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This one was written while whizzing down I-40 between Albuquerque and Flagstaff. Spo 

I enjoy road trips, which are like a stencil that the contents varies but its outline is always the same. Someone does the driving. Per protocol, I ask him if he would like me to take over so he can nap or read but he always declines. He prefers driving and he doesn’t like mine. After this ritual is concluded, Urs Truly gets into the passenger seat as always and off we go. 

In the days before GPS I was Map-master, in-charge of knowing when to take the next exit and how many miles it is to the next rest stop.* The only remnant of this once vital function is I am in charge of programming ‘Directions Dora’ to our destination, making sure I turn her voice off as she is a bossy-boots who doesn’t take kindly to sudden exits to rest areas. 

In my role as The Passenger I often go into a boketto or dwam or whatever you call a mindless trance that comes from staring out the window. This can be hazardous if Someone is talking to you or asking is this the exit for the rest area. Oh the horror. 

Proper road trips require a Ghost Bag, full up with things to pass the time. Usually therein is a magazine of puzzles, last week’s mail that wants sorting, and mindless past times. I get car sick easily so I can’t read in the car, worse luck. 

Road trips are not known for their haute cuisine. We want to stay on the road (rest areas the exception) so ‘road food’ drive-through type eats are the norm. Someone prefers McDonalds; I like Burger King, but as he is The Driver we do the former. Once in a while when there is no rest area we stop at one of those trucker’s resorts to refresh Someone’s fountain drink and pass through the store to see if there are any ‘road treats’. One tries not to get anything too crumbly lest the car becomes nasty. Gummi bears are appreciated as are Pringles**, something never eaten except on road trips. 

Einstein’s third theory of relatively (after General and Specific) is Road relatively: Driver and Passenger arrive at the destination at the same time but experience different timelines doing so. Dr. P, engrossed in his Ghost Bag, looks up to only realize we are halfway through New Mexico while Mr. D is wondering when will we ever get to Arizona. Time always slows down mightily when one is in need of a rest area. 

With hours of driving you would think it would be a good opportunity to discuss erudite and cosmic things like where are we figuratively going in Life. This never happens. We discuss where we want to eat dinner, usually soon after eating lunch.***  Sometimes we discuss what is the next trip on the drive home on the present one.  Mostly we keep quiet and listen to podcasts. I sometimes nap when the dwam is intense.  

Someday I would like to do a Road Trip with no specific destination or time restraint to it. I suppose in a way that is Life, but I will settle for a drive say to The Pacific Northwest. I daresay it will require a very large Ghost Bag but I’m up to it.  I trust there will be sufficient rest areas along the way. 

*Knowing where is the next rest stop is quite important as Someone always consumes large fountain drinks on the road. Oh the pain. 

**These ersatz edibles don’t make as much mess as nasty chips out of the bag. Afterwards one can bop Someone on his right thigh as he drives when he shows signs of nodding off.  Jolly good fun! 

***This is called “Shannon’s Law”, named after Someone’s mother, who often brought up what to do about the next meal right after finishing the present one. 

There is nothing like a vacation unstructured and impromptu. Normally when on holiday we have a full schedule of what to do and when to do it all. This weekend it’s a making-it-up-as-we-going-along type and I couldn’t be more pleased. Hearing about other’s holidays is often tedious, so I won’t go into details. Here are a few things of interest.

We stayed overnight at La Posoda, a splendid stay, situated adjacent to the train tracks in Winslow AZ. It is a resort full-up with weekenders getting out of Phoenix and with thems interested in trains. Apparently LP is a mecca for old dudes into trains: they sit outside with their cameras and train schedules and watch and talk about trains. There is an Amtrak stop at Winslow that goes to Santa Fe; we are looking into this for a future trip.

Santa Fe looks like how you would imagine it to be. Everything is adobe/pueblo style and ristas (hanging dried chiles) are required. The tourists of the female version all wear large hats and real-simulated Indian jewelry and they look like Georgia O’Keefe minus her charms. NM takes covid seriously, and masks and social distancing etc. is in force.

Our hotel (pictured above) is in walking distance of the farmers market*, downtown, and (best of all) Santa Fe Spirits. They have the most exquisite cocktails made from locally-distilled liqueurs. I had a concoction made from whiskey, pino juice, vermouth, and walnut bitters, called “Nut job” . It seemed apropos.

The Spanish market is happening downtown today. It is where you go when you need metal crosses and icons of The Virgin Mary or Frida Kahlo – the two are done interchangeably. I didn’t see any art with the two of them together. It is easy to get them confused.

St. Francis is more popular than Our Lord and he seems to be everywhere. He was a bit of a Nut Job himself, talking to birds and what not.

This evening we go to The Santa Fe opera (pictured in the header) to see “M. Butterfly’ – not Madame Butterfly, but the opera version of the play. Being out of doors the weather is either very hot/humid or cool/rainy. It looks like it’s to be the latter, so I am certain to bring a coat. I didn’t sleep well last night, so a opera nap is needed, which is what I am going to do after I press ‘publish’. Normally the notion of napping on holiday is deemed a waste of time but now it seems the height of indolence and leisure: I can do what I like, and that means a snooze. I am pleased as Punch.

*Happy joy! I got a large haul of yellow and red tomatoes to bring home for saucing and such. I also bought a bag of homegrown/home ground chile powder, enough to last a lifetime.

Note: The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections expunged the original title of this cantankerous entry on the grounds it would shock the Spo-fans in Canada. I pointed out not caring what other people think is the point of the essay so what the fig? Alas, Babylon, they were inveterate on their decision. For folks who think nothing about running around half-naked in summer they can be quite prudish.

I often see patients very concerned with what others think of them. Anxiety from being perceived in a bad way is hard-wired into our nervous systems; no one can be blamed for feeling innate shame. I for one was was quite concerned what others thought of me; I was in my 30s before coming out for what I knew was true at six years old. I also had a strong sense of feeling what others were feeling. I was like a tuning fork, vibrating at the same frequency as the folks around me. I would avoid anger and conflict as I had poor emotional boundaries. When I wasn’t a tuning fork, I was a sponge. Both made me quite the fig eater.

Through time and with wisdom my boundaries are better and I have learned not to give a fig what others think of me. How I dress, how I do things, and who I am etc. have been become not a concern. “What will they think?” is shrinking in the rear-view mirror and good riddance to it. The fellows from my high school who were ‘top brass’ had contempt for me then and they probably still do but the difference is I don’t give a fig now.*

Educating patients (and prepubescent nieces) on the art of not to give a fig isn’t as easy task, for the price of such is disapproval and rejection by others. For thems holding on to the illusion if they do A, B, and C, the reward will be ‘their’ approval. This isn’t likely to happen and/or it isn’t worth it.

Mind! At times I catch myself still worried what others think of me, but I hope these are over important things like courage, honor, strength, mastery, and my ability to match my socks. I still hold onto vanity viz. what do others think of me, which comes out for example in my body image when I go to Palm Springs. So don’t think of me as having achieved total independency from shame. I still have to be mindful not to sponge up other people’s emotions or vibrate in A-minor when they are so.

All the same, most of the time when I meet someone who disapproves of me I no longer cringe but do something of the following:

“Why are you dressed like that?” says the ill-mannered new patient upon seeing me in a brightly colored Spo-shirt.

[Urs Truly, feigning disappointment] “Oh, you don’t like it?”

“Doctors are supposed to be dressed professionally”

“I made this shirt. (pause) I’m very proud of it” (another pause, to see them squirm a bit). The evaluation proceeds with the rhinoceros in the room both of us knowing despite this hour-long attempt to establish a treatment plan he ain’t coming back but he will repeat the process with another shrink – if he can find one and wait 2-3 months for it. Later that day I am careful not to spill fig juice on my shirt as I dictate the note. After all, I don’t want be be looked-upon as a slob. 🙂

*I admit I had to refrain from too obvious a smirk during our high school reunion to see Mr. Top Dog now very out of shape, twice divorced, and presently ‘between jobs’. I often wonder if your success in Life is in opposite correlation to your success in high school.

What’s top of my mind: Santa Fe. Tomorrow after work we start our drive to Santa Fe, NM, Land of Turquoise, to attend the opera. We haven’t gone since 2019. I am glad to get out of Dodge and see the sights. I am certain to write about this so stayed tuned.

Where I’ve been: Nowhere. I don’t know whether to smile or cry at the fact each week seems to be a repeat of having gone nowhere other than work/gym/grocery store. It makes me think: is there somewhere I ought to be going? The answer: no, not really. So back off, Mr. Should Statement.

Where I’m going: Santa Fe Spirits Bar. One of the best places in Santa Fe is Santa Fe Spirits. They distill liquors using local herbs and such. They also make the most exquisite cocktails and the bartenders are the old-fashioned types who like to talk about their products and schmooze with the patrons. Jolly good fun!

What I’m watching: The Charlevoix Bridge cam. Cams are everywhere, watching everything. My latest find is that of the Charlevoix Bridge. I have lovely memories of this town. It is nice to see the speedboats and sailboats go in/out of Round Lake to Lake Michigan, and remember. If I were ever to retire I would like it to live there. What a lovely dream that is.

What I’m reading (or about to): ‘US News issues top hospitals list, now with expanded health equity measures’. The hospitals US News ranks as ‘tops’ quickly crow their recognition. On the side of the children’s hospitals in town is their US News ranking, painted in large bold letters. The US News has been criticized mostly on the legitimate argument what exactly makes a hospital ‘top’? This time they added ‘health equity”, whatever that means. I am curious to find out if some of the usually highly-ranked places fall a bit in the ratings due to discriminate service. Another factor is how relevant is it nowadays for US News to rank hospitals as people do this all the time now on Yelp etc.

What I’m listening to: Mystery Albums in my iPhone. I am trying not to listen to the same tunes as is my wont. In the phone are several albums I don’t believe I’ve heard yet and a few I didn’t know were there. I promised myself not to buy more until I’ve done the ones I have. This vow doesn’t work well with books but may do better with tunes.

What I’m eating: White loaf #2. My first loaf made in the Mix-master* was somewhat heavy and not completely cooked, so I made another, kneading it a little longer and cooking it 5-10 minutes more than suggested and it turned out better. There is nothing like bread and butter. Keeping butter out in the butter dish as this time of year makes for near-liquid butter. Sometimes I use Marmite but it doesn’t spread well.

Who needs a good slap: YouTube ads. Of course, The Tube of Yous always has interruptive ads, but lately they are political and all Arizona/GOP produced. The ads seem mismatched to the audience: what I watch are mostly educational channels like science and history, things The AZ GOP has no interested for, so I can’t imagine the viewers waiting to see EONS (PBS channel on paleontology) want to see such puerile rubbish and be persuaded to vote for these nasties.

On my 1-5 scale, I give political ads two slaps. Three slaps when you can’t fast forward through them.

Who gets a fist-bump: Brother #4. Brother #4 (who is well over six feet) often travels to the southern states for his work. When he goes to TN or KY he picks up lovely local whiskies and bourbons for his brothers. He bought me a belated birthday bottle of some hard-to-find small batch stuff. The dear.

What I’m planning: Patronage of local stores. Next month when I go to MI I will buy bread at the local baker and books at the local bookstore. An independent bookstore is a rare thing and I want to support such. Rather than ordering from Mr. Bezos I will call them now to order me some tomes and pick them up when I am in town.

What’s making me smile: The farmers market. Near the hotel where we stay in Santa Fe is a weekend farmers market. My soul swoons to be among the produce. What I am after of course are proper tomatoes. I will buy a few to eat in town and I transport some home to turn them into sauce. Oh the joy.

*Technically it is a Kitchen-Aid, but I like the prosody of ‘made in the mix-master” Please don’t write in.

Today is the last day for the The Other Psychiatrist. I don’t know why he is leaving. After meeting him in the interviewing process I never saw him again. He was scheduled to work in the PHX office on the days I was at MESA. This makes sense but it meant I never interacted with him. That’s too bad and now he is leaving. People come and go so quickly here. The Overlords had plans to expand services somewhat based on having him around; I wonder if these proposals are aborted.

I am peeved with the staff at the MESA office. Compared to the PHX office, it is a smaller space with more staff who sit closer to each other. I am only one of two people who regularly wear masks at work. Last Friday, when I was working in PHX, I was told many in MESA went off sick with something. Of course I am thinking covid. I am scheduled to work there tomorrow and I am half-tempted to work from home. You bet your flaming knickers I am keeping my mask on.

Technically what I am doing isn’t therapy but what do should always be therapeutic. I carry around in my head a handful of quick-to-say-I-hope-this-sticks statements that I give onto the med-check folks who could use some counseling. My latest one:

“Between the stimulus and your response is your humanity.”

This captures the sage advice not to immediately act on quickly-erupted emotions but to pause/think/evaluate before saying or doing anything foolish or regrettable. Indeed, most counseling is trying to convey this in some form or another. It may also result in something noble. No one can be judged for instantly feeling the impulse to run away, but maybe you will not do so but stay where you are to help others.

Another at-work item: I am about to take my first holiday and not lose income for doing so. The proviso at work has always been I can take off as much time as I wish but I won’t get paid for it. I know this is a factor towards me not taking time off when I should. Now I have two weeks paid vacation. Hot puppies! I will still have to call in/get messages/renew prescriptions etc. That hasn’t changed. I hope in time it will.

21. Add the milk at least one minute after the tea has brewed.

Patience above! What a nest of hornets to poke with this one! Where do I start? There is a slight assumption to this one you are already drinking the stuff and you are in the camp of milk-adders. For thems who don’t drink tea (oh the horror!) there is a long-time debate over when to add milk to your tea. Opinions are strong and hot (like my Assam) and the fights resemble The Thirty Years War minus its charms. I read somewhere there is a ‘class’ division to the question. I forget if it is ‘low-brow’ or ‘high-brow’ to add the milk first or after the tea is poured.*

I suppose the ‘gist’ behind this way to slightly improve your life tip is adding milk not too quickly is based on the grounds the tea needs time to steep before the cold of the milk halts the process. This makes sense but the scientist in me wants to see some double-blind studies if anyone can really tell a difference.**

Of course adding any milk depends a great deal on circumstances, such as what type of tea and how long it was brewed and a other factors. I would never put milk in green tea, but a strong morning Irish Breakfast no rubbish type seems to demand some to cut the tannins. This makes a too tannic cup even better.

In the end, to slightly improve your life, if you add milk, add it when you like to do so.

If you add milk afterwards, wait a minute for the tea to steep, to enhance the flavors.

If you don’t drink tea, to slightly improve your life, do so: do not dare to question this.

Do you drink tea? Do you put milk (or cream) in it? And when do you do this?

*When I add milk to tea I do so after it is poured, read into that what you will.

**This goes double for the milk-in-first vs. milk-in-after debate. I bet you a sixpence people can’t tell the difference with this either. People get awfully queer about their hot beverages.

I recently heard a podcast in which a sixty year old woman talked about her past time of reading children books. I was relieved to hear I wasn’t the only one my age to does this. Of course she was a writer, and she had grandchildren, so reading children’s books isn’t so odd sounding. It is a different matter for a 60yo O.B.* to admit doing so. After I get through five or six ‘adult’ books I reread something like “The Phantom Tollbooth” or “James and the Giant Peach” or (in a down mood) “Pippi Longstocking” who is always available to be brought back on stage.

There are several reasons for doing this. Certainly there is comfort that comes from nostalgia, like eating a Good Humor strawberry shortcake on a wooden stick (remember them?). This isn’t the main reason though. Several books from my youth I once thought marvelous now seem mawkish or dated – some of them are even painful to reread. Happily these seem to be the exception; most of my children’s books remain as joyous as I remember them.

The main reason for my rereading children’s books is they have something adult books do not: hope and they magic. Hope and fantasy are sorely lacking in adult fiction and near non-existent in non-fiction. There may be trouble like a lost child or toy or a missing parent, but it comes out OK. As for magic, talking animals and improbable situations are par for the course and never questioned. Sometimes I need to read not to learn something or to make clever remarks to my friends but to feel some hope.

I hope this isn’t escapism; I don’t think it is. In “The Neverending Story” the protagonist visits Fantastica not to stay there but to return to reality richer for the experience. I hope I am doing the same when I reread “Jerome the frog” this August and “Old Black Witch” in October.

When I finally finish “Tom Jones” and “How the mind changes” I plan to pull down my dog-eared well-read copy of “Giants come in different sizes” It will do me a lot of good.

Do you reread children’s books? What might you recommend?

*Old Bachelor

Patience above! It’s been a few days since my last scribble. This happens when a) I am up to my oxters with work and b) I have a life. Most nights after work I go the gym and come straight home and have an evening to do things, like read and write blogs. This last week I actually ‘went out’.

On Thursday our favorite watering hole restarted ‘Show tunes happy hour’. It was page 71; hardly anyone was there. One of the fun elements of Broadway in bars is the phenomena when something comes on the screens the audience to a man starts signing along, sometimes with interpretative dance. On the other hand it didn’t matter as I met up with Christopher, a blogger buddy from years ago. He hasn’t blogged in years but he as kept in touch via FB. He texted he was driving through town so he stopped by the bar to meet. It’s always fun – and a bit awkward – to meet someone you know very well in some aspects but haven’t really met. Mr. Christopher was a delight and well over four feet. I hope we keep in touch more now that we’ve met in person. I would like to meet as many blogger buddies (and Spo-fans) as possible. Jolly good fun! Just don’t drop by in July. That’s crazy-mad.

Yesterday Friday Someone and I went to the theatre. We both wondered when was the last time we did this. Usually when we see a play, I sit in the audience while he works either as an usher or as usher captain.* We saw “Private Lives”, which was done by a local community theatre. Someone, who has a good eye for this sort of thing, thought the show p. 71: the production and the acting were not good, viz. community theatre. On the other hand I enjoyed the quaintness of locals putting on a show. It reminded me of our days in Michigan when we were obliged to attend countless community theatre gigs put on by our friends and afterwards thought of something kind to say. “You were really giving it your all!” and “such energy you put into your role!”

Today Saturday won’t be so social. It’s another weekend of laundry and house tasks, which suits me fine. Before theatre last night we had a scrumptious Thai dinner. My meal was spicy, exotic and enormous, like my men. My GI system today suggests I stay home and not do too much crazy, so be it.

*On occasion we go as two members of the audience where he works. He never relaxes but scans the place looking for trouble and where is the captain to deal with that problem etc. I have to remind him he’s not working and this is not his job right now. So it is best to see shows where he doesn’t work.

THWIT (n.) A pang of shame you feel when an embarrassing memory from adolescence rushes back into your head from out of nowhere, which is somehow no less painful even if nobody else remembers it happened in the first place. Acronym: The Hell Was I Thinking.

I recently learned this charming acronym, which I plan to incorporate into my lexicon. Urs Truly has thwits – frequently. I will be doing something, anything, minding my own business, usually in a pleasant lull, when all of a sudden out from the deep abyss of my hummingbird brain a sudden intense memory shoots up like a jack-in-the-box to remind me of ‘that thing’ I did forty-five years ago. There is no lack of memories to choose from, for I can assure you I was quite the doofus well into my 30s. Over the embarrassment. Why suddenly my subconscious wants me to be vividly reminded of doing some dumb-ass action from my adolescence just as I am trying to concentrate on traffic or enjoying a pleasant read is beyond me. I have a bit of Tourette’s that these tiresome thwits often come with a sudden spew of a curse word, thus broadcasting to the world the open invitation to inquire ‘what was that about?”. I don’t tell them I was remembering the time I was fifteen years old in the high school library when I thoughtlessly decided to put my finger in a less-than-prudent place in front of the high school “A-list” gossip girls.

Thwits are annoying, especially as they don’t mean anything to anyone anymore, especially me, so why do they hang around? It’s not like they ‘traumatic’ flashbacks as seen in cases of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). They were painfully uncouth/childlike or just plain stupid. I am certain all my thwits are no different or worse than anyone else’s.* One can only take comfort through time and with wisdom thwits are not likely to be repeated or fresh ones made.** I’ve learned the safe and simple rule to pause before opening my mouth and to think twice before I do something in public. This goes double for what I write on the internet. I thank the gods (or someone like them) there was no internet/social media/recordings when I was a teenager. Today’s youngsters will have their shenanigans and faux pas painfully persevered for austerity on Tiktok and the like. On the positive, perhaps their psyches won’t bother with thwits like mine as they won’t have to: it’s all on line.

Do you have some thwits? Of course you do! Please share one if you are willing.

*Well, maybe I had a few in my 20s that were especially ‘thwity” and no I am not going to tell you what they are.

**So long as one avoids too many long island iced teas in a single setting.

The Ws meme has widened! Robbie (the dear!) gave the idea to include a ‘fist bump’ to balance the ‘good slap’. Jungians love balance, so I think this is a splendid notion. Travel Penguin and Debbie (also dears!) can collect any reasonable attorneys fees for doing so. Spo

What’s top of my mind: Hallowe’en. I dislike celebrating holidays prematurely, and I set limits when one starts celebrating them, so how is it my hummingbird-mind is already flitting about with visions of witches and jack-o-lanterns in July? Maybe this is because I don’t have nothing to look forward to. Mind! This is simply not true. There is a my Santa Fe trip at month’s end, and in late August I fly to MI to attend Papa for awhile. I would like some summertime corn on the cob and blue moon ice cream with blueberries* thank you before I start on with the pumpkin-spiced comestibles. The ghoulies and ghosties flitting about my brain can go back to sleep for a few more months, thank you.

Where I’ve been: Nowhere. Once again I keep wracking my memory trying to recall if have I been anywhere other than work, the gym, and Uncle Albertsons. I used to go to Canada, which is something I used to do regularly about this time of year. We would fly usually to Buffalo and cross the border to spend a day or so in Toronto, then to NOTL for The Shaw Festival and then to Stratford, ON to see the shows. It was a great way to spend a week in the summer. Temperatures were cooler then, although there was humidity. It was relatively easy to break away from work and travel across the border. But those were happier times.

Where I’m going: Showtunes at Kobalt. Our usual watering hole used to have showtunes for happy hour on Thursdays. This ended when Kat, my future ex-wife, retired from bartending and took the tunes with her. Kobalt recently announced they are going to revive Showtunes Thursday starting tomorrow. We are curious to go have a look-see. This used to be jolly good fun and we are curious to see how it goes. Anyone who’s seen a Broadway show knows the revival is usually not as good as the original cast.

What I’m watching: Great Lakes cams. Father is a boat nerd; once upon a time zanies like these were called ‘freighter freaks’. He loves the comings and goings of The Great Lakes freighters. It turns out there a 24/7 cams located at The Soo Locks and at The Bluewater Bridge that connects Port Huron to Sarnia. Sometimes I have these video cams on as background and take note of the traffic. When I call him to check in on him, I tell him what boats where seen and where. He remembers most of them and enjoy recollecting them out loud. This makes for pleasurable phone calls for him, better than just asking about the weather. I admit I’ve grown found of watching for freighters, thus fulfilling the primal scream of all children throughout Time they are turning into their parents. 🙂

What I’m reading: Another Terry Pratchett novel. I am currently reading four books** and I don’t need a fifth. Bibliophile that I am I can’t seem to stop the Tsuduku, especially when it comes to ‘The Discworld series”. I made myself a promise to first finish one of the books in progress before I start this one.

What I’m listening to: Someone’s work day. Some days when we are able Someone drives me to work, drops me off to proceed to his own, and picks me up at the end of the day at 5PM. As he drives us home, he tells me about his day. Done in detail, I hear all about the drama of nasty patrons at the theatre and the city employee shenanigans and visitors at the convention center. After a full day of listening to people with their woes, this is sometimes a challenge viz. keeping attentive and not making this a ‘med-check’ in which I tell him what to do.

What I’m eating: Chocolate chip cookies. Or I was. Unlike the first couple of attempts at creating cookies in the kitchen, these were so good they were soon consumed. The ones I reserved for the office in Mesa apparently were eaten by Henrik the Ghost of someone like him as they were gone before I could wrap them up.

Who needs a good slap: Arizona politicians. The nasty bunch have erected numerous campaign signs on every street intersection. I suspect they cause accidents as people are looking at them and not the road. Most of them boast how conservative they are, promising to ‘Get Fauci” or they have The Orange Narcissist with them in their photo. Once upon a time politicians seemed to campaign about fiscal responsibility and/or keeping government out of people’s lives – or am I wrong on this?

On my 1-5 scale, I give three slaps.

P.S. We recently had a major monsoon in the valley, which blew away many of these eyesores. Isn’t this a sign of G-d’s disfavor?

Who gets a fist bump: The pharm representative. One of them remembered it was my birthday and brought me in a prize of Chef Boyardee tinned ravioli. I have an ongoing joke whenever I met a rep for lunch I thank them for bringing food in that I don’t have to eat a cold can of ravioli kept in my office for days of no luncheons. It was a thoughtful joke on her part.

What I’m planning: Rye bread. Since my loaf of white turned out decent (thanks Kitchen-aid!) I will try a loaf of rye, which I prefer to white, as they are more coarse, flavorful, and light brown – like my men.

What’s making me smile: Hedgehogs in the pantry. The niblings Princess-goddess and Posthumous Thomas sent me a birthday prize of a family of hedgehogs, made of metal, with sticks that insert into the ground. They ought to be erected outside in a garden. Alas, Babylon! The ground here is hard as stone, and I never go outdoors if I can help it, so the usual placement seems impractical. I placed them on top of the ‘B” cookbooks on the top shelf in the larder. This way I can see them anytime I go there. I can think of no better arrangement.

*The official foods of summer.

**Tom Jones, How the Mind Changes; The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows; The Yellow Fairy Book.

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