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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.

“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. 

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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’? 

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