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A week ago The House Manager told me at the end of the work day to clean out of my desk as quickly as possible before I left for the weekend. For a moment I thought I’d been given the sack but it was only due to a new desk was coming in over the weekend. How exciting.

For ten years I’ve had a large gray metallic utilitarian desk. It is a too large for the room.  I’d been asking for a new desk for some years but to no avail. Then The Boss-woman recently decided she was going to use my office to do counseling on the days I wasn’t there. Soon after she moved in, she declared the lummox desk and nasty chair both detrimental to the therapeutic process; I would be getting a new desk and chair toot suite. Oh how jolly!

I came to work today quite excited in the anticipation of a new desk. Lo! There it was. It is a cherry wood desk half the size of el grise, with a pull out shelf for the keyboard. The room now looks capacious. Alas, I soon discovered its downside: as I sit at the desk, looking forward at the screen, I am more or less completely with back turned to my patients; there is hardly any eye-to-eye contact.  If a patient sat at the far end of the coach, I can go back and forth from screen to patient in a 90-degree back and forth metronome motion .  Patients in wheelchairs or thems unable to get down and up from a coach must sit behind me and address my backside. Oh the pain.

Another downside to the situation: the screen is visible to all. Now I can’t surf the internet or look up FB etc. without patients seeing I ain’t paying attention. Oh the embarrassment.

I now have the ticklish position to compose an email to The Boss-woman. I need to find some politic way to convey while she may be pleased as punch with the position I can’t do my job. We will have the challenge to rearrange the furniture to achieve feng shei and sufficient eye contact and hidden screen for looking at blogs and things.  I have a marvelous Boss-woman, well over four feet, so I am certain we can come to an agreeable arrangement of the furniture.  All the same there are challenges:

1 – She is right-handed; I am a lefty.

2 – She doesn’t want the desk between her and the patient; I do.

3- She doesn’t use a printer; I do.

4 – She is The Boss-woman; I am her bitch.

I suppose we will go back and forth at rearranging the furniture for a while until we tire each other out or we settle on something neither one of really wants. On the other hand I will probably get it my way in the end.  After all –

5- She is a squatter; I am the big-bad doctor.

6 – She is straight; I am homosexual. Who better than one like me to do the furniture, right?   🙂

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99bb16dbbcdda6e500b82e285febc725Are the any Swedes in the house? I want some Vasterbottensost.

According to one of my podcasts this cheese is remarkable that every attempt to recreate it anywhere but a small village in Sweden has failed. Even the manufacturers can’t make it elsewhere. My soul swoons. This cheese captures many features I enjoy in a nibble: mystery, fascinating properties, imperial tid-bits, and of course – cheese.  Like Mr. Wallace, I am crackers for cheese. I like them complex, tangy, and unique – like my men.  I haven’t pursued yet how I go about getting some.  I hope it isn’t too expensive or difficult now that the cat’s out of the bag.

I’ve grown to prefer ‘proper’ food stuffs to the mass produced type. This is not so much out of snob appeal but the better just tastes better dammit.  Last Christmas I could not find a proper Edam cheese from The Netherlands so I purchased a mass produced slice from Wisconsin. It was OK but not as good as the Dutch version.  Oh how I love me some Edam!

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With that said I never say no to an offer of a piece of cheese and I seldom encounter one I don’t enjoy –  with the possible exception of the orange rubber stuff one finds in wrapped individually in clear plastic.* I have developed a sort of cheesy Bucket List.  Vasterbootensost has been added to that list; it is right there among proper Cheddar, Stilton, Stinking Bishop, and the legendary Venezuelan Beaver Cheese.  If these are available via the post, I better get a-going before it gets too warm to do so.  One does not ship perishable items to Arizona in the months without an “R” – like oysters. Things show up looking like a Brie out of control. Oh the pain.

Spo-fans are encouraged to leave in the comment section the names of their favorite cheese.

Any European Spo-fans who can get their hands on something special like Stilton or Stinking Bishop please send me the information link.

‘And for those Swedes in the audience: tack för osten !

 

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*This is written by someone who within a month’s time will be consuming the anti-christ of cheese: Cheez-Whiz. The ersatz dairy product is a traditional food stuff for our winter holiday. I don’t think even the manufacturer dares to call it ‘cheese’. Oh the embarrassment.

imagesMeditation has been on my ‘should-do’ list for a very long time. Everyone says it is a very good thing although folks get a little vague what meditation is supposed to do exactly – or even what it is.  Whatever it is I have some reservations about trying. Sitting still or having a blank mind are two states of being quite unknown to me. My hummingbird mind finds the former impossible and my Midwest upbringing thinks the latter suspiciously indolent. Learning to meditate just so say I’ve done these two things would be quite a Bucket list achievement.*

As is my wont, I want to learn proper mediation and not some rubbishy yuppie past time.  I would like it to help lower my blood pressure although this sounds like the Edina Monsoon approach towards meditation viz. chanting and imploring Karma to send money.  The last time I checked Buddhist monks (pros that they are) do not learn meditation to meditate away hypertension or to get temple donations. They are learning meditating to better their human compassion.  If that is the real point of meditation – and I suspect it is – then I think I should skip. I want lower BP.

I mean to read up or hear a podcast on the topic or watch Youtube provided I don’t get no quack. I recently downloaded an app called  ’10% Happier’, which shows promise. A staff member emailed me welcoming to the place and she can help. At first I thought this a computer generated email but no she is a real person. This gave me a bit of the creeps rather than assurance. I’ve already let her down as I’ve had no time to take the first step  whatever that may be. I’ve a lot to learn obviously.  This may take months just to get going.

Or I may try just try closing my eyes and sitting for five minutes just to see what happens provided my brain doesn’t explode.  Last time I tried this my mind was mugged by a myriad mundane memos although there was one or two inspirational bits as well.   Alas, they weren’t as numinous as the type experienced in a small café in Rickmansworth.  I don’t think that is what meditation is supposed either but  it was jolly good fun.

 

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I’ll have what he’s having.

 

*Someone sure would appreciate that I did. He can easily sit for hours ensconced in a chair with no need or urge  to continually get up and move about.

As a ten year old boy I spent a lot of time looking for (and sometimes in) faraway fantastical lands. My penchant for reading combined with an overactive imagination like Wonder-Twins, resulting adventures in chock-full and fun filled alternative places. Life in the Midwest seemed so dull in comparison. Now I am fifty-five years old; it is hard if not impossible to fit down the rabbit-hole or into the electric car to go through the phantom tollbooth into The Lands Beyond.  I rely less on magic wands and more on my Kindle to keep in touch with Erewhon and all its contents.

Before Miss Tickle closed The Magic door on me for good, a few habitants stayed on this side of the looking-glass. The Cup Fairies have either multiplied or upped the ante against my new year’s resolution to keep half-consumed beverages from cluttering up the house. There have been no recent Henrik the Ghost sightings, but there are tell-tale signs some sort of spook is throwing dirty clothes about the place for nothing seems to be making it into the hamper. The Muses, Graces, Norns, Fates, etc. continue to text and email.  The backyard has  fewmets I know don’t come from to Harper, and by their stench I suspect Bonnacons – or Nargles with terrible IBS issues.

Someone doesn’t have imaginary mythical creatures bouncing about his personal space. Being the rationalist he is, Someone always explains missing keys and such as ‘operation-error’ rather than dastardly Car-key Gnomes. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections and I know better. We may have our differences but we both know a Stirge from ADHD.

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Unknown   I’ve been feeling guilt. *  I don’t usually feel much guilt in life, thanks to a narrow definition and some human rationalization, but lately I have felt a lot. I think penance is due. Alas, the local priest is near impossible to get hold off and I think he would be bored by my list of transgressions so I will write them out here or Spo-fans to see and judge and provide finger-pointing etc.

1 – After boiling some eggs I rinsed out the pot and put it away rather than putting it in the dishwasher. I figured just boiled water isn’t bad enough for yet another load of dishes. I didn’t tell Someone either, so there is Deceit as well as Sloth.  Oh the embarrassment.

2 – Last week I had several uncharitable thoughts towards many people, ranging from Hair Furor** down to that awful cow on her cellphone in the BMW who cut me off on the freeway entrance. I tried to channel a Biblical blessing for the latter; I spake onto her to go forth and be fruitful and multiply – but I didn’t use those words.

3- I lied to Someone. I went to Uncle Albertsons for some milk  and I came home with a load of impulse items. When he questioned the purchases I had to think quickly so I told him I was recently diagnosed with cancer and now I can eat anything I want. Happily it has slipped his mind and hasn’t been brought up again – but it was a close call.

4 – At the gym I banged my knee. I let loose a category of expletives enough to cross-eye a sailor.  I think I felt embarrassment more than guilt.  No one seemed to have noticed. I was raised in a house that did not use hot language.  Too bad, as profanity seems to offer a relief denied even to prayer.  By the way this accident occurred as I was staring at a few of the gym patrons, making me both guilty of Lechery and a peeping Tom.

5 – I felt the most guilt for some broken promises. I failed to follow-up on a handful of things at work and at home, although this is more having forgotten things than out of disobedience. So I don’t think this is guilt so much as being a dingbat.

I suppose a few Hail Marys would be help but I think trying to do better is more practical – as is writing things down. Spo-fans with practical penances are welcome to leave such in the comment section.

 

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*I define guilt as stemming from knowing something is wrong but doing it anyway.  I try to limit ‘wrong’ to two items: doing something cruel or something uncaring. Shame is another cup of tea, worth another blog entry another time.

 

**Another guilty admission: I have prayed for him to drop and I would smile a bit if he did.

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This is the time of the year when calls from Canada and back East sound surreal viz. chilly tales of gelid weather and freezing ones wrists off. Chatting on Facetime I see the other one looking over my shoulder (for I am sitting out of doors) at the sunshine and the swimming pool and potted palm trees and looking like they have never seen such things before. It’s January. Cold is a relative term. Nowadays I have to sit outside in a flannel shirt and in the morning a jacket is needed for a while, but that’s about it. Feeling sheepish I explain the air is bad at this time of the year, but this carries no comfort to my Michigander relations.

I enjoy wrapping myself up burrito-style in a thick white terry bathrobe and drink hot things, snug as a bug in a rug. However, this ambience is rather spoiled with no snow in sight and the porch door open. I think of traveling to see the parents and experience some proper January but then I see the temperatures and it’s no-way-Jose.

Piled up in the closet from our move twelve years ago is our collection of sweaters, down jackets and other winter wearing apparel. We even have a snow shovel somewhere in the garage. I’ve often thought to give them all away but my Midwest mentality holds onto them on the chance we may someday move back to Michigan, Land of Perpetual Snow and Ice. It is a retirement fantasy of mine. Alas, as I’ve acclimatized lizard-like to 40C plus summers and 5C winters (oh that’s cold!)  I wonder if I have the constitution to live anywhere but the roasting desert.

I suppose certain Spo-fans aren’t finding this entry very amusing but they can just wait 3-4 months and the temperature-tables will turn. Everyone in Zone 6-8 will be delirious and intoxicated with spring temps and tulips while Urs Truly (zone 10) is turning on the AC and going into premature estivation.

I hope Spo-fans in colder climes are keeping their appendages warm; one loses heat at an enormous clip at the extremities. I recommend drinking hot tea (the panacea of all ills) and in temps below add a drop or two of the usquebaugh.

 

I am dismayed to discover I have lost my Bucket List – again.  This seems to happen on a regular basis. I put it in “Lists” on my phone only to have the periodically disappear.  I suspect Nargles. This time I am recreating it on yellow foolscap. This sounds awfully regressive but I am certain I shan’t lose this one.*  Now I have to recall what they were.  I figured I could post a few here, lest the house and list burns down.  Here’s a few in progress:

See Ireland 

As always,Ireland is first Bucket List item that returns to memory, not so much as it is THE Bucket list item but it is always is the exordium.  I am not Irish, but I wish to see the land that gave us Yeats and Joyce and Yellow Spot.  There are a few other travel items after this one I remember: See Norway; See the Northern Lights; The Southern cross.  These Bucket List items need conscious planning and the cooperation of Someone. 2018 may be the Year of the Dog in the Chinese Zodiac but it may need be the Year of the Nag at the House of Spo.

Buy and hear all of Jethro Tull albums.

This one goes into the category of ‘ do all of them” of various artistes. I’ve read all of Dickens so that’s off the list. I have not yet heard all the operas by Verdi, which is doubtful to do so I shan’t rewrite it.

Fit into a certain bathing suit again.

Remember the other day when I wrote resolutions should be “SMART”?  This one may not be that smart given “R” is for ‘Realistic’. However if I can trim down enough in time for the February trip to Palm Springs this will suffice for now.  In the health department  for Bucket List items I recall I had accomplish the ability to touch my nose to my kneecaps.

Make coq au vin. 

There are several food and drink items I wish to make or taste.

So as you can see, my provisional Bucket List has four basic food groups: travel; accomplish; health; creativity.

I will flesh out the list when The Muses remind me what they all were.

Oh, there is a fifth group, intentionally left blank, lest my Mother be reading this. 🙂

 

*The Cup Fairies et. al. had better keep their pixilated paws to themselves.

Composing New Year Resolutions is jolly good fun if only to see what sort of things one feels need improvement. One could simply use the list one made in January 2017 and change the year but that isn’t as amusing as coming up with new ones. After all I’ve managed to schlepp through 2017 without dire consequences for not achieving this year’s list. I usually make a few dozen resolutions on the grounds there is a lot about me that wants improvement and I am bound to achieve at least one of them if I can remember what they are.

About now I start making a preliminary exordium of half-baked notions I am sure to change to the point of nonrecognition by the time 31 December rolls around. Resolutions should be “SMART”: Specific, Measurable, Attainable*, Realistic, and Time-specific.  For many years ‘Achieve apotheosis” was at the top of my list but it doesn’t meet any of the SMART criteria, alas. One just has to do without it I’m afraid, and besides nothing in life has any business being perfect.

My first attempt at brain-storming 2018 Spo-improvements conjured a long list of honey-do projects for the house in desperate need of doing. It’s a fine list indeed (especially the one about clearing out The Blue Room) but it doesn’t capture the urtext of New Year resolutions, which are about self-growth and forgoing nasty habits like scratching my oxters in public.

Come to think of it perhaps I will just transpose 2017’s list into 2018. I don’t quite remember what they were but I recall they were worthwhile.

My first resolution for 2018 : do a better job at remembering where I put things – including the list.

 

 

*I’ve seen some lists with “A” as “Artistic”.

thChristmas prizes at our house were simple, pleasant, and much appreciated – like my men. I thought it might be whimsy to amuse you to with what I received. [1]

We tend to fill each other stockings with sweets, mostly because we can’t think of anything else. I got (as I do most every year) a bag of gummi-bears for I love them so. I gave Someone a tin of bacon flavored breath mints, which really do taste like bacon.

 

bookMy secret Santa this year was Nephew #1. He gave me several books, most of them by Neil Geiman. I am pleased as punch.

jwgSomeone gave me a bottle of Johnny Walker Green. I was stunned. This is one of those whiskies I have a) heard of but can never find and b) too cheap to buy myself. I don’t know where he found it but there it is.

Someone also gave me six pairs of brightly coloured socks from Soxy.com. This is a “Tom-Spo” prize if there ever was one. Tom-Spos are named after Father (named Tom) who tends to give prizes he plans to use himself.[2]

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My University of Michigan gym bag has become quite tattered from near-daily use. Someone gave me a new bag. It is a nondescript navy blue so I won’t be parading around for everyone to see my college affiliation. [3]

So I am a happy man to have a bag, some books, and a batch of bears.

Next year I just better get them cha-cha heels.

 

 

[1] What I did NOT receive: that blasted pony, a lump of coal, or a beating from the Krampus. The first is a disappointment, while the latter two items are a bit of a surprise.

[2] I gave him a Tom-Spo prize too so we are even.

[3] Walking through the gym carrying a Maize & Blue gym bag gets the occasional bravo shout-out from some displaced Michigander  There is also the occasional cat-call from thems who went to inferior Midwest schools like Notre Dame, MSU, and that one in Ohio.

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I don’t have much to say today other than Happy Christmas to one and all! 

Someone left at 5AM to go to work.  When he returns home we will have Christmas dinner.  This consists of Honey Bake Ham, cheesy potato casserole, and Brussel Sprouts in pecans and bacon.  For small chocolate cone we will have some cookies I plan to make today. 

We will open prizes after dinner. Someone is getting mostly clothes, which is what he really wants. Afterwards I will walk the dog and see the neighborhood lights.

It is enough for Christmas 2017.

May Spo-fans near and far have a lovely holiday ! 

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