivered it.  Thems that work at Amazon are accustomed to slave labor I know but TBDHSR needs to knock it off and release the poor sod pronto lest Mr. B comes a-knocking.

This evening I am watching “The Force of Destiny” an opera long on my bucket list to see. Thanks to the good folks at The Met I am finally watching it.  As far as Italian operas go it is quite cheesy with a rawther complicated story but admittedly it does have some nice tunes. Tenors are a fickle bunch who go from being moonstruck in love to mad-jealous in a heartbeat and thems in this one are particularly labile. Making things worse the two male roles are dressed in uniform so it is hard to remember which is the outraged brother and which is boyfriend in love with Leontyne Price. Ms. Price is doing a fine job singing but her disguise as a hermit fools nobody that’s Leontyne Price. There are a bunch of gypsies in this one running around singing from time to time for no good reason I can deduce. I am nearly 3/4 into the show and I fear it will end badly as operas do especially Mr. Verdi’s.  Curious! Operas a full of torture, rape, murder, adultery,  violence, betrayal etc. but no gay love  – at least not until Mr.Britten arrives on the scene.

Opps I gotta go. Brother and boyfriend (hers not his) are circling each other threatening in loud voices in E-flat and someone is going to get hurt unless the curtain comes down soon.  Tune in tomorrow for spoilers.


Leonara disguised as a male pilgrim. …..  me neither. 


Uncle Albertson removed the coffee bean dispenser from his grocery store on the prudent assumption touching the levers leads to contagion. This is a pity for when Urs Truly drinks coffee he prefers purchasing beans over the powdered stuff.  I get a slight thrill at pulling down the metal lever to disgorge into my paper sack the column’s contents; it feels like a slot machine paying off.*  The tall brown cylinder columns are (were) labelled with coffee types chock-full with gustatory adjectives suggesting each bean type is unique as a fingerprint. They all look alike and I wonder if there is a single bag from which they are all filled.

Uncle A sells whole beans of course but they are not easy to find among the sacks, tins, and containers of ground goods.  I don’t know coffee as well as tea. There is a big difference in tea quality and I won’t buy rubbish.  I wonder if this holds true for coffee?  The price of coffee sure varies a lot. I recently bought beans allegedly organic dolphin-safe hand-picked by Peruvian virgins under a full moon or something justifying its 5x more expensive price tag compared to Maxwell House**.

When I go to the office I am always the first one there so I am Coffee-Master it is my job to make the coffee.  I enjoy grinding beans it is jolly good fun. The redolence of freshly ground beans is a very nice thing indeed.  Folks at work tell me ‘my coffee tastes better’ so perhaps the money spent on fancy beans makes a difference. I wouldn’t know; I put in Stevia and dried milk in my coffee which I suspect negates any nuances of the good stuff.  I don’t use expensive vodka when making Bloody Marys along the same line.

I am curious to hear from the Spo-fans:

Do you drink coffee?

Do you grind your beans?

What is your favorite brand(s)?

Do you have any recommendations for not-too-expensive pre-ground coffee?


*I’ve learned not to shout “Bonzai! ” while doing this.

**My parents bought coffee in large metal containers. We kids enjoyed these as there were lots one could do with the discarded tins.  I see these sorts are still for sale. I am curious to hear from Spo-fans are they any good?

I recently had a first follow-up appointment with a patient who was pleased his ‘refractory’ depression was lifting with the new treatments and for the first time in ages he was had some hope of feeling better. He asked me how long have I been doing this sort of thing as I seemed to know what I was doing. I had to get out the calculator to do the math. If I count the years of residency I’ve been shrinking heads for nearly thirty years. Patience above! Thirty years! How is this possible? He saw me as some sort of genius while most of the time I feel somewhat a sham. This is called ‘the imposter syndrome”: it is a common emotion when you feel not as good in your role as others deem you to be. Despite thirty years doing this work I still often feel bewildered along the line of “what on earth am I supposed to do?”  I am in a profession where the older you become the more wise you are perceived to be. Having grindled whiskers and graying hair makes on look sage-like. In contrast I often feel nonplussed no different than when I was in training back in the early 90s. It is hard to be Dumbledore when you are feeling a ‘first year’.

Feeling helpless is different than feeling an imposter although they often go hand in hand.  Wednesdays have the sordid reputation of being the ‘worst’ day of the work week when it comes to workload and clinical challenges. “Wacky Wednesday” I call the day. Before writing this I had a look-see at the day’s roster and I am slightly horrified by its contents. I have four new people (two with sordid reputations) and a handful of “Zorgenkinder”*.   I feel unable to help them. You would think folks who are no better would eventually go away on the grounds I am not helping them but they stick to me like bumper stickers continually turning to me to ‘do something’ and I have no answers. After 30 years I’ve become only slightly more at ease to admit I don’t know how to help you any more/this is as good as I can get you”.

Mind! Lots of Medicine isn’t getting people ‘better’ but witnessing their pain and going with them on their Journeys. “Don’t just sit there, do something!” needs to be continually translated to “Don’t just do something, sit there!”

This Wacky Wednesday will probably be  a long difficult day and at times nasty. I will probably end in exhaustion with a pile of notes to write. They nearly always do. No doub I will feel helpless and a bit of an imposter too.I’ve managed to get through nearly thirty years of Wacky Wednesdays so I will get through this one as well.


*Zorgenkinder: a German word meaning ‘child of woe”, a stormy gloomy emotional type, sort of like Wednesday Addams without the charms.

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June 2020

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