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7 August is Harper’s birthday; she is eleven years old today.  She is visibly older, graying and slowing down. Sometimes she is so sound asleep it worries me but then she perks right up for a treat or a dog-walk. May she have many more years of good health and happiness.

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While packing up after Mother’s passing I often wondered why she saved what she did and more than once I had frustration at her holding onto the rubbish. However I was grateful she held onto some things. For example: this teddy bear. It’s mine. It is my childhood bear. He has the precise if unimaginative name of Teddy.  I used to tie bow ties on Teddy usually apropos for the season. He’s worn this Christmas yarn bow tie for nearly forty year I reckon.

Teddy has a scandalous story. Through love and constant companionship I wore him out to the point Teddy was threadbare and falling apart. Mother told me he was looking sickly and we would send him to “The teddy bear hospital” for rejuvenation and have his gaping stitches resewed.  A week later Mother revealed a large box that had arrived in the post: it was Teddy back from his admission!  Once again he was fuzzy! He was bright and beautiful as if brand new. Then I wore him out again as seen in the photo. Only the onset of adolescence stopped a second near-complete demise.

Years later Mother confessed she had thrown Teddy out and had simply bought a new identical one. It is the only time I have ever known her to lie to me – other than Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the trustworthiness of the police.

 

The hosts of “The stuff you missed in history” podcast routinely do episodes titled ‘Unearthed” in which they report on various things ‘dug up’ as it were. I am doing similar digging by sorting through the boxes I brought back from Michigan. I feel like an archeologist going through a tomb.

I am currently going through two brown accordion files found in a drawer in the basement. They are filled with assignments and artwork I did in grade school. They have not seen daylight in fifty years.* It is sweet and bewildering why Mother saved this stuff. Perhaps Spo-fans who are parents can explain for me why mothers squirrel away these elementary school essays – so they can be found fifty years later? I admit I appreciate her doing this. It is a bit painful reading these rudimentary papers most have red ink corrections in the margin. There is a program from 1974 of the 6th grade choir performance of the songs of “Charlotte’s Web”. I still recognize most of the names of my schoolmates. The program says I sang a duet with Charlie Thomas who later in life became my first boyfriend – cause and effect?

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I now have the ‘family chopsticks’ a collection of 10-12 plastic sticks once white now beige with time looking like ancient ivory. They have sat in the silverware drawer all my life. I have no recollection of us ever using them. On them are four Chinese characters. I have never stopped to ponder what they say. If anyone knows Chinese I would be grateful for a translation. Perhaps they say “Wan Kow carry-out” as that is where my parents always got their to-go Chinese.

I got the album with my baby photos. They start from the get-go. The photos go to pre-adolescence when they suddenly stop for unclear reasons. Perhaps Mother lost interest in the project or she had other albums to do. On the first page is my natal wrist band spelling out my last name in pale blue beads the size of peppercorns. There is a shocking revelation here: Mother said I was lucky as I was born on the 7th day of the 7th month at 7AM in the morning.  The birth certificate say 654AM.  Dear me! My life is based on the lie and all is ruined!  I may have to impale myself on the chopsticks.

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*One tome is a collection titled “Poems I like” which included at the end some of my own. I don’t remember writing these. Another is a cookbook, fabulously decorated and written in earnest. It is humorous and humbling to see signs of being light in the loafers at eight years old. 

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I schlepped back to Arizona a carful of childhood memories but perhaps the most important one was my memory chest. I put ‘precious items’ into it carefully selecting which ones were worthy to enter. It was my equivalent of a pirate’s treasure chest or a sort of time capsule. Like a proper time capsule or treasure chest it was located in the buried under some rubbish in the basement. It would have been lost but for a sudden memory on my part to search for it.

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There is nothing like the euphoria emanating from a box one hasn’t opened in fifty years and breathing in its contents.

There were some photos I don’t remember putting in the box. Perhaps someone did this while we were packing up. Maybe Mother’s spirit added them.

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My first birthday prize perhaps. I remember that train.

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I was indoctrinated early as a Wolverine.

Throughout my life my father and I have been two peas in a pod when it comes to looks.

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The chest contains many memorabilia from my scouting days. I had forgotten I had a fabulous collection of neckerchief slides, many  I had painted from their monochrome plastic orange into fabulous colors like the oak leaf in the picture.

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Oh the embarrassment. Besides Scouts I was also in Indian Guides. I remember making this bracelet and wearing it around my ankle while dancing about while singing some ersatz Indian ballad.  Don’t judge.

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Patience above! It’s my old viking horn! It was given to me by my grandparents who brought it back from Norway. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections will enjoy seeing this.It’s too small to drink from or hold anything; I wonder what it was for?

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Here is a brass boar. There are several boars in the Spo family crest.  There are also several bores as well.

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I have a vague memory from family summer camp of taking a stone from the shores of Lake Michigan and painting it into this fabulous 60s item.

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My Yoda figurine was possibly the last item that went into the chest. By the mid-70s I had lost interest or the chest was full I cannot remember really.  Like Jackie Paper I had grown up and forgotten about it – until now.

In the next few weeks I will slowly remove and examine each item like Howard Carter excavating King Tut’s tomb.

I end this entry with this photo showing my grandmother’s desk hourglass, still ticking away the Sands of Time.

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I apologize I’ve not had time to post in awhile. The trip is exhausting; at the end of the days I am too tired to write but crash. I have a lot of blog-fodder upon which to compose but not now. 

In brief: the three-day trip went without issue other than nobody wears a mask in Texas and Oklahoma (in contrast everyone does in New Mexico)

Cleaning and sort the parental abode is a rollercoaster of emotions but is mostly tiring. 

Today is Mother’s memorial and afterwards the funeral luncheon and more tidy up. Our vehicle is already full-up with stuff I am bringing home. 

We have word Harper is not doing well at daycare: she is not eating nor drinking. We are worried enough to probably abort the trip and come home as soon as possible.  

Details later. 

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Late June to mid-July is the hottest time of the year around these parts. Today it got to 44C ( 112F or something) which is too hot to do anything really. It’s certainly too hot to go out and there is covid19 matter too boot. It’s best to stay home. The pool isn’t helpful for the water is that of bathwater. Poor Harper. She is used to 2x day walks with the second one after dinner. Now it is too hot we have to wait until nightfall and sometimes not go at all.

To pass the time away Someone and I have learned a few card games. We are now playing whist and spades which are similar enough I have to remind myself which rules apply to the game at hand. We also got out Someone’s backgammon briefcase and I learned how to play. I am not generally good a games for I lack a head for strategy but I like to play. There is an exception: I am good at playing Sorry! We play a version where each player holds five cards from which to build moves.  

This weekend we had a couple of fine chinwags brought to us by the good folks at zoom. Our gossips were fine fellows all well over four feet. I discovered a few of them lack proper masks viz. bereft of fashion.  This will not do. To rescue them from dullness I made these:

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Around these parts it is dreadful to out in last months styles so while I was at it I made me a mask using Escher fabric:

The fish side makes me look like a sushi chef while the gooses side does not. 

This evening we prepare for our pending three day journey through hostile Texas and Oklahoma territories to drive to Michigan for Mother’s memorial service. It is hoped it won’t be so hot there – I would love to see a proper thunderstorm along the way!

I will have literally hours per day in the car to ponder proper posts so tune this week to see what happens. 

First of all I want to thank everyone for the salutations on my birthday; you are dears. So much joy comes from comments; I appreciate you so. 

Someone gave me for a birthday prize something marvelous: a collection of Christmas ornaments from Iceland representing the 13 Yule Lads and The Yule Cat. I plan to hang one each day leading up to Yule when I will hang the Yule Cat mindful I have new clothes on by Christmas Eve lest I am devoured by said cat for my negligence. 

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Since the 7th my life hasn’t been very interesting although Life itself has become rawther hazardous. Arizona is a figurative and literal hot spot for covid and heat. Each day the number of cases goes up with the temperature. Despite the morbidity and ominous stats all moving in the wrong direction our stupid governor cheerfully twists the data to convince we are doing just fine while Trumpty Dumpty pushes for schools going back to usual. I won’t dwell on these sorry matters as it is quite depressing.

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As for the heat we are scramming getting out of 45F for less ardent climate. We are preparing for a three day drive to Michigan to attend Mother’s memorial service. The lavish church funeral Mother had hoped for will be just the immediate family in the columbarium followed not by a lavish party but us descending on the house to remove the contents prior to an estate sale.  Brother #4 suggested we fly but sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury than board a plan with a bunch of covid-deniers.  Also we need a vehicle to haul back my share of the inheritance.

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections gave me several tips on the proper way to pillage and loot a place but I don’t think violence and setting fires etc. will be necessary. 

That is all I can think to type at the moment. I haven’t been sleeping well these last few days and I hope to retire early for a better night. More to come if and when I can think of something to write. 

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Spo-fans have heard Arizona is a hotbed for covid; I’ve received several texts and phone calls with concern for my welfare. Not to be worrying! I remain ensconced in La Casa de Spo, having never loosened up when foolish folk were going back to the bars.  The Board of Directors Here and Spo-reflections has again boxed themselves up in Heorot Johnsons and The Muses are nowhere to be found. As a consequence I am bereft upon what to write.

Folks, I need ideas. I invite Spo-fans (hey, that means you!) to leave in the comments topics upon which I can write. The proposals may range from cosmic questions about life, the universe, and everything to my thoughts on a household object. I hope to get a handful and turn them into essays full of wit and profundities. If this turns out well perhaps it can become a regular feature like Walking the Dog.  Thanks. 

The liquor cabinet is full of whisky and yet there’s nothing to drink. What this means is there is a fine collection of expensive bottles – no rubbish indeed! – but I don’t drink them. Water water everywhere but ne’er a drop to drink. It’s not a case of being cheap. Drinking fine scotch, bourbon, and such delicacies is a social endeavor; it’s no fun sipping and savoring a rare single-malt on one’s own. It’s like viewing a beautiful sunset by yourself; you want someone there to share it with.  Another matter is it’s bloody hot out; when I imbibe I want something with massive amounts of ice. One doesn’t use vintage champagne when making mimosas and this goes double for Highland Park in the Manhattans.  A simple solution to this hoity-toity hobby is to go get a bottle of Old Crow for Pete’s sake but it feels funny to haul home some hooch when there literally isn’t room on the shelf for another bottle. 

A Spo-fan (who is well over four feet) recently wrote asking for advice about whiskey. I think this is rather sweet as his questions could readily be answered via an internet search, so I surmise he wants my opinion.  Here you are Spo-fan in Florida!

I don’t think it is sacrilege to put the remnants of several bottles taking up valuable space or past their prime into one ‘garbage’ bottle. This pastiche is good for highballs and for serving to the guests who are whisky-snobs. You pour some  and tell them you’ve found a marvelous 21yo blend and what do you think of it? 

Rye whisky is not made from rye bread.  You didn’t ask but neither is baby oil made from babies. Try to tell as many people as you can in town.

Single malt whisky and Coke-zero do NOT go together – ever.  Please don’t try this at home let alone order one in a bar. You will be seen as an interloper an object of suspicion and you will be ejected quick as a quarter note. 

Speaking of evil entities whiskies laced with cinnamon or honey etc. are not made with ‘quality’ whisky but that is not the point of them.  Traverse City in Michigan has a cherry-based whisky which is jolly good fun but I won’t admit to drinking such.  While we are on the subject of cherries I am like Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest “NO MARASCHINO CHERRIES EVER!”  I use Luxrado. They are dark, sweet, but not cloying – like my men. They compliment rather than dominate a cocktail. 

Your question how to make a ‘purple whisky drink’ makes me wonder ‘why’ but let’s stay on topic. The short answer: damned if I know. Potential purple mixers like Gatorade and Kool-aid sound Barney-like while no good comes from mixing blackberry cordials with bourbon. I suggest if you want a purple libation you drink Shiraz.  Australia has heaps. 

What are the best nibbles to use with the usquebaugh? This depends on the attributes of the drink. Bourbon and kettle chips are The Wonder Twins of the whisky world and I am dying to try Win Schulers bar-cheese if I can get my hands on some. Perhaps Brother #3 (the whisky-snob of the Spo-clan) can provide such to match with my mentioned 21yo blend.

I hope this helps.

Finally!  For some time we’ve been waiting for The Electrician or someone like him to appear and repair the faulty lights and outlets in the family room and kitchen. It turns out it was merely a loose wire; it only needed a new connection. The cost of this endeavor was frighting and in hindsight we could have done it ourselves but there is comfort knowing it was done proper.  Soon afterwards (or was it before?) The Exterminator came and sprayed something sinister to eradicate the creepy-crawlies.  We begged him to ban the bees but he wouldn’t touch them. In the backyard behind the wall with the grill a hive of bees has returned. There was a hive back there two years ago and The Beekeeper (who was well over four feet) managed to move them away. That was two years ago. A few months ago the bees returned perhaps the descendants of the exiles ala Battlestar Galatica. This next generation are ornery and more aggressive than the last set. The Beekeeper came back to attend again to the matter. This time he was not so PC but utilized a ‘scorched-earth policy’ to kills all the bastards. Normally I would feel guilty about this sort of thing but the dastardly dumbledores resemble hornets or something out of The Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual.  Fingers are crossed the bees, the scorpions, and the Gregor Samsas coming out from the drains are gone. Fat chance of that.*

What we don’t have is termites.  In Phoenix termites are not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’. I forget which bug-man held an inspection that concluded we don’t got any. Like the dentist it is advised to have an inspection for termites twice a year. One of the dudes (was it The Electrician?) wanted to sell us ‘termite insurance’ where he would come around two times a year but he wasn’t that handsome so we said no thank you. Besides there is The AC Man to attend to next. He will be more expensive than The Electrician/The Exterminator/The Beekeeper combined into one. One could live with bees I suppose and use an extension cord coming from the dining room but one cannot live sans AC (that means without). Happily our unit is going allegro non troppo without signs of illness but one never knows.

As I write this the ceiling fan in the home office is spinning and sounding like every screw needs tightening. Someone suggests we don’t turn it on lest the constant motion worsen the situation and it comes flying down like a sinister spider descending onto its prey.  I don’t have time to fix this; let’s hope The Electrician or someone like him knows of a good Handyman. I would like a nice Handyman.

So much for being an autodidact.

 

*Brother #3 solved his bug problem by raising chickens. He explains they eat everything and thanks to the pullets they have no bugs. Cute idea but then one has all the chickens to attend. I doubt the HOA allows chickens on the sensible grounds the coyotes, hawks, and owls will see our house as a literal Chicken Shack.

 

A curious Spo-fan well over four feet wrote me asking the whereabouts of The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections for there’s been no news of the rascals Some fear they have flown the coop. No fear; I will tell you. They’re boxed up being careful about covid19. Good for them! This is not out of a sense of civic duty – far from it! – when it comes to contagion they run like spooked bunnies. They have all their supplies and Maxwell House coffee tins delivered to Heorot Johnson.  On a dark note they are holding as hostage few of the delivery boys for Danegeld or Albertsons coupons and that’s ugly. I attend all board meetings via Zoom which has the advantage there is no smell nor hand-to-hand combat as is typical in these meetings. Another perk of the lockdown is they aren’t paying too much attention what I write.  Rather than monitoring my prose they are engrossed in the Parcheesi set I sent them.  The dears sent me a thank you email for the game and another email thanking me ‘the thrall I sent them” viz. the Amazon Prime man who delivered it.  Thems that work at Amazon are accustomed to slave labor I know but TBDHSR needs to knock it off and release the poor sod pronto lest Mr. B comes a-knocking.

This evening I am watching “The Force of Destiny” an opera long on my bucket list to see. Thanks to the good folks at The Met I am finally watching it.  As far as Italian operas go it is quite cheesy with a rawther complicated story but admittedly it does have some nice tunes. Tenors are a fickle bunch who go from being moonstruck in love to mad-jealous in a heartbeat and thems in this one are particularly labile. Making things worse the two male roles are dressed in uniform so it is hard to remember which is the outraged brother and which is boyfriend in love with Leontyne Price. Ms. Price is doing a fine job singing but her disguise as a hermit fools nobody that’s Leontyne Price. There are a bunch of gypsies in this one running around singing from time to time for no good reason I can deduce. I am nearly 3/4 into the show and I fear it will end badly as operas do especially Mr. Verdi’s.  Curious! Operas a full of torture, rape, murder, adultery,  violence, betrayal etc. but no gay love  – at least not until Mr.Britten arrives on the scene.

Opps I gotta go. Brother and boyfriend (hers not his) are circling each other threatening in loud voices in E-flat and someone is going to get hurt unless the curtain comes down soon.  Tune in tomorrow for spoilers.

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Leonara disguised as a male pilgrim. …..  me neither. 

 

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