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My cookbook arrived; I am a published cook!

Over the years I’ve developed a preference for several dishes that I tend to make over and over. These recipes are scattered through my cookbook collection or are written down on index cards passed onto me by deceased aunts. Some of the recipes are on food-stained loose pieces of paper. Curious I can’t seem to memorize the recipes but I remember where they are located. For examples: Mother’s gingerbread is written on a fading index card while the marinade for flank steak is in The Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and my favorite BBQ chicken recipe rests in The Ruby Ann Boxcar’s Trailer Home Cookbook. You get the picture.

Over the years I’ve tried to to put them all into one tome for easy reference. My first attempt (pre-internet) was a blank book in which I wrote them all out by long-hand. The second was done via word processor and printed onto 8.5 x 11 paper and put into a folder.

This third (and hopefully last) incarnation was done via an online ‘Create your own cookbook’ website.  And here is it is. I am pleased as punch.

There is nothing memorable about these recipes. The book is a gallimaufrey of comfort foods and family favorites. My favorite cocktails are all included as are varieties for the bread machine. One chapter is solely for my favorite BBQ sauces.  This all is hardly gourmet. However each recipe is a joy for me. I am glad to have them all between the same coversheets.

This was a labor of love; it took a lot of work. I had to enter each recipe making sure the ingredients and directions were just so. I kept adding new recipes and (worse) I kept editing them for typos and word choice.  There were so many versions the website told me they were going to cancel me if I didn’t settle down and finish the damn thing.

I got two recipes from my paternal grandmother; both are in the cookbook. This weekend I will make one of them: Hamburger Soup. It is simple, nourishing, and tasty – like my men.



In my office sitting on the counter among my tea things lies a bowl most curious, made from the shell of a large oyster*. For some queer reason the artist put onto shiny shell the head of a rawther sinister-looking goblin. A large pink stone – probably quartz – is attached at the other to serve as a counterweight. I purchased it at an art fair many decades ago. The Goblin bowl holds packets of sugar, stevia, and other sweeteners for the tea.

The malevolent gaze of the goblin doesn’t exactly make the sweets look inviting. It makes me recall a poem by Christina Rossetti **  The dark ditty warns two young innocents to avoid hobnobbing with the hobgoblins and to avoid fairies in general:

“We must not look at goblin men, 

We must not buy their fruits: 

Who knows upon what soil they fed 

Their hungry thirsty roots?” 

In this day and age artificial sweeteners – even sugar itself – demonized as probable poisons my goblin bowl seems apropos in its offering of suspicious sweeties.

Despite decades of use, I don’t seem to have been bewitched by the boggarts, nor have I sprouted green pointed ears. It could be I’ve been relatively saved via lack of use: I don’t often put these toxins in my tea.


Alas, I’ve never been spirited away by The Goblin King, worse luck. 

I’ve been accused on more than one occasion of ‘Being away with the fairies’ but that’s all. 🙂



*Or something in the mollusk family.

**Spo-fans may find it interesting she also wrote “In the bleak mid-winter”, one of my favorite Christmas carols.

There is no delight like the one you get when you unexpectedly find some long-lost object you thought was gone for good.  Earlier today Someone was cleaning out clothes drawers only to discover behind the sweatshirts lay a couple of boxes. I had concluded I discarded them a long time ago. I opened up the lid and lo! There they were! Five little figurines Mother gave me for a birthday prize many years ago. Fascinating.  I thought of them a few weeks ago, wondering how on earth I would throw them out. And here they are. What a lovely reunion.


Mark Twain has always been one of my favorite writers. My favorite Twain quotation comes from when he asked Helen Keller if she was happy in her world. Yes, Mr. Twain, I am. “Helen, (he replied) out here in our world happy people are as rare as white black birds in hell.”  What a wit.


Mother (bless her heart) doesn’t really understand what I do for a living. She got me a Sigmund Freud on the grounds I must want one.  In his defense, Her Doctor was an excellent writer. I’ve had him in English; I’ve had him in German. Both are splendid prose.



I am not a big ‘Poe’ fan. Mother assumed since I like writers I must enjoy Edgar A. Poe.


Oscar Wilde remains a witty and compassionate writer. I can imagine Mr. Twain and Mr. Wilde having quite the stichomythia over whisky and cigars.


Leading the merry pack of penmen is Charles Dickens, AKA Boz, AKA Spo’s main man of literature. He is a dear. Please don’t feed him buns and things.

There’s work to be done and it starts in the kitchen. Would I could call me woodland friends to come to help me tidy up. Alas, I probably would reenact that scene in “Enchanted” and conjure forth only roof rats, scorpions, and a useless javelina or two. I must do it all myself.


No cleaning is complete without a Dobie, and I don’t mean the co-dependent elf from the Harry Potter books. They are probably not ‘green’ but sometimes it is just not humanely possible, especially is one is tackling intransigent black morass under the sink.

The spuds bin is in desperate need of disposal. I like my vegetable gardens to grow outdoors, not inside. 2.jpg

Every time Blue Apron sends us a meal with garlic as an ingredient, they send an entire head from which we only need one or two cloves. I am now up to my ears in garlic. Anyone know of a recipe that needs two dozen cloves?


The Lovely Neighbor is moving so she gave us all her booze. This is being combined with our own stash – and everyone else’s donations we’ve received whenever someone moves away. I got them all out today to take inventory.

Oh the embarrassment.  It is particularly poignant as neither one of us is imbibing at the moment.



As a consequence of being the neighborhood drop-box for unwanted liquors we now have four bottles of Kahlua.  Neither one of us drinks Kahlua. I wonder if it makes good substitute for fabric softener.



Finally, I have this handsome fellow. It was the teapot of the The Lovely Neighbor’s late mother.  Her mother Merle was married to a foreign diplomat; they lived all over the world. She had a mysterious collection of the most exotic of items. I thought I was getting some faraway teapot only to discover it comes from Pier 1.  Page 71 !!



This fine little object is my work buddy. I’m certain it has a precise if not too imaginative name, but I call it ‘The Clicking Device”.

In the bad old days (last month) if I were to write a prescription of a ‘controlled substance” nature, I had to either print it out on special paper or fax it to pharmacy, for I could not send it over the internet. All day long The Wonder Receptionist would print things for me to sign. Afterwards she would call the patients to come in to the office and pick them up. Even the most stable of patients had to trek in once a month to pick up prescriptions. A drag for all. Now that I have the software. I get to send such substance- scripts over the ether.

As they say in Monty Python “And there was much rejoicing”.

The Clicking Device is the grand finale in a procedure with more passwords than a Dan Brown novel. After I finish writing the prescription and entering the codes and passwords I press The Clicking Device. It magically reveals a randomly generated six-digit number which I enter and Bob’s your uncle! off it goes to CVS or Walgreens etc.

Someone assures me such random code generating devices are quite common when he was in banking. If some nasty hacker got into my medical system he could not finalize the prescription without the latest number.

I am mildly amused to see what number comes up when TCD is pressed. There are six numerals, 0-9, so any specific number has a one in a million chance of showing up. An as exercise in mathematics I plan to figure out the odds of getting a number with some meaning. These include: numbers with all with one digit (say all 7s) or today’s date or my birthday or a sequence such as 456789 – that sort of number.  I also fancy figuring out how long it will take to see one of these numbers pops up.

With practice I now can pull up a patient’s chart, renew the Rx, and send it out in less than thirty seconds. However, I need to be careful because if I bungle the electronic health record has apoplexy; it does not like mistakes. It shuts down and I have to wait The Clicking Device generates a new number, which feels a very long time indeed when you are trying to renew a dozen scripts before the next patient shows up.

It all reminds me of the cartoon with the caption “Give Alice some pencils and she will stay happy for ours”.



Last week when we got married we gave each other matching gold rings. We had them made by a Pacific Northwest Native American artist in Vancouver. On them is engraved “Raven Stealing the Light”. I am thrilled to have it of course, but it frightens the dickens out of me as I may lose it.  This fear is not unfounded. I tend to lose everything in time. I’ve had several rings in my life and they all have disappeared. Someone is quite severe with me about this; I am to mind my ring’s whereabouts. They were quite expensive and would not be easily replaced.

A week later it is still around. So far so good.

I have always worn a hematite ring on my left hand, so wearing a ring is old hat. Ironically it is Someone who is having troubles keeping it on (he’s worn a ring for awhile but on the right hand rather). Today he misplaced his for an hour but I said nothing.

I suppose I could keep it on 24-7 but I find I don’t like to shower with it on, lest the soapy water loosen it from my person. I take it off at night and I always place it in the shallow ring bowl on the dresser.

I went to the gym to lift weights. Fearing it would be scratched or marred from handing the barbells, I took it off and put it in the zipped pocket pouch of my gym bag. I was rather nervous to do so; after a week it felt odd to be without it.

Today I discovered my golden band has writing on the inside. I suspect it is the signature of the goldsmith but I wonder if the fine script is Haida for “One ring to rule them all” or something sinister. Perhaps it wants to slip off my finger and find its way back to Vancouver.  It’s a morbid thought but it could happen. Funny how my golden ring doesn’t conjure up emotions of wedded bliss so much as visions of Mordor.


First of all I want to thank Spo-fans far and wide, young and old, gay and straight (and thems in-between) for the congratulations posted on yesterday’s entry. You all are dears.

Now, what to post?

Curious things around the house!

Note: to appreciate this one, you should read the recent “Urspo gets plunged”.

Shawn, AKA Fearsome Beard, AKA as The Best Man, gave us a wedding gift.



Now what could this be? 


He’s not telling ! 


Behold ! A plunger! For the wedding night! 


Fearsome, always the thoughtful one, gave us two so we won’t fight. 

As a bonus, they came with tiaras, labeled “His” and “His”. 


You can title this one. Words fail me. 


My cousins (the dears!) sent me this bowl from their late mother’s estate. It was our grandfather’s. I have not seen it since the 70s. I had forgotten all about it but when it came out of the box I instantly remembered it. A flood of memories came out of the bowl like a genie from its lamp.

I can still see Grandfather’s den with its wooden panels and artifacts. These could have been from anywhere, but I imagined them from someplace magical like Oz or Narnia or Middle-Earth. As you sat in Grandfather’s large red leather chair to your right on the light stand stood this shiny bowl. It is of the Art Deco style, made of stainless steel perhaps. I never knew the story where he got it. I was more intrigued to know its contents, for in it was candy.



There was nothing exquisite about the sweets. Grandfather went for the ‘old lady’ types of candy, such as jelly beans, spice drops, and little chocolate dots with white spots which cracked when you bit down on them. As I never saw anyone buy or put candy into the bowl, there was a belief the sweets just appeared by magic. It was from this mysterious bowl I first encountered candy corn. I thought candy corn strictly a Halloween thing but finding some in the bowl in May seemed a sort of miracle, like finding a snowdrift in the heat of August.

Back then the sweets were oh so delicious. Did they make better tasting candy then I wonder or is it a false memory, coloured by time?

My cousins tactually packed the bowl with a bag of gumdrops.



It is quite a delight to hold it again, extract a sweet, and remember…..


One of the many pleasures of going home last holiday was rummaging through various boxes and drawers trying to find something only to find something else. The Brothers Spo discovered all sorts of sundries and bricolages that haven’t seen daylight in decades. Perhaps you have found similar; ancient things that immediate evoke instant memories when discovered even though you’ve forgotten all about them.

When Brother #2 and I were boys, our grandparents would traveled and when they returned they brought us hats, kimonos, helmets, and other wearing apparel. I remember receiving a bullfight costume from Spain, a Chinese get up that no proper 1960s Communist would be caught wearing, and fezzes from Morrocco.*

My favorite found were the Bavarian hats brought to us from a trip to Munich. We had a look-see in the family photo album and lo! There they was the original! :


Mein Bruder und ich in unseren Hüten.

There is nothing more amusing than donning chapeaus that haven’t seen daylight for nearly fifty years. They gave us great pleasure to wear.

Alas, we couldn’t find the lederhosen, which is a pity, but perhaps for the best. I daresay they wouldn’t fit anymore.


Mein Bruder und ich JETZT in unseren Hüten.  

Viel Spannend!**

*When the fezzes were pulled out of their boxes, the nephew’s eyes widened with the radiance of a brilliant sunrise. They each took one home on the axiom “Fezzes are cool”. I dare say they thought these the best Christmas presents, surpassing all others – including the Spo-shirts I made them.

**That’s German for Jolly good fun !


Visiting the folk’s home has been a frolic, but also full of nostalgia. I can’t open a drawer without finding some lost item or knickknack unseen for decades. I found Brother #3’s baby pillow and #2’s books. While rummaging through the shelf above the stove (looking for some matches) I came across this item:


This little bunny mug was my first ‘big boy’ cup. I must have received it when I was about four. I have not seen it in maybe fifty years. It is one of those things if you asked me directly I would have no memory of such, but upon laying eyes on the cup, I instantly recalled it. I asked Mother if there was some sort of story behind it. Perhaps the cup was an heirloom from some distant relation or had been purposely chosen among a myriad of mugs to be my special sipping mug.  All she could remember was one of her friends (she didn’t know which) gave it to me as a when she mentioned I was old enough to handle such.  She remembered too it was the receptacle out of which I drank cocoa. I would not use anything else.  Sometimes out of whimsy I had some Campbell’s Chicken Noodle (or Star) soup. Then I was too young for tea; she did not remember bunny mug being used for such.

Considering I drop and break everything I own (given enough time), the intact mug is a sort of miracle.

Needless to say I got all warm and runny inside over the notion Mother had saved it.

Throughout the holiday weekend I was Tea-master to wit I continually made tea to serve the troops. They all got china cups and saucers, but I drank from my bunny mug. I was pleased as punch.

Mother thinks I should take the mug back to AZ, but I think not. I like the notion of it staying ‘in the past’, here in MI, waiting for me when I next visit. Using it was a pleasant perk to a splendid Christmas weekend.

Do Spo-fans have a precious childhood object? Do tell.


*Actually she saves nearly everything. She gets this from her Mother’s side . It’s all that Nordic blood, I dare say.  

UPDATE! I found these two bowls. How funny is memory. I remember the mug but don’t recall the bowls. Mother remembers we ate our cereal from them, Brother #2 and I. 




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Spo-Reflections 2006-2016