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Happy Hallowe’en to Spo-fans far and near, straight and queer!

I will spend this day attending to last-minute decorations and fretting over do I have enough candy for the beggars (as Father calls the trick-or-treaters). I have enough candy for 60 beggars. All Hallow’s Eve this year falls on a Sunday. This usually means less beggars than usual as the pseudo-pious object to such shenanigans on a Sunday. However 2020 was marred by covid-concerns. I wonder if there will be any rebound. I hope so! Let’s see how many show. This year’s “A” candy are Chuckles:

For those not familiar with this sort of sweet, they are rectangular chews tasting like Jelly Babies without the Tom Baker additive. Chuckles must be ate in the proper order: you first pull out the middle ‘licorice’ one and eat it first to get it over with. The lemon, lime, and orange ones are next, eating in whatever order suits your people. The red one (I think it is cherry) is the ‘dessert’ Chuckle and must be ate last. Do not dare to question this.

The “B” candy (for ill-mannered children, thems without costumes, and teens) aren’t too bad this year: full-size bags of M&Ms. I think these sort of boring but the kids like them and getting a proper-sized bag is appreciated over those wretched little ‘fun size’ parcels.

The “C” candy is funs-sized bits but they are in plastic black cauldrons tied with purple and orange ribbons. I think little kids will like them, and the candy inside isn’t too large.

This morning I will carve the pumpkins and toast the seeds. I have three pumpkins. One of my carvings must be ‘scary’ to drive off the evil spirits; another must be whimsical to assure the youngsters. I also like doing a silhouette style pumpkin. Probably a ghost.

I always fret about the dinner; it never comes out the way I planned it. The skull cakes I made are a bit short of sugar for I ran out. I tried to make up with some eye of newt. There is no sugar to make a glaze or frosting, so I may take some grapefruit jelly I made last year and color it red and voila! instant bloody sauce.

After dinner I read the tarot reads of the Spo-fans who asked for such . Someone likes to do the ‘last dip in the pool’ on Hallowe’en night. Sometimes I join him. The shriek from the shock is passed off as a Hallowe’en sound-effect.

It’s been a fun month. Doing all this nonsense gives me something to look forward to and helps keep off the “SAD”. Alas, as always work and such got in the way of all I wanted to do. This happens every year. There will be other Octobers.

Boo !

Patience above there is work to be done!

It seems the seasonal goblins have been working against me this month to get the decorations up and running. Every time I want to work on them something comes up to mar the mission. There is a part of me that thinks ‘why bother now’ as it would all go up and down in a single day. I will do it though, as I am tired of the mundane always sucking up my time and energy, leaving me with no libido left to do anything else. Happily, I have all day today to do things. First, it is off to the grocery store to get the ingredients for tomorrow’s dinner and to get us some pumpkins. I have never bought this late. I hope Uncle Albertsons has some left. I suspect there will be some on the principle I whenever I worry about this sort of thing it never happens. Later I will hang plastic pumpkins and cauldrons in the ocotillo as is my wont. Succulents have the advantage they come with hooks already in place.

I am in need of a haircut, but time is of the essence this weekend. I will get Someone to do me a buzz cut. My hair is at the point it looks the same whether done by a stylist or run over by a lawn mower. With a home-job it is done in a few minutes and I save the planet by not driving. If it looks bad, well, it is Hallowe’en isn’t it.

the one (and only) time I was sans hair and whisker at Halloween. Oh the horror.

After the pumpkins and skeletons are all in place, I will do some preliminary cooking for tomorrow’s dinner. This way it can all be more or less just heated up tomorrow evening when I am busy giving out stale Tootsie-rolls to the rugrats.* At twilight I will release the kraken as it were to go put up in the bushes the strands of orange, green, and purple lights I bought last year in an after-holiday clearance sale. The neighbors across the street to not like us; every year they have a driveway party which includes the houses on either side of them but not us. My decoration is partially to out-shine/out-do theirs. I am also known for the best candy on the block. Having the front yard outshine theirs is a mild satisfaction for being uninvited.**

While I wait for The Great Pumpkin to rise from the pumpkin patch and deliver me gummi bears and bottles of Glen Scotia, I want to get caught up reading my blogs. It’s been a week or more since I had time to read them properly. I hope everyone is well. I hate to think I’ve missed anything.

*This is an expression my father used to say. Let it be on record Urs Truly doesn’t give out Tootsie-rolls (stale or otherwise) ever. Oh the horror.

**Even if they were to ask me (fat chance) I wouldn’t want to go. As Geoffrey Duke of Brittney said: “It’s not the power I feel deprived of, it’s the mention I miss”.

Everything sooner or later becomes a part of everything else – Mary Oliver

Because of my name, I am very found of rocks and stones; they are integral in my life and thoughts. Today I utilize them in a piece of prose.

Most of my work is the sort I don’t get to see the results. I witness the more immediate outcomes, such as the alleviation of symptoms, but I don’t see long term outcomes. Years ago, when I was doing therapy/analysis I saw patients transform into more calm and conscious human beings. They went on their Journeys which didn’t include me – at least not literally. Figuratively I may have gone with them, like a stone in their pocket, a pebble (or more) they found on the path they picked up to carry.

One of the great truisms of Life is we influence others. Even the most isolated types effect others. Even the lack of interaction is an interaction and has consequences. The notion our intercourses, no matter how insignificant they appear, can ripple through time into something big (good or bad) is sobering. In the musical “Into the woods” in the song ‘No one is alone’ there is the poignant lyric: ‘careful, no one is alone”.

I earn a living trying to uplift others. People come to me wanting to be better.* I have to be continuously conscience that the smallest of my interactions can influence, down to my mannerisms and what I say. The figurative stones I directly give others to carry are only the tip of the iceberg what I may be providing. Perhaps a better metaphor is these are only the stones on the seashore. Out at sea, deep where we don’t see them, are countless stones influencing the tides and flow.

Yesterday on zoom an elderly patient announced she was moving back east due to family matters. As she has no roots here in Arizona, chances are I won’t ever see her again. She stated I did a lot for her. I didn’t ask what that all was. Apart from prescriptions she carries something away with her, something I don’t appreciate entirely, nor will I see the consequences of our interactions. My hope is this new and possibly last chapter of her life will be better for the rocks in her luggage. Another hope is her benefits will be passed down to her relations and out to others. This is the only ‘trickle down theory’ I believe in.

After I die I will not be remembered. My niblings will remember me, but by the time their children grow up I will be at most a name in the genealogy book. My patient’s descendants certainly won’t know of me, but perhaps a bit of me will have carried down to them like a secret stone in the pocket of a hand-me-down. Stones are laid, one of many, in projects I won’t live to see finished.

*Most of them anyway.

Longtime Spo-fans know at Hallowe’en I pull out the tarot deck and have a look-see on the upcoming year (November 2021-October 2022). Each year I invite Spo-fans for a reading. If you would like one, please say so in the comments. If you have a specific inquiry, so say, otherwise I will do a general twelve-month reading. I do them this weekend, and email the results to you early next week. Spo

There are anxious grumblings at work this week. Apparently established patients are not able to get timely appointments but must wait eight weeks for an opening. I emailed The Boss to consider canceling the new ones scheduled to make some openings (fat chance of that). When the pendulum swings this way viz. being ‘full up’, the telephone calls from anxious patients puts pressure the staff to pressure me in turn to make space which means working longer hours than usual and/or during my lunch hour or administrative times. As I’ve aged I am less willing to bail out a systems problem with me working (but not paid) more. The pendulum will swing the other way (it always does) and then The Powers That Be will be worried my dance card has holes in it (I am on salary) and they fill up spaces with new patients and this all repeats. Oh the pain.

Speaking of work, I completed the seasonal sorting of the business cards. The pile in the office desk drawer is high enough to fall over whenever I open the drawer. This is a signal to sort’em and toss’em, at least the rubbish types. This is always a curious endeavor. The majority of cards evoke the emotion of ‘no recall’ as to who this is. Most of them are from pharmaceutical representatives whom I don’t make an effort to remember, as they are transient as Bedouins. There are cards from counselors and when I call them to see if they are taking new clients I often get messages they have closed down.

I throw out the majority of the cards and by next season I will have accumulated a new set.

There is a pile of business cards at home as well. They are mostly souvenirs of people I used to work with or now deceased. For examples I still have the card of my late friend Robert, who played the bagpipes. The card says “Robert. A piper” with his telephone number on it, to call him if you wanted that sort of thing. There is a card from a now-closed Palm Springs resort; it has a brightly colored border around the words “For the fun stuff”. I remember the resort but I don’t recall what was the fun stuff. I have a set of cards with my previous addresses and telephone numbers on them, which I would give to folks in encountered in social situations – “trick cards” Someone calls them. Then there are the oh-so-practical cards of the electrician or someone like him.

I suppose business cards are passé, a quaint reminder of those tech-less times when we weren’t all walking around with cellphones programmed with everybody’s telephone numbers. I could toss the cards out, the current ones at least, and there would be no loss really. I hang onto them like the CDs, in case the phone goes and I need a number. I will keep the ‘souvenir’ cards as they serve as portraits of people and photos from the past. I thought of putting them in a scrapbook, but I like shuffling them and seeing which cards come up. In a way they make a lovely Tarot deck, allowing me to peer into the past and reflect on memories.

What’s top of my mind: Hallowe’en of course! Everything this week relates to All Hallow’s Eve. Although it is late in the month to do so, I plan to put up decorations in and outdoors. It will be a lot of work but I think it worthwhile.

What do you do (if anything) for Hallowe’en?

Where I’ve been: Michigan. The trip east to see the sights and the relations was a pleasant one. I saw fall color, in sunshine and in a gray rain. We had cider and doughnuts; we carved pumpkins. We played “The Haunted Mansion” board game.Princess-Goddess is a sharp cookie and she knows how to plan moves. Good for her! Father was pleased to have his family. Brother #3 is proposing a week in January for skiing; I suspect that is when I next return to MI to house/dad/pets/chicken-sit.

Where I’m going: Palm Springs. After Sunday when all the ghosts and ghoulies are put away, I can turn my thoughts to the upcoming week-long holiday in California in November. This is the first proper vacation since 2019. I am sure to write about this, for I have mixed feelings to go. Tune in next week.

What I’m watching: YouTube vintage Hallowe’en tunes. There are a lot of songs about ghosts and scary things. It is fascinating to hear them ‘by the decade’, for the style and contents change. Here is “Spooks” performed by Louis Armstrong, set to a Mickey Mouse cartoon.

What I’m reading: ‘Old Black Witch” This is picture book (circa. mid-60s) is from my youth. It is a story about a boy who moves with his mother into a so-called empty New England house. Unfortunately, the house already has a lodger: The Old Black Witch. The boy’s mother wants tidy up the place and open a tea-room. OBW becomes part of the business, her specialty being blueberry pancakes (the book includes the recipe and proper spell to say when making the batter). “Don’t worry dearie” she says to the worried customers “I made them myself”. It is a whimsical read, just right for Hallowe’en.

What I’m listening to: “The Isle of the dead” by Rachmaninov. This isn’t Hallowe’en music per se but it is a haunting piece apropos for the season.

What I’m eating: Not much. After a weekend of eating no-nos (buns and things) I am trying to ‘keep it sweet’ this week. There hasn’t been time to go to Uncle Albertsons, and the next Blue Apron box isn’t due until Thursday. This week we are ordering out a lot. At least this allows me to watch what is being ordered.

Who needs a good slap: The Hartford Company. An aspect of my job I still can’t stand is filling out infernal insurance forms for patients who are off work due to illness. The companies always question this. I believe they purposely find fault with the paperwork to stall payment long enough so the at-home patient becomes frustrated and returns to work rather the pursuing coverage. The Hartford is especially difficult. I figuratively become ‘a dear in the headlights” when I see The Hartford elk logo on the form in front of me. Oh the pain. There is always several back and forth attempts with the insurance company blaming me so the patient’s ire is directed at me and not the insurance company. I have to hand it to them. This stall tactic usually works: patients become despondent and return to work given their desperate need for money.

I give The Hartford Company and their ilk four slaps (on a 1-5 scale)

What I’m planning: A dinner. Every year on Hallowe’en I make a full course dinner, with dishes apropos for the holiday. This is my equivalent for Thanksgiving. Here’s what’s on the menu:

Black martinis

Pumpkin dip with chips

Pumpkin gruyere soup

Stuffed peppers served in a pool of blood (tomato sauce)

Spooky slaw

Hard Cider

For small chocolate cone: Skull cakes.

Do you prepare anything special for Halloween?

What’s making me smile: My daily Facebook profile picture. Every day this month I have changed my portrait photo using icons of Hallowe’en. It’s been fun to see which ones get the most ‘likes”. The winner so far is “Dr. Frank-N-Furter from “The Rocky Horror Picture show “. I suppose he wins due to bias of the judges, who are mostly over 50 and have all attended countless showings of the movie, and a few friends known to have dressed accordingly.

Well ! How bout that!

Sunday night our flight was delayed that we got home very late and more or less went straight to bed. I will go to work early, being still on Eastern time, but glad to do so, for there is work to be done. There is nothing like taking two days off to make a pile of charts, calls, and forms all wanting done ASAP. After work I need to get pick up the dog and do the weekend laundry. Halloween is less than a week away and I haven’t purchased pumpkins nor put up the decorations. There is work to be done indeed.

Whenever one feels the emotion of being overwhelmed it is the brain telling us we are trying to think and do of everything at once. For all our desire to multi-task, we are lousy at doing so. It is best to take things one step at a time. The mentioned paperwork will get done eventually (it always does). On the way home from work today I can stop by Uncle Albertsons to pick up some pumpkins; they have heaps. As for the decorations, they can go up piecemeal this week and I have all Saturday to do things. So there.

Letting go of need to be in control is lovely feeling of liberation; it is a pity more people don’t do it more often. I have lots of patients with ‘control issues’. Despite their vow, they seldom if ever feel in control. Rather they have a desperate chronic sense their worlds will fall apart if they don’t do something about it ASAP. Normally I feel exhausted after interacting with them. My advice to ‘let go’ is usually received with horror as if I am proposing they run naked down the road at noon time.

Worse case scenario: the mentioned work will require delaying all other activities like gym time and putting up outside lights is delayed until Saturday. Holidays should be fun not frantic endeavors. This may include neglecting my blog reads for a while. I trust none of them will bar me for lack of attendance. So the worse case scenario is hardly bad, just irksome – and not bad at al if I take the ‘let it go” approach.

That’s all I have for this Monday. Chances are there will be no Tuesday post. Wednesday Ws should be good; tune in then for what shenanigans ensue.

Press Control and delete = relief

It is quite foggy this morning; I can’t see the marsh which resides at the base of the hill outside the back window. I hope this passes as we have a flight today. Father sits next to me, wrapped Burrito-style in a large maroon blanket, listening to tunes which he randomly generates on ‘Alexa’. Yesterday I introduced him to Mary Chapin Carpenter, whom he likes. He’s still learning the name; in the mistakes Alexa generates songs sung by Karen Carpenter rather. Not the same thing.

Last night one of father’s law firm partners visited, a fellow whom he hasn’t seen in years. It was amazing to hear them reminisce about colleagues and cases from decades ago as if this all happened last week. I was glad to know Father’s memory is that sharp.

Last night the niblings carved their pumpkins, insisting they do it themselves. What came out was a collection of abstract concepts rather than any traditional faces. Personally I prefer the Old Masters. Warrior-Queen finished her artwork by leaving the carving knife in the side of her pumpkin. It was quite expressive but I worry.

Chicken report: The hens of summer are still nine in number. They are now molting, looking a bit down-in-their-luck for the look. I never cease to marvel at their ferocious appetites. There is not a scrap of food wasted, for they eat everything, including egg shells, meat, chicken meat (oh!). You name it they devour it. When let loose on the lawn they eat whatever maybe moving. On the positive this is good recycling. On the negative, the concept of ‘organic fed’ or ‘vegetable fed” chicken/eggs is nonsense. Speaking of eggs I’ve had some every morning which I eat with relish. I also had toast made from bread from the local bakery. I’m not supposed to eat the latter, so no more carbs for me for the rest of the week.

Around three o’clock Brother #3 drives us to the airport. Alas, Babylon! We get into PHX too late to pick up the pooch. She will have to spend another night at the Petsmart Hotel. At our end we have had no lack of dog. The two dogs here are black-holes of endless-emotoinal needs for attention. His family is thinking of skiing this January, so I guess that’s when I am next back to Michigan to tend dogs, cats, chickens, and Father who I hope by then has the two Carpenters figured out. I can only take so much of the first line “We’ve only just begun”.

Greetings from Michigan! I am pleased as Punch to be in a proper autumn. I’ve had no time to write; I will tomorrow.  Here are some photos.

Patience above! Brother #3 has my trick-or-treat plastic pumpkin from my youth! It was a joy to see it. 

Brother #3 decorated his fireplace with Halloween knick-knacks and a portrait of our great-grandmother Eloise. She is a bit creepy in context. 

Here is Urs Truly dressed in the height of covid19 fashion, on the way to the cider mill. 

The cloudy day doesn’t give half-justice to the fall colors.

The quite-crowded cider mill has the obligatory pumpkin patch.

Here are Princess-Goddess, Warrior-Queen, and Posthumous Thomas picking pumpkins at the overpriced pumpkin patch. Brother #3 thought to get the kids pumpkins at Meijer Shifty Takers as they are cheaper. He’s no fun; he falls right over. I get to play the rich uncle and buy the niblings their pumpkins on-site.

The place quite crowded; there are lines for everything. 

Someone erected this orange bell pepper – or is it a habanero? 

The dear nieces!

Here is Urs Truly having his long-awaited cider.

Here is Urs Truly with Brother #2.

Someone suggests the cider would be better with some rum with it. 

This one was written on Wednesday night and posted early today prior to us going to the airport. For all I know it is the last thing I will ever write. Airplanes crash on occasion, but far less than we imagine. Human beings are very bad at assessing the probability of bad things. It is curious to see what makes us fearful; we tend to pick and choose or fears and put more fear onto improbable events while not being wary about what is hazardous. For example: statistics show we are far more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident on the way to the airport than from the plane crashing. I continually see patients who refuse a medication on the grounds there is a chance of a certain side effect, but smoke cigarettes. They also buy lottery tickets, whose odds are miniscule, hoping this will pay off. This drives me bats.

Then there are the phobias. Nothing is so queer as another person’s phobia. I go into hysterics seeing a large spider but a scorpion in the just-opened drawer only evokes annoyance and outrage. Let’s talk about bats. Many people are frightened of bats. There is approximately 1 to 2 bat attacks per year for the entire North America continent* in contrast to tens of thousands of yearly dog attacks. You get the point. I happen to think bats quite cute if not downright comical. The dear little fuzz puppets! They eat massive amounts of insects every night (thank you!) and they fertilize agave plants. Every time I have tequila I raise my glass in thanks to some faraway bat for my drink. I would love to set up a bat house in the backyard but Someone is one of those types bats give him the heebie-jeebies.**

It’s tequila time! Thank you long-nosed bat!

If you believe all the Mrs. Kravitzes on the neighborhood app, our quiet district is overrun with burglars and strange men driving around in white vans. The streets are full of javelinas. coyotes, rattlesnakes, and liberals wanting to take away the guns. To avoid pending doom it is best to barricade ourselves in with six months supplies of toilet paper and ammunition. Oh the horror.

Marie Curie said “Nothing in life is to be feared but understood”. I wish I had a similar quote for putting risk-assessment in perspective. One could easily argue all of life is a risk. As soon as we rise in the morning we face hazards all day long, starting with slipping on the way to the loo and chocking on our morning coco-puffs. This weekend I face air travel, highway travel, a nearby beehive, and right-wing Michiganders running around unvaccinated and heavily armed. There are little brown bats in the woods around Brother #3’s place. They are the least of my worries.

*Turns out these are almost always the bat biting in self-defense as someone was trying to grab or hit them with a broom. The bats are right to do so.

**When I lived in Chicago I put up a bat house in my backyard. When the neighbors questioned it, I told them it was for woodpeckers.

What’s top of my mind: Going to Michigan. Tomorrow I fly again to The Land of Perpetual Snow and Ice to attend to Father and see the autumn color. When Brother #2 heard I was coming in he opted to visit too. Father will be pleased as Punch to have all his sons around him. Someone is coming on the trip with me this time. I am glad of this, for I dislike traveling alone. I sense he doesn’t want to go, to be among the Spos all talking at once. Oh the pain.

Where I’ve been: The Pharmacy. No weekend is complete without a trip to the pharmacy for something. A prescription seems always in need of filling. Uncle Albertsons has two pharmacists, both of them well over four feet. They are thoughtful personal types and I am grateful for the rapport. Last weekend Alison (the dear!) gave me a flu shot. That’s two down (Shingles and flu) and one to go (the Covid booster) That one is not due until November.

Where I’m going: A cider mill. Brother #3 plans to take us all out to a local cider mill. I am thrilled. Every October when we were children our parents loaded up the station-wagon for a trip to see the fall colors, purchase pumpkins at ‘Pumpkin Alley’, and go to the cider mill, for cider and doughnuts. I will indulge myself these now-taboo delicacies, on the rationale they are not foodstuffs but sacraments.

What I’m watching: The Paul Lynde Halloween Special. Oh the pain. It is 70s camp beyond the pale. It is good seeing Witchipoo, but I fast forwarded through the Florence Henderson and the KISS numbers. Oh the horror.

What I’m reading: ‘What to say to little girls instead of ‘you look so pretty’ ‘. Little boys (says the article) are seldom complimented on their looks or their clothing but on their achievements. Not so little girls. They are told they are pretty or look good in that dress. The gist behind the treatise is stop reinforcing girls it is their looks and appearance is what’s valued about them. It recommends commenting on other things like their interests, achievements, and intellectual prowess. I already do this. When I see Princess-Goddess and Warrior-Queen I ask about their activities and admire their talents.

What I’m listening to: An orchestra of scorched cats emanating from the volunteers at Someone’s jobs. Someone is dealing with the volunteers for various theaters and the local symphony that have laid down rules about covid19: thems who volunteer there have to be vaccinated and/or prove such. Every night I get a nightly earful about the vitriolic hysteria from the ones who take exception to this. Rather than quit, they push to find a way to volunteer – minus the mandates. I suspect they don’t want to give up getting free tickets. They think this business-based request is unconstitutional; they think it violates ‘my God-given right”. I don’t envy him his job.

What I’m eating: Apple Bundt cake. Spo-fans may recall last weekend I made an apple Bundt cake. When I made my first Bundt cake, I floured the pan so heavily the cake came out covered in flour and needing scraping. This time I barely floured the pan and the cake did not want to come out. When it finally did, it was mostly still in the pan. Oh the embarrassment. The cake itself tasted ‘heavy’ which may be how it is supposed to be; I have no reference. The flavor is good. I didn’t bring it to work, given its looks. I’m supposed to not eat this sort of stuff, so I had a nubbin and the rest maybe to frozen if this is possible.

Who needs a good slap: Christmas alarmists. Already rumors and social media are combining with US hysteria about so-called ‘shortages at Christmas’, meaning (it seems) some material goods will be unavailable or harder to come by or more expensive – things apparently vital to Christmas. Rather than seeing this problem as the result of a complex system whose faults are made obvious by the pandemic, there is the usual B.S-ititude toward simplistic blame-gaming. I have an idea: buy local gifts, especially from artists, and have a less material/more spiritual holiday.

I give thems anxious and paranoid about Christmas four slaps (on a 1-5 scale).

What I’m planning: A gathering of attorneys. One of Father’s law partners recently contacted m to find him. This has led to said lawyer coming to visit him/us this weekend. He is bringing along another fellow from Father’s firm. I hope the three of them have a lovely chat. What you call a collection of lawyers, other than a firm? Insert punchline in the comments. When I was about ten years old, I beat this lawyer in a game of chess in six moves. I only remember this as said attorney always reminds me of this whenever we speak.

What’s making me smile: Nothing again. Every week when I do this meme, this “W” is the one that always challenges me the most. It’s sad I have to think hard to remember anything since last week that is making me smile. I am very down from the fools of the world (especially thems in the USA). Seeing the relations this weekend will probably bring up old jokes and the nights may be cool enough for Brother #3 to light a fire. A good snort of scotch with brothers at the inglebrook should make me smile.

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October 2021

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018