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This morning I went to the kitchen to put the kettle on when I found this on the counter. It is curious indeed as it certainly wasn’t there last night. It is quite a spread of chocolate, jellies, and two types of chocolate bunnies.

The Easter Bunny hasn’t visited La Casa de Spo since 2005. The irony is I don’t need no sweets thank you as I need to get in shape and lose some weight in time for my first face-to-face appointment in over a year with The Good Doctor. Happily, my niece AKA Warrior Queen is visiting this weekend. I hope she eats it all, especially the Peeps. I had a Peep once and found it inedible. The package says it is made of nothing but chemicals so there it is. I know some sorts (shady types, well over four feet) who insist Easter is no complete without these spongy ersatz marshmallow monstrosities. I am curious to hear from Spo-fans if you like’em or loathe them.

Although the Easter holiday is the key point of Christianity it sure has heaps of pagan trappings. I remember being told word Easter is derived from the goddess Eostre. She once turned a bird into a rabbit, but forgot to finish the corrective surgery so the newly transformed animal continued to lay eggs. Thus we have The Easter Bunny and not The Easter Chicken. Brother #4 plans to grill The Easter Chickens this evening on the Weber.

Soon the household wakes. I’ve made a pot of coffee for Brother #4 and a pot of tea for SIL #4 and Urs Truly. I’ve made the coffee strong, strong enough to wake the dead. It seems apropos for Easter.

“Take something!”

This was request repeated over and over last weekend. After the parental house was shut down, Brother #3 got the burden of our parent’s things, which sit now in boxes in his basement. My ability to take home items thrust upon me was limited by my luggage. I took some old ‘Boy’s Life’ magazines, a box of recipes, and this butter dish:

After Mother died, Father asked what I wanted. I did not go for the china or the paintings or the silverware, What I wanted was this butter dish. It is neither fancy nor valuable. It is made from a sort of plastic that looks as new as when it was first used many decades ago. Its color is a funny shade of green, like an overripe avocado, which was popular back then. It seems to shout ‘I’m from the 70s’.

It’s been a year since I dropped el plato de manteqilla*. That one was made of blue glass which shattered upon impact. We’ve not had a butter dish since. I’ve been holding off getting a new one on the practical and maudlin grounds this one would work nicely.

Simple things like butter dishes are so integral to one’s life yet hardly noticed. Ours sat on the kitchen table for every meal (minus the formal ones) and was witness to the family talks in its countless permutations of passes. There was a time it held butter, then only margarine when butter was declared suspect. Then it went back to butter when it was margarine’s turn to be the bogeyman and we preferred butter anyway. In the passing of said dish there were sometimes voiced opinions of how the recipient ‘uses too much’ or the butter was too hard.  Its cover allowed the dish to stay on the table during the months with “R” in them. This allowed the butter to be sufficiently soft enough for spreading on toast, its chief job then as is now.

This green plastic butter dish presently sits on the kitchen island at La Casa de Spo. It does not go with anything.  Being among the modern kitchenware it looks dated, like a grandmother who brought a Jello-mold dessert to the family Thanksgiving while the younger relations all made Yuppie dishes with foreign names.

I am pleased as Punch to have it; I will think of the many meals it went with over as I ask Someone at supper to please pass it to me.

 

 

*Translation: the butter dish.

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.  

 

 

Santa Claus (the dear!) gave me a the latest in technology; a FM/AM radio (complete with antenna) that plays cassette tapes! The others will be mad-jealous they don’t got one. 

In the closet in The Dragon Room are several plastic boxes of homemade and purchased cassette tapes that have been sitting on the shelf for decades and I am going to hear them again. It is an odd emotion listing to mix-tapes* I haven’t heard since the 80s. 

The first to be heard (as it was in the front) has the hand-written title “78s”. Such sonorous tunes we used to hear once upon a time!  As I edit this entry someone (not Someone) is singing “Don’t fence me in”.  Possibly Bing Crosby.  

The second to be unearthed is one of the many holiday tapes Father made each Christmas morning. ‘1992’ starts with a carol sung – by all people! – John Denver. Every once in a while the tunes are interrupted by a radio announcer wishing us a Merry Christmas from the staff at WJR in Detroit. Do they still exist I wonder. 

I have lots tapes to hear and sort; it will be my 2021 house project. Unlike the tape players from my youth this box has an outlet into which to insert a cord or ‘transfer stick” to record the tapes (before they become tangled, as was their wont) and transfer the tunes into the iPhone, the great-great grandchild of the AM/FM radio. 

I hope I don’t overdose on all this nostalgia rehearing tapes I made and given to me by friends, some of them now deceased.  While this emotion makes all me feel like an old fuddy-duddy mostly I feel thrilled beyond description. 

 

*I suspect Spo-fans are of a certain age ‘mix-tape’ needs no explanation but for thems who may be young let me explain. A mix-tape is where you put a series of records on the stereo and record songs from this and that one onto a long ribbon of brown tape wound around two white knobs. This antediluvian activity was quite popular in its day. Don’t ask now what is a record or a stereo – that’s prehistory and there are no written records or survivors.  

When I went to Michigan last summer to assist with closing down the parent’s house my brothers gave me carte blanche to take whatever I wanted. I didn’t bother with the silverware or expensive stuff. Rather I took an assortment of kick-knacks and souvenirs of my youth.  In the the back of a cupboard stuffed behind the china were two Christmas containers I made using cut-out paper drawings and see-through ‘snow’ glitter.  I was probably ten years old or younger when I made them. It was a simple job but I remember being quite proud of my industry. They probably haven’t seen daylight in decades. I certainly had forgotten about them. I took these, passing up the opportunity to take Mother’s china*.

Some of my fondest memories for the season are the church’s annual Christmas dinner and craft night. It happened in early December and I looked forward to it all year. In the glass case by the church office the crafts would appear for you to sign up to do.  After the pot-luck dinner (casseroles for days!) the tables were set up and you moved about from table to table, presenting your ticket, and making the craft which you took home at the end of the night. I must have attended up to a decade of these events. I didn’t know any of the kitschy things I made survived. The earliest made items (plastic deli container top creations with cut-out construction paper items attached with glitter and Elmer’s glue) were used until they disintegrated through time. 

I don’t remember these containers ever being out or used. Did Mother thank me and tactfully put them away, hoping I would not notice their absence? Could it be she had the forethought to bury them in the back of the cupboard for me to find them when she was dead and gone?  Who can say. Regardless of how they ended up there, I nearly came to tears to see something from that time of life had survived and in good shape too.

When emotions like this occur I know I have reached old age. A young man would not feel this way about such silliness.  

I wonder what to put into them. I wonder too if anything was ever put in them. Hard candy would be nice, as would red and green M&Ms. Maybe I will just keep them as they are: full of memories of Christmases long long ago.

 

 

*We have lots of china; our bins overflow with the stuff. At Thanksgiving for whimsy sake we got out a few plates. These haven’t seen daylight in ages either.

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

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

41zR1EE1tgL._SL500_AC_SS350_

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

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

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

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

iu

 

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

Thanks to my pillaging of the parental unit I have plenty of items for “Curious things around the house” entries.  Here’s one of them.

1

In the childhood house in the corner of the basement is a bar with three 60s-style bar stools. I don’t remember my parents ever actually using the bar; it was a place to store things. On the shelf stands a glass mug in which are cocktail stirrers.  I don’t remember a time when it wasn’t there. Also I don’t recall Father ever saving any cocktail sticks to take home to add to the collection. I think they were all obtained prior to my arrival, collected in the late 50s and early 60s.  No one has ever actually used them or gone through them to see what they are – until now.

2

First curious question is the mug itself: where did it come from? It is a heavy glass root beer mug probably obtained an A&W drive-in back when someone came out to serve you burgers with real utensils and mugs all on a tray attached to the side of the car. I suppose I am not old enough to have gone to one of these places – have you?

3

Anyone remember playing the game ‘pick up sticks’ ?

It will take time to go through these items to figure out where they came from. Here are a few that immediately caught my eye:

4

As a teen Father worked at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. This is where my parents met for she worked there as well.  It makes sense there are several swizzle sticks from The Island.

5

My family has been in the Detroit area since the 6os; there are many sticks from Motor City hotels and clubs.

6

I think this is the restaurant in which Jimmy Hoffa disappeared; my grandmother lived less than a mile away from the place.

7

My parents were not travelers; I don’t remember any trips they took without the kids. They must have done some traveling as there are several swizzle sticks from now defunct airlines. Oh! Flying used to be fun and luxurious once upon a time! Can you imagine receiving something like these on today’s flights?

I don’t plan to have these lovelies sit idle; I plan on using them.

When I call Father today I will ask for the story behind the mug and the swizzle sticks. If I learn anything I will attach an addendum.

ADDENDUM:  Father informs me these sticks were his father’s – my paternal grandfather. Grandfather Spo traveled as he was a lobbyist; it was he who saved the swizzle sticks. After he died, Father took them and added some of his own.  There are 111 total. Father says he would be delighted to hear about each one to remember their tales and tell me about them. We have a date tomorrow to do just that.

 

After yesterday’s delve into macaroni salad The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections has asked me to lay off writing about food for awhile. I was told to stick to less invidious topics like politics. This is a surprise as they  like a good fight especially if things end in murders and carnage. Perhaps they just don’t want any blood or mayonnaise spilled on the recently cleaned rugs of Heorot Johnsons.  Sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury than write a political entry especially if it means dragging The Supreme Dimwit on stage.  This doesn’t give me much to talk about but some Spo-fans wanted to know if there were any updates about the parent’s house. So here it goes.

 

This weekend two maybe three of the brothers will meet at 563 * with Urs Truly joining via zoom or FaceTime in order to go from room to room looking for items to take.  We each found a list given to us by Mother with inventory what is what. Fascinating! Like a Venn diagram the contents of the lists overlap but not entirely. Each one has some items not on the others and a few that overlap have contradictory data. Perhaps this makes them not so much a Venn diagram but The Four Gospels in which some but not have Our Savior doing different things. Needless to say this is causing confusion and making it more difficult to discard things. On one brother’s list the seemingly nondescript cradle in which Mother keeps her childhood dolls is down as been used for babies going back five generations. Damn. Now it goes off the ‘easily discarded’ list onto the ‘better save this one’ although no one is expecting a baby anytime soon.

That innocuous oriental-style winter coat hanging in the upstairs closet one brother was ready to give to Salvation Army? My list tells me is a great-great-great aunt brought it back from Peking after her missionary trip was canceled due to a fracas known as The Boxer Rebellion:

Chinese Coat 2

Peking winter coat  

I fear we are not going to get of anything if every son’s list suggests everything is precious and/or valuable.

Another challenge is when we all happen upon something that makes everyone turn towards me with ‘this is yours do you want it?” I would like to be prepared with an ahead-of-time answer but this may not be possible. I should take the art I have done and I would should take some of the cookbooks but I am still on the fence about the baby grand piano. I have a few more days to figure it all out.    

 

lighthouse2

 

A Spo original pencil sketch. “Lighthouse #4” in a series.  circa 1980

 

*’563′ is the unofficial name for my parent’s house. It is a precise if not too imaginative name for it is the address. 

Norm P. (the dear!) has a collectible shop in the faraway land of Nova Scotia.  He regularly posts  some of his lovely things on Facebook. A few weeks ago he posted a photo of a snack bowl that made me sit up straight. It was a ‘must-have-or-perish’ item.  I bought it.

First

Hot puppies !  There is nothing like something good in the post !

Second

First layer is off !

Thrid

Oh Oh! It’s ‘attack of the packing peanuts’ ! 

These little villains get out and go everywhere. They  ‘stick’ to everything especially if ones arms are hirsute. They are a necessary evil for packing.

foruth

The next layer of the oh-so-practical packing is newspaper. I get to read what’s happening in the faraway kingdom of Nova Scotia, which turns out not much.

N.S. is rawther laid back. I missed a sale I would have liked.

Fifth

Life’s fantastic when in plastic.

Sixth

Ta da!  A five-section snack dish for bridge or ‘game’ night!  It has no ‘Made in China” or professional stamp on its bottom so I think it is handmade. I would love to know its story.  The tessellated centre bowl looks to hold a whole bag of ‘bridge mix’ chocolate covered raisins or whatever suits your people.

Seventh

Alas Babylon ! I can’t invite over chums for games to show off my treasure.  I will try this weekend to entice Someone away from his TV to play cards etc. I will set out ‘bait’ in the form of five types of nibbles. 

What shall I fill them with? 

The Spo-fan with the best list wins a month’s worth of valium (5mg). 

Spo-fans know one of my peeves is ‘Christmas too early’ – no hohohos before Thanksgiving Day thank you very much. However I am hypocritical when it comes to Halloween: I don’t mind seeing orange and black bricolage in the stores up in August.  In fact it lifts my spirits – pun intended – to see such. I hold the horses until 1 October then it’s haul out the hauntings much to the chagrin of Someone who has no interest in the holiday. This week my podcast subscriptions are already leaning towards spooky topics and things that go bump in the night. I’m pleased as punch.  It makes me feel like a kid again back when ghost stories and haunted houses filled me with delight – especially at this time of year.

Speaking of store stuff last weekend I had to go to Home Depot a few times for I kept buying the wrong items or not enough of some things.* Home Depot had lots of Halloween lawn ornaments. I am easily distracted by shiny objects especially with pumpkins in them; I was fascinated with this particular item:

witches

As their heads bob up and down they say things one expects to hear from Halloween witches. In between the clichés what do I hear?:

“When she well three meet again in thunder lighting or in rain?

When the hurly-burly’s done when the battle’s lost and won!

I come graymalkin!  Paddock calls anon!”

Halloween lawn ornaments reciting Macbeth! This purchase is far more imperative than all the cleaning supplies in all the world. I took this photo and sent it to Someone for his approval.  Three guesses what he thought.  Every time I went back to the store they were waiting for me. This was Fate was it not?  Some sort of spell had been cast upon me. Someone – always the rationalist – suspects if I hadn’t been so distracted by such I would have come home with the Pine-Sol as indicated.

I did not buy the witches in the end. However October looks to have some more house chores and this will require more trips back to The Land of Orange Buckets. “Patience above!” I imagine myself saying to Someone “Look what followed me home! I guess they just sort of fell into the shopping cart or something”.

It’s worth a try. I am growing skilled at to returning things to the Home Deport refunds department.

 

 

*I suspect The Cup Sprites or The Car-key Gnomes or one of that crowd. Stirges.

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