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In my two years of trying to become a better cook I’ve learned to appreciate having a good knife to work with. Alas, Babylon! I don’t have one. We have a drawerful of knives most of them decades old and as a lot worthless. I’ve managed to make two of them fair-at-best useful via a knife sharpener but this C-grade at best. When I see folks chopping things in the instruction videos their knives are cutting through tomatoes and onions like light-sabers. Top of my Christmas list if a proper no-rubbish type chef’s knife. I suspect this will make meal planning so much better, like having learned piano on an old four-legged spinet only to get a brand new Yamaha. Oh the touch! Oh the finesse!

Trouble is making sure I get a good one. For sometime I’ve been taking names of knife makers as to what might suit me. I want one I can sharpen myself at home. I want one that does the most good (rather than a set). Someone finds it funny in my family Christmas prize wants are precise things. We don’t ask for a shirt, but a specific type found on page so-and-so in the Land’s End catalog, that sort of approach. I’ve been half-tempted to just buy the one I want to guarantee I get a good one, but with Christmas coming this would be indiscreet.

Chopping onions is what I look forward to improving the most. My two old knives barely do the job – either that or I buy very tough onions. I may have to relearn my handle holds etc. to work with a good knife, but I am ready to do so.

I don’t remember any of my relations being choosy about their knives so they are no help. I don’t remember them extolling their knife skills or teaching me the value of sharpening them, something I only connected the dots much later in life.

Spo-fans if you have a good chef’s knife you recommended I would be blithe to hear about it.

How often to you sharpen your knives and how do you accomplish this?

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections found yesterday’s entry rawther boring. They scheduled a rare weekend meeting with today to discuss a visit to ‘The house of corrections for bad bloggers’ but it was canceled after I gave them some curried snack magic mushrooms to try. They are presently orbiting the moons of Jupiter. The dears.

Last night I had dinner with some relations on the father’s side. My grandfather Spo had four sisters who all married and had a lot of daughters, so the paternal cousins have lot of last names and it is hard to keep them in line. Worse, they often go by nicknames like “Dearsie” and “Brownie” making who’s who even more difficult. Supper was with Joy my first cousin once-removed and her daughter Michelle and Joy’s two (out of ten) grandchildren, who is my second cousin and my second cousins-once removed.* Cousin Joy and I regularly chat via FB, both of us being careful not to mention politics as we are at opposite ends in that area. In her defense she never blocked me as an abomination or lectured and she always asks and includes Someone. Someone missed this family reunion as he had to work. I suspect he was relieved. It’s rawther tedious to sit among blood-relations and listen to family stories of which you were not part of.

Oh but there’s work to be done. It makes my eyes cross to think on it. Today’s endeavors include putting away the Hallowe’en trimmings, which are all piled high as Fafner’s hoard on the dining room table. I don’t want to see orange or black for a year.

It remains quite cold in La Casa de Spo so I am wearing my lumberjack flannel shirt and feeling quite butch while I tidy the house and run errands:

Patience above! It’s the same shirt but I don’t look like this anymore, worse luck. I cannot remember when I last bought new clothes. One reason why the shirt remains still wearable is I only wear it a few times each year. Speaking of clothes the gym socks which are continually worn have all gone out en masse and need desperate replacement. A fashion plate I am not. When something wears out I merely buy its replicate.

Speaking of blood…..

Another of today’s pleasures and past times is mopping the floors. Someone bumped his big toe the other night causing much blood that still spurts some every time he changes his socks. Harper has been seen getting up in the middle of the night to go lick the bathroom floor, something she’s never done. Rationalists in the house sense she smells blood and is licking that up, disgusting as that is. Others in the house with more vivid imaginations and a panache for prose believes she turned into a vampire on Hallowe’en and it is only a matter of time we are attacked in the night by blood-sucking mutts. Oh the horror. I will have to sleep with a wreath of garlic around my neck. Meanwhile I am off to Uncle Albertsons for some Pine-sol and a styptic pencil for Someone.

Please tell me what shenanigans you are planning for the weekend, and whether or not there is any blood involved.

*The ability to discern cousins as first or second types, or first cousins once -removed or twice-removed seems to be something you get or don’t get. It is like the ability to roll your tongue or not. I find this stuff easy, my brothers do not. They continually ask me how so-and-so and they are related.

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections is starting a weekly communication for its thralls (Urs Truly included) towards what’s the buzz and tell’em what’s happening. I think they got the notion from Outlook. Minions, thralls, and temps or all sorts can receive it via email or read it off a hide they plan to post in Heorot Johnsons II every Thors-day morning. My ability to translate runes is a bit rusty, so I am uncertain to the details, but here’s the upcoming events. Spo

Sun-day: a seminar is scheduled from 1-3PM. Topics include at-work safety, anti-trust laws, HIPAA, and procedures towards what to do in case of a troll attack. Attendance is mandatory. The goal: have you all sign off that you’ve attended so we won’t be liable to The Furies and we will have full allowance to tear your entrails out. Refreshments will be provided.

Moon-day: this day has been canceled to reserve it for a need of one in the future.

Tiws-day: Tiw (the dear!) is having a birthday party! All are invited. It’s at noon on the plane of Midgard. BYOB.

Odins-day: in honor of the day we will have a collective moment of holding your breath at 3PM, lasting two minutes. Please look sincere and try not to pass out.

Thors-day: Due to inclement weather predicted for the day (thunder bolt and lighting very very frightening) all outside activities will be canceled. However, the weekly Board of Directors meeting in the “Acheron” conference room will happen. As always, avoid curried snacks prior to attending

Frigs-day: It’s Goblin Appreciation Day! We ask you don’t pat them on the head or feed them buns and things but tell them how much you appreciate them or something.

Saturn-day: This is the last day to claim anything from the “Drop dead and Discard” drawer located behind the Shield and Sandal check-in booth just inside the great doors of the hall. Most looks like rubbish but there are several decent-looking (and singing) swords, rings of power, and 1 litre water bottles looking for their owners. After Saturn-day all will be donated to Gud Vill. He’s a friendly giant but we his charity is being taxed by our discards. Please! Retrieve your lost items! We are especially keen on locating the owner of the medium-sized basilisk as it is eating us out of house and hearth.

TBDHSR

I see in the Cosmic Calendar I have a routine check up next week with The Good Doctor. Has it been another three months already? Zenosyne at its worst. It prompts me to call Uncle Albertsons to make an appointment for a flu shot. As an incentive you get a 10% off coupon for shopping. I try to save up the grocery list for just this sort of thing.

Last weekend I made pumpkin pie snickerdoodles. I read somewhere adding an extra yolk to the batter makes cookies more cake-like, so I did. Indeed they came out more like scones than cookies. Regardless they were eaten with relish. They were well-received; they were consumed in total at both offices. As Mr. Pepys wrote “And it pleased me very much”.

I bought my 2023 calendars for the offices. I often ask for these at Christmas but sometimes I don’t get them or stock is out obliging me to buy some that no one wanted.

Tomorrow starts the month of October with Halloween month. Some see it as a day but I do it as a season that starts spot-on 1 October. This weekend I get out some trimmings and make a list of what movies to watch. I have a few ‘scary’ books I’ve reserved for this month. Fun times!

Speaking of haunts, there’s been a Henrik sighting at La Casa de Spo! This is the first encounter in so long I had forgotten about him.* As is his wont I am walking about, going from the hallway to the bedroom when I hear a clear soft deep voice behind me say “Are you OK?” I almost dropped by glass of water and did a quick turnaround and of course no one is there. Harper on the bed (who is quite deaf now) even sat up to look past me into the hallway as if looking for Someone arriving right behind me. I was quite unsettled, then perturbed. I lectured Henrik severely to please announce your presence otherwise and there was nothing which I sense his feelings were hurt and he went to the west wing of the house to mope. Poor fellow. The archetypes and fantasies that keep lodgings in my house, mind, and blog aren’t exactly “A” list and lord knows many of them ‘ain’t got the smarts’ but they are mine, the dears, and they make my life colorful.

*I’m not certain what number this is of ‘Random Thoughts’. In hindsight I should not have used Roman numerals as I get confused. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections doesn’t like them either, the Romans being their sworn enemies. However they don’t get along with anyone most of the time so that’s not too remarkable.

**For Spo-fans new to the scene: La Casa de Spo has a ghost, whom I christened Henrik. As a haunt he is a disappointment. He doesn’t throw things or make the house drip toxic sludge or frighten the bejesus out of you. Rather he mopes around and creeps up on you from behind and gets on my nerves, like a gloomy old uncle you’ve taken in out of pity and obligation. He disappears for ages at a time.

Patience above! Urs Truly has been challenged to a duel.

I was on The Book of Faces the other day when a Spo-fan (who is well over four feet) sent me a video on the so-called fine whiskies of his state. I commented there is no such thing. He took umbrage and challenged me to a duel. Strange! So far as I recall he doesn’t drink the stuff, real or imaginary. I tried to tell him nobody worries about those sort of things anymore it’s all done slanderous postings on Instagram but he is hell-bent on having one. I happen to know of a top-notch attorney in said state to represent me, but it turns out there is a conflict of interest my lawyer is married to the rapscallion (worse luck!). It looks like a lawsuit is out of the question and the duel is on.

It just so happens last week I heard a podcast on the anniversary of the misters Burr and Hamilton who fought in one*, so I have some idea of how to have a proper one, no rubbish. Pistols are usually involved but since we are both tree-hugging liberal-types there are no guns to be had, so we shall fight to the death with swords.** While this sounds jolly good fun I fear someone’s feelings will get hurt either way. I read there are ‘seconds’ involved although it’s sort of vague what their roles are. I hope to bring lunches from Zingermans.

The date of the duel is yet to be determined which gives me time to practice. The Board of Directors here at Spo-reflections doesn’t have experience with guns and things but they are very good at fighting so I hope to get a few tips in time for the thrashing. Perhaps I can persuade my challenger (the villain!) to consider hand-to-hand combat or better yet Trivia Pursuit using Broadway shows.

This all means of course I have to arrange with my attorney and assailant a time I can fly out to meet them in some nearby secluded woods for the shooting/sword fight/saber show and our seconds can make reservations at some nearby restaurant/pub for afters to toast the deceased with that non-existent whisky that started the whole debacle. Oh the horror.

*It ends badly.

**Last time I looked he is proposing sabers, not swords. I didn’t know he was a Star Wars fan.

I only work one day this week which is today as I fly tomorrow to Michigan Land of Mosquitos for another round of caretaking Father. Brother #2 is there presently and he leaves today for me to take the next shift. Brother #3’s plans have changed and that one will be home some of the time I am there. This sort of defeats the purpose of my coming viz. giving him a break. The airplane ticket is bought and time off is settled so off I go. I sense Brother #3 likes having me as company and he gets to run errands while I sit with Papa, so it is a win-win situation.

In theory I could ask one of the two RNs at work to ‘cover’ so I could turn my phone off and forgo the daily check-ins, but I didn’t ask them. I haven’t done this ever and I confess I’m uncomfortable giving it a try. How will the world spin without me? I should practice this with a few long weekends prior to asking someone to cover me for a whole week. This is called exposure desensitization. Besides I will need something to do while sitting with Father.

Monday’s daily stoic meditation reminded me to always ask ‘is this necessary’ in deed and reaction. This is particularly applicable for the one day of work as I try to tuck everything in prior to packing. “Is this necessary?” is not my strong suit when it comes to luggage. I tend to take the Boy Scout approach to be prepared and bring lots, as if I were going to Northern Canada* not Southern Michigan. A big suitcase is used on the grounds I always check a bag and seldom do I return without booty. Brother #3 saved a lot of my childhood ‘Boys Life’ magazines and I am slowly bringing them to Arizona.

But that is tomorrow and I have (as usual) a full Monday plate of past times to do. Go slow; go regular. Do the right thing and don’t sweat the small stuff etc. I’ve gotten through sixty years of Mondays and I will get through this one.

That’s all I got to say this sunny Monday morning. I hope Spo-fans far and wide have a good week. Tell me in the comments if anything special is happening this week why dontcha.

*A patient recently told me she is traveling for the first time to Canada and she is going to Northern Alberta. What an amazing first time encounter to the Great White North.

This one was written while whizzing down I-40 between Albuquerque and Flagstaff. Spo 

I enjoy road trips, which are like a stencil that the contents varies but its outline is always the same. Someone does the driving. Per protocol, I ask him if he would like me to take over so he can nap or read but he always declines. He prefers driving and he doesn’t like mine. After this ritual is concluded, Urs Truly gets into the passenger seat as always and off we go. 

In the days before GPS I was Map-master, in-charge of knowing when to take the next exit and how many miles it is to the next rest stop.* The only remnant of this once vital function is I am in charge of programming ‘Directions Dora’ to our destination, making sure I turn her voice off as she is a bossy-boots who doesn’t take kindly to sudden exits to rest areas. 

In my role as The Passenger I often go into a boketto or dwam or whatever you call a mindless trance that comes from staring out the window. This can be hazardous if Someone is talking to you or asking is this the exit for the rest area. Oh the horror. 

Proper road trips require a Ghost Bag, full up with things to pass the time. Usually therein is a magazine of puzzles, last week’s mail that wants sorting, and mindless past times. I get car sick easily so I can’t read in the car, worse luck. 

Road trips are not known for their haute cuisine. We want to stay on the road (rest areas the exception) so ‘road food’ drive-through type eats are the norm. Someone prefers McDonalds; I like Burger King, but as he is The Driver we do the former. Once in a while when there is no rest area we stop at one of those trucker’s resorts to refresh Someone’s fountain drink and pass through the store to see if there are any ‘road treats’. One tries not to get anything too crumbly lest the car becomes nasty. Gummi bears are appreciated as are Pringles**, something never eaten except on road trips. 

Einstein’s third theory of relatively (after General and Specific) is Road relatively: Driver and Passenger arrive at the destination at the same time but experience different timelines doing so. Dr. P, engrossed in his Ghost Bag, looks up to only realize we are halfway through New Mexico while Mr. D is wondering when will we ever get to Arizona. Time always slows down mightily when one is in need of a rest area. 

With hours of driving you would think it would be a good opportunity to discuss erudite and cosmic things like where are we figuratively going in Life. This never happens. We discuss where we want to eat dinner, usually soon after eating lunch.***  Sometimes we discuss what is the next trip on the drive home on the present one.  Mostly we keep quiet and listen to podcasts. I sometimes nap when the dwam is intense.  

Someday I would like to do a Road Trip with no specific destination or time restraint to it. I suppose in a way that is Life, but I will settle for a drive say to The Pacific Northwest. I daresay it will require a very large Ghost Bag but I’m up to it.  I trust there will be sufficient rest areas along the way. 

*Knowing where is the next rest stop is quite important as Someone always consumes large fountain drinks on the road. Oh the pain. 

**These ersatz edibles don’t make as much mess as nasty chips out of the bag. Afterwards one can bop Someone on his right thigh as he drives when he shows signs of nodding off.  Jolly good fun! 

***This is called “Shannon’s Law”, named after Someone’s mother, who often brought up what to do about the next meal right after finishing the present one. 

Patience above! It’s been a few days since my last scribble. This happens when a) I am up to my oxters with work and b) I have a life. Most nights after work I go the gym and come straight home and have an evening to do things, like read and write blogs. This last week I actually ‘went out’.

On Thursday our favorite watering hole restarted ‘Show tunes happy hour’. It was page 71; hardly anyone was there. One of the fun elements of Broadway in bars is the phenomena when something comes on the screens the audience to a man starts signing along, sometimes with interpretative dance. On the other hand it didn’t matter as I met up with Christopher, a blogger buddy from years ago. He hasn’t blogged in years but he as kept in touch via FB. He texted he was driving through town so he stopped by the bar to meet. It’s always fun – and a bit awkward – to meet someone you know very well in some aspects but haven’t really met. Mr. Christopher was a delight and well over four feet. I hope we keep in touch more now that we’ve met in person. I would like to meet as many blogger buddies (and Spo-fans) as possible. Jolly good fun! Just don’t drop by in July. That’s crazy-mad.

Yesterday Friday Someone and I went to the theatre. We both wondered when was the last time we did this. Usually when we see a play, I sit in the audience while he works either as an usher or as usher captain.* We saw “Private Lives”, which was done by a local community theatre. Someone, who has a good eye for this sort of thing, thought the show p. 71: the production and the acting were not good, viz. community theatre. On the other hand I enjoyed the quaintness of locals putting on a show. It reminded me of our days in Michigan when we were obliged to attend countless community theatre gigs put on by our friends and afterwards thought of something kind to say. “You were really giving it your all!” and “such energy you put into your role!”

Today Saturday won’t be so social. It’s another weekend of laundry and house tasks, which suits me fine. Before theatre last night we had a scrumptious Thai dinner. My meal was spicy, exotic and enormous, like my men. My GI system today suggests I stay home and not do too much crazy, so be it.

*On occasion we go as two members of the audience where he works. He never relaxes but scans the place looking for trouble and where is the captain to deal with that problem etc. I have to remind him he’s not working and this is not his job right now. So it is best to see shows where he doesn’t work.

Last weekend using my beloved Kitchen-aid I made chocolate chip cookies, something I haven’t made in decades. Mother used to make them all the time; she always used the recipe off the back of the bag of chocolate chips. I was about to do myself so when I paused by a vague memory somewhere in my collection of ‘Cooks Illustrated’ magazines there is a recipe that improves on the basic one. I found it and made it their way and the cookies turned out scrumptious. They got rave reviews at work. It felt a triumph.

Earlier this month I received a box of proper pencils in the post from the pals on PEI.* Soon afterwards Someone sent me a trio of Palimino pencils: 602; matte; pearl. I’ve been trying them like one gets a set of wine samples at a winery, to see which one(s) I like best. All of them beat the usual ones bought at Walgreens by a country mile. The four types have nuance that I can feel/see a difference among them. Nothing cheers me like a cup of nearly sharpened pencils, ready for action.

I pickled some jalapenos. Now there is a large jar in fridge of yellow green rings floating around with some garlic cloves – handy for adding heat to just about anything. Last weekend I put a handful of these bad boys on top of a pile of nasty chips along with some shredded cheese, a few minutes in the micro and viola!** instant nacho chips, which I ate with relish.

I ordered me some Mack Weldons which arrive this week. Soon I will have new undergarments in bright red, sky blue, and coal black – not that anyone will see them but it feels good to have on some color, much better nicer than the oh-so-conventional white ones.***

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry that baking cookies, pickling peppers, sharpening pencils, and parading around at home in my underwear is the highlight of my life these days, and this is what brings me a sense of happiness. Maybe at my age this as good at it gets. In a few days I will get three new masks each quite colorful that I will wear out and shock shoppers at Albertsons. As you can see there is still a ‘Wild Thing’ element to me.

*The pencils themselves originate in Japan.

**Does anyone know the Spanish equivalent for ‘viola!”?

***In the locker room I don’t see many men wearing white briefs anymore. There are some fellows wearing some fruity-looking undies with an ersatz early 20th century look to them. They are either stylish retro or Mormon types.

There is no performance of “The Red Shoes” today as all the actors have covid or something like it. Work has been a bear, leaving me with no time nor energy to scribble out entries. The Muses, The Graces, The Norns et. al. have all skedoodled leaving no messages on their answering machines as to their whereabouts. This leaves me with nothing. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections suggests I write about my recent purchase of undergarments on the pragmatic grounds it is the only thing of note that happened this week, but I said no.*

This Saturday morning I need to pick up shoes from the repair shop and a shirt at the dry cleaners. I need to go to Petsmart to get Harper her food (we are out). There’s paperwork and house chores to do. Such is my life at the moment. Oh the embarrassment.

It is hoped The Muses of someone like them returns my texts pronto that I may write something erudite or witty in time for Sunday. Meanwhile I got nothing.

*For thems burning to know the lurid details, I recently asked Mr. Mark Weldon to send me some of his boxers in blue, red, and black, to replace some old underwear now tearing at a touch after years of constant use and washing.

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