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Here are a few handy Spo-hacks. None are profound, nor are they likely to cause apotheosis but they are useful all the same and some of them are jolly good fun.

To cool down on those still too hot October nights: take a dip in the nonheated pool wearing a T-shirt and boxers. Dry off the excessive dripping water. Parade around in your damp undergarments while the hot dry air causes evaporation which leads to quite a cool-down. Instant AC !  

Kleenex boxes make marvelous hats.

Clear the lint trap every time before you operate the dryer. Someone hasn’t yet grasped this truism so I will assume others don’t know this as well. Try to tell as many people as you can in town.

There is no such thing as too much pepper. Do not dare to question this.

Costco chicken that has become too dry and shredded to be palatable can be added to Kraft M&C. This goes also for slightly-off vegetables and that saved chili no one wants to eat but feels guilty to just throw out. Really M&C makes any old thing edible again. Just remember to add a lot of pepper.

Cellphone charger cords all look alike; to discriminate them tie shreds of Spo-shirt fabric into bows around the cords. Use a different color for each. This way you are not accused of taking more than one leaving the others in the house bereft of a charger cord.

Impudent dogs ensconced on your side of the bed can be made to move by blowing on their ears until they are annoyed enough to move. Another means to move indolence hounds is to go to the kitchen and open up the bag of shredded cheddar cheese. This hack is 100% efficacious at moving mutts.

Never trust trout.

Open all utensil and vanity drawers slowly, so you do not upset or startle the scorpions.

The dishwasher is more efficacious when you put into it one of those square little cake things with the red button tops – or so I am told. This isn’t a Spo-tip but a Someone-hack. Who knew?

For those things that get moved about by The Cup Fairies and their associates: create designated areas in which to place the keys and phones and such.  Good ideas:  the bowl on the dresser; the bowl on the butcher block table just inside the back door; the bowl under the Bookwus. Bad ideas: the drawer with the doggie supplies; under Someone’s pillow; laundry basket; beneath the ottoman.  

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The AC unit on the east side of the house has gone off. I am disappointed but not surprised. The unit has been running nonstop for many months; it’s amazing it hasn’t gone out sooner. I appreciate it waited until the temperatures finally started to become less fetid.  We are still having highs in the upper 90s but the early morning hours are in the upper 60s.  The intrepid AC on the west side remains operable so we are not too bad off. Someone set up a series of fans to blow the cold air from the east wing over to the west.  Unfortunately the cool dry air from the east collides with the west west air to create a storm front and it is now starting to rain in the foyer. Oh the embarrassment.  We need to get a repairman or somebody like him in ASAP. I hope the AC doesn’t need total replacement as that could cost several thousands of dollars.  Alas, our approach tends to be one if it breaks down we try to live without it – our house is filled with inutile objects – but no AC in AZ is not tenable. It must be done. Oh the pain.

Speaking of expensive breakdowns I finally got to the dentist at the local dental school. At one point in the consultation I had four people in my mouth, most of them throwing up their hands in horror at the work that wants doing. Apparently if I don’t get my gums attended pronto I may not have any teeth by sixty. More expenses!  If it becomes a Sophie’s choice I will go with the gnashers and not with the Goodman.  I could not be cheap and liquidate some mutual funds and get both.

I go to sleep tonight down in the dumps knowing I am surrounded by things shouting out ‘fix me!” I don’t have time or energy to be an autodidact but must call in others and hope it isn’t too outrageous.   This reminds me I am also in desperate need of a hair cut, which isn’t cheap either.  I may get Someone to give me a buzzcut heine. It doesn’t look too good but it is a bargain and in the heat of the house less hair the better.

Last night the first ‘monsoon’ of the season came through like a locomotive. Normally these storms are disappointing they are mere short intense downpours. Yesterday’s sky-drama was worthy of Ragnorak. It would have been quite entertaining but we were driving home from the Sunday night showing of “Falsettoland”. We were nearly blown off Highway 101.  At home all the backyard furniture had been blown about and the umbrella (usually poolside) was now in the pool. Aaron, The Pool Boy, will have is work cut out for him.

The disarray now matches the mess inside. Yesterday afternoon we disassembled The Lovely Neighbor’s king-size bed and brought it over to our place. We’ve had no time to move things about, so its pieces are lying about the living room with mattresses up against the walls. The many iron rods and beams gives the ambience of a giant version of Pick-up-stix.  Goodness knows when we will put it up.  The provisional plan is to empty The Dragon Room (the guest room) and move the contents of The Blue Room into the Dragon Room (the future den/office) which opens up The Blue Room for the old queen-size bed (transforming The Blue Room into The Guest Room) which allows space to erect the king-size bed (keeping the Master Bedroom as is but with a larger bed).  We were ambivalent about the bed but now we are thrilled. Someone is excited as this means shopping for new sheets, pillows, and the such; Urs Truly is pleased as punch as he can don the iron rod canopy with gay garlands apropos for the season.

Who knows when we will find the time to do all this; we both have full work weeks. I worry we will be ambulating around the upright mattresses and criss-crossed iron poles for some time. Happily no one is coming over until November. Last weekend I was mortified Brother #2 and family had an impromptu stop-by in the middle of my ironing/folding/cleaning/laundry/sewing/dishes day. Oh the embarrassment.  Happily they have two adolescent boys and didn’t notice anything odd.

8f3d36dbf8bef0228aba29b1b41fdcba--clear-acrylic-martinis  The Lovely Neighbor has one month to pack up and get out of her now sold house. Every time we interact with her we get a ‘parting gift’. Yesterday she came over to use the fax machine and I received a set of cocktail swizzle-sticks with olives on them (how jolly).

She recently offered to give us the king-sized bed that was in the master bedroom neither she nor her later mother have used in a decade. It would save her the trouble of having to haul it to Virginia where it would no doubt just go into storage as she plans to live with her children for awhile.

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The bed is in excellent condition; the mattress is like new. The iron sides and ‘canopy’ have the advantage of hanging things on it like trousers and bathrobes. I can see holiday decorations hanging and intertwined in the bars above.

This modest proposal has us thinking.

In the Spo-house is a queen-sized bed (master bedroom), a twin (guest room), and a futon (Henrik’s room).  A king-sized bed would probably make all the beds move over a room knocking out the futon to Craig’s list or charity.

I’ve never slept in a king-sized bed. When I’ve encountered them in hotels they give me a bit of unease. I feel silly taking up such a tiny amount of space with so much wasted. Having a king-sized bed might mitigate the nightly unconscious ‘battle’ for space in the queen. Harper always sleeps on my side. Sometimes when she becomes ensconced I go and sleep in the guest in the twin. The king would give the three of us all the personal space necessary for Midwesterners to feel they are sleeping alone. There is also the asset of having space to roll around as we toss and turn and not slap each other or squash the dog.

Yet, to put a king-size-titanic-unsinkable-molly-brown bed in the master bedroom takes up more space but puts it at odds with the rest of the bedroom furniture.  If that is important.

Someone plans to takes measurements and perhaps make little models to see how well this trickle-down theory of beds would work. I daresay we may have to give up some furniture at the other end and I don’t think Henrik would mind the brass bed (which is better than a futon anyway).

Anyway we have a few weeks to decide. To help out, we can always take it disassembled and either set it up or put it up for sale.

Pensive

This morning I woke in a zwodder*, looked around at all that wants doing, and wondered whether or not to stay put. This philosophical dilemma was thwarted by Harper who insisted I get up, let her out, and give her breakfast, so that’s that. And here I am.

Aaron The Pool-master came by yesterday and installed the remote control for the pool light. Clever man! With a push of a button I can now illuminate the pool to reveal any nasty things dwelling below waiting to pull me down in the dark to a dastardly demise. Alas, it’s take time of year when the pool isn’t too refreshing. The cement pond’s temperature is that of slightly cooled bath tub; a cold shower is more refreshing. It is a funny feeling to float in the dark bathed in light from below which slowly changes colour so that one moment I am in emerald green than blue than an angry purple and back again. There is no red tone which I deem sensible. That sounds too horrorshow.

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Last week I asked Father to send me a photo of my grandmother so I may include it in my (nearly completed!) cookbook. After a few days I asked him had he forgotten to email me. He explained he took an actual photo out of an old album and popped the picture in the post. Oh lordy, why hadn’t he just attached it to an email? He grumbled slightly he didn’t know how to do that sort of thing and this was easier. Now I have to figure out how to get the actual photo into the cookbook – which is something I don’t know how to do. Oh the bother.

I am officially back under the tutelage of The Personal Trainer. Newer Spo-fans may not know TPT moved away a year or so ago. As a consequence I slacked off my exercise. I do better under supervision, structure, and discipline. We will try a long distance relationship where he sends me what to do. I have my fingers crossed I will become better fit, better looking, and no back injury in the process.  Today he has planned for me to do all sorts of shenanigans, the likes I haven’t done in ages. I’ve explained to him I am an old man out of shape and only recently out of an illness. Naples won’t be rebuilt in a day here.  Do let’s hope.

Finally – does anyone have a good recipe for Chicken Marsala?  While rummaging around the booze bottles I found an unopened bottle of Marsala wine.  I don’t think this is actually something one drinks (yes?) but is for cooking.  I see several recipes on the internet but I trust Spo-fans experience over a Google search. Thems who have a crock-pot recipe for such get double thanks and perhaps a prescription prize as well. It’s rawther hot here; I’d rather not heat up the stove if I can help it. Throwing everything into the intrepid crock pot sounds preferable.

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*Zwodder – a drowsy and stupid state of mind. Try using it in an email today.

IMG_1263Harper is throwing up food. Upon inspection of the vomitus it appears she is wolfing down too much at a time and her tummy isn’t having it. She is now going on a less amount – more frequent sort of diet. Right after her latest unswallow, she immediately started begging for table scraps, so she seems OK.

img_4353The four kitchen chairs are in desperate need of reupholstering having been used for 15 years. The arm fabric are all cracked and several have indelible stains. Yesterday I was sent to the fabric store to ‘scout ideas’; Someone did likewise. This morning we compared our samples only discover mine are all dark, colorful, and bold (like my men) while his are, shall we say, ‘old lady’. We have a lot of work to do.

 

The refrigerator has to go. It is nearly twenty years old and acting badly, spilling puddles below and making fancy ice drippings down the inside encapsulating our frozen peas and fish sticks. I’m sure it could be repaired but it ain’t worth it. I want a proper new one, no rubbish, one that delivers ice without the door trying to break open. I want one shiny, sleek, and user-friendly, like my men.

Hector the Handyman and his Henchmen came and removed the large mesquite tree that was slowly falling over into the pool and onto the backyard wall. I will sleep better now knowing this ominous organic leaning Tower of Pisa is gone. I hope this cuts down on the crud that continually rains into the pool. Perhaps now I can actually USE the pool rather than just always clean it.

I’ve promised several shirts; one of them is years behind schedule. It’s Sunday. While Someone is slaving away at the Convention Centre telling demanding people where to go to find a Starbucks I am going to be sweltering over my sewing machine. It’s not a bad way to spend a Sunday. I am allowed bathroom breaks every four hours.

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The COX man came this morning, bringing with him a companion and an array of tools and cable. Someone assured me they were expected. He had invited them in to replace something with something else with the goal to make the internet go faster. I didn’t grasp how this happened but it had something to do with replacing old cables with new and improved ones.  Service men conjure up porn movie fantasies like ‘Cable Boy III” but these two were not at all sexy. I offered them coffee but the politely declined. They did their duty and departed. The laptop and the office computer both seem to ‘jump up’ a bit faster, so I suppose it was a success. I didn’t ask how much this all cost. Cable/TV is Someone’s realm and interest. I have no interest in the cable system.

Video Snapshot
The iPhone is part of the dastardly COX hegemony but with Verizon. This is also Someone’s responsibility. The dear recently gave me an ‘app’ to track the amount of data we/I consume. Apparently my mindless unrestrained phone use in areas without WiFi makes me go frequently past my monthly allotment resulting in stiff penalties. Thanks to this captious app I am more prudent in the use of the internet. My data consumption is shrinking. Through Youtube lectures I am becoming more acquainted with my iPhone in matters of turning off this and that option to better the battery time and save data. Even with this expanded knowledge I sense I know just the tip of the iceberg of this gonzo device.

The car is a few years old but I still don’t know how to make car calls. The steering wheel is loaded with buttons that resembles the cockpit of a DC. I am chastised when I explain ‘why didn’t I call” was because I was in the car, driving.  I have been taught a few times how to place a call but it doesn’t stick, probably because i don’t want to call people while driving. I don’t want anything from COX but internet service. The iPhone can stick with phone calls, texts, and a half dozen apps and I am content.

My nephews are puzzled and horrified my wristwatch does only one thing: tell time. I am a disappointment. In the technology restaurant with its myriad menu of meal-deals and options all I want is a simple grilled cheese sandwich without trimmings and a glass of water please.

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Last week while shopping for buns and things I laid eyes upon on a twenty-dollar Mr. Coffee grinder and it was purchased on impulse.

Last year in a similar impulse I purchased some coffee beans having read an article in a cooking magazine on how to make ‘proper coffee”. Spo-fans know the word ‘proper’ has a Pavlovian effect on me. The article emphasized freshly ground beans surpasses the dirt-like rubbish purchased in large plastic containers. The bean-buying was fatuous: I had no way to grind them. I tried my mortar and pestle but this proved inutile; beans don’t readily pulverize and they put up a pretty stiff battle. I next tried using the food processor but this produced irregular shape and sized brown pebbles looking like the desiccated droppings of some exotic animal, and tasted as much.  So there was nothing to do but put away the beans and Folgers.

The gadget resembles are tiny ‘droid’ the type you see running amok back and forth in the “Star Wars” movies.  It is sleek, simple, and it has only a few knobs to turn – like my men. Alas,  I haven’t had time to try it out; the beans sit waiting in solicitous anticipation of their execution beneath the whirring blade which resembles a tiny silver propellor on a toy boat. The instruction manual is rawther lofty for such as tiny appliance. The first five pages are full of idiot warnings such as don’t put your finger in the whirring blade and don’t stick no beans up your nose.  After the cover-their-ass warnings comes quite specific instructions as to how many beans to grind to make so many cups of coffee. Curiously the instructions and measurements are half English system and half metric.  Why do we measure in grams for making ‘cups’ I wonder.

I suppose it will take some figuring how many whirls to give the gadget to ground enough for a good coffee – not that I would recognize good coffee. Perhaps in time I can taste the nuance of coffee, which now all tastes like, well, coffee. Cooks Illustrated assures me once I taste the proper stuff there is no going back. Soon I will be demanding proper beans the type picked by organic peasants at 3AM on Tuesdays. Since I use cream and sugar or stevia I don’t think it really matters how good the coffee is at baseline. But I plan on getting my twenty dollars worth before the grinder busts or I grow bored or I happen to be at the grocery store again for the next impulse purchase.

 

IMG_1916I woke this morning feeling cross. Like a good shrink I immediately started analyzing ‘why’ and the possible conflicting subconscious elements contributing to the mood.(1)  It turns out the main matters were prosaic: it was Monday/I was getting used to sleeping in/ and I hadn’t slept well the night before. Occam’s razor wins out over Freudian mumbo-jumbo.

Another element to my mood is diet. I’ve been very good lately at more austere living only to eat some spaghetti. (2) It left me feeling like a bloated goat and none too pleased with myself.

Then there is the toothache. I’ve had such for a week and it shows no signs of letting-up. Overall I dislike going to the dentist for my tooth doctor more often than not makes me feel pressured to buy new and expensive procedures for things I did not know I had or needed. (3)  When not pressed for procedures the dental hygienist likes to talk about her personal life.  It is a terrible tedium to be trapped by a talker.

On a positive note we finally took down the Christmas trimmings. It was quite a job. Usually Someone (bless his heart) does it all by himself but this year I ‘helped’ which ended up probably doing more harm than good what with things not properly packed in their predestined parcels.

It is also raining which invariably cheers me up. Spo-fans have read in past entries my theory in a former life I was a Pacific Northwestern Native American. (4)  What else explains my serenity at inclement weather. While I am all smiles my patients were a gloomy and peevish bunch today; they remonstrated they moved here to get away from such nasty weather.

Such was my Monday. The weather app tells me it is supposed to rain for a few days so that’s good news. I shan’t eat any more spaghetti but stay with yogurt and oatmeal. As a new year’s resolution I vowed to each more of both. I’ve discovered there is a correlation to their consumption and less colonic callithumps. (5)  In regards to the toothache, I must confront my fears and go and learn to set limits. Perhaps I can tell the chatty cleaner (using my most analytical voice):

“Hmm can you tell me more about this?” 

 

(1) People often ask “Do you ever turn it off?” The actual answer is no. If people nervously ask me this chestnut at parties I either assuage their fears with the fatuous response “Not for free” or the more mischievous “Hmmm, can you tell me more about this anxiety?”

(2) Well, more than some.

(3)  Think of the “What hump?” sketch in “Young Frankenstein”.

(4) I am also certain once upon a time I was an aardvark. I have degenerated in my reincarnation cycles.

(5) #4 of 18.

I feel compelled to write something for I have not done so for a few days. That happens when I get busy. It is Sunday night; I am rawther tired. I had a long and productive weekend. There is nothing remarkable to tell; I merely accomplished a lot.

I am sad to report my second attempt at making a Christmas pudding was a bust. I suspect the container I used was the matter. I felt despondent for cooking the damned thing took over six hours, only to have it come out a disappointment. Happily I have four weeks to try again, this time using a different container than my great-aunt’s. Family heirlooms are nice but not if they put out inferior puddings.

The fit-bit tells me I walked over 16,000 steps today, which is nearly 7.5 miles. Most of this happened by flitting between the kitchen and the office and the laundry room for I was in a perpetual waltz, doing paperwork (office), checking on the pudding (kitchen), and doing the laundry (guess where).

Mr. Fitbit confirms what I have known all long: I don’t sit still very well. I burn a lot of calories via fidgeting.

Speaking of kitchen adventures I had jolly good fun hauling out the bread machine and making dough for a trial run at dinner rolls for Thursday. They turned out fair. I thought they tasted well enough but I found them quite heavy. They were like mini-loaves of bread than dinner rolls. I have a few days to figure out how to make them lighter or else I break down and buy them at the grocers.

Speaking of grocery stores, I traveled across town today to the butcher shop where I found the suet for Pudding #1. Alas, they were closed on Sunday. The local Albertson’s had a very nice young man who ground up a pound of beef trimmings to make me some suet, which he did at ‘no charge’ on the grounds it was going to be thrown in the rubbish anyway.  Since Pudding #2 was a flop, I now have to go back and ask him for more.  I worry he will think me either a nuisance or a wicked old screw trying to cruise him.

Come to think of it he was a handsome fellow, so the dark cloud that was my ruined pudding may have a silver lining after all.

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