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Tonight I make one of the dinners found among the cookbooks . It has the succinct adjective-less title of ’Chicken dinner with rice’. It is a recipe from the late blogger Jay Simser of “Bailey’s Buddy” who before he died sent me a copy of his family’s favorite recipes. Aunt Vera’s version is a simple dish of uncooked rice, chicken thighs on top all smothered with tins of Campbells cream of this that and the other soup and sprinkled with dry onion soup mix. It’s easy enough but perhaps sounding a bit bland. I am sorely tempted to add other ingredients (habanero comes to mind) but I’ve learned when making something new I should stick to what is written before attempting any shenanigans. 

I wonder if Jay left out a few ingredients or I left something out when I wrote it down. It is a recipe from the Midwest a region not known for its nuanced flavors.  Alas, Babylon! I can not email him to ask for clarity. It is another example of History being a source of frustration since it is impossible to go back for the facts. History swallows up Truth like Harper with a bone: you cannot get its jaws open. Brother #2 remembers with vivid clarity Mother’s meatloaf had a hard boiled egg in the middle while Brother #3 know that this wasn’t. #3 knows this with conviction like the sun rose yesterday  (he isn’t certain about tomorrow) and #2 knows the opposite with the same conviction. 

I grow more pessimistic History holds truth and if I want any about myself I should commit my own story into print* before some miscreant does so. I can think of nothing more maddening than having people talking about you and being dead.

I am going to make Auntie V’s chicken dinner just as written and I will use my favorite Pyrex pan because I always have and if anyone remembers me using the old aluminum one I shall swat him with it. 

 

*Fifteen years of blogging probably doesn’t count towards an attempt at an autobiography as I leave out a lot particularly the morbid and the salacious. On countless occasions I’v been accused of writing ‘less-than-accurate’ portrayals of people and events. I admit I frequently allow myself one or two small equivocations but most if it is fairly accurate. 

It’s hot and humid; between the weather and covid19 there is no point in going out of doors. Today I am doing one of my ‘rainy day’ projects as it were. I am going though my collection of Cook Illustrated magazines; I am photographing the tables of contents so I can have a quick access to what is in which issue.  You would thems at CI would have some sort of index but they don’t – actually they do but the stirges tell me my subscription doesn’t count to access the online version with index. That costs extra. Making my own may will take all day but hell bells I’ve got nothing better to do and it is a mild revenge of some comfort.

I have a guilty relationship towards my cookbook collection. Over the decades I’ve carefully worked on getting together a fantastic array of cookbooks ranging from classics (James Beard and Julia Child) to gourmet (New York Times) to whimsical (midwestern church cookbooks) to rubbishy jolly good fun types (Cooking with Bisquick and The Ruby Ann Boxcar Trailer Park cookbooks). It is an amazing assortment of which I am proud – and I never use them. There are many reasons for this, but the main one I suppose is trying to remember or figure out what’s in what. Let’s say I take a fancy to make me some braised trake with buttered ermal. I scan the shelves wondering which ones are most likely to have such a recipe. I pull down a few; I locate none; I put these books back up and pull down others until I stumble upon a couple of versions for the recipe. Then I decide which one to do/try.  Most of the time I don’t get this far as when the notion for trake with ermal pops into my hummingbird head I am usually light years from the kitchen and I go to Duck-duck-go which instantly provides plenty of varieties. I can almost hear a howl emanating from the cookbooks once again they have been stood up for some glamor girl on the google.  I don’t personify them as a jealous wife but as an elderly aunt who is miffed you want some millennial-type desert over her tried-and-true marshmallow lime-Jello cottage cheese surprise. 

I hope my homemade Cooks Illustrated index helps me that next time I want a proper no-rubbish recipe for bake ziti or Pancakes Barbara or proper Sloppy Joes I will reach for them first. I imagine hearing a quiet sigh of gratitude emanating from the cookbooks while I have a lovely meal made from their pages. 

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections sent an email asking me to knock it off with the Dungeons and Dragons stuff. I did not point out the irony of this only asked for their input on what would make Their Highnesses happy. They sent a one-word email response: cards.  It isn’t clear what this means viz. they are too busy playing cards* or this is the topic upon which to write. I choose the latter.

There’s been a surge of card games here at La Casa de Spo thanks to covid19 boredom. Presently Someone and I are playing Whist and Spades.  The two games have a lot in common:

 You take tricks –  no more or less than proposed

There is a trump suit.

I never win.

Last month when I pillaged the family home I took Mother’s bridge decks. These were the ‘special’ cards she used for ‘company’ and fancy bridge parties. Some of these decks haven’t seen daylight in decades.

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A photo of the decks now in my possession.

Mother used high quality decks made by the KEM card company – no rubbish indeed! Unlike ordinary decks made from paper that become tattered and dog-eared with time KEM cards are made of some sort of plastic which makes them nearly indestructible.  These decks are a good as new as in the 70s and 80s.  They are jolly good fun to shuffle. One of the decks – apparently used only once- is rawther slippery and tends to fly all over the place with too aggressive shuffling.

Card games require nibbles and a cocktail as well as tasteful background music.  Mother’s bridge games always had refreshments, usually chocolate-covered items in a ‘mix’. I don’t recall alcohol ever being involved. Instead she had a king-sizes titanic unsinkable-Molly Brown coffee percolator (avocado green) which was brought out for these affairs along with the ‘guest towels’ no one wanted to use. There was no music though – the talk among the tables was loud already!

I am Music Master at La Casa de Spo; I am in charge of generating the tunes. When it comes to the nibbles Someone likes honey-roasted peanuts while Urs Truly goes for Goldfish crackers (usually cheddar). Libations are placed on coasters lest there are puddles from perspiring glassware.

Some people use cards as a means to talk about profound things too ticklish to say directly face to face. This doesn’t happen for me; I find it hard enough to focus on what I should be bidding as it is so there is little talk. In general I am a timorous bidder, usually taking more tricks than I think I can.  The game of Spades has a points system that rivals the income tax form. Someone is Points Master.

When I get the hang of Whist and Spades (viz. I win some) I have a fancy to try my hand (pun intended) at Bezique. Do any Spo-fans know how to play?  Is it fun?

I would love to learn Bridge but that needs another couple and no one has visited for six months now and no one I know knows how to play the game anyway more’s the pity.  I bet the KEM cards would love that. I am even willing to percolate five galloons of coffee to try the game.

 

*Last year TBDHSR learned to play euchre and they are crackers for the game. I’ve known them to stop in the middle of burning down public buildings in order to play the game. Someone tells me when he was at MSU working as a custodian his co-workers did much the same thing. Whether you are a Spartan or a Viking the siren song of euchre is a strong one; I daresay the game is cursed.

Cryptid (n): an animal (such as Sasquatch or the Loch Ness Monster) that has been claimed to exist but never proven to exist.

Urs Truly is a big fan of ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night.  Monsters and mythical beings are aspects of our personal and collective psyches. They carry our fears but they are also jolly good fun.*  Terry Prachett  (no stranger to these sorts) wrote:

“Humans need fantasy to be human, to be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.”

Springheel_Jack

The Cryptid currently bouncing about my psyche is a fellow well over feet named Spring-heeled Jack. His story makes for a TGR (thumping good read). As a cross between Jack the Ripper and a demon. He literally sprang about in England in the early 19th century, frightening the citizens and making a splash into our psyches as another example of the archetype The Boogey Man.  I haven’t thought of him since childhood until last week when I phoned Brother #2 and family. They were watching a TV show about “Moth man” a West Virginia cryptid now being exploited like the aliens at Roswell.  I educated Nephew #2 about Mr. S.H. Jack and now he’s hooked on the tale as was his father and I.

Afterwards I went on line to find a photo of Mr. S.H. Jack to send to the nephew. The saying ‘there is everything on the internet” is true.  I stumbled across The Spring-heeled jack coffee company which looks a splendid place chock-full of coffee beans with demonic names. It is a bit of a disappointment to learn Mr. Jack demonic-like wasn’t from the devil but merely being over-caffeinated.  More important than the coffee is the site sells a Spring-heeled Jack T-shirt. Hot puppies! I plan on getting one and jumping about the place frightening the citizens and making no splash into our psyches but being told to pipe down.

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*La Casa de Spo is full up with these sorts of which I have written many times. They jump about the house and the inner compartments of my pumpkin making Life fun-filled and interesting. Someone the rationalist never experiences these things

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You would think with a work week that never varies combined with the inactivity from covid19 shutting down everything I shall now begin to be able to concentrate for more than fifteen minutes at a time. All my life I’ve felt whatever I was doing I should really be doing something else.  Reading a book I should be gardening; pulling weeds I should be doing something in the house. Even on holidays while lounging by the pool there is a sensation I ought to be out and about seeing the sights not just sitting there.

Not right now. My bosses are paying me to heal the sick and mend lives and collect co-pays until 5pm. Other than walking the dog (heat permitting) there is nothing scheduled this evening which paradoxically means there is nothing to be done and everything to consider. I needn’t worry about Someone who will be quite content (as is his wont) to listen to something on his headphones while playing games on the iPad.

I forget what we decided upon for dinner but it doesn’t matter much. Blursday menus run into each other and it seems we are always eating Tuna Hemingway.*  Last weekend for ‘Soup of the month’ I made something called ‘Roman Broth’ which is a clear soup (more like a fortified stock) served hot or chilled. It tastes OK. Next time I make it I will adjust the recipe a bit to use fewer Romans and more Etruscans if I can find fresh ones as the lot in the produce section of Uncle Albertons were somewhat past their prime.

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*Tuna Hemingway is my nickname for a hot/cheap/quick and oh-so-practical concoction consisting of a base made from stove-top Mac&Cheese with a couple of tins or tuna thrown in, along with any food-push items. TH never comes out the same as it is made with what leftovers are in the fridge at eye level. If one makes it with two boxes of M&C there is usually enough leftover for lunch the next day.

Note: The Board of Directors etc. etc. almost put the figurative and literal axe to this one. They stated it was pointless and salacious – a unique combination.  It was finally approved on the grounds there wasn’t anything else upon which to write.  –  Spo

It’s too hot to go out and I finished my paperwork yesterday so that leaves me with a Sunday without structure. I am had a peripatetic morning going about La Casa de Spo tidying things up and working on whatever projects were at eye level. My mode of operation is to start something until my mind wanders and off I go to the next one. Someone’s is the opposite viz. he sits still and finishes something once started.  Some of today’s projects are mundane (laundry) while others are more cosmic (takin photographs of the artwork for insurance). A few things are a bit silly, which is topic of today’s mindless entry. 

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I am slowly accumulating a freezer-full of round ice cubes*. They are white globes the size of small Christmas tree ornaments. Round ice is supposedly better at cooling down cocktails without adding too much water to the drink. They are also esthetically pleasing as they sit in their cylindrical glassware and float like a snowball.  I get two balls per day. One would have to be a dipsomaniac to consume that much booze so my balls once made go into a Ziploc bag in the freezer. I have nearly a dozen and more are continually on their way. 

Auntie Mame says olives take up too much room is such as small glass and that goes double for globe ice. As a substitute for conventional ice cubes they are a bust. I’ve learned the lesson not to put the an ice ball into the glass after the soda or water or iced tea is first added but do it the other way around. The first way results in a cannonball kerplunk plop often expelling most of the liquid from the glass onto the counter.

Besides a pleasure to look at globe ice makes for a good conversation piece “goodness what is in your drink there?”. Obviously there is no one around these days to show off my unconventional ice-ware. My balls must wait in the freezer like Walt Disney waiting their time. 

So that’s all what’s happening here on an indolent Sunday.  While rummaging about the drawers this morning I found the beginnings of Spo-shirt I started in February before it was pushed aside and forgotten in order to make Spo-masks. Besides, what fun is it to make a shirt and then have nowhere to go to show it off? I will complete the shirt in preparation for the happy day I can go out and about, sporting my new shirt and icy balls for all to see and admire.  

iu

 

*If ice cubes are round shaped are they still considered ‘cubes’? 

Last night we finally had a proper ‘monsoon’ complete with high winds, thunder and lightning (very very frightening), and torrents of rain. Jolly good fun! It was a bit nerve-wracking what with the windows shaking; Harper was vexed by the thunder claps.  Someone worried the mesquite trees would break off and hurt the house. This morning we held an inspection and found no damage worse than some debris in the cement pond. One hopes such a storm would cool things down a bit. Today’s high will be a chill 37C (down from 44C) but there will be humidity.  While I miss proper Midwest thunderstorms I do not miss the moisture.  After fifteen years living in the desert if the humidity goes above 20% I get chest pains. Despite the nasty humidity I was glad to see the rain. I suspect we are quite deficit in our annual amount of rain.  Last month we’ve gotten several threats of rain without follow-through.  The Canadian author Robertson Davies wrote about “Thunder without rain” when heaven/the gods/life give you all the strife but none of Life’s blessings.

Life has been “Thunder without rain” a lot lately.  I constantly hear and read about bad things and terrible people having the upper hand.  A Facebook friend continually posts “Good people are the rule not the exception!”. I refrain from commenting at the moment they are not in power.  Of course the media is biased towards sensational and biased news; best just to not go there. Many of my friends hope Mr. Biden will provide refreshing rain to wash away the drought and thunder of the past four years. We shall see.

Today’s work roster is full up with ‘Thunder without Rain’ patients.  I wish I could put little stickers shaped as thunderclouds onto the charts of the “Zorgenkinder” and ask staff for my sake please don’t schedule more than three of these types in a day.  Friday’s schedule forecast looks like a severe cold front is blowing across Kansas. Oh well. I get through them all some how.

What I really want is a day of “Rain without Thunder” to wit a cloudy gray day with a steady soft non-stop rain sans wind sans thunder sans threat sans everything – preferably on a Saturday accompanied by a large pot of freshly-brewed tea (no rubbish) and a TGR and some comic books.   I wouldn’t mind a bit of thunder as well.  That would be nice.

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Virgo[1]20 August (more or less) marks the start of thems born under the astrological auspices of Virgo. I don’t take truck in astrology but I do pause at this time of year to meditate on the situation. Virgos (or is that Virgins?) are known for their continuous desire for improvement and perfectionism. I am not a Virgo but a Cancer* whose natal chart has in it some lugubrious planet in Virgo making me always wanting proper things (no rubbish) and order. Oh the pain.

I recently learned Virgo time (8/20 to 9/20) is the same time as “Ghost month” in the East. This is the seventh lunar month and it looks sort of like Halloween but lasting four weeks. I am intrigued by this synchronicity of events: the chaotic supernatural time in the East and the orderly logic time in the West. As The Firesign Theatre says: “personally I’m very pleased”. Jungians like balance. If someone or something is too one-sided the opposite emerges somehow to keep things even.

I don’t know how Virgos living in China and Malaysia fare at this time of year but I suspect it must be hard being a perfectionist who can’t get anything right. This is particularly so when irksome spirits are afoot. In October I celebrate my own Ghost month for four weeks alas out of synch with thems in the East and against my latent Virgo wanting things orderly.

I have not yet read what one does during Ghost month whether one celebrates for four weeks or tries to lay low. As stated I don’t take truck in astrology but in the meantime I am keeping away from ghosts and I am abjuring Virgos (inner ones and outward types) to be on the safe side otherwise I will not last four weeks that’s certain.

 

*Cancers are not perfectionists but giant blackholes of endless emotional needs.

Many folks (some of them well over four feet) have as a goal to visit every state in the union.* Others have on their lists more faraway places like Ireland or Mount Fuji. Then there are things to see like the Northern Light or the Southern Cross. I have plenty of all types in my Bucket list. My list has several water trips such as going through the Panama Canal and the Welland Canal –  even a trip down the Nile.

Last week I found on Youtube a time-lapse journey taking you through The Welland Canal. Afterwards it linked me to a trip through the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal. In one afternoon I accomplished nearly all my water-based Bucket-list items.  I see here are plenty of entries showing the Northern Lights. I think with patient research I can accomplish all my travel goals this way.

Back to the ‘visit every state” goal.  Many who do this add as a proviso ‘airports don’t count”. Example: I once had a half hour layover in Mobile, Alabama. I got off the plane and walked across the terminal to the transfer plane fir Illinois. Folks tell me “that doesn’t count”; I should not say I’ve been to Alabama. It has some logic to it.

So – do my on-line ride through the Panama Canal ‘count’? Can I cross it off my Bucket-list as having done so? In happier bygone days I would say no it does not. Every year the chances of me accomplishing these trips grow dimmer and dimmer and I am near resigned these things will never happen. Virtual tours through on-line videos may be all that is possible. Even when travel becomes feasible (years from now?) it may be too dangerous/too expensive and perhaps no better than having seen in on-line.

It’s too bad I didn’t do more of these things when I was younger and when travel wasn’t so dangerous.  This weekend I am going down The Nile or The Mississippi and I start an on-line tour of Iceland.  I may even go have a look-see at what’s in Alabama.

Does it count? Is it enough?

Regardless if it ‘counts’ this is jolly good fun to watch.  It reminds me of my now defunct annual August trips to Ontario to see The Shaw Festival. 

*Last time I looked I’ve been to 45. The remaining five are four states in the south plus Vermont which somehow got lost in the woods perhaps.

I’ve been staring at the white screen for awhile waiting for The Muses (or somebody like them) to show up with an idea upon which to write am entry full of Attic wit and profound thought. No such luck. I am at the office today partially to get out of Someone’s way* but also to have a break from the otherwise Groundhog Day routine that is my work week. The sitting arrangement at work is more comfortable than that at home and the AC is better too. Someone will pick me up around 5 and on the drive home I will hear about his day’s endeavors.

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections thinks there ought to be a shake up although they are rawther vague what that might entail. When they get bored they usually just set everything ablaze and move on to pastures new. I could change the format on the blog which is less hazardous but probably not as much fun as setting fire to some public buildings.  What’s to be done?

As Mr. Beckett once famously put it: “Nothing to be done”.  Urspo’s wicked pack of cards said on Sunday the upcoming week looks to suck big time so best to crawl into a rabbit hole and do as little as possible. Try to exist without succumbing to the temptation to touch the tar babies. Futzing with things from boredom usually results in Verschlimmesserung so I don’t need the Emperor Card (reversed) to remind me of that lesson.

Well that’s all the news that’s not fit to print. As my late uncle said: “I lead a dull life” Maybe by week’s end The Muses (or somebody like them) will have come through with something so I don’t have to keep writing this sort of rubbish. Who knows, maybe by then the reversed Emperor has livened things up as predicted.

OIP

*When I work from home he is bereft of using the office computer. Today he is works on several things like his application to Medicare and a consultation with an attorney on updating our legal documents.

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