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Yes, it’s another entry on Stoicism. During anxious times I like to write down its essentials to give me courage.  Spo

It was Memorial Day weekend 2005 when I moved to Arizona; it was my first time living outside The Midwest. It was quite scary that the move was full of unknowns. Every Memorial Day weekend I stop to reflect on this anniversary and Janus-like, look forward. Back then I didn’t have Stoicism to help me as I do nowadays. While the future remains unknown (and scary) I’ve managed to get through the past sixteen years despite all their turmoils. That is a comfort as I go forward.

I try to apply Stoicism in all my daily doings. It is a practical philosophy, based on the axiom bad things happen, but things work somehow. The high priest of philosophy is arguably Marcus Aurelius, who said:

Waste no more time talking about what a good man is like. Be one.

Here are 10 highlights I find handy when dealing with it all.

Focus on what you can control.

You control how you respond to things.

Accept success without arrogance; handle failure with indifference.

Prepare yourself for the inevitable setbacks. 

The obstacles are the path.

The best revenge is not to be like that. 

Each day meditate on your mortality to put what you do in perspective. 

There is always something you can do.

Find one thing each day that will make you wiser. 

Courage; Justice; Temperance; Wisdom – always. 

Note: I wrote this one after I read some old Boys Life magazines. They got me thinking about my time in scouting. Spo

I still have my memorabilia from the time I was in Boy Scout. For those not familiar with The BSA, there are seven rankings of scouts: Scout; Tenderfoot; Second Class; First Class; Star; Life; Eagle. One rose in the ranks by earning merit badges, which were presented in ceremony and usually sewn onto a green sash for more formal occasions. Some of these cloth buttons were required to get to the next step. 

I went into scouting mostly to please my grandfather who greatly admired the organization. He was heavily involved in them. Although I don’t remember him saying it, I strongly suspect he hoped to see me rise to the rank of Eagle Scout. I was at Second Class when I my grandfather died. My troop, Troop 471, had been losing membership and it folded soon after his death. I dropped out rather than find a new troop and keep going. So I ended scouting as Second Class.

Citizenship in the community

The notion of being ‘Second Class’ has always haunted me, it still feels like a failure which it was at the time. I could not achieve First Class as I couldn’t do certain obligatory merit badges. The one I remember was “Citizenship in the Community”. At the time it seemed extremely hard, almost unachievable. Curiously, I don’t remember asking for help or any family member asking if they could be of any help.  It got down to a defeating sensation I simply could not do it, and thus would never be First Class Boy Scout. I know now much of my conclusion was based on my belief I not good enough to be a First Class boy. 

I recently looked up the requirements of The Citizenship in the Community merit badge. Unless they changed the rules and lowered the bar, it doesn’t look too bad. There are eight criteria. I suspect what scared me were the two items:

Stage a presentation in front of a group.

Doing eight hours of community service.

These two things were way out of my comfort zone at the time, so I gave up before I even tried.  In hindsight, if I had faced my fears, and asked for help to do them, I could have gotten the badge, become First Class, and would have felt better about myself. 

Ever since the early 70s when I was in scouting I have fancied doing the eight items and thus getting through this impediment to the First Class badge. It would be like one of those oldsters you hear about from time to time who went back to college to complete a degree. 

Then there is a part of me that feels this would be a waste of time. What I really have to do is work on the merit badge of Self-Esteem**. That one would truly elevate me to First Class. 

*These items are an entry in themselves. Maybe someday I will do them.

**There isn’t really a merit badge of Self-Esteem; it is a metaphor. 

Writing is challenging after an entry like yesterday’s. Most of my scribblings are attempts at Attic wit, and I am not feeling much of that today. However, I know Warrior Queen would want me to persevere – especially on a Saturday night when she held court as DJ for the weekly blogger dance over at her place.  Here is one I wrote earlier this week. Spo

The Tuesday after Memorial Day sees the most august return of Urs Truly to face-to-face appointments.  Before the pandemic, my work week consists of two places: “The Phoenix Office” and “The Mesa Office”. I go to the latter on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so my first ‘back to work’ day as it were will be in the faraway Kingdom of Mesa.  I have not set foot in that office in over a year. I know this as my space is for a ‘zoom’ appointments for thems needing to come in for their on-line appointments while I am working at home.  Many have pointed out the wall calendar is says it is April 2020. *

Someone proposes I drive there tomorrow and give the space a good washing.  For the past year, the patients were at my desk, working the computer and mouse. Last week I sent an email to the House Manager, asking her to provide the names of who works there. I don’t remember. Some of the staff I haven’t seen in a year, and a few have shifted roles (and rooms) and there are new people I haven’t met but only know by group email.  Imagine Urs Truly showing up and not remembering who is who!  Oh the embarrassment.  The only one I remember is The Billing Lady, to whom I report daily on the number of ‘no-show’ appointments.  I think she stayed in the same room.

I am curious to see if patients and staff will be wearing masks. I sure hope so. You bet your knickers I am wearing mine. I wonder if patients will find this comforting or upsetting.  Most of The Mesa Minions work in enclosed rooms without space for social distancing.

The reactions of the patients to this homecoming range from rejoicing to outrage.  Many hate zoom appointments;  coming in to the office is comforting and often it gives them something to do.  In the other camp are the many who like the convenience of appointments online; they are not happy to give this up.  The Bosses say both options will continue, but who can say.**

The drive to Mesa is a 30-40 minute commute. This allows time to listen to audiobooks and lectures and podcasts of longer duration.  That is a ‘plus”.  A ‘negative”:  this weekend I have to find my good trousers and again dress in ‘contemporary professional standards for dress’, as it were. I haven’t worn a bowtie in ages: I suppose that will be nice to do again. 

I think the hardest part about returning to office-based work will be being in an enclosed small room with other people, breathing and possibly unvaccinated.  After a year of anyone near me as contagion,  this will be difficult to let up.

As I ponder these matters, I wonder what  The Mesa staff think about me returning.  On the days I am there, their workload worsens what with patients are coming and going, checking in and out, and arguing at the glass about late fees etc. 

I suspect it will feel funny and be awkward at first but given a few weeks it will feel as if 2020 was merely a dream, dreamt while sitting at home in cargo shorts.

*I should also get a 2021 calendar (if available) and have a look-see into the office refrigerator to see if that egg sandwich I left there has endured.

**Phone appointments are right out, apparently. That’s too bad, as telephone appointments allowed me to surf the net or watch YouTube (volume off) while certain patients complain (for the umpteenth time) about things I’ve heard in every appointment. This opprobrious action cannot be done in when patients are there in the room in person. 

Today I learned Ann Marie, A.K.A. Warrior Queen passed away last night. Todd, her husband, called me last night to inform me she was in hospital. This morning he called with the terrible news. Oh the pain. Truly.

Of all the bloggers buddies I have ever encountered, she was one best and always one ofmy favorites. I often call Spo-fans ‘dears’, but she truly was a dear. She regularly called me to say hello, and at my birthday she never failed to send a card. She always left comments, even on the lame ones that deserved no comment.

I don’t know anyone whose heart was larger. She adored all her blogger-buddies. She was like a den mother to a bunch of boisterous blogging boy scouts – especially the gay hirsute ones.

What I liked most about her was her courage. She faced things straight on and she take no prisoners. She was unafraid nor hesitant to call out bullshit – I use that word as she would- and she didn’t care tuppence what others thought of her – although she used for more salty words.

I had the ongoing joke about my disappointment at never getting a pony for Christmas. WQ, who was a ferocious knitter, made me one. I cherish it, and when I put it out at Christmas time, I will whisper it her name.

And now she was dead; I am weeping as I write this. She gave me so much joy, and more important, she comforted me; she stiffened my spine.

Dance like the world is watching.

Thank you, Anne Marie, my Warrior Queen.

The blog will have a short intermission while The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections and I have a little chat about their recent conflagrant response to some typos in my latest entries.

The Eumenides have been hired to do ‘group therapy’, to help us through our impasses.

Not to be worrying! I will be back anon – hopefully with all my digits, along with a new office, to replace the one recently torched..

… I turn off all news apps as it all too much. It feels like they are in a cabal, with the agreed-upon goal to raise my blood pressure and cause despair and turn me to drink.

… I think to make myself a personal Kolinahr, but then I realize I wouldn’t be able to laugh at The Marx Brothers, so I don’t. Life without Groucho, Chico, and Harpo wouldn’t be worth it.

… The perfect late-night treat is a toasted bagel topped with anything on the shelf at eye level.

… Speaking of unnatural foodstuffs, sometimes I want the taste of umami so bad I will take a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (no rubbish), or soy sauce, or fermented black beans in sesame oil. Bliss.

… I realize for first time in my life I am in a pretty good position about working. My professional abilities are in high demand and this will only increase with time. If The Bosses or Medicare or The APA Secret Police should try any funny business, I can say I don’t like it and can simply retire. This feels very good viz. I am not trapped by the obligation to work.

… Viking horns (with or without the blond pigtails) are just the right thing to wear when feeling down in the dumps.

… The daily tsunami of podcasts that download into my phone becomes so strong I just erase them all and listen to none of them.

… Connie Boswell is the only singer I want to hear.

… I think am perfectly content with my lot in life

… A king-size-Titanic-unsinkable Molly Brown mixer (bright red, preferably) would make me even more content.

… I want to learn how to play auction or contract bridge (which is which I wonder?). This has challenges, especially finding three other people with whom to play. I sense the only folks interested in the game nowadays are little old ladies over eighty, already in clubs and ‘pros’ at the game. I would be seen as an interloper, and object of suspicion – I’d have enemies everywhere.

… My blogger buddies give me so much joy I want to write each one of them with a personal thank you that I am allowed to read them.

…The entry “Sometimes….” is whimsical, and sometimes it seems trite. When I get to this stage, I stop. 🙂

What’s top of my mindThe Memorial Day weekend. We aren’t going anywhere and there is work to be done. My to-do list is already forming. I hope to get things accomplished.  I will have some fun for it is the weekend I try cooking some fun things (see below).

Where I’ve been – A proper book store. While visiting Michigan I discovered a small independent bookstore that a couple of women are trying to get going. I adore these types of book stores, the kind that you would wander in and discover a book you didn’t know you wanted by seeing it table labeled ‘manager recommendations’. I paid for a pre-order book coming out this August. The truth is I have already ordered it on Amazon. When the owners call to inform me it has arrived, I will fib and tell them I got it as a gift so I will ‘donate’ the book and they can sell it to someone.

Where I’m goingBack to work.  The Tuesday after Memorial Day is the big day: I return to in-office face-to-face appointments. It will be just like the old days – or will it? I will expand on this another entry later this week. 

What I’m watching‘Agrippina’ by Handel. Before “Live from the Met” closed down from covid,I saw this great production and made a note to see it again. The opera was a sensational, set in modern Italian dress. There were a lot of cocktails. 

What I’m reading – Whisky Advocate. Hot puppies! The latest edition is here!  This issue is about the return of Ireland to the world of whisky. Whisky probably originated in Ireland, yet there were only four distilleries not too long ago and they were struggling. Now there are over forty, and more are popping up like four-leaf clovers.  

What I’m listening to – ‘The Omnibus’ podcast.  Speaking of operas, this week Mr. Jennings and Mr. Roderick discuss the now-mostly-forgotten operas written by – wait for it – Mr. Rogers. I don’t think his operas have cocktails in them but I am certain unlike Handel they are not 3-4 hours long. Oh the pain.

What I’m eatingLow carbs. I am doing my darnedest to cut down on carbs, particularly sugar.  This is not as easy as it sounds, as sugar seems everywhere. I hope diet combined with intermittent fasting viz. no eating between meals helps my weight and borderline A1C. 

Who I’m paying attention to No one (again). Other than patients I haven’t seen anyone this week.  Tomorrow I see my future ex-wife Kat and find out if I have moved up on the list.*

What I’m planningMeals. Every Memorial Day I make a few ‘fun’ meals. These are never ‘gourmet’ but ‘picnic’ and ‘eating out’ dishes. I am planning some sort of ribs, and a Hamburger Helper Hot dish. I will also make macaroni salad.* Every year on this weekend I make a scrumptious no-rubbish version that makes the rubbish fund in grocery store deli counters.  It varies a bit by the vegetables and what sort of macaroni to use. 

This year I am using malfalda pasta.  My soul swoons. 

Lovely !

*Fat chance of that. Anna Kendrick is ahead of me on the list and not likely to budge anytime soon. Now, I ask you: whom would you have for a future ex-spouse: Ms. Kendrick or Urs Truly ??

** Yes, I just wrote ‘low carbs’. Please don’t write in. 

I wrote this one while waiting to board for my flight home on a Sunday afternoon

Sunday afternoons have a melancholic air to them. This has always been so. They have a sense of something is ending, whether a weekend or a holiday now coming to its conclusion. Although Monday is still a good twelve hours away, it casts a pall backwards through time to spoil Sunday just a bit. It isn’t a depressive feeling but a sense of time is passing. This often feels a bit sad, a touch of mono no aware as it were. I like my job and I have always liked school, so it is not like I am facing five dislikable days. Indeed I am a bit perky on a Monday morning which often have a sense of gratitude in them. I suspect Sundays will always feel this way.*

The evening of 25 Christmas has the same emotion something is over. The end of summer has similar. When I lived in the Midwest the last event of summer was a trip to NOTL, Ontario to ‘The Shaw Festival’. The drive home (often on a Sunday) was saturated with the sad sensation of closure. Summer has ended.

The sadness of Sunday and its similars is the price I pay for the exciting anticipation of the start of a weekend, a holiday, or a summer off from school. ‘The Lord gives everything and charges by taking it all back; what a bargain’. It is worth the price.  The pang of melancholy reminds me time is passing and even the best of times are ephemeral.

There is still a half hour before the boarding call for my flight to Phoenix. Someone will pick me up at the airport, maybe with Harper. It will feel splendid to sleep in my own bed with my own dog.  Tomorrow it is back work and life goes on.  It is enough.  

*Thems that are retired assure me this depressive dips disappears in retirement.  Thems who are retired please tell me if this is your experience.

I’ve spent a long weekend, busy with Father, attending to his needs. While Brother #3 takes a much-needed rest I organized his closets and papers and tidied up his dresser drawers. I worked; Father supervised. 

Father is blind, so the procedure was for me to use my words to make a visual picture of the contents of the drawer, bag, box etc. with the goal of sorting the sheep from the goats. The sheep go back to their pens in some sort of order (for me anyway) and the goats to garbage bags for Goodwill. 

Father doesn’t just say ‘keep or toss’ but stops to reflect on each item or to ask details. Sometimes he changes his mind a few minutes after something has been sorted. I started making silent executive decisions what really needed to be saved. Example: he has checkbook receipts from the 80s and medical labs ‘this is not a bill” copies over two years old. “Oh I think we should hang onto that” was followed by a ‘why?” with a somewhat lengthy disquisition. This evolved into ‘oh I think we should keep that” ending with me quietly putting all in the ‘to shred’ pile. By the end I just sorted things without supervision. At the end he was pleased as Punch to hear we compacted three drawers-worth of papers into one folder. 

Occasionally Brother #3 passes by when I ask Father is this a keeper (say, one of five bathrobes, three of them blue). Father says ‘yes’; Brother #3 silently shakes his head ‘no’ and into the ghost-bag it goes.  

A careful closet sorting and inventory reveals he has nine pairs of identical khakis and ten polo shirts mostly U of M color and insignia. Due to diminished range of motion, he now only wears button-down shirts. We spent some time discussing the existential existence of ten polo shirts. “Take them’ he says, meaning all of them. That would leave his closet with a few sweat pants and three button down shirts, which is enough, but it looks bleak. *

I gathered up all six of his hand-held transistor radios and put them into ‘the junk drawer’. These I didn’t mess with, as he seems to know all of them. Good memory, for I suspect they have not seen daylight in decades. I should throw one out and months later he will ask where is that one.**

I whittled down his sock collection to a token pair of brown, blue, and black as he no longer wears socks but compression-type.  My crowning achievement was folding his twenty T-shirts so they all face upward, so he doesn’t just keep wearing the one on top.***

Now that the tidy-up is concluded we can just sit. He likes Sousa marches, and plays these all day long. Another guilt of mine is when sitting with a blind person I can be on a laptop or iPhone and this is not noticed.  

He thinks I am the best son there is and I feel a fraud. 🙂 

*I am taking only one, a maize polo shirt with a blue “M”. It is enough.

**He is a big fan of ECHO, to whom he talks throughout the day to play whatever tune or radio station he is suddenly thinking of. He has the brains of a hummingbird, shocking I know.

***Two of the night staff have given positive feedback on this. “Wow, I can find everything”. 

Greetings from Michigan Land of Perpetual Snow and Ice.
I spend most of my time is taking care of Papa.
He enjoys singing along with one-time tunes which he generates from the Echo.
Although it is 80 degrees, he is always cold.
Here in the gallery we see rare paintings done by the Not-so-Old Masters, in their ‘blue’ period which was post-Impressionism pre-first grade.
Brother #3 displays a honeycomb ready to go into his nearly erected beehive.
Here is Urs Truly, dressed in the height of bee-keeper fashion, which is Spo-shirt and fancy chapeau.
Brother #3 assures me bees are quite tame if you are not doing anything to disturb them.
This sounds like assuring North Korea is not a threat if we don’t bother them.
Notice how this photo was taken at a distance.
This is a close up of some real proper honey bees before they came out an assaulted Brother #3
After the beehive we went to feed the chickens. They have insatiable appetites and eat anything.
Here they are biting at the bit for whatever we bring them – which included egg shells.
This seems wrong.
While the ladies feast on corn kernels and table scraps, Urs Truly gathers up the eggs.
The ping-pong ball acts as a sort of signal to say ‘hey here’s a good place to plop down an egg’.
Apparently it is quite efficacious.
Warrior-queen is a bright girl of ten, orderly in ways, in what she eats and how she has her school books ‘just so”.

Someone with girls, please explain.
Luna has LDD (Lack of attention deficit disorder).
She is a sweet cat really but finds photographs irksome as they interfere with being stroked.

These crazy tuxedo cats! What would we do without them?
Tending fathers, bees, chickens, and cats is rawther exhausting.
One has to lie down once in a while for a rest.

When in doubt, get horizontal.

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May 2021

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018