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Tending an elderly parent and managing a menagerie of pets while running a household is rawther exhausting – must be just what a housewife experiences on a regular basis. I’ve come to the conclusion chickens are dumb as dirt and  impossible to retrieve once they are let out in the backyard. I worried something will attack them, but Brother and SIL #3 take a laissez-faire approach to the fate of chickens out in the yard. If all nine come back that’s good; of only eight return, well… there it is.  I get two eggs per day for my chicken-sitting salary, which is enough to fry ‘in the Spanish-style’ and eat with toast. It is enough.

Today Brother #2 unpacked several boxes of Father’s books and four garbage bags of my late mother’s garments.  Father is blind, so it was curious to read out titles and listen to what he wanted to keep and what went back in the boxes. I did not question the reason to keep any books; I sensed he likes them as mementos. I would read out a title for ‘stay or toss’ and get in response a few sentences about the book in question and what it was about etc. He has a good memory as they are nearly all about planes, trains, or freighters and with nearly identical titles. He’s kept no other types of books.  


Mother’s clothing was mostly T-shirts and such, already picked over by the daughter-in-laws. I saved the hangers for Father’s new closet, and for myself a piece of costume jewelry that was pinned to a coat. I do not recall Mother ever wearing this brooch (or the coat for that matter) but it is a nice souvenir of our industry.  Brother #3 will be pleased as Punch to come home to see Father’s digs all set up and the boxes gone.  

Brother #4 et. al. is coming over soon for the evening and we will order out (again), this time for grilled whitefish, which is a lovely fish native to the Great Lakes. He is bringing over some whisky/bourbon he picked up on a business trip to Tennessee. All Spos enjoy their whisky and they like to sit around sipping such and giving opinions about it as if it were the British Bake-off, talking over each other while no one is actually listening. Jolly good fun! 

Tomorrow Father has more medical tests to attend. It seems he is continually going to doctor appointments and such.  Brother #3 et. al. is up north skiing, hopefully enjoying his break from all of this, but he keeps texting to see if we are remembering to do things. I think he is missing the camaraderie but then he is quite happy we are doing all his work and he can sleep through the night for once. 

“Music calms the savage beast”

I am under slept from night time tending Father. He wakes a few times in the night and calls out for help to the loo (he is blind and he needs a walker). It isn’t difficult work but the broken sleep has left me rawther tired. It’s not too cold here, nor is it snowy, but cloudy with some rain – good sleeping weather. This afternoon we will both nap.

Brother #3 et. al. is away for the weekend and there is work to be done. Besides minding Father and keeping him company, I am Pet-Master, in charge of two dogs, two cats, nine chickens, and two parakeets.  The birds have the most precise needs. Princess-Goddess gave me a list of what needs to be done for Sunny and Tweety in order to keep them happy. I was instructed if the birds become agitated I am to instruct Echo to play “Hamilton”; apparently this is very soothing for peevish parakeets. I’ve been asked to sleep this evening in the spare bed in her room to keep the birds company; I will be surrounded by little girl paraphernalia, most in various shades of pink. The birds may be content with this arrangement but I will feel a bit unsettled. Parakeets need to fly about; I’m to let them out for exercise. I expressed doubts I will be able to get them back but I was assured by using a stick for perching they will obey. I have half a mind to forget about this one. 

Speaking of loose birds, I must remember to bring in the chooks by sunset lest evil befall them. Rounding up chickens sounds worse than rounding up parakeets. I was not told what sort of music the chickens like – perhaps ‘Hamilton’ is for parakeets and chickens prefer Sondheim.* I once heard that hens lay more eggs with Mozart in the henhouse, but since we are up to our oxters in eggs this won’t be necessary.  Perhaps some Lloyd Weber may be useful to shut down production. 

The dogs have electronic collars, so they can go in/out as they wish, provided I wipe their paws upon reentry. This is a sure bet given the backyard resembles a swamp – with chickens. 

The cats have the least instruction, although they are no less in need of attention. As I write this, Luna, the tuxedo cat, is trying to put herself between me and the laptop. Why do cats do this I wonder. I have an evil urge to start some Jerry Herman tunes just to see her scat. 

This is going to be a long three days.  In E-flat. 

 

*I know I do. 

Where I’ve been – Through TSA. It was the quickest most effortless experience I’ve had in ages. It turned out the TSA person is a patient of mine.  I guess they assumed I am not carrying contraband. 

Where I’m going – To Michigan, Land of Perpetual Snow and Ice, to see Father. Brother #2 promises to pick me up on his drive in from Wisconsin, Land of Cheap Cheese and Butter. He is bringing cheese curds from the obligatory stop in at Mars Cheese Castle. I hope they squeak. 

What I’m watching – Nothing right now, but after I post this, I plan to read a book and people watch. While everyone has their heads down/noses in their phones I stare at the pretty ones and imagine what they are like. This qualifies me as a ‘wicked old screw” but behind a book no one notices.  I have remember to turn the page from time to time for appearance sake. 

What I’m reading – Whisky Advocate. The recent edition came in the post last night. I am reading about the whiskies from The Nordic countries. There is a one from Iceland that uses sheep dung in lieu of peat for a smoky-type libation. Can you imagine?  I want this. 

What I’m listening to – Two women sitting not to far from me, discussing their ailments. Curious how women-folk can talk so matter-of-fact about their matters to each other and out in public. I have never heard a man do so, let along with another man. 

What I’m eating – Airport equivalent of a bacon and egg croissant with reheated frozen potato bits.  Covid has certainly hit the cuisine at the airports. 

Who I’m paying attention to – my fellow travelers. I am on the look-out for miscreants in masks below the nose to avoid them. 

What I’m planning – Meals. I am in charge for the next four days feeding the old man and Brother #3’s cats, dogs, and birds.  I hope I don’t mix up the menu or there will be ructions.  

There is some hyperbole hopping about the internet about the one year anniversary of covid19 shutting down the nation. With vaccinations and signs of fewer cases there is noted hope we have turned a corner.* The daily stoic meditation today was titled ‘So how did you do?”. It is a good question. It asks us to reflect on how well we handled ourselves. Did we rise to the occasion, or did we fall apart?  Did we do what was right?  We were not going to be able to control what had happened but we could control how we responded –  a truism at the heart  stoicism and cognitive behavioral therapy.

First and foremost: I survived. I want to think this is due to following proper medical advice to mask up, stay home, wash hands, and kiss no toads.  

I used the down time to do some improvements. I learned to cook better; I read an armful of books. I picked up new daily habits.  I did some house projects. 

We did not succumb to hysteria or panic-buying; we did not hoard toilet paper. We kept our heads. We did not blame others nor believed the disinformation that breathed from the vile mouths of the past government.  When the vaccines came out, we didn’t push ourselves to the front of the line but waited our proper turns.

So – I am grateful for survival and I can be proud of what I chose to do and be. But, I won’t delude myself it was all good-boy activities knee-deep in buttercups and daisies.  I should look at my failures too. 

I withdrew more than was necessary; I did not do as much as I could have done for folks worse off than I.  I could have supported others more either with money or donations. I made some masks but not much else. 

I became indolent. I did not do much if any physical self-care. In matters of my health I am in worse shape in decades.  I often ate badly.

More often than not I ignored the plight of others as ‘their problem’.  I did not stand up and advocate.

 

Whether or not  the pandemic is diminishing, the truth is there will always be a next time, another crisis de jour. Something else will rise up to test my mettle. Once again, without wanting it, I will be given the choice to rise to the occasion or implode. If I don’t stop and reflect on what I learned about myself these past twelve months  – if I don’t find meaning from this suffering time – then I have added harm on top of the misfortunate.

I give my performance in the covid19 pandemic a B-plus.

So, how did you do? 

 

*This is suspect. History shows whenever people dropping their guard too soon the plague has another surge even harder to eradicate.  I am getting my  vaccine but I ain’t changing anything yet.  

I made a Spo-shirt! I have not made one since January 2020. Usually I make a few every year, but last year put all my efforts into making masks. Besides, there was nowhere to go to debut the shirts; “All dressed up and nowhere to go”.  With pending warmer weather and some hints of going out this spring, I felt it was time to get back to sewing shirts. 


I forget when and where I got this fabric. Perhaps it was a gift? I grew disinterested in it; this sometimes happens. A fabric seems a good idea at the time but then my moods change. It’s been sitting in a drawer for years until now.

I spent a good part of yesterday trying to figure out what number it is. After reviewing my journals and notes I’ve deduced it is Shirt #114.* Patience above!  I have kept fifty-four of them; the remaining ones were given to friends and relations. 

I am pleased as Punch to report ‘green hibiscus’ turned out well. It has only some minor errors. I was thinking of giving it away after it was made. I would gather names of thems interested into a lottery. Now I am having selfish second doubts, for it fits me quite well. Maybe I will wear it at least once before it goes out. 

 

 

*Shirt #1 was made in 2002. Some of the earlier ones have been ‘retired’ as they are rawther worn-out. I cannot get myself to throw them out. 

 

 

Sunday seems to be the day when I make rounds on all my blog reads. Every Sunday as I read and catch up with my fellow-bloggers I vow to not fall behind but read more regular, only to reach another Sunday. 

Arizona doesn’t do no stinkin’ Daylight Savings time, but I had to do my twice a year ritual remembering which time zone now gels with Arizona Standard Time. Father told me today he is ‘three hours ahead’, which makes me realize for the next six months we are on “California time”. Would we were in Palm Springs to do so! 

We had nice weather for awhile, then it turned windy and rainy and cloudy. “Alaska weather”I call that. Today it is sunny but no warmer than 14C. 

Last night I made a Detroit-style pizza; it was my second attempt at doing so. I was pleased as Punch it was superior to the first. I made notes on the first attempt and these proved positive to improve the dish. Someone agreed; he ate his pieces with relish.  What still needs improvement is the dough. I’ve not had any great success at making dough or bread. This makes my desire for a mixer even more so. There are lots of things around La Casa de Spo that need money thrown at it before buying a mixer, so I was surprised that Someone thinks this a good idea. What a lovely thought to have a mixer! Anybody have one? Do your use yours? 

Tomorrow I get my first of two vaccines. I forget what sort I to receive, but it is not possible to forget I have an appointment as I’ve received a strafe of emails reminding me I do. They are worse than emails from ‘The Great Courses’ announcing yet another sale. 

Speaking of forgetting things, it looks like work forgot to close down my appointment scheduled for this Wed-Friday this when I go to Michigan. This may be my fault viz. I forgot to tell them. Regardless, tomorrow morning right away Thing 1 and Thing 2 need to make the calls. The howl of canceled patients will resemble an orchestra of scorched cats. I feel bad about this. I told the staff in my email of contrition to explain I have to attend to my fathers’ surgery, scheduled for Thursday (true) so this may assuage some anger. 

This weekend I am making a Spo-shirt that is

a) turning out well and

b) not to my liking.

That happens. I buy some fabric only to grow disenchanted with it. I thought to practice on it to remember how to make a shirt, but it is better than I figured it would be. When completed, I think I will post it on Facebook (and here as well) to collect names of thems who would like it, place the names in a Viking helmet,  and pull out a name and give it away.   Stay tuned.

Periodically (more than I care fir) I have intrusive memories from my first job back in the early 90s about a nurse who did a lot of nasty and cruel things  – and she got away with it. My point is there was no justice; there was no comeuppance. So far as I know she ‘won’ viz. she got away with a lot- possibly including theft. She seemed to revel in her power, and she worked in cahoots with another to make my life miserable. Decades later, there was no lasting effect of these two women. All the same, she/they periodically pop into my mind as examples of ‘no justice; no karma’.  Life is full of these sorts.  I felt the past four years during the regime of The rotten orange was full up with folks who got away with proverbial murder. 

Recently a patient of mine was very angry at me for not calling her back on a matter. I apologized; I processed what went wrong; i worked on how to make a recurrence less likely. I could tell this did not appease. She was angry that it happened in the first place and she was not going to forgive. I sensed she was going to ‘get even’ by somehow hurting me, starting with not letting go of on her angry or accepting my apology. 

Children have a simple sense of justice: ‘bad people’ should be punished and ‘good people’ should be rewarded. Many folks never get over this childlike approach to justice, even when Life shows this is usually not the case. Speaking for myself when I am screwed over I want revenge. I want them to suffer as I have suffered. I want them to know, to feel, the same thing that I feel.  

Religions, philosophies, and therapies all reflect on the value of giving up puerile justice and working on the even more difficult task of forgiveness. I have to accept I cannot ‘get even’. I have to let go of the rancor that was Nurse Ratchett who will go to her grave probably with no remorse. 

I was recently reminded of a quotation by Marcus Aurelius: “The best revenge is to not be like that.”  This feels most unsatisfactory when there is a part of me that wants said nurse’s head on spike.  The better parts of my psyche know there is no pound of flesh that will make me feel good enough.  Only I can make myself feel OK enough, by focusing on gratitude and being good to others and by moving forward – even when a part of me does not want to move on. 

My maternal uncle, the only sibling of my late mother, recently sent me a rock. It isn’t just any rock but something heavy with memory and sentiment. I picked up this smooth stone under the waves on the shore of Lake Michigan, on the western side of the lower peninsula of state.  I was six years old at the time. I painted it with three scenes of nautical nature. On the other side has someone’s handwriting – I cannot remember whose – commemorating the event. I gave the gift to my grandfather, whom I called Banca. When I visited my grandparents I saw it sitting on his shelf in his den. Apparently Uncle took it after my grandparents died in the mid-70s, when he had to clear out the house for sale. He could have thrown it out. I had forgotten about it. 

The stone came in the post with an explanatory letter from Uncle explaining he was clearing out his house and he thought to pass it on back to me.  

Now the stone sits on my shelf, heavy with memories. As you can see, fifty years has faded the scenes to a vague three-way outline. Happily, the ‘back side’ is still legible, and now it sits that side up. I can read it every time I get dressed in the morning.  In a way it resembles a faded headstone, the type you find and read in an old cemetery. 

I decided long ago after I die I want my ashes spread on the shores of Lake Michigan.  I want my ashes spread at sunset. I have added a second step to this ritual: someone should throw this rock into the waters after me.  I’ve borrowed this stone from the lake for nearly sixty years; it will be good to return it to its rightful spot, along with its memories and my ashes.  

 

Where I’ve been – Nowhere. That’s the point of isolation.  I went to work from the office yesterday for a change. 

Where I’m going – To get my vaccine! I go for #1 next Monday. I am glad to go; I was OK to wait my turn.

What I’m watching  – On YouTube, excerpts from ‘Star Trek: the next generation”, specifically bits about Guinan.  Sometimes I need to remember how to listen to people, really listen to them. She is a good teacher for this. 

What I’m reading –  I am reaching page 800 of 900 of ‘Anna Karenina’. It is not going well for her. I am also rereading “Spoon River Anthology”, about 5 entries at a time. Please read “George Gray” to follow up with yesterdays’ entry. 

What I’m listening to – the podcast “Strong Songs” in which the podcaster analyzes iconic songs and why they are great. This week he is doing “Wuthering Heights” by Kate Bush. She is a goddess; do not dare to question this. 

What I’m eating – too much, that’s certain. I’m trying to avoid eating between dinner and noon time, and eating not too much for lunch. However I am eating too much at dinner and (more important) after dinner. This can’t be good.  I need to limit the amount of food I eat not just the when. 

Who I’m paying attention to – An ex-blogger buddy/now FB friend* Andrew of “The Other Andrew” is in hospital in Australia for all sorts of problems. He posts regularly on what’s happening to him. He gets dozens and dozens of comments with any update. I am glad to see him surrounded by Love. 

What I’m planning – a trip to Michigan. Next week I go to tend Father to give Brother #3 a break. It will be after my first shot, so I feel a bit more ‘safe to travel’ but I won’t drop down my guard. 

I suppose yesterday’s entry should have as its follow-up fear’s opposite: empowerment. Fear keeps one stifled and in-check. Once released this leads to a variety of emotions: shock (that it’s really over); anger (at the realization of what had been); and joy (hopefully). I think the euphoria from liberation may be the most marvelous of all feelings. The release from inner fear has an exquisite elation to it. The realization the ghost that was haunting you and dictating your life has been exorcised or exposed as a sham.  One can almost feel the body and soul metamorphosing as if released from a spell.

Sometimes when I am facing a present fear I remember my past fears, now dissipated, that once were the masters of the universe, but are now obsolete as Ozymandias.  Chances are this present fear that is wanting to run my life is no different than the previous ones: scary but beatable.  There are always new fears; they pop up like purslane. But I recognize one when it happens and if  I am courageous it is plucked.

It’s lovely to see liberation from fears in others. Sometimes when I need encouragement  (pun intended) I go to YouTube where I keep a little list of scenes from movies or tunes about folks deciding they aren’t going to stay down in fear. Sometimes they rise in violence but mostly they are happy as all get out.

I am missing one I like a lot from ‘The Adventures of Baron Munchausen’.  A walled city is under siege from the Turks. The people cower within while the administration dictates marital law. Through his stories, the Baron wakens their courage and gets them to think differently about what’s happening. The townspeople discover the administration is in cahoots with the Turks to keep the war going in order to justify their rule.  At the end of the movie, the people en masse go to the main gate and demand it be opened. The Directory tries to prevent them, but the Baron knocks him over. The gates are opened – only to reveal there aren’t any Turks. They left long time ago. It is a brilliant metaphor of what happens in Psyche when fear rules and is defeated. 

Since I don’t have a clip of this (worse luck!) I will do a song from “The greatest showman”.  It is one of the most moving tunes about rejecting fear I have heard in a long while. It comforts me; it stiffens my spine.

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