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Last week I came home to discover sitting on my doorstep a large cardboard box. My first response was Hello Fresh or Blue Apron sent us another meal kit by mistake. Upon inspection this was not so. Perhaps Someone had ordered me a birthday prize but that’s two weeks away. However, the address was addressed to “Spo”, something Someone has never called me. Patience above! It was quite heavy! I felt like Milo getting a package to take him to ‘The Lands Beyond’. I opened it, but it wasn’t a phantom tollbooth. This is what it was:

Lord love us! A king-sized-titanic-unsinkable-Molly-Brown Kitchen-aid mixer! Complete with a cookbook! My soul swoons. This is better than all the tollbooths in all the worlds. A Spo-fan who is well over four feet and several stages above and beyond dear sent it to me.*** An excerpt from what he writes:

Dear Spo,

The Muses keep reminding me how much you’ve been kneading the enclosed surprise….so finally, you have no excuse for not presenting the most luscious buns in Phoenix! …….. The large ‘instruction guide’ by Bernard Clayton was selected for its encyclopedic scope that should keep you, Someone, The Board of Directors and all the Tewksbury rats satisfied in future journeys through the fascinating world of breads….. ”

I have long wanted one of these, but every time we think of getting one, some unexpected financial matter arises and becomes precedent.* So it never happened. Now, thanks to the benevolence of this Spo-fan the world of baking opens up to me.

First I called SIL #3 to get instruction what are the use of the three attachments. I am pleased as Punch to know the white hook is for making bread dough which is my main wish.** I figured I better start with something more simple, like cookies. I have no lack of recipes to try, so I got out one and gave it a go. I was trembling with joy to have all ready, and flip the switch and – nothing. I feared it was broken, but it turns out I hadn’t plugged it in.

As a mixer of ingredients The Kitchen-aid surpasses Someone by a country mile but it is not a threat in the kitchen. Au contraire, he’s delighted with it as I am. Over the weekend I made ‘wife cookies’ (recipe upon request). Alas, Babylon! They did not turn out well. They were kind of gooey puddles with browned edges. As there were so many variables it is hard to pinpoint down what went wrong, but I am pretty sure it wasn’t the Kitchen-Aid. Oh well, as Ernest Hemingway famously wrote:

“All first drafts are sh-t”

The Medical Assistant tells me I can bring all my baking experiments to work as while they look queer they were tasty.

This weekend I plan on making a loaf of bread with it. Chances are it won’t turn out well either, but I need practice.

I am as happy as a clam at high tide.

Thank you dear man who sent it to me. I will think of you every time I use it.


*This week alone: $1200: car repairs; $1200 dentistry; $500 medical license renewal (Stirges); $500 plane ticket to see Father in August. Oh the pain.

**It also serves for playing pirates AKA Captain Hook.

***He gave me permission to write about this but it was not clear if he wished to remain anonymous.

Whenever I visit Brother #3 he asks I take home with me more of the old ‘Boy’s Life magazines’ which are in a cardboard box in the guest room. At the bottom, under the mags, I found my French notebook from the 7th grade. I had forgotten about my attempt at learning French. When I got to junior high school, the two languages offered were Spanish and Frenc. I really wanted to learn French, I don’t remember why. I suppose I was influenced by our frequent trips to Canada, and I didn’t know anyone who spoke Spanish.

I remember the teacher, Miss Robert, who took her students at the end of the course on a field trip to a French restaurant in Windsor, Ontario. I still remember this, especially ordering in my so-called ‘perfect French’ while the waiter was probably holding back his laughter. Oh the embarrassment.

As I go through the pages it appears I was more concerned with the illustrations than the actual words.

I was tres en colere when I got to high school and could not get into French class. The school counselor persuaded me to try German, as if the two languages were as interchangeable as Coke and Pepsi. I went and ended up taking six years of German and I forgot all my French other than a few choice words and phrases that make no sense and cannot be understood for love or money. Ah l’horreur.

I am presently studying Spanish; by now I know many who speak it. The only French-speaking sorts I know are a few tres bien amies blogger buddies, all over four feet and speak it well. I am half-tempted to retry learning French, if only to re-order un petit dejeunar in a French restaurant, while the serveur tries not to laugh.

This one is a short entry; I am up to my oxters in there’s-work-to-be-done Saturday tasks. My contractual obligation is fulfilled to negate my appendages and digits being lopped off as a nordic advent calendar. Spo.

I got this Christmas ornament years ago. It doesn’t go on the tree anymore; it sits on my desk at work. All the patients see it but only a few comment on it (usually with fondness). The ornament has a button in the back that when pressed plays the entire scene from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. You know the one: it is when Charlie Brown consults Lucy, who tries to name his fears. The recording ends with him shouting “That’s it!” to the diagnosis of pantophobia. In thirty years I have never diagnosed anyone with this. The closest condition is “generalized anxiety disorder” viz. feeling anxious or fearful most if not all the time about nothing specific but ‘everything and anything’. I give Lucy credit. She encourages him to do something/get involved. This is a common recommendation for thems with GAD: don’t withdraw or succumb to your anxiety, but go into what makes you anxious.

After thirty years my rates have gone up; 5 cents doesn’t cover anything.

Last year when we cleared out our parent’s house (1976-2020) we took trinkets of our time therein. Hardly anyone took anything of value or bulk. What we wanted were mawkish things, to remind us of our youth. As an example, I took the avocado green plastic butter dish; it makes me think of our kitchen back in Grosse Pointe Woods.

I also took was Father’s collection of Christmas music recorded on cassette tape. Every Christmas morning he recorded off the radio their morning programme of carols. We heard these while eating Christmas breakfast and opening our prizes. Curiously, I don’t recall him every playing them after they were made. The next year he merely made another. Eventually he stopped doing this, apparently having lost interest in doing so, or there was no more room in the cassette tape holder (remember those?). The recordings were crudely made that he didn’t bother to edit them. Most of them start in the middle of a tune already in progress. Last year I got a cassette player that allowed me to hear them. They hadn’t been played in nearly two decades.

I was curious to hear what was there. The tunes are ‘background’ style of familiar carols. There are a lot of violins. Once in awhile there are vocals, mostly Johnny Mathis or one of that crowd. What I didn’t remember is the music stops once in awhile for the radio host to announce “This is WJR (or) this is WFMT in Detroit). There are also commercials. I think I like these better than the music. They sound ’80s’ and ’90s’ and have a quaint quality to them.

I plan on playing these ancient recordings as background music next month while I do things about the house. They may not be ‘quality’, but they remind me of Christmases long long ago, like an ornament made from paper and Elmer’s glue you made in grade school that your parents put on the tree every year next to the proper ornaments.

Cassette tapes are ephemeral; they do not last. Over time the recordings fade. Often they ‘warp’ or become a snarl. A part of me thinks I should translate them to the computer but

a) it will take a long time

and

b) it probably doesn’t matter.

In the long run the memory of these tapes is more important than their contents, which are admittedly a bit cheesy. Maybe I will save a few of them, particularly the ones with some vocals. After all, nothing sounds quite like Christmas than Mr. Mathis singing about chestnuts roasting on an open fire, followed by an ad for a Detroit business now defunct.

The Phoenix office is my own, but the one in Mesa I share with two others.* For many years – more than I can remember – there is a blue plastic box under the small table between two chairs across from the desk. On top of the box top is the logo word LEGO imprinted on the lid. No one seems to know who brought it in. There is a general belief a counselor, long departed from the practice, had this box for play therapy with her kiddie-clients. Perhaps it was a certain child’s box. Either way, both counselor and child have long gone and the box sits under the table. I see it every time I sit and work in the Mesa office. I decided to claim it and take it home, get it out of the office, justified on the rationale after ten years no one will notice it gone.

Sitting for a decade; waiting for Godot.

It has been nearly fifty years since I last played with LEGO – discounting May when I visited Nephew #3, Posthumous Thomas, who invited me into his room to help him construct a LEGO project. LEGO looks to have evolved over the decades. The pieces in blue box seem to be of an older generation, when LEGO was merely blocks of different colors and sizes. The nephew’s LEGO was quite the different cup of tea. The pieces were very specific to create a unique end-product, in his case, a scene from Jurassic Park. The LEGO from my youth were just blocks that came with no instructions; we made whatever we wanted from them. I cannot help but think mine were better for a young mind to learn to work with ideas and imagination. PT’s LEGO building was following a recipe.

I will take home the pieces and put them through a cleanse of hot sudsy dishwater. If these were once owned by a counselor who shared them with kiddie-clients I imagine they are covered in all sort of dormant germs waiting to reemerge like smallpox hiding in old blankets. Afterwards, I get to re-experience my youth by trying to deduce what to make from them. They look like they don’t create a single something. Rather, they look like a pastiche of various LEGO boxes. There are several tires; I can’t figure out how to make them into a vehicle.** There are a few windows and doorways too to suggest some sort of house could be built as well.

Behold the contents !
Any suggestions for a name?

Then there is this fine little fellow. He is well over four centimeters. He was at the bottom of the box, pulled out from the rubble like a victim in an earthquake. He looks to be a plumber or a construction man. He seems to want to be holding something, like a can of beer. By unearthing him from his tomb, I hope I haven’t unleased anything sinister like some sort of Talking Tina doll.***

In the end I can’t figure out what to do build from all of this, I will pack it all up and bring it to Michigan, and donate it to The Posthumous Thomas LEGO Collection. He has heaps.

*They are good people, well over four feet.

**I recently heard LEGO makes more tires per year than any tire manufacturer on earth, including Firestone.

***While La Casa de Spo is full up with duendes and such, they aren’t usually maleficent or hell-bent on my damnation.

I’ve am feeling sad. On Monday I learned a friend had died. Janice was recently in hospice with terminal pancreatic cancer; she was in her 80s. Her surviving son announced her death on Facebook. I wish I had called her to say good-bye. Her son Robert and I shared lodgings when we lived in Chicago in the early 90s. I would visit Robert’s family who lived in Wilmington, NC. I got to know his parents. After he moved out, I learned Robert had died from AIDS. I kept in touch with his mother as sort of a monument to Robert’s memory. Janice and I were not close – I sensed I would trigger memories of her dead son. And now Janice is gone too.

Today on Facebook my future ex-wife and long time bartender Kat announced she was leaving that job to focus on her new business. FB was inundated with congratulations and sadness – you the the type: when you feel good for the person but sad at their leaving. The pub will have a massive ‘last call’ party next week. I need to get to this. I doubt I will see her again for we really didn’t have anything in common but the business. I will miss her.

Then there is this card that arrived yesterday:

The late Anne-Marie A.K.A. Warrior-Queen had actually bought me a birthday card before she took ill and died. Who does this sort of thing? Good people, that’s who. Todd conveyed he found it and (the dear!) mailed it:

The dog looks a lot like Harper; I bet AM did this on purpose. It is another example on how amazing and thoughtful she was.

With three losses of lovely ladies in a row I am feeling the sadness of Time passing and people going and the ephemeral of Life. We all go through this sort of stuff. If we wait long enough, people leave us in some way or another. The vast majority of people we encounter on our Life Journey do not stay; maybe less than 1% make it through Time. Perhaps it is best not to try to hold onto everybody, but enjoy their company while we can. As the Countess says: “with my way it doesn’t last until death, but it’s fun while it hangs together’.

Yesterday, to my astonishment, The Clock Repairman called to say my clock is repaired and ready for pick up. You could have knocked me over with feather. It’s been at the shop for so long I forget it is there. The timepiece, called ‘Aunt Marion’s clock’, is back on the shelf in the home office. As I type this, I hear it chiming the quarter/half/three-quarter hours, and the deep bass slow ‘dong dong dong’ of the hour.  You cannot imagine how happy this makes me feel. 

Great Aunt Marion was married to Samuel, the brother of Kleber, who was my great-grandfather*.  Kleber lived 1868-1921, to hint at the clock’s age. I have a few sketchy memories of Father taking me to visit her when I was very young . When she died, Father got the clock – and now I have it. 

This clock has told the time throughout my lifetime; it’s chimed away in all my tribulations and many moves. Once in a while the clock dies and I spend a small fortune getting someone to bring it back to life. Clock repairmen are all alike that they are introverted old men who work alone and have no set work hours. Not once has any of them told me the job will be ready in less than six months**. They are like the old clocks they tinker with. It grows harder and harder to find one still working. I guess they are in high-demand or ironically they are not pressed for time. 

Someone picked up the clock, so I didn’t hear what was the matter. I called once a season or so to see if he is still alive (I worried) and he would say again he’s working on it. The pendulum grows tired and stops swinging. I don’t blame it for doing so. It’s been going back and forth for over a century and deserves a good death – but I won’t let it.  The Clock Repairman tells me there are few clocks like this one left anymore and it is priceless. This was not news to me. I shudder to think of the price it has cost me to keep it going.

But all that doesn’t matter now. It is back up and running again. Aunt Marion’s portrait stand vigil again next to her clock, which quietly chimes the quarters albeit a bit off-key. It isn’t exactly on time but that too doesn’t matter. I will sleep well tonight as I hear its plangent tones emanating from the hallway. 

*Kleber <  Edward < Thomas < Urs Truly. 

**This round I believe took over a year, as I remember dropping it off without me needing to wear a mask. 

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.

Spo-fans, this is quick one. I should be packing as we leave soon for a three day weekend to SE Arizona. I am posting this nonsense to keep you lured and to fulfill Stipulation #367 of my contractual obligation, the penalty for breaking it too gruesome to convey. Spo.

Our houseguest The Other Michael (the dear!) arrived safe and sound from the faraway Kingdom of Chicago. He brought us fabulous houseguest prizes. This gesture is very thoughtful and shows he is a man of great manners. I was surprised at first so see how accurate he was to please, until I remembered he reads my blog.

Entombed in a plastic cylinder is a Krampus Christmas ornament. It is ugly as sin and I love it so. My Christmas tree is positively pagan (and frightening) with him among the 13 Yule Lads. I don’t dare take him out of before Christmas time lest he run amok in La Casa de Spo, dragging me off in his wicker basket to horrible tortures like listening to Donny and Marie Christmas music for a year.

Spo-fans know I am fond of church cookbooks. TOM brought me a few circa the early 60s. The recipes aren’t too appetizing but it is jolly good fun to read what was vogue and trendy at that time. There is a recipe in one of them under “International recipes” for something called guacamole. It calls for chopping an avocado, an onion, a tomato, some lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Try to tell as many people as you can in town.

Finally, there is that dear bottle of Chicago-made gin. I was not aware there were distilleries in The Windy City – not since Prohibition anyway. I hope they have improved Mr. Capone’s basic recipe, which I’ve read was somewhat harsh. We will open it and have some this evening in Bisbee while we play ‘Sorry!’ and discuss The Thirty Years War.

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.

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