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The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections sent one of their thralls today to inform me I should tidy up the ‘links’ section of the blog and change the header why don’t I.* The messenger (a red dwarf, well under four feet) wore a surgical mask that didn’t fit well over his beard, which was worthy of Mr. Fearsome’s repertoire. Mr. Dwarf would not thump chests with me as is their custom. RD informed me for TBDHSR was closing Heoret Johnsons for the time being. All mythological anthropomorphic personifications are asked to stay home in the collective unconscious. This is a pity. I am home-alone this week with no company to speak of so a few fantastical gentleman-callers would have been nice.

I am wandering around La Casa de Spo not unlike Henrik the Ghost looking for company. Things are rawther quiet. The usual house hobgoblins are all practicing social distancing. The Car Key Gnomes must be away as the keys are properly ensconced in the key bowl. I have only a few unmatched socks indicating The Laundry Goblins have gone into quarantine as well. Only the Cup Sprites seem up to their usual shenanigans for there is no lack of glasses, cups, and such lying about the house in need of constant tidy up.  The combination of free time and D&D mentality suggest I should work on updating The Timeless Lands of Erewhon Project.  The only thing I should do is avoid going online which only whips up my anxiety and wonderment why on earth didn’t I move to New Zealand when I had the chance.

Today’s highlight is juicing lemons. At this time of year sacks of citron are thrust upon you.  A patient brought in bags. More’s the pity they cannot be hoarded for later need like toilet paper! I have some cute little ice cube trays in the shape of palm trees I gave to Someone last Christmas hoping to bring them to Palm Springs this week. They are being incorporated into producing freshly-squeezed frozen lemon juice palm tree-shaped ice cubes for storage and later use. As anyone knows who has ever made a cocktail or cup of tea or even a glass of water knows fresh-squeezed surpasses the nasty green-bottled stuff by a country mile.  The ratio of trays to lemons is small but I have all week to make’em.  I just hope the Cup Sprites don’t move the containers about too much in the process. While I wait for things to freeze I will write TBDHSR if they are going to send a follow-up minion please use a Gnome preferably the fellow off of the Vernors can.  I wouldn’t mind bumping chests with him.

*Thems on the Board like to attend to the major matters of the blog and delegate minor tasks to their minions, of which they have plenty.

 

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Laurent (the dear!) of ‘Larry Muffin at Home’ and thems who speak French may want to skip this one…

The 2020 trek to Canada was provisionally scheduled to go the eastern edge of Nova Scotia but this has translated (pun intended) to un petit bon voyage to Quebec City. As a consequence I must learn French toot suite. I read online thems who don’t speak the local lingo (French) will be mercilessly hounded and the natives put ground glass in your poutine and pepper in the Tim Horton’s.*

I don’t know how well I can learn a language in two months especially one as complicated as French but I will try. I will start with some basics like s’il vous plait and merci beaucoup and a bientot (good to know). Harper’s favorite word is d’accord which is OK and Someone’s favorite is regardez while my favorite words are pas de quoi and mot juste and avoirdupois although I don’t know what they mean.

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Attention !

Fromage is cheese and fish is poisson and QC has ponts and rues and englises.

If the natives suspect I am no Frenchmen but an Auslander (that’s German; I don’t know the French word for ‘f-cking tourist’ ) I can ‘pass’ through the recitation of certain memorized lyrics:

J’ai perdu ma tête
Dans la rue Saint Honoré,
Je cherche ça et là
Je ne l’ai pas trouvé,
Dis-moi… où est ma tête?

I can also know the libretto from ‘Carmen’. L’amour est un oiseau rebelle
que nul ne peut apprivoiser etc.

I remember a story about my grandmother (or should I say grandmamma?) who would wing it when traveling around France by using Spanish words when French ones failed her on the grounds both are Romance languages and therefore interchangeable in a pinch.  I don’t know how well this works although I remember mon pere telling the tale tres amusement Martha was almost arrested outside Paris for saying something she shouldn’t.

Wish me bonne chance in my endeavors!

Peut-etre qu’a ce moment la, l’un de nous deux sera-t-il divorce/bilingue.

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*I’ve been assured by certain Canadian-types this is complete merde and besides I will be escorted by French-speaking types bonne hommes bien plus de quatre pieds who will translate and ascertain my dignity and my safety. I hope they aren’t plotting any shenanigans as seen in the Monty Python’s “Dirty Hungarian sketch”.

 

I’ve been patiently sitting awaiting for The Muses (or somebody like them) to bop me on the head with a humdinger idea upon which to write a brilliant essay. No such luck. It’s pouring down rain today so perhaps they are staying home lest they get their togas wet. Maybe it’s corona19 fears that’s keeping them at bay. I emailed The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections asking for advice. I thought they would be home/in hall as they are impervious to cold damp weather and they don’t care tuppence about handwashing – hygiene not something they are keen to do. While they don’t believe in germ theory they do believe in contagion. Alas Babylon! They weren’t in. They’ve hung as sign outside Heorat Johnsons saying “Gone a-viking”. No help there either. Archetypes are universal but that doesn’t mean they are always available.

Speaking of contagion fears I’ve wondered if there would be a drop-off in appointments as people either are fearful to go out/come in or out of economic fallout from it all they cannot afford to come in right now. It looks like dance card this week is as full as always. When you make a living via people’s misery ones employment is pretty well assured. Besides, I am the one with the prescription pad. People may be hoarding toilet paper but gods forbid they run out of their  tranquilizers.

And speaking of work there’s been more turnover of staff. Yesterday someone in billing told me ‘K” was no longer with us. I refrained from asking which one was “K” and what happened to her. The most recent incarnation of medical assistant was let go last week for unclear reasons as well. I suspect she had taken too many sick days. The new gal is presently ‘learning the ropes” and it’s anyone’s guess if she lasts.

The Other Doctor is slowly winding down to his departure on 23 April. We have four Wednesday pharm rep lunches left. I wonder if the reps will continue to drop by to distribute samples when it is just Urs Truly and no lunches are allowed. The medicine cupboard if laid bare could be converted into a storage bin or (in a pinch) a bookshelf. Oh! The times they are a-changing!  The only thing constant around at work seems to be me.  As the dowager queen told young Queen Victoria: “Prime ministers come, and prime ministers go – you stay”. It’s good to be (a) Queen.

At an early age I desired to go through life with perfect timing and experience just-right conditions. No such luck. It feels like some wicked fairy appeared at my baptism and decided to lay a curse on me. It wasn’t a terribly malicious one; it was along the line my life would have a lot of small disappointments. The recipes I try to make don’t come out as good as the photos suggest; my mot juste isn’t said quite right nor well-timed. My thoughtful Christmas gift isn’t wrapped as well as hoped nor does it go over as imagined.

Having disappointments happens most in vacations and travel plans. It seems the weather is never cooperative on and nothing goes as smoothly as hoped. Mind! This may be mere cognitive bias on my part viz. I remember the kerfuffles rather than the ‘smooth sailing’ jaunts.
When going on holiday I’ve learned not to set my hopes too high or set grand expectations of what ‘ought’ to happen. Despite this maturity and wisdom I sense that Wicked Fairy (for the sake of the essay let’s call him Stinky) still follows me around ascertaining I didn’t quite pack the right clothes and my favorite restaurants are closed.

I’ve been so looking forward to the pending Palm Springs holiday which commences this weekend. For weeks I’ve been prepping which shirts to bring and what restaurants to consider and what games to bring. Alas Babylon! Two of our party recently called with concerns of flying; they are considering cancelling due to corona19. I don’t blame them but what a Page 71 to hear this. * Last winter when we made our reservations the resort was ‘full up’; I now wonder how many other folks will be canceling and we show up to a ghost town. Resorts with few people are not much fun especially at happy hour. I see next week’s weather looks not so good either. After a few weeks of highs around 30C it looks to drop below 10C and be cloudy/rainy.

Stinky you suck.
If the travel-mates cancel I am half-tempted to tell Someone to cancel our reservation as well. I love him more than my luggage but a week in a hotel room with each other makes both of us think along the line ‘we could be doing this at home”. Besides there’s work to be done at La Casa de Spo. A week without work gives ample opportunity to get done some home projects – good but a page 71 all the same.
Perhaps I am merely being lugubrious influenced by today’s inclement weather and all the depressing news. Funny I am not scared/anxious by corona19 but depressed and disappointed how people are reacting to it. He-whom-I-can’t-stand is doing his usual B.S. tweeting distractions, denial, and accusations rather than doing anything proactive or useful. I confess to having some schadenfreude watching his usual bullying his opponents fall flat in face of a virus.
Writing when down in the dumps is not a good idea. I best stop now and not give Stinky anymore to work with.
*Page 71 is a Spo-expression for a disappointment. It derives from a Monty Python book in which every few pages is an announcement page 71 is coming. When it arrives, it says “PAGE 71” in simple font. Page 72 consists of a series of newspaper reviews: “Oh! What a letdown!” “Page 71 disappointments!” and “Well I liked it but not what I had hoped”.

jim-thompson-milles-bornes-flat-tire-160x160-c   Yesterday after my appointment with The Good Doctor I was feeling groovy and driving down the road without care when the warning lights came on in the car announcing the left side driver’s tire pressure was dropping like a paralyzed falcon. In The Valley of the Sun gas stations and tire centres are ubiquitous  – until you need one. As I watched the gauge going from ‘32’ to ‘1’ I finally found a Shell station in which to pull into. Alas the air pump ‘only accepts quarters” and who carries change around anymore? This was academic as I could see the tire was dead a dodo and all the hot air of Congress would not inflate it. How helpless and stranded one feels when there is a puncture.* I called Someone hoping he would magically fix it but his fairy-godmother skills were rusty; he suggested I call AAA.

I have been a AAA member for years but I’ve never had to use them. I thought about changing the tire myself but reasoned someone who knew what they were doing would be better and dammit isn’t this what AAA dues are for? The process to call and contact someone at AAA was relatively painless although I was crestfallen the ETA of my man would be about sixty minutes. Sixty minutes? You mean to say in the heart of a major city a mechanic can’t be conjured in less than fifteen? No sense asking if the air is any good when there is nothing else to breathe. I explained to the Shell gas station attendant (a nice fellow well over four feet) my predicament lest he call the cops I was up to no good and then I walked across the street to a McDonald’s.

I have not been to a McDonald’s in ages. When did they become so ‘high tech”? They had large order screens one touches in a series of pictures to make your order. My soul swoons at the thought of the number of unwashed fingers that had poked these all day today. The screens were smudged with ketchup and greasy fingerprints many looking like they were made by tiny tots. At the register I feigned being a grumpy old man who can’t figure out these dang-blasted devices and please give me a Number #8. This is not normally what I eat but I had just come from The Good Doctor who said things were groovy so a grease-fest was rationalized as OK for once especially when you have an hour to kill and are in a sour mood.

About 45 minutes later “Matt” arrived in the AAA mobile. He seemed sixteen years old and quite bubbly and obsequious. He got out the spare from the trunk and exchanged it with the flat quick as quarter-note and good for him! He had a lovely backside which I watched as he bent over in his labors.** He offered to check my battery which he did only to exclaim it was running low and he could exchange that too. I’m sure he could but I smelled a bit of a rat so declined. He kept asking if there was anything else he could do for me. I thought of several mot juste replies but I held my tongue lest he and I don’t find the same things funny. He told me not to drive on the highway or go over 50mph and off he went into the night my savior.

It took a long time to drive home though the back roads. I don’t know what was more vexing: the car warning system continually warning me the front tire was wrong or the angry cars swerving around me apparently not appreciating my predicament.  I managed to get home without blowing out another tire. I wrote an email to AAA Matt was a good man and he did a fine job.

Today’s schedules are all up in the air trying to figure out where to go for the tire and who does this and when. We both work; I daresay this will be delayed until the weekend. I don’t relish driving around town on the spare which I don’t trust further than I can kick a lemon pie. I wonder if Matt is available for other services such as Uber driving etc. It would be a comfort in these most vexing of times.

OIP

*This is a synonym for a flat. I think it is a British expression. I like the word as it conveys the etiology of the matter rather than the outcome.

**What else was there to do really?

Insanity  Dang it! My head was full-up with topics and tid-bits on which to write and now it’s a blank. I often wonder if ‘writer’s block’ is The Muse’s way to shut things done before some awful bad idea is allowed onto the world. If so, I should go do some ironing or something and not just sit here typing nothing hoping to remember what was just on my mind…..

This month’s ‘soup of the month’ was “Big Bowl of Red’ a soup/chili I’ve made before the recipe gotten from The Vegetarian Times. Yesterday while shopping for the ingredients (red peppers, kidney beans, and so forth) a pound of cubed stewing meat managed to slip into the grocery cart and later into the crockpot. At dinner Someone declared it ‘the best bowl of red you’ve made yet” and Harper was happy about it as well. Alas Babylon! Try as I may I can’t seem to giving up meat entirely. Mind! We eat vegetarian meals at least twice a week and red meat is a rarity at La Casa de Spo so I hope this counts a little towards assuaging global guilt. The other day I had the impossible burger at Burger King and I thought it good. I would have another. Apparently the conservative Right has taken up vegetarianism as another ‘attack on American values” at the mere notion of BK offering a vegetarian alternative. If they want to consume lots of high fat/high calorie red meat I say let’em.

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There is nothing so satisfactory as buying books (although one already has plenty). This morning I purchased three for the Kindle. I am as chipper as a chipmunk with its cheeks chockful of nuts. I read the Kindle in the day time and when page-turning is a challenge. I read ‘proper’ books at night so the light doesn’t interfere with dropping off. Thanks to little to no time anymore on the news apps I’ve managed to read 8 books so far this year. This is almost as many as I read in 2019. Some say I am being a fool for not keeping in touch with the news but on the positive I am reading a lot of good books and I am sleeping a lot better too.

OIP

Yesterday was my fourth teeth whitening appointment. I guess they are better but not much. In their defense the chirpy young staff (all with teeth as white as snowdrifts) have to work with nearly sixty years of continuous tea drinking which has turned my teeth an ancient yellow. It’s going to take a titanic tub of hydrogen peroxide or whatever they are using to lighten things up. I figured by now I would be looking like Christie Brinkley. I must have patience and perhaps a dozen more trips to the faraway kingdom of Scottsdale (Land of White teeth).

As a final random thought I am pleased to announce there is a new Spo-expression that has entered the repertoire: “Not since the Norman conquest”. I recently listened to a history podcast on the English Language becoming the official language in state documents in the 15th century with the rise of The House of Lancaster. The speaker (presumably well over four feet) kept saying “Not since the Norman Conquest has (fill in the blank)”. It is a good expression to relate something hasn’t happened in a very long time (350 years to be precise). Jolly good fun!
Well I am off to tidy up the house and the yard. Not since the Norman Conquest has anyone picked up after the dog.    Oh the horror.

Insanity

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Greetings from Dillon Colorado (Land of Skiers)   

I am staying in a chalet on a mountain overlooking Dillon CO. The weather is gluggavedur* which allows some of us (including Urs Truly) the rationale to stay indoors.  The cousins and the brothers and their families total sixteen.  Cooped up with ones relations may evoke The Overlook Hotel for some but we are having a nice time. We all talk at once and it is too bad the Colorado head shops (thick as fleas) are full up with cannabis products and not with methylphenidate.  We have not plans; we are making it up as we go along. Some of the younger braver ones are out skiing while us oldsters are playing games, making puzzles and the like.  

To my surprise my Arizona blood is not boiling by the high altitude and the snowfall . At the moment the weather is calm but it is planning another outrage. All my brother’s flights and mine were hours delayed getting into town. The road trip from Denver to Dillon was a tenuous route on a highway often shut down from inclement weather. There is already worries of closed roads and bad traffic so I will leave a day early (tomorrow) for traffic’s and anxiety sake. 

The chalet seems to have everything – except a kettle. The howl of sharpened famine for a cup of tea echos up and down the valley threatening to cause avalanches.  I boiled water in a saucepan and I am a happy man again.**

In between cousinly chatters I read and nap and stare out the window like a cat in a dwam. It’s a rare occasion which always makes me wonder why I don’t do this sort of Sunday more often. This means of course either traveling to someplace where I don’t feel obliged to go out or learning how to sit still at home ignoring the there’s-work-to-be- done chores.  

I hope one of my relations can figure out why my laptop won’t let me comment on certain blogs; I sure at heck can’t seem to figure it out. It is Priority #1 after I wake from nap #1 provided my quart-sized cup of Irish Breakfast (drank at noon) doesn’t mar my plans. I normally don’t drink such at this hour so I hope some of the cousins are ready to party this evening. 

 

*Gluggavedur is an Icelandic word meaning “window weather”. Weather that looks appealing from the the inside but would be unpleasant to bet outside in it. 

**Not trusting things I brought my own stash of Irish Breakfast. Everyone else here drinks coffee and lots of it. Despite the snow there’s been more than one expedition out into the gelid world in pursuit of Peet’s organic dark roast.  

 

This weekend (Friday morning actually) I am bound for Colorado (Land of Cousins) to have a family get-together. My brothers and I fly to Denver where we will meet up with our maternal cousins, the four children of my mother’s only sibling my Uncle David. There were to be eight of us along with some spouses and children however Brother #3 announced he is canceling: he is the driver to get Father to and from the U of M hospital where Mother is admitted for edema. This is too bad as Brother #3 could use a break but he points out no one would be able to drive Father so he thought it best for all he bow out. He’s a good son. However he’s a dirty skiver for getting out of going. Don’t get me wrong I love my cousins but I just checked on conditions in the Denver area. It might as well be Siberia: snow and gelid temperatures of – 20C  and that’s before the wind chill factor.  Who was it that decided it was a swell idea to have a reunion in February in Colorado? *

We are renting some sort of chalet in the mountains west of town. No doubt the place will be full up with snow. Most of us are skiers and outdoorsy types. Urs Truly is not planning on stepping out of doors for love or money thank you very much. First of all I haven’t skied since the 80s and I am at the age to fear falling lest things go crack. Second I don’t have winter clothes anymore. I plan to sit fireside reading books and drinking Stranahans and minding the first cousins-once removed while their parents go whizzing around the winter wonderland.

I forget what we are doing for food but I don’t have to worry really. This is one of the rare holidays that I don’t have any notion of what’s happening . I just have to show up.  Someone is not going and thank goodness he isn’t. He likes vacations to fully planned ahead of time. A let’s-make-this-up-as-we-go-along vacation drives him to distraction. Also, the notion of being cooped up with my siblings and cousins (most with untreated ADHD) in the weekend long snow lodge sounds a lot like Dante’s deepest circle or perhaps The Shining. He skived out early on the grounds someone should stay home to watch Harper.

I plan to bring some card games like Uno or Sushi Go! or better yet Exploding Kittens (jolly good fun!) I suspect Cousin Beth (the mother hen of the group) will orchestrate the cooking while Cousin Meg will be our Miss Julie organizing the activities. I only have to do as I am told.

I don’t know if the rental place has internet connection or even if my blasted Mac laptop will function so if you don’t see me on line it may be due to no WIFI rather than I have froze to death on the plains of a very cold state.

Please keep warm thoughts for me.

*In all fairness three of the eight of us live in Denver so it made sense at the time to meet there, As an incentive the five travelers skived out of having to arrange things; we just have to show up – preferably with snowshoes.

TBDHSR

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections informs me they are not happy with this month’s entries. They write on the whole the month’s items are a disappointment. The thoughtful dears provided a catalog of complaints: my attempts at humor weren’t funny and the profound ones were boring. I replied it is hard to be funny or recondite while witnessing the decline of nation and world while experiencing work stress abd suffering from terrible GI problems. They were not moved to tears. They hoped February would be better – meaning better entries. As is their wont while slapping my back in ersatz empathy they made discreet references to torture if there was failure.

No pressure here.

So this month shall end with mundane matters neither humorous or profound.

The follow-up appointment with the dentist was a good one. The area from which the tooth was pulled is healing and my remaining teeth and gums are in good shape. I wait some months until some sort of titanium screw is inserted and a subsequent cap to complete the process. This weekend I try tooth whitening #2 for they resemble old ivory piano keys.

January was good for keeping resolutions: I finished a Great Course series (History of Eastern Europe), I read three books, I made ‘soup of the month” (albeit badly) *. I lost five kilos although this was ‘cheating via an inability to open my mouth and chew. Let’s see how February goes now that I can open wide which by the way is the name of the dental office.

Mother is not doing well. In her frustration (and probable depression) she is makes despondent and dyspneic phone calls to my brothers (curiously not me) hinting she is dying. This gets my brothers agitated who then call me. It’s hard to get hold of what’s really happening (behind the drama); I think my parents are avoiding my phone calls. Perhaps they don’t want me to poke holes in their denials. When I do get hold of Father he sounds haggard yet he doesn’t process any of this really. He dismisses her as depressed. I am more worried about Brother #3 who sounds quite worn from all his intervention attempts when she/they are upset. **

Today is the first anniversary: 31 January is when we first met (1997). We got hitched 22 February 2-3 years ago which is the second anniversary. This evening Someone works at one theater while I attend Verdi’s Requiem at another. We plan to go out afterwards if were are not too tired for Aviations and a pizza and screw intermittent fasting low-carb rubbish at least for this evening oughta do something to mark the occasion.

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Not a recent photo

*The recipe assured me there was no need to pre-soak the beans prior to putting all the ingredients into the crockpot. Six hours later the beans were hard as ever. It was a disappointment.

**Brother #2 just texted to say Mother’s doctor is recommending going to hospital right away for a tune up and afterwards hospice care. I hope she heeds her physician and goes. She tends to listen to Brother #2. After all he’s a ‘real doctor’.

 

Most of life seems to be series of revelations and realization so-called truths are actually falsehoods. As the Firesign Theatre used to say: everything you know is wrong. My inner-Dorothy from Kansas is continually pulling back curtains to find yet another all-powerful Wizard of OZ is a humbug. In science the toppling of truisms is to be expected even applauded and when it happens there is a sort of excitement we are closer to truth than we were before. They make a funny emotional couple. Dorothy with her outrage at being conned and Stephen* and his excitement at tipping over sacred cows. Let’s look as some of my transmundane moments:

Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, and The Tooth Fairy: these were sad crashes indeed. I wasn’t outraged but gravely disappointed magical beings were not literally true. This one is definitely a “Dorothy”.

That I was queer and (later) not the only one and (still later) not horrible for being so – these reliefs go into the “Stephen” camp.

Police officers are your friends and you can trust them said Father: Dorothy

Problematic leaders can be easily ousted by sensible people voting them out: a big Dorothy

There is no magical diet; none work better than simple portion control and eating sensibly: Stephen.

Eating breakfast cereals is vital to health said Mother: Dorothy

Drinking OJ for same reason: Dorothy

The Spotlight Effect: Stephen

The GOP adheres to principles: oh please!

Walking is just as good as going to the gym and it is less costly and less accident-prone: Stephen

I don’t have to finish a book if I am not enjoying it: Stephen

There is no Karma: Dorothy

Wine can be good, not expensive, and not French: Stephen

Customer service: Dorothy

Eggs: Stephen.

DorothyCurtain

 

*As in Stephen Hawkings. I could pick any scientist I suppose but he has a double honor of throwing off paradigms AND living despite being told he’s be dead in a couple of years.

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