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Last weekend when I was home visiting the folks I found an essay I wrote sometime in my youth. Perhaps it was in the early years of grade school. The treatise is titled “What I think of myself”. I suppose it was my first attempt at self-examination and introspection. I don’t know why Mother saved it but I’m glad she did for the composition gives me a look-see at how I thought about myself.

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Now what on earth did I mean by seeing myself as “a little pill”?  In dictionary.com the definition of a pill (besides the obvious) is something unpleasant that has to be endured or a tiresomely disagreeable person. Dear me dear me. I sense I am still somewhat a pill; others would be the better judge than I on this one.

I still try to be kind to animals and people, especially the mustelids.

I am pleased to report whenever I learn something I still ‘stak’ with it – especially to prescriptive grammar and proper spelling.

For the list of character traits: I think I kept being kind, nice, funny, helpful, not mean, happy, and smart – at least most of the time.  I didn’t turn out oppatames or hanson, as these features don’t exist. I surmise I meant was optimistic and handsome which I shall grade as ‘fell short of expectations’.

The emotional post-script seems tangential and simply not true. While I never participated in Devil’s Night I was fascinated and excited by the event. The word ‘hate’ is highlighted; this reflects a bit of hysterical rancor, often seen in those who “protest too much” or turn out late in life to be drama queens. I am saying nothing more on the matter.

I got a ‘very good’ grade for it, though if I had been my teacher I would have written some words and critique on the essay’s poor spelling, inconsistent use of punctuation, and rambling sentence structure. Perhaps I would have added a small comment about listing merely the positives without any negatives.

Maybe it is good thing I didn’t become a grade school teacher.

A Spo-fan or two occasionally ask about ‘loose ends” viz. I bring up things and there is no follow-up or resolution. Life is like that I tell them. However, as I am obliging as a democratic drawbridge, going down for everybody, here are a few loose ends tied up.

The GI upset/food poisoning is passing, leaving me with a sense of fatigue and need for sleep. Yesterday I went right home from work to bed. I don’t remember a thing, not even when Someone came home.

The agave is located on the far west side of the front yard, looking like it has always been there. No signs of movement in the night. It is too soon to relax but I am hopeful.

The mystery author in my Mother’s story about great-grandfather isn’t Walt Whitman but a fellow named Eugene Field. There is a collection of his work, including a handwritten note and poem. These must be valuable; I should find out if there is a Eugen Fields Society who may want them.

I’ve had no tornado dreams as of late.

I’ve had no time to work on my recipe book, or updating my blog entries prior to publishing.

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I’ve smoked no opium.

I’ve sucked no toads.

I remain well over four feet.

250px-Triffidwynd Urs Truly has food poisoning – or something. I won’t go into the details. I would like to remonstrate for the past twenty-four hours I have seen fluids gush out of every opening and perhaps a few of which I wasn’t aware. Last night I got no sleep and I had to change often. It puzzles me where I got the nasty bug. Perhaps it was the salmon mousse. It could have been last night’s salad as Someone did not have any. Maybe it is the dreaded norovirus I picked up from rolling around with my niblings.  Tots are walking fonts of contagion, and like smallpox to the Indians I get ill most times I am exposed to them. Whatever the cause, it is nasty.  I should have stayed home today. I am not my usual self.

Needless to say I don’t have much to write other than I came home yesterday to see the large agave in front of the house is gone. The little green thing for outer space was charming when first planted but over time it evolved into Audrey III, taking over the sidewalk and driveway. Its sharp needle-like ends were scraping the car and (worse) people trying to get to the front door. I am not sure where Hector the groundskeeper put it. Rumor has it he moved the sinister succulent to another part of the yard. I need to have a look-see to know where it is located. I have a hunch in its newly uprooted state it will start to move toward the house in the night, triffid-like, ready to lash us in our beds and suck our blood. Plants in the Southwest are hardy bastards; they stop at nothing.

I should have told Hector to take it away or go make tequila out of it, rather than transplanting it out of sight where it can plot dastardly deeds. Alas, too late.

If I were to suddenly disappear from blog-land blame either dehydration or I’ve been consumed like Miracle-gro.

Leprachaun   Urs Truly has not a drop of Irish blood in him but he does enjoy Irish literature, music, whisky, and their men. On this day I wear my St. Patricks Day bow tie. I am at the airport, waiting for my flight to Michigan (Land of Perpetual Snow and Ice). Dressed up in my bow tie I am an object of suspicion; everyone around me are dressed as if they just come in from working in the yard. I remember a time we put on suits and ties in order to travel.

My weekend goal to take inventory of the household items looks doubtful as more and more of my many siblings and niblings have texted me announcing they too are coming in to be part of the coterie. It’s sweet they want to see me. Alas, the notion of a house of noisy Spos (many well over four feet and several under the age of seven) will turn this into a rumpus. I think it will be difficult to keep Mother focused on task if she is trying to tend to the many grandchildren. Someone says resistance is useless and go with the flow.  There is no sense in asking if the air is any good when there is nothing else to breathe.

I promised Someone I would only take notes and not return to Phoenix  with absconded heirlooms. The opium pipe stays put in Michigan. Imagine going through TSA with that in my pocket!

Mother (bless her heart) keeps dropping bombshells of treasures waiting my inspection. In the last phone call home she announced  she found some first edition books of some ‘famous writer” with whom my great-great uncle shared lodgings on a train. In exchange for giving up the lower travel bunk (for the author was large, bearded, and not very agile) said author gave Uncle his newly published book including some handwritten poems. Who was the author? Mother couldn’t remember. I will have to look at the books when I get there. This is like Mother. She give you enough data to titillate you and then leaves you hanging.

Brother #3 has just texted me asking the brothers should he bring anything. I texted back please bring some Irish whisky (no rubbish) as apropos for the day. Everyone  may be pleased as punch to see me but I may need a little fortitude to get through this weekend of bombshells and relatives off Ritalin.

I am sure to have fun no matter what happens. I am comforted I may be coming home with the writings of Walt Whitman.

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Trav (the dear!) inspired this one. In a recent entry he talked about putting together a meal consisting of all his favorite foods. I thought I would give it a try. If you were to come over for supper,  this would be my menu.
As I wrote and edited this post I struggled between what I want to eat vs. what I think I should eat. The ‘shoulds’ stemmed from feeling obliged to pick things exquisite or good for me. In the end I settled on favorites not the impressive. Thems who say otherwise are itching for a fight and the cook allows no substitutes.

Cocktails

Urs Truly loves a good cocktail, especially one made well. I want a base of quality alcohol, no rubbish. My favorite? A ‘perfect’ Manhattan.  Start with a good bourbon like Woodford Reserve. A perfect manhattan is made with sweet and half dry vermouth in equal portions; it is served with a lemon twist. If I were to lean towards a sweet Manhattan I would substitute the twist with a luxardo cherry. They don’t look appetizing, sort of like something the surgeon may have just removed during an exploratory, but they beat the nasty acid-red maraschino types by a country mile. There is no comparison. Shake don’t stir. Shaking is for effervescent drinks. Serve in an elegant long stemmed martini-style glass to keep your grip away from warming the libation.

Nibbles: it’s a toss up between an excellent homemade salsa made with fresh vegetables OR shrimp served with cocktail sauce made with a touch of hot sauce.

Appetizer: Bruschetta is my vote, provided the tomatoes are proper and not those ghastly pale things from a strip mine in Texas.

Soup: I love soup. The winner is onion soup, served with a Melbac wine.

Salad: Homegrown no rubbish tomatoes with buffalo cheese, sprinkled with basil and drizzled with a good olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Entrée: Dear me, how is one to choose?  Alaskan sockeye salmon, broiled, with some sort of rub. Serve with potatoes other than russet type, along with diced carrots and rutabagas sautéed in soy sauce.  Umami dearest.  A glass of Pinot Gris for this one.

Dessert: I seldom eat such but when I do I forgo the sugary things for the cheese plate. Urs Truly loves cheese, especially if there are smidgeons of several types. Serve with 2nd growth Darjeeling tea.

Afters: If I actually ate all this, at this point I would be quite crapulous. I would be a bloated goat.  An after dinner liqueur perhaps. Nocello is my favorite.

Spo-fans are invited to play along.

874eaf39b88fcf72580e0a621810bf9eThe other night I had another dream about tornados. In the dream the twister was about to strike. I was caught outdoors, hunkering down and trying to keep a wayward toddler safe from harm. Alas, the morning alarm woke me just before it hit so I don’t know if we were going to be all right. I frequently dream about tornados. After decades of dream analysis I still don’t have a good explanation of why my unconscious keeps bringing them up. The best explanation is the simplest: I am fascinated by tornados and I wish to see one. This Freudian approach to dreams as all unconscious wish fulfillment is rather disappointing. As a Jungian, I want an interpretation more expansive and numinous; I dislike the notion my dream work is so obvious. But there it is. It reminds me of the time I did a double-blind taste test on gin, in which I discovered I preferred Tanqueray to all the hoity-toity types.  Twisters on the brain seem my métier; it is what my psyche likes most.

It’s true I am fascinated by the things. In grade school we could order books through some sort of catalog. One of the first ones I bought (and still have) is “Hurricanes and Twisters”. Oh the joy. I thought then I would become a meteorologist. Like lots of boys (girls too?) I was fascinated by death and destruction by weather or Japanese monsters. The more damage the better. I had a perverse side that I was actually disappointed when a tornado was reported on the TV but no one died.

People who have been through an actual tornado assure me there is nothing fascinating about them. Twisters are pure destruction and I don’t want ever want to experience one. I should settle for thems in my dreams. I just wish I would stop waking up prior to their completion and get it over with.

The Weather Channel informs me tree pollen is very high in the area and this is no surprise. Both of us are sneezing with the usual puffy runny eyes and congested sinuses. The other-the-counter allergy pills do nothing. I am glad to get out of town this weekend for the ‘great inventory’ as is dubbed. Brother #2 and #3 announced they are coming in for the event. Brother #4 will probably join out of comradery. They aren’t attending to ascertain I don’t abscond with the family heirlooms, but to be part of the fun.

I can’t say I am entirely pleased by this. It will be difficult enough trying to keep myself and the parents focused on the task. Add a few Spos and suddenly it is a party of happy squirrels more likely than not to wander off, lose orbit, etc. On the positive, I suppose we could start talking about who gets what but this sounds a bit ghoulish. I don’t think the parents would mind in the least; so long as they don’t have to clear the crud out themselves whoever gets what is of no interest to them.

Which brings us to Peg-leg Pete. He is a sea captain with a wooden leg. He is made of plastic; he well under four feet. Once upon a time he stood in Father’s office; now he stands in the basement. Nobody seems to want the diamonds and jewels or the Stobart paintings or the opium pipe – but we all want Peg-leg Pete. It is Brothers #2 and #3 who really him (why I don’t know) which prompts Brothers #1 and #4 to covet him as well, just for mirth’s sake and perhaps being a bit invidious. It is all in jest of course. We think Brother #3 should take everything (minus Peg-leg) as he is nearby, has a large house, and has space for things. I will probably be obliged to take the baby grand piano on the grounds I am the only one who plays.

What I really want are mother’s cookbooks, with which my siblings will have no quarrel.

But I will gladly trade all the diamonds and jewels and cookbooks and the Steinway for Pegleg Pete. It should be an interesting weekend.

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Cookbook

Yesterday when I went out the front door to take the dog for a walk I found on the porch several ponderous piles of cooking magazines, looking like a box of kittens in need of a home. The Lovely Neighbor had brought them over during the night. Since her mother died she is cleaning house for a sale. I didn’t think she had any left. Spo-fans may recall a few years ago she brought over in a wheelbarrow several years issues of Bon Appetit and Gourmet for my hobby of collecting recipes for dishes I will allegedly someday make. Now I have a fresh bunch. A large bunch. They sit on the dining room table looking in need of inventory. In the past, whenever we went somewhere in the car, I would bring a few issues and skim them for attractive recipes. I would tear out the potentials and put them into my accordion file of ‘some day to try’ recipes.

This fresh pile of Cooks Illustrated and what not reminds me I’ve made little any progress making the recipes already established. I kid myself these are ‘for my retirement’. Even if I were to live long enough to achieve such nirvana I probably will be too decrepit to cook, or The Good Doctor will tell me I can’t have them in my old-man lo-cholesterol lo-fat lo-sodium lo-palatable diet.

The solution of course is to make them now. I should structure one day a week when I vow despite it being late and I’m too tired and gee doesn’t take-out sound good I will make a properly cooked dish. So be it.

They don’t have to be complicated, just new, tasty, and exciting – like my men.

Meanwhile, Urs Truly is working on making a cookbook of my own favorite recipes. These war-horses are scattered throughout my cookbook collection. I thought it would be convenient to have them all in one tome . Perhaps I can give copies of my culinary creation to my nearest and dearest who don’t cook anyway and when they do they look up recipes they do it on-line which is what we do ourselves.

Speaking of attempts at cooking, a few years ago I gave Someone a Great Course lecture series on such, which is mostly about how to dice things and manage not to overcook the fish and cutlets. It remains unwatched but I may dust them off and take a look-see myself. Perhaps I would be less timorous to cook if I knew how to handle knives and pans properly.

Sunday seems to be ‘crockpot’ day which I find nice for it feels a) like cooking and b) hardly any effort. You throw things in the pot and wait for 6-8 hours. Today’s endeavor is crockpot-chili, made with black beans and corn (Someone’s favorites). We will be eating off of this creation all week for I’ve managed to make enough to feed an army.  Still, there is a quiet satisfaction we are not just ordering Pei Wei and be done with it all.

Yesterday at the Mesa office I wrote a brilliant entry only to forget to post it before I left for the day. I seem to be doing this lot lately. Last weekend I had to drive to the Mesa office to pick up a file I had forgotten there, only to leave behind my glasses and phone charger cord. Oh the embarrassment.  It’s a rare day when I get to work having all my daily items. When this happens I blame it on my early-onset Alzheimers but Someone doesn’t buy it. He points out I was this way twenty years ago and it is no different. I guess being a ditz is better than having dementia.

This morning before leaving work I recalled it is Symphony Night (Beethoven #3) so I got out the proper tickets, pleased as punch. Not trusting my luck, I am now scrutinizing my things for was forgotten that balances my universe. So far I haven’t discovered what’s missing but it’s just a matter of time. Someone is ushering this evening at same symphony so if the lost or forgotten object is important enough I could contact him bring it. He is quite used to these types of emails, which start with “Could you be a muffin and bring my…….”

My cousin once upon a time sent me a pretty poem about forgetfulness but I can’t find it. Oh the irony. I’ve rummaged through my blog without success although I did find some other poems I had quite forgotten. I was dismayed to see I’ve blogged on forgetfulness before, many times. More irony.

It is a wonder I manage to accomplish anything.

On the postive I’ve managed to get to the age of fifty without horrible consequences of hummingbird brains. Someone should have asked a few logical questions when he met me. Now we are married and it is too late.

I am happy to report I have not lost my wedding ring.

P.S. I just realized I forgot to pack a lunch. I am disappointed and relieved. I feel an idiot but the consequence is I can order Chinese. The kung pao is especially good.

In a few weeks I fly to MI to visit my parents to take inventory of their possessions. For decades Mother has been meaning to write down their stories  but she never gets around to it. Last Christmas, after she dropped a few bombshells about their knickknacks, I decided to take charge and fly home and do it myself.  I plan to take lots of photos and write down as many memories they can muster. Father started doing this already. He calls periodically to tell me what they have found rummaging around the drawers in the dining room and packed away in boxes. These telephone conversations resemble Bob Newhart sketches as I slowly drag out of them the details of this or that bricolage.

The biggest shocker so far was in the last phone call: Mother announced she was pleased as punch to have finally found the family opium pipe. It had been in the sugar bowl all this time.  After a pregnant pause in which I took a deep breath and my gathered my composure  I started playing twenty questions with her to discover I had an ancestor aunt who went to China on a mission during the Boxer Rebellion. Mother recalls this aunt was ejected out of the country, probably for being a foreign devil and a pest. That explains her hasty exit but what’s up with the opium pipe? Did she use it?  Maybe auntie wasn’t exiled by the Empress Dowager but by the mission pastor for opium smoking and reprobate living. Mother says of course not, but I smell a rat. Back home in MI it would have been quite the scandal to have a relation lounging around smoking opium.  Telling the neighbors auntie has a drug problem doesn’t sound so good, not as good being a Christian martyr.

The inventory is of course a preparation for the parents’ passing. I will know what has no value and what should be kept as precious objects. Goodness knows what I will do with the opium pipe. Putting it out in a garage sale with the unwanted utensils sounds just wrong, yet having it around the house would cause talk. I suppose I could try taking up opium myself if I can find a dealer of fine Chinese opium no rubbish.

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