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That does it. I’ve turned on the heat. I got tired of walking around the house looking like The Little Match Girl minus her pathos. Even the Car Key Gnomes were complaining about the cold. The first time the heat is turned on there is a hold-your-breathe moment to hear if the heater comes on and there is a sigh of relief when it does. The first blow of warm air carries with it a musty smell no doubt the dust of the tubes. This reminds me to change the filters. They are located on the ceiling and to change them requires dragging in the folding ladder from the garage and unfolding it (no small job) and trying to ascend it (filter in hand) without falling and breaking your neck. I am looking forward to sleeping without looking like I am camping in the Arctic.

Turning on the heat means turning on the humidifier as well. The air in Arizona is dry as a bone and the heater makes it worse. I have a lovely humidifier that billows steamy air like breath on a cold winter day, which squirts upwards to heaven and falls to the ground before fading like some sort of aquatic firework. The mathematics are such I doubt this little device contributes much moisture to the house but it is a comfort to see it and hear it gurgling in the night.

Someone discovered there is water damage in The Blue Room. Oh the pain. Add this to the ever-growing list of house repairs to do. Goodness knows how long it’s been there for no one goes in there really if they can help it. The bed and desk and everything else is cluttered with things which is addressed by keeping the door shut so I don’t have to see it. I recently cleaned The Dragon Room, which serves as the proper guest room. We haven’t had company in ages but the now-cleaned room allows one to sleep there when one can’t fall asleep in the main bedroom.

Have I mentioned the automatic garage door doesn’t work in colder climes? Around 10C it shuts down that a few presses of the button are needed to get the damn door moving and at even lower temperatures it’s no go at all and one has to open and shut the door manually. Recently one of the batteries of the two devices (his and his) went bad, so both batteries were replaced and now neither opens the door. If one person is home the one who is driving home can call to ask the one at home to open the door so the driver doesn’t have to get out of the car.

I am ready to hire a handyman (or someone like him) to fix these and many more items as our usual approach to live life without is becoming tedious and less possible. I am half-tempted to invite family to come visit obliging us to fix things which includes shampooing the rugs which are looking bad as well. The joys of home life.

I remember a cartoon from one of the ‘gay rags’ about a couple Joe and Max. In this one, Joe is binding and gagging Max for a night of S&M bondage. After gagging Max, Joe says ‘Before we begin ….’ and pulls out some hand towels. ‘This is a dish rag and this is a good towel for guests,” he states, “do not mix them up”. Joe goes on to lecture the gagged and struggling Max about other differences among the towels, adding education/instructions how to start the dishwasher and how to flush the toilet etc.

I think of this cartoon when I fold the clean towels. We have heaps. The hand towels fall into the following five taxonomies:

“Good” kitchen hand towels, for drying dishes and wet hands.

“Office” towels that I bring home from the work kitchens; destined to return to work.

“Bad” kitchen hand towels, for spills and such.

“Gym” towels.

“Cleaning” towels for dusting and cleaning up dog accidents.

Max A.K.A Someone has some challenges keeping the categories clear, but in his defense it is hard to remember which ones go where. Like the rings in the Olympic flag, the categories overlap but not much. Making things more ticklish, over time the ‘good’ towels evolve into ‘bad’ and go down the Chain of Being to become ‘cleaning’ towels. In theory after these becoming unusable they are discarded. Someone doesn’t worry too much about the taxonomy of towels; he takes the zen approach ‘all is one, lumping all into the common category ‘Towel’, resulting in some old hole-filled thing hanging in the kitchen while Urs Truly is at the gym benching pressing upon a floral Laura Ashley print. Oh the embarrassment. To save us from the evil powers of anarchy and bad taste, I am Towel Master, in charge of washing and sorting all towels in order to keep things right with the Universe.

The large towels have fewer and more precise boundaries:

Bath towels

Pool towels


Rubbish towels for washing the dog and for stepping on when boots or paws are muddy that sort of thing.

These towel types are easier to tell apart as the bath ones are light green and the rest are not. Years of use have worn them down and they are ready to join their brothers in The Rubbish Towel Club.

Over the years it seems we have accumulated a lot of towels; you could fill your bins with our discards. All roads lead to Rome and all towels in time becoming Cleaning types. I doubt Goodwill et. al. wants any of our degenerates so I probably should toss the worse offenders out. They’ve had a good life.

I wouldn’t mind getting new Bath towels, and the good kitchen towels seem OK for now. Just save me a few non-floral ones for the gym.

Does your Max ‘mix up the towels” as it were, causing grief, ructions, or fisticuffs?

The structure of my weekends do not vary. Come along and have a look-see at a typical Saturday here at La Casa de Spo. Pardon the mess; this gets addressed later on into the entry.

Urs Truly gets up every morning at 5AM, even on weekends. Someone takes no truck with this sort of regularity but uses the weekends to sleep in. This gives me ~ 2-3 hours of ‘me time’ which is used to start the laundry and tidy up the kitchen, which is usually a fright from Friday night. The dark cold morns of winter make do for some ironing while putting on the kettle for hot water for tea.

After Someone emerges from his long winter’s nap we head off to brekkie. We are the Statler and Waldorf of Einstein Brothers. Someone always orders the same thing* and I get something different each time. Over bagels we fine-tune the grocery list, which I started composing prior to going out. Hey ho off to Uncle Alberstons we go, which is not busy at 8AM. This allows us to get in and out without too much fuss. I bring with me three cloth bags to avoid getting white plastic ones.* We always hope Denise is working to check us out. We’ve grown slightly superstitious if Denise doesn’t ring up the purchases it won’t be good weekend.

AT home Harper waits. While Someone unpacks the sauce jars and frozen fish sticks I take her out for our obligatory Saturday morning dog walk. It’s chilly at 8AM but the apricity of the winter sun keeps me warm. If the date is an ‘odd’ one I stop first to turn on the outside water to refresh the cacti and palm trees front and back.

Saturday morning is for pill-packing. I have seven white plastic boxes, each with four drawers, labeled AM, NOON, PM, and NIGHT. In these go the MVI, the D3, and the fish (snake) oil tablets, along with the meds for HTN. It’s a sort of chant. Red for blood pressure; blue for heart; Yellow – to make me mellow. hohoho (in E-flat).

By now Someone has dressed to head off to what work he is doing that day. If I am not going anywhere (which is usually the case these days) he takes the car with the top and I am home alone. What’s a weekend without chart dictation? I take off the Viking horns and put on the headphones and let it rip. While recording my brilliant medical notes, the washer, the dryer, the dishwasher are a-churning and a-turning and all will be clean again. Temporarily.

There is a Saturday afternoon snooze. When in doubt, get horizontal.

If Someone is coming home by the dinner hour, I make a ‘Hello Fresh’ kit meal. If he is coming home late, I might try something new and adventuresome. I am making today in the crockpot “Garlic Parmesan Chicken and Mushrooms”, a recipe I got from a Pocket recipe. Fingers crossed it’s scrumptious.

I won’t go to the gym these days (and there is no car) so for exercise after dinner I take a 30 minute long walk. It’s something and that’s better than nothing.

Duolingo lessons, stretching, meditation, and reading something/anything finishes the day.

As gawd is my witness I vow to get around to reading my blogs today. I am too far behind.

That’s about it. I lead a dull life. It isn’t unpleasant and truth be told it is serene. I end the day with the quiet satisfaction of accomplishment.

*Chorizo or ham – no cheese- on a toasted asiago bagel.

**I am the only man in Phoenix who shops using a red Piggly-Wiggly grocery bag. Thanks, Linda!

This morning we are going to get covid19 tests – again. Someone texted me yesterday afternoon one of his usher minions has tested positive, which means he is obliged to get a test of his ow and either return to work ‘negative’ for more exospore or stay home ‘positive’. I’ve lost count how many times this has happened; I am getting quite used to it. Lately I’ve gone along for testing too, on the grounds if he is positive, likely I am too. Neither one of us has any symptoms. There is a part of me that sort of wishes to be positive and get the damned thing over with, but the better angels of my nature says sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury than have covid. As he always comes back negative, our prudence is paying off.

Every day out of habit I wake at 5AM. Someone sleeps in on weekends, so I have two to three hours of ‘me time’ before he rises to great the dawn. I make something hot to drink and attend to the laundry. The cold morning hours are a good time to iron those trousers, shirts, cotton masks, and the napkins. I am one of those weirdo types that insists on cloth napkins at meals rather than paper ones, of which we have plenty. Whenever we order something to go we get enough brown and white paper napkins to mop up a major spill. I keep some in the car glove compartment, as I do spill a lot there. There is something nice about ironing and sipping tea while listening to podcasts on a dark cold morning prior to the real day happening. It’s almost a let down when I hear him up and time to get going.

On any given day I am forgetting where I put something, and today’s Lost Boy is my beige jacket. In January it’s chilly enough in the morning to require a coat to go out of doors. I’ve looked in all the closets and in the car but no such luck. I suspect The Cup Sprites are in cahoots with The Car Key Gnomes they have moved onto bigger and more irksome projects than the tea cups. I have another jacket, green one from Wisconsin of all places, but the zipper is broke, so it doesn’t close. Tt is better than nothing I suppose.

Speaking of rubbish objects, I am pleased as Punch to say it’s the end of January and I’ve kept my resolution to discard something every day. Here are some examples:

A ‘contemporary’ psychiatry textbook, published in 2008.

A control device for a TV we haven’t had since we moved to Arizona.

A box of cornmeal with a vague but menacing expiration date, either 2005 or 2015 it is hard to read.

Low-cut stretch-type undergarments, bought in Palm Springs, maybe ten years ago, kept on the vow ‘someday I will fit in them again”.

We are supposed to attend two operas today, but we may use the excuse of ‘exposed to covid’ to stay home to iron napkins and such. Someone despises not using bought tickets, along the line of the ‘Sunk-cost fallacy’ but I am not so timorous to count my losses and be done with it, as illustrated by those mentioned undergarments. I would like back the beige coat. I plan to speak severely with the household fairy-folk to knock it off and produce it pronto or they will be the next on the daily discard roster. I know Someone would like not being asked continually has he seen my X, Y, or Z. He might even get up at 5AM for that.

I’m thinking of going around the property and making a list of all that wants repair. I procrastinate doing this as I know the list will be as long as a CVS receipt and just as depressing. When something breaks down at La Casa de Spo, the general response is to learn to live without it or find an alternative means that doesn’t involve the broken object. I call this ‘The approach” and I am not pleased with it. The TV screen recently gave up the ghost, announcing this by showing everything in morbid dark red and black stripes. Someone is an avid TV watcher; I figured this would be the exception to The approach and he would want to get it repaired or replaced ASAP . Rather, he started watching his shows on the iPad. So there it stands, next to the nonworking gas fireplace.

All the houses in our section are painted shades of brown, what Flannery O’Connor described as ‘bulbous liver-colored monstrosities of a uniform ugliness although no two are alike’. Our abode is painted a light cream with forest green highlights. This was a perfectly acceptable HOA-approved combination at the time of its painting, although there was talk. Nosy neighbors out walking their dogs would stop to ask the painter about (viz. criticize) the color scheme. Over time the green has faded and the current HOA (more draconian than the former) sent us a terse letter telling us we need to paint the house and we can not use those colors anymore. The “approach” is going to be sorely tested by the HOA breathing down our necks.

Recently the dishwasher started acting funny – again. It only runs now on the ‘pots and pans’ setting. We’ve had the repairman over a few times. He does something and it works again for awhile. The stovetop has four settings, one of which does not work. This is tedious especially when I want two large pans going at the same time.

It is not entirely clear what variables contribute to ‘the approach’. Time and money are suspected as the two chief factors. Getting new stovetops, TV screens, mattresses etc. takes time, neither one of us has such. I suspect being cheap figures into things as well. Regardless, it’s time to take action and compose that list and have a sit-down with Someone about what gets addressed first. I wouldn’t mind starting with replacing the 2001 (your read that right) Honda sitting inert in the garage, gathering dust and slowly deflating, but the breaking point will probably be the next letter from the HOA with threats of legal or financial penalties if the paint job isn’t completed. I wonder which shades of brown we will go with. Oh the horror.

I write a lot about the Sisyphean task that is the laundry, but the dishes are just as arduous or perhaps more so. Dirty duds can be shoved en masse into the washer machine, but not so with dishes. Our dishwasher, a Kitchen-aid I believe, is next to the sink, which is divided into two parts: one with the disposal, and the other without (don’t mix them up). The machine and the sink seem to say ‘pick me” when I face them. Despite being deep as Lake Michigan, the sink quickly piles up with plates, glasses, and utensils. These must not sit too long, lest Gregor Samsa and his brothers come a-viking. Also, it looks bad. There is nothing so slatternly as the sight of dirty dishes piled in the sink. Oh the horror.

There is the question whether to do them by hand or by dishwasher. Being an older person, I have it engrained in my mind ‘handwashing is better’ as it uses less time, less water, and does a better job than the dishwasher. I was also told the warm fumes emanating from the dishpan would do wonders on my complexion. Even then I smelled a rat.

In a climate where it is 40-50C most of the year you would think hot water would be quickly on tap, but this is not so. It takes several minutes to get the hot water going. In our house, the pipe from the water heater to the kitchen sink takes a circumbendibus route, somewhere through Scottsdale, before reaching the kitchen faucet. This is a terrible waste of water. For small loads or little time, we’ve learned to heat water in the electric kettle. It is fast, hot, and just enough to do the job – like my men.

We would have less things to wash if I was a better cook. I always seem to use every pot, pan, and knife to make a simple meal. Then there is the problem of The Cup Sprites, who constantly move about my cups and glasses, obliging me to get new ones whenever I am thirsty. They know better not to pull this sort of shenanigan on Someone, uses the same container all day long. The many cups drives him to distraction. What drives me to distraction I will write anon.

I recently heard today’s modern dishwashers are far better than their predecessors at cleaning dishes using a fraction of water. Bottom line: dish washers now use less water than when doing them by hand. It also saves time and I don’t get poked, JAWS-like, feeling around for knives lurking under the suds in the sink. The dishwater is better than the dishpan is still hard to believe. Worse of all is the notion of not having to rinse plates prior to putting them in the dishwasher. Cassandra-like, the dishwasher manufacturers say rinsing dishes a) isn’t necessary and b) wastes water. It is a hard habit to break.

If Someone and I were ever to resort to savagery and subsequent divorce, it will be over the dishwasher, particularly its protocols. I have told him repeatedly do not put good knives in the dishwasher, and put knives down and forks and spoons up. I throw my ‘Bene Gesserit voice’ but to no avail. Oh the pain.

On the other hand Someone is very good, nay excellent, at loading the dishwasher. If I can bide my time and let him load the damn thing, it will be a better job.

I will share with you my dishwasher loading technique:


Do you wash dishes by hand or by dishwasher?

Do you rinse the dishes?

Are there ructions over how to load the dishwasher?

For the edification of Spo-fans of the newer type (and for the long-timers who need a reminder) my “Home life” entries are attempts at writing about mawkish and maudlin things about the house.  Thems looking for great wit or wisdom should try next Tuesday.  Spo.

We made the mistake to get down from the top shelf the three white plastic garbage bags of clothes destined for donation. Now on the floor they are getting in the way of traffic going in and out of the walk-in closet. Worse, some items are creeping out of the bags and back onto the shelves. Common sense says to put these Heftys back up where they were, but we hope to haul them to Goodwill – the sooner the better. The bag with my discards (Someone has the other two)  contains mostly T-shirts and trousers that no longer fit me. I am sorely tempted to retain some of them, hoping they will inspire me to tighten up my waistline. I suspect these will merely mock me, so back into the ghost bag they go.*

Last week in Michigan my brothers and I took down and went through similar garbage bags (black ones) full up with our late mother’s clothing.  We were looking for anything of value prior to a trip to The Salvation Army. We found a lot of hangers, and a brooch  that was still pinned to a jacket.  Brother #3 took the hangers and I took the brooch. I also took some athletic gym shorts, thinking Someone may want them. Back home, he tried them on but they were too bulky, so we put them into our own garbage bags (the white ones) of clothing. 

There is something metaphorical about all of this, but I haven’t put my finger on it. I wonder how many items of clothing are passed around until they are eventually thrown out.

As for the brooch, I don’t think I will be wearing it any time soon, so it goes into my ‘memory box’ where it can sit until I pop and it too gets put into a ghost bag (probably blue) off to Goodwill – or Salvation Army or whatever is taking discards these days. 


* I wrote about ‘The Ghost Bag’ back in October 2008. Thems curious can look it up. It is my catch-all term for a carry-about bag. ‘Ghost bag’ is less formal than ‘satchel’ and more butch than ‘purse’.

I finally found the Halloween advent tree. It was buried at the bottom of the large cardboard box labelled “Halloween”. I erected the tree and hung four ornaments right away to make up for lost time. I thought I had packed this on top last November for easy finding in the future. Since I had to rummage through everything to retrieve it I figured what the heck might as well put up the rest. Normally I don’t decorate until after 15 October but (as Jerry Herman sort of said) we need a little Halloween right this very minute. Someone makes a fine Vera as he knows all the lines.

A small succulent of unknown etiology is growing next to the sidewalk leading up to the door. One has to admire the cheekiness of cacti as there is no water and little sun in that area. I dug it up and put it a pot on kitchen shelf next to the three avocado pits. I hope I haven’t introduced Audrey III into the house. By the way two pits show signs of sprouting while one looks to be a dud. I am giving it one more week before declaring it a bust.

‘Soup of the month’ for October is a squash-based cheesy thing with tortellini. Butternut squash looks slightly obscene and I felt awkward walking around Uncle Albertsons yesterday with it standing erect in the shopping cart where one puts the kiddies. I wonder if The Doctrine of Signatures applies here.

Speaking of shopping Someone wants to go to Costco today. I haven’t set foot in such since March when I saw on TV it resembled The Fall of Saigon. I may go just to have a look-see what it entails. Will people be respectful with masks and proper distance? I doubt it. Thems that shop at Costco (ours anyway) are not known for their manners. My heart is having palpitations at the thought of going although this may be the coffee. I ground some beans titled “Old Scratch” from the good merchants at Spring-heeled Jack. I may erred on the ratio of grounds to water or this is demonic stuff indeed. I feel just like their logo. I should fit in well at Costco.

I have just sat down to my laptop with a freshly-brewed cup of coffee. We will hit 100F/37C today but at 630AM it is pleasant enough to wear my bathrobe. It is really quite pleasant.  The next step is to figure out what sort of entry to compose. A drawback of my blog is there isn’t any rhyme nor reason to it. Sometimes I write about psychology or philosophy and then the next day I try to emulate something out of a Monty Python. Neither extreme feels right to do while sitting quietly in a heavy white terry robe sipping coffee watching the rising of the sun so I will do a “Home Life” entry. Home life entries bore the pants off The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections but a) they are boxed up in Heorot Johnsons and b) they do not wear pants. I like reading other people’s post about what is happening in their life so it is hoped they feel likewise. 


La Casa de Spo is seeing a surge in boardgames. Last night we tried playing ‘Milles Borne’ a game of cards (written in French) with the goal to reach 1000 ‘milles’. Neither one of us quite grasped how to play it. Videos on Youtube were not too helpful. Afterwards we played Nine Mens Morris and a round of Sorry! each playing two colors (I was yellow and red). I lost all three games; I don’t have a good head for strategy but I enjoy them especially when there are nibbles and libations involved.* We had a couple of gin and tonics using various gins.  Someone’s G&T included “Old Raj” and mine had “Linton Hill”  a slightly pink Spanish gin with the redolence of strawberries. It would have been perfect if we had had some bridge mix but there is none to be had in any grocery store. Apparently there was a run on chocolate-covered raisins like flour.

Speaking of food I am doing a good job finding clever ways to use le réchauffé and things hanging out in the larder waiting for inspiration. Last October I bought a small cooking pumpkin which has sat unused all these months. Amazingly it is still intact. Someone has asked me to do something with it or throw, so I plan to turn it into soup today. Yesterday Someone cleared out the freezers. He discovered several unmarked mystery parcels now thawing like Otzi to see what they are. It is rawther exciting. 

Yesterday was my once a fortnight journey to Uncle Albertsons. I was pleased to see everything was replenished with the noticeable exceptions of toilet paper, bleach/sanitizers, and flour. The latter is a disappointment as I would like to try making another loaf. Alas Babylon! there is no flour or yeast to be had for love or money in stores or on the internet.  Speaking of Youtube I saw a video ‘How to make your own yeast’ which greatly appeals to my inner-scientist but Someone forbids my trying lest I grow Audrey III or (worse) make the house smell like a yeast infection. So there will be no bread for Urs Truly for now.  On the other hand our freezer is full up with Einstein Brothers bagels: asiago for Someone and poppy for me. 

That’s all for now. I feel it getting warm out. I should literally disrobe and get in a dog walk before it gets too hot to do so. 

Philosophy or silliness tomorrow.  



*No I did not lose secondary to alcohol. I am just not good. 

The home security system is putting out an annoying alarm on a regular frequency telling us something is the matter. The origin of the problem seems to be a faulty smoke detector. I was not aware the home security system was in cahoots with the smoke detectors. This evokes images of HAL in ‘2001’ telling David something is awry. The chirping noise irksome but it causes Harper great vexation to the point she won’t go into the bedroom when it is spewing its Cassandra-like warning. Going around with a ladder to inspect all the fire alarms in the house is a tedious task and getting someone from COX communications to come by is near impossible so I did the next best thing: I pulled it out of the wall and moved it to the guestroom where it can howl to its heart content. At least Harper and I can sleep now.

Yesterday there was a spill in the kitchen pantry of an unknown origin which required everything at floor level to be removed for a proper tidy up. Underneath the lower shelves and behind Harper’s Kibbles and Someone’s cache of soda pop (no Vernors) I discovered several large bottle of booze. They were large bottles of ‘typical stuff’ like Captain Morgan rum and Smirnoff Vodka and generic tequila. Who drinks this stuff? There were nearly a dozen of these things most of them less than a quarter full and many duplicates. There were three bottles of Kahlua – something neither one of us drinks. I compacted these by throwing out the remnants of the most depleted bottles and combining the ones I could. I was able to put back behind the boxes only five. The rest went out to recycling. People periodically go through our rubbish looking for recyclables;  I shudder to imagine what they will think of us when they find seven large empty liquor bottles. We will be thought of as dipsomaniacs or party animals. Either way there will be talk.

Speaking of nosy neighbors, The Homeowners Association Here at Desert Ridge sent us a terse letter informing us there are weeds in our front yard and do something about it now. The Homeowners Association Here at Desert Ridge makes The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections look like angels in comparison. I wonder who is it that drives around the neighborhood looking for violations. In a way the letters are quaint as who bothers to send letters anymore. It cannot be denied the front yard is in need of care. I’ve been asking Someone to call Hector & company to come by and clean things up pronto. I have never seen/met Hector & company. Hector is paid in ‘cash only’ which makes me wonder if we are not supporting shennaniganery. He/they show up during the daytime when I am away like the Elves to the Shoemaker. He does a good job when he can find him.

Final neighbor note: the fellow with the tree-full of lemons still has a bunch hanging low enough to entice but Tantalus-like can’t be reached. Harper and I walk by the wall every day hoping one will drop onto the public side of the wall. So far no such luck.  Lemons are quite available at Uncle Albertson’s but I want one of these which are bigger, juicer, and more sweet – like my men.  I thought to complain to The Homeowners Association Here at Spo-Reflections of ‘weeds’ but that would be indiscreet.

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February 2023

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