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Walking the dog

It’s rawther hot this week. The original forecast was for highs of 47C* but it ‘cooled off’ to highs of merely 44C. Harper normally gets two walks a day but not now. It remains well above 40C in the evening and the pavement is too hot for dog feet.  At least for now dog walks are done in the pre-dawn in the chill of 30C. 

The creatures of Arizona are acting likewise; we see a lot of them on our morning strolls. This morning in the middle of the sidewalk was a big fat lizard. At first we thought it was dead but with a touch from the treaders it bolted quick away quick as a quarter note. Later on our peripatetic stroll was again interrupted this time by a long thin snake crossing the sidewalk. I couldn’t identify what sort of snake it was. It didn’t coil and rattle at us – a good sign. It didn’t seem to notice us as it slowly slide across the sidewalk. Harper was uninterested in the lizard but she was not liking the snake. She paused at a distance worthy of covid19 protocol and turned around as if to say walking was canceled. We waited for said serpent to complete its crossing and then we went forward.

Afterwards Harper had the rare ‘two dumps’ on this walk – perhaps she had the proverbial ‘scared sh-tless’ from these encounters.  Good thing I always travel with extra bags.

This is the time of day when folks can exercise without developing instant heat stroke. On our walk Harper and I encountered creatures of the two legged sort but they weren’t as interesting as the reptiles. They whizzed by us as they ran around us oblivious as the snake.**

We are back home and the sun has risen. I have a full day of work while Harper is already asleep on the unmade bed. It’s a dog’s life in the dogs days of summer. 


*That’s Fahrenheit for bloody hot. 

**The protocol of greeting fellow morning strollers is not clear. With women I tend not to say anything or even show signs of acknowledgement unless they say hello first. This may be sexist but I don’t want to be seen as a perv.  Men walking dogs look less up to no good especially if I am talking silly to the dog for the approaching female to hear I am a dope and no threat.  I tend to say good morning to the menfolk and thems in groups as I am considered no threat.


The second half of July is when each day feels more or less like the other. It is the pinnacle of summer; there is a sort of timeliness to it. This is made even more so in the covid19 situation in which even the workdays do not differ from each another. There is nothing to look forward to such as a pending holiday or visitor. Every day is Blursday at least for a fortnight. It probably will continue unaltered into August.

Superficially this situation resembles the ‘endless summers’ of my childhood. As a boy it seemed a bore to wake up to another hot day and wonder what on earth was I to do to pass the time.* As I’ve aged the phenomena of Zenosyne becomes more real and I long for Time to just stand still for once. This week my wish is granted. I suppose there is a sense to Time standing still in the dog days of latter July as it is too bloody hot to do anything . I work a long work day and then I stop to eat dinner with Someone. We play a board game or a round of cars (whist or spades) while we wait for the sun to set to allow a dog walk. Then I do paperwork and read some prior to retiring and repeat.

Funny how my mind works. You would think having my wish granted for Time to stand still would provide some peace but it flits about thinking of the pending autumn and the future in general. There is no ‘future’ really. There is ‘Nothing to be done’ to quote Mr. Becket. Someone and I are like his tramps waiting for Godot who doesn’t ever come and probably doesn’t exist. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn the play takes place in the heat of a summer morning.

There is one perk: in the dog days of summer one doesn’t have to think about the future ordo anything at all but merely get through the Blursdays. This week I am putting aside all cosmic ponderances this in favor of mundane matters such as what to make for dinner to differentiate the day from yesterday. It is not a bad state of being.  With the temper hitting 47C there is little choice.



*I learned quickly not to go to Mother with remonstrations of ennui. Mother’s panacea for all ‘Mom I’m bored” complaints was to shoo us out of doors or give us a task to do.


Alas Babylon ! My medical secretary A.K.A. Bubble A.K.A. Mr. Humphries announced last Friday afternoon at closing he is quitting suddenly to take an dream-post with WHO.  I wish him luck; I will miss him. Besides being bright and obsequious he was pleasant conversation.  He likes tea, so we often made a pot in the mid-afternoon to shar.

On the negative I now have to work today/this week/for some time now without an assistant until The House Manager finds a replacement. Oh the pain. He was the third assistant in five years or so. They don’t stay long. I suspect the bosses don’t pay them enough; the last three incarnations all left to get better paying jobs. I have to remind myself the role and responsibility of the medical assistant is the house manager’s job, not my own.

My work has become a lonely endeavor.  For four months I’ve worked from home with hardly any interactions with the bosses or the therapists; they are all working from home too. It’s been nearly five months since I went to The Mesa Office; by now I cannot remember the names of the current crop of clerics who work there.

It seems there are so few personnel left at the clinic – the therapists come and go too. A few of them recently retired. Today Monday there will be one counselor who comes into work; she will close her door and work all day and I won’t see her at all.   It all makes me wonder if the place will endure. Goodness knows I have no lack of work to do and perhaps more if The House Manager calls on me to chip in in the interim until there is aa new Medical Assistant.

Well that’s all the news prior to the 8AM first appointment. So far I hear no one entering the door (counselor or receptionist) and the office feels like a ghost town. Yesterday I wrote about the joy of solitude and silence. This version doesn’t feel so nice.

Someone went to work today; it has been a long time since he has done so. As a consequence I am ‘home alone’ for the first time in many months. It feels a little strange to be by myself but it also feels nice. I love him like my luggage but other than the times I go into the office Someone and I have been in the same room (figuratively speaking) since March.

Spo-fans with scurrilous minds may be wondering if I am up to no good that’s certain but what’s happening today is quite mundane.  I have some old eggs now hard-boiled and chopped into egg salad – something I’ve not made in decades. I plan to sweep and mop the kitchen which hasn’t had a proper cleaning in months (at least by the look of it). There are still lots of boxes to unpack and the contents find places for. 

It should all be pleasant especially since I get to play podcasts Someone doesn’t care for. Better yet – no music or podcasts at all. During Mother’s memorial there was a time of silent prayer when there was no talk nor music – only silence. I thought: when did I last have quiet? Who knows when. Yes, that sounds quite nice. Someone doesn’t come home until 530PM; I have an all day time to tidy up and there’s work to be done – in the context on lovely solitude. 

Solitude 1

Thanks to my pillaging of the parental unit I have plenty of items for “Curious things around the house” entries.  Here’s one of them.


In the childhood house in the corner of the basement is a bar with three 60s-style bar stools. I don’t remember my parents ever actually using the bar; it was a place to store things. On the shelf stands a glass mug in which are cocktail stirrers.  I don’t remember a time when it wasn’t there. Also I don’t recall Father ever saving any cocktail sticks to take home to add to the collection. I think they were all obtained prior to my arrival, collected in the late 50s and early 60s.  No one has ever actually used them or gone through them to see what they are – until now.


First curious question is the mug itself: where did it come from? It is a heavy glass root beer mug probably obtained an A&W drive-in back when someone came out to serve you burgers with real utensils and mugs all on a tray attached to the side of the car. I suppose I am not old enough to have gone to one of these places – have you?


Anyone remember playing the game ‘pick up sticks’ ?

It will take time to go through these items to figure out where they came from. Here are a few that immediately caught my eye:


As a teen Father worked at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. This is where my parents met for she worked there as well.  It makes sense there are several swizzle sticks from The Island.


My family has been in the Detroit area since the 6os; there are many sticks from Motor City hotels and clubs.


I think this is the restaurant in which Jimmy Hoffa disappeared; my grandmother lived less than a mile away from the place.


My parents were not travelers; I don’t remember any trips they took without the kids. They must have done some traveling as there are several swizzle sticks from now defunct airlines. Oh! Flying used to be fun and luxurious once upon a time! Can you imagine receiving something like these on today’s flights?

I don’t plan to have these lovelies sit idle; I plan on using them.

When I call Father today I will ask for the story behind the mug and the swizzle sticks. If I learn anything I will attach an addendum.

ADDENDUM:  Father informs me these sticks were his father’s – my paternal grandfather. Grandfather Spo traveled as he was a lobbyist; it was he who saved the swizzle sticks. After he died, Father took them and added some of his own.  There are 111 total. Father says he would be delighted to hear about each one to remember their tales and tell me about them. We have a date tomorrow to do just that.



When The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections hired me to write for this blog they gave me a list of no-no rules. [1] The #2 rule was not to write when feeling despondent for it makes the blog look bad. [2] Alas I am ‘in mood’ as it were. Even Someone nade a comment I am ‘cranky’ which is code for being a total bitch.

I am feeling some depression. I could list a catalog of complaints what is going into this, but I will forgo doing such. [3] Some of my condition is the result of physical matters: I am feeling exhausted from traveling for six days without quality sleep. On the road we ate lousy food (mostly drive through rubbish) so this effects my moods as well.

I’ve been thinking about death a lot. Mother’s passing is the main matter of course. Yesterday blogger-buddy Eric R. informed me our fellow blogger-buddy Kelly Stern is dead. He had a fall – on his 50th birthday no less! – he died from internal hemorrhage. What an end. I have his “Kelly Stern” rainbow flag to remember him and a large red umbrella I got in a fund raiser he did some years ago. I move his blog into a folder I have for ex-bloggers who have died or merely disappeared. The file grows with every year.

The same morning after learning of Kelly’s passing I went back to work to learn a patient had died – I don’t know what happened. Whenever a patient dies the doctor immediately starts wondering ‘could I have seen this coming and could I have done something to prevent it”.

Time and death are integral as the former leads ultimately to the latter. Funny how living in covid19 makes Time feel at a standstill. [4] There is nothing at the moment to look forward at the moment other than the awful months leading up to the election. I sense Hallowe’en will be canceled by the zealots who are against it on the hypocritical grounds it could harm the children when they are now promoting shoving kids back into classroom.

During dark times (and dark thinking periods) I try to draw on the wisdom of The Stoics and the strength of people I know (real and fictional) to persevere and not despair. I work on Sisu.[5] It isn’t easy. For me trying to be Stoic is like trying to be a perfectionist when you can’t get anything right.

Nostalgia has evoked in me the childish emotion of wanting someone with power and authority to take me in his/her arms and tell me everything will be all right. I know there is no one who can do this.

That’s enough for now. It is Friday morning and I have a full day of patients to see and try as I can to help them with their sorrows. I will do a good job doing this; I cannot do this for myself though – at least not now. I hope a weekend of better sleep and proper food helps.

Kelly's Flag



[1] The interview process for the post was a bit harsh. It consisted of being kidnapped in the middle of the night and dragged off to the HR department of Heorot Johnsons in a net usually used for herring fishing. There I was a given the Hobson’s choice of a position in the scullery or writing the blog. We sealed the contract with a minimal amount of blood letting. Afterwards we had a jolly communal cup of meade which I remember tasted like a urine sample from a diabetic of his meds.

[2] The #1 rule:  do not to drop your pants in public.

[3] OK here it is: the lunacy of US towards covid19 and the realization Trump will be re-elected heading us into an autocratic state. There is also my body image. Enough said.

[4] This morning I learned of a whimsical word via The Grammar Girl podcast. It is for not knowing what day of the week: Blursday.    Isn’t that apropos?

[5] Sisu is a fabulous Finnish word. Go look it up why don’t you.



I schlepped back to Arizona a carful of childhood memories but perhaps the most important one was my memory chest. I put ‘precious items’ into it carefully selecting which ones were worthy to enter. It was my equivalent of a pirate’s treasure chest or a sort of time capsule. Like a proper time capsule or treasure chest it was located in the buried under some rubbish in the basement. It would have been lost but for a sudden memory on my part to search for it.


There is nothing like the euphoria emanating from a box one hasn’t opened in fifty years and breathing in its contents.

There were some photos I don’t remember putting in the box. Perhaps someone did this while we were packing up. Maybe Mother’s spirit added them.


My first birthday prize perhaps. I remember that train.


I was indoctrinated early as a Wolverine.

Throughout my life my father and I have been two peas in a pod when it comes to looks.


The chest contains many memorabilia from my scouting days. I had forgotten I had a fabulous collection of neckerchief slides, many  I had painted from their monochrome plastic orange into fabulous colors like the oak leaf in the picture.


Oh the embarrassment. Besides Scouts I was also in Indian Guides. I remember making this bracelet and wearing it around my ankle while dancing about while singing some ersatz Indian ballad.  Don’t judge.


Patience above! It’s my old viking horn! It was given to me by my grandparents who brought it back from Norway. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections will enjoy seeing this.It’s too small to drink from or hold anything; I wonder what it was for?


Here is a brass boar. There are several boars in the Spo family crest.  There are also several bores as well.


I have a vague memory from family summer camp of taking a stone from the shores of Lake Michigan and painting it into this fabulous 60s item.


My Yoda figurine was possibly the last item that went into the chest. By the mid-70s I had lost interest or the chest was full I cannot remember really.  Like Jackie Paper I had grown up and forgotten about it – until now.

In the next few weeks I will slowly remove and examine each item like Howard Carter excavating King Tut’s tomb.

I end this entry with this photo showing my grandmother’s desk hourglass, still ticking away the Sands of Time.


This one was written sitting in the passenger seat of a rental BMV whizzing westward on I-44. Today’s stretch started in Springfield MO and ended in Albuquerque NM. We drove through hostile Oklahoma territory where no one was singing Rodgers & Hammerstein but touting rather Trump 2020 flags and no one wears a mask.  You would think sitting in a car for twelve hours would be tedious but it is not so. I have lots of car activities which make time go quickly. The flat plains put me into a dwam.

Behind me in the back of the SUV are several boxes of ‘loot’ I took from the parent’s house, done in the post-funeral luncheon house cleaning.*  I am still reflecting on what I took and what I did not take. The car is full but it is not packed. I did not take anything of true value; I left behind the offered crystals, silverware, and knick-knacks of reported immense value. I think I will write a separate entry on what I took but focus here on the ‘why’. My loot is mawkish nostalgia of childhood books and artwork. I also took all of Mother’s recipe clippings and I sorted them on the road between Michigan and Illinois.  Many ended up in the trash bins on the interstate rest areas but not all – there are a few saved to try some time.

Away from the house a part of me now wonders why I bothered to rescue this stuff. I am connecting the dots it has something to do with not wanting time to pass; I want something from childhood to continue. 

I thought a lot about death on this trip. Mother is dead and the house of my youth of sixty years will soon be no more.  On the three day trek to Michigan I heard Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods”. In it the gods of yore are fearful of dying as modern people no longer think of them let alone believe in them.  They want to continue; they don’t wish to disappear.  There is some similar in my souvenirs in the pages of my boyhood books and in my teddy bear which I haven’t seen in fifty years. 

I went on emotional intuition to take these items and sort them back at home during more quiet and less emotional times. If my things have no god-energy I can always donate them. 

So – not to end on maudlin note I also took a 6 quart dutch oven still in its packaging, unused. Who knows when mother bought it and why she never opened and used it. It is the only ‘new’ thing I took and by doing the universe seems balanced: the old and the new. I plan to break it in by making one of the soups from the mentioned recipe clippings that made the cut. 

I will be home soon; I look forward to seeing Harper and sleeping in my own bed. I come back feeling changed in a way. I will figure out the nuances later.




*This is a good time to plead to Spo-fans to please clear out your crap while you are alive rather than leave it to your loved ones to do. 

I apologize I’ve not had time to post in awhile. The trip is exhausting; at the end of the days I am too tired to write but crash. I have a lot of blog-fodder upon which to compose but not now. 

In brief: the three-day trip went without issue other than nobody wears a mask in Texas and Oklahoma (in contrast everyone does in New Mexico)

Cleaning and sort the parental abode is a rollercoaster of emotions but is mostly tiring. 

Today is Mother’s memorial and afterwards the funeral luncheon and more tidy up. Our vehicle is already full-up with stuff I am bringing home. 

We have word Harper is not doing well at daycare: she is not eating nor drinking. We are worried enough to probably abort the trip and come home as soon as possible.  

Details later. 


There are countless stories throughout history but they are variations of the same themes – seven of them to be exact.* One of them is “Voyage and Return” in which the hero(es) venture out from home and eventually return – always transformed.

This morning we start a three-day-long Journey to Michigan to attend Mother’s memorial and close down her house. Like all good journey stories there will be unexpected turns and even peril. We have to travel through hostile territory (Texas and Oklahoma) during a pandemic while driving a rental SUV with California license plate).  I hope there is no shooting.

On the positive I have three ten-hour days to ponder life and write entries and post them at night from seedy covid19-free hotels (or so I hope).

Wish us luck !




*The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections has asked me to charge reasonable attorneys fees for curious Spo-fans who want to know what they are. To save on Danegeld I suggest you look it up on DuckDuckGo.

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July 2020

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