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Every morning I when I wake I say a little prayer along the line being thankful I was given another day.  I often don’t know to whom I am saying this Secreto; often it is not so much a prayer as a pregnant pause for me to realize neither myself of the world died in the night. It is a moment of inserting a dose of Death into the day.

I try to reflect on Death on a daily basis. This is not a morbid matter but a sort of meditation seen in the writings of Buddhism and in Catholicism viz. the cognizance of Death helps us keep Life as something precious. I am kept conscious to make each day meaningful and something marvelous. It makes me not sweat the little stuff; I am not as quick to go into a swivet over petty things.

In the home office is a Tlingit Cedar Bent box, in which will someday reside my ashes, prior to their being spread. On the refrigerator hangs a photo-magnet of the Point Betsie Lighthouse. I’ve often fancied having my ashes spread there. Every time I open the fridge I see the lighthouse for a quick reminder it is waiting for me.

To wake with the feeling of more life and to go to sleep with the gratitude of having had another day: what a gift this is. I hope I never forget to do so.




It’s that time of year when I ask patients what are they doing for Thanksgiving. This question elicits rich data on family dynamics and social matters. Patients often cringe or tear up and say they have to travel (anxiety) or deal with relatives (depression) or be in two places at once (not likely). Out of politeness they often ask me in return what I am doing for Thanksgiving. This year I am saying “Oh, nothing, I am not doing Thanksgiving this year”.

You think I was announcing I have cancer.

Thanksgiving, not Christmas or July 4, is the real national holiday and everybody is obliged to be with someone else. Loners are looked upon with desperation to fit them with someone, anyone. No one can go without the obligatory dinner with all its necessary trimmings.

I’ve often worked on Thanksgiving. It was a good gig: the ERs were quite quiet and it paid well (no one wants to be away from home on Thanksgiving). So I am used to not having one. This month both of us are struggling to keep austere diets. Someone is working thanksgiving day; I have nowhere to go. We no longer have local friends really, so no one has/will call us to invite us/me over. I think I will have a cozy introverted day to myself . I may make some homemade soup.

People find my plans suspect if not heretical. In the past when I’ve announced my plans I’ve had people I hardly know offer me a place at their dinner tables. It is sweet of them to offer, but I will be quite content on my own on that day.

The potential peace sounds marvelous. No boisterous family members! no football on TV! Best yet, no excessive calories. I just might sleep the day away. This sounds so delicious I am counting the days.

I am curious to know if there are any Spo-fans who ‘don’t do Thanksgiving”. Is it by choice? Are you OK with this?

However I am not a Turkey-Scrooge; if you are in the area that day you welcome to come in for some soup and scotch and a chin-wag. 🙂



P.S. Someone disclosed he is NOT going to work that Thanksgiving Thursday after all. He would like some sort of Thanksgiving dinner. So I will have some after all.  I did all the Halloween preparation; he is welcome to organize the dinner. 


Remember remember the fifth of November…..

Today is Guy Fawkes Day. For Spo-fans unaware of this British holiday,  it is based on a foiled plot of political revolution. Guy Fawkes was a fellow well over four feet who was in a cabal of Catholics so outraged with the government they planned to blow up both King and Parliament. The plot was foiled; Guy and pals were executed.

Over the years I have grown more empathetic to Mr. Fawkes.  I’ve never set fire to a public building and I doubt I ever will, but I see the point. They were angry at the general idiocy and downright persecution of their standing government they all went a little balmy and came up with a zany action.  The present troop of baboons running my country is enough to burn my bacon to fantasize how does one go about finding gunpowder.

When Guy Fawkes was discovered under Parliament  red-handed as it were, he was tortured and executed in a style quite gruesome and draconian. We don’t do that anymore other than through the media and Twitter. So I guess I won’t be blowing up no buildings today lest it mar my good Henley St. name.

Sometimes the British don’t burn an effigy of Mr. Fawkes but a politician who is being nasty at the moment. I recall seeing photos of Margaret Thatcher going up in flames. I am curious to see if Hair Furor is being burned today in Old Blighty.  It isn’t nice but I confess it would make me smile a bit

So –

Halloween seems ready at the House of Spo. The outside of the house is lavishly decorated just enough to make the mean neighbors mad-jealous. This year’s “A” candy is “Chuckles” – remember them?  The “C” candy consists always two Smarties.

My month-long unshorn beard is sufficiently long and grizzled to pass off as A Board Member. Tomorrow I go to work dressed as such. I checked: there are no new patients to see.  Can you imagine?

I made devil’s food cupcakes and pumpkin spice snickerdoodles for the offices. I hope no one is on one of the diets that go about the place.  Cast not pearls before swine and that includes orthorexic administrative assistants.

I am still gathering together the names of Spo-fans who want a Tarot Reading on All Hallow’s eve. Any last minute requests?

The Halloween dinner has come together with the following menu:

Black Martinis     images

Mummy jalapeño poppers untitled.png

Pumpkin curry soup

Spooky Slaw salad

Broiled Flank steak (my traditional Hallwe’en supper).

And for small chocolate coon: leftover snickerdoodles, leftover candy, and cupcakes.

It is a tradition at the Spo-House to have ‘the last dip’ in the cement pond on All Hallow’s Eve.  This is to scare away the witches and ghosts. Certainly the shriek of going into the gelid waters is loud enough to scare most anything away.

I hope the long-absent Henrik the Ghost makes an appearance. I miss him.

Then I fall asleep, waiting for The Great Pumpkin to bring us toys. He hasn’t shown yet but there is always sincere hope he will this year.

Halloween Yoke


When I was a boy, whenever my parents went away on holiday, they always made certain everybody knew where to find the will and papers for funeral arrangements and property etc. This ritual was never morbid but Midwest-sensible. It was based on a great-aunt Eloise who went on a word cruise. She didn’t return and no one knew what to do about it viz. her funeral arrangements and her property.  Mother wasn’t going to let happen. She would hug us and say she would see us in a week – and don’t forget Mr. Tonkin  the attorney has the keys to the strong box in which lays the will and accounts information,  you know just in case. Happily we never had to act on their Boy Scout maneuver.

I think of this ritual as I pack to go to Sedona after work tomorrow.  We go for a hot air balloon ride on Saturday. Mind! I am certain hot air balloon rides are quite safe and millions have taken through them without dying.  However one can never tell.

Alas, it is too late to make a will. Besides, I die in a sudden drop freak accident Someone goes with me.  Harper will be stranded at PetSmart so I better leave telephone numbers Brothers 2, 3, and probably 4 just to be on the safe side.

I suppose I should call my parents in an indirect speech act to say this may be our last conversation and where is our own strong box lies (Wells Fargo).  Perhaps I should rather send out an email t titled “Just in Case” with vital numbers etc.

I suppose I should bundle up the embarrassing bits like the journals and the objects in the lower drawer in a box and label it all “Please don’t open but just throw out”.  Oh the embarrassment.

It all sounds a lot of fuss. I will  keep my fingers crossed that I come back safe and sound.

I shall post plenty of pictures of this bucket list adventure upon my return.

It Spo-reflections suddenly stops without explanation… I do apologize and say so long it was good to know you.  Damn that Eloise!

hands-on-earsWhile Someone and I ate this morning at Einstein Bros. (as is our wont) the ubiquitous background music suddenly blared out “Black Dog” by Led Zepplin.  This evoked a bricolage of emotions in Urs Truly: annoyance and mild upset* but mostly curiosity.  Mo and Elmo seemed contempt to play pleasant nondescript tunes – so why the change to cacophonous tunes to please thems too old to rock and roll but too young to die?

Background music! It is everywhere. The genera is often purposely chosen to set a certain mood. Slow-tempo soothing tunes help to relax thems at spas, but they also to get shoppers to stick around and spend. In contrast fast-moving tunes get people to go faster; busy restaurants wanting to turn tables use these tunes to move people on.

I still vote for no music but silence. I am one of those old-timers who finds silence lovely and not a blot that needs covering up.  Loud music in public areas promotes everyone to talk louder, adding to the Kingdom of Noise. Bleh.

There is one fascinating exception to the need to have music everywhere: public toilets. These are oddly silent. I don’t know why restrooms are the exception to ‘music everywhere’ approach. I don’t know about the ladies loos but the gents’ are often quite too good at resounding noises. The sounds of male effluvia reiterate loud and clear. This is where I vote for the insertion of background music – any. I warmly welcome Mr. Plant’s Black Dog or anything playing over the silence. I’ve heard rumors the ladies loos are not silent as they talk to each other. If so, I wonder how successful that is to cover up body noises.  Alas, men would rather eat rats at Tewkesbury than talk to each another while standing at a urinal or (worse) sitting in a stall.

Getting back to breakfast, it was difficult to converse due to the distraction provided by Mr. Plant shouting over head and by my internal slideshow of memories of middle school lunch hours.  Afterwards, I went to the restroom to wash my hands. It was dead quiet. There was a sign up saying in a euphemistic way to mind the fact what noise happens is easily echoed.  Life is strange but true.

*This is what is referred to as a ‘trigger’ in PTSD. I was in Junior High School when I first heard this awful tune. Oh the pain.


It’s official: I can’t do everything I want or should do. 

I did some research to see if I could accomplish in a day everything on my self-honey-do list.  First step was creating the list of daily activities. This list consists of:

The Oughts. Examples: floss; stretch; walk the dog; get 7+ hours of sleep.

The Wants.  Examples: read; blog; journal.

The Spo-projects.  Examples: sew; roll down grass hills.

Once completed the list is as long as my arm.  I didn’t trim it at first. The tasks were divided into into what could be done prior to work, after work, and prior to bed time.

After a few week’s attempts I have concluded I don’t have enough time in a day to do my work, keep up housework, and accomplish all on the Spo-list. Not by a fraction.

It is a disappointment.  There is so much I want to do, ranging from learning a language to keeping up on my blog reads.  Alas, work and daily chores do not leave me enough time. In my youth I would shave off sleep time or eating time but I don’t function well if I don’t get sufficient sleep and food.

The solutions are not great. One is to come to terms I can’t always read or stretch or walk the dog or write. Another one is to trim down the Spo-list to only a few ‘high priority’ activities (yoga over reading or walking the dog over catching up on the ironing).

It is 930PM. I want to do a few Spo-list items but frankly I am too tired. I am going to bed, for I’ve under slept this week.  The house messes and the unread books and journals must wait for another time and day.

Urs Truly had a frustrating Sunday as his cellphone was lost.* Spo-fans may recall a few weeks ago I propose a ‘day without the cellphone”. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go, but I got the goal I wanted: a day without a phone.

Unfortunately I spent the near full day searching for it. Oh the irony! I fantasized I would have tons of freed up time did not happen. Rather my cellphone consumed time in an another way.

There were some benefits being sans phone. I got a more done; I read a bit more than usual. I was not continually checking for vital Facebook posting if missed would cause the world to fall apart. There were no pages or friends calling in dire need. It was a relief.

On the other hand I felt a bit saddened no one bothered to call or text me; I had a funny feeling I had disappeared yet no one noticed or cared.

I was bereft phone while sitting at the bar prior to the Sunday matinee performance of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”. While Someone was engrossed in his iphone – and 100 miles away as it were –  the situation gave me the chance to watch others, like Margaret Meade among the Bantus, observing primitive tribal rituals. Most everyone had a cellphone; many were looking at them while sitting with others and apparently ‘talking’ too. If I were a maleficent man I could have readily stolen a collection of purses and wallets or attacked**, as no one was paying the slightest attention to their surroundings.

I think I will try another ‘Day without cellphones” but this one shall be a planned one. With practice, I see this becoming a regular salubrious exercise – with savings on data.

After all I have a pile of books I want to read.


*Someone finally found it, in my trousers that I had taken off and put in a box of Halloween costumes. I swear I looked there.

**The fellow selling T-shirts I thought was quite jumpable, but he didn’t have his cellphone on, alas.


I have just woken from an unsatisfying nap; I could not get quite to sleep. There is a part of me that believes if I fall asleep in the afternoon I won’t wake until the morrow, thus spoiling what I want to do that day. I fear it is mainly due to neurosis viz. decades my Protestant physiology refuses me a lovely snooze on moral grounds there is work to be done and to stop to take a nap is wicked indolence.

I won’t bore you with the laundry list of ‘must-dos’ as it is as long as my arm and that is not the point here. Letting go of Life to nap – or do nothing productive – in lieu of things needing doing remains a challenge for me.
Mind! A good nap sounds quite lovely; someday I would like to have one. I can imagine the scene: I lie down knowing I don’t have to do or go anywhere, I fall asleep deep, and I wake (say after an hour or two) with the quiet satisfaction of salubrious slumber.

A half-baked nap feels worse than no nap at all, for I feel no refreshment but only the guilt.

It has been a very busy fortnight of work and Red Queen activities; I could use a good nap. Certainly I’ve not slept well for a week. Body and soul both shout out to slow down or else. However, some recusant part of my brain (probably the posterior insula) just won’t have it.  It tells me to drink caffeine and get going. Stirge.

It is about 4PM on a Saturday. I think I will get up, make a cup of tea, and write out the list of to-dos. Someone is about to leave for usher work so I will have the whole evening to get somethings done.  I would start with “walk the dog” but she’s been asleep all day it looks like. It’s a dog’s life. Obviously she wasn’t raised Protestant.

Video Snapshot


My future ex-husband Aaron Mahnke releases this week his podcast “Lore” in book form – and just in time for Hallowe’en!  A proper ghost story should give you the creeps, and few can get them right. He does a good job. There is nothing so thrilling as a thumping good read ghost story.  Here are some Spo-tips on reading them right.

Ghosts have an aversion to light and technology so you should turn down the lights and turn off the cellphone. Reading at home without others around helps to welcome any spirits who might be picking up on your vibrations. One’s hearing becomes acute and mundane noises can be better interpreted as preternatural and not just the house settling. Open windows are good too to let in the harmonies of Mrs. Oliver or that of a stray cat. One needed bother to close the doors and lock them as ghosts slip under doors and creep through keyholes at ease. This is a comfort, no?

One should avoid cocktails with ice or effervescence as they give Ghoulies and ghosties bad headaches. This sorts of libations remind them of the old chestnut ‘We don’t serve spirits here”.  Quiet glasses of red wine work best.  It is recommended you avoid snacks and munchies especially buns and things.

Mr. Roald Dahl as a splendid collection of ghost stories but I can’t find my copy of the book at the moment. Perhaps a poltergeist borrowed it and hasn’t given it back. I hope Mr. Mahnke’s collection is splendid.  Maybe it will entice Henrik to come back for a check-in and a look-see. He basically crept around and got on my nerves but I do miss the rascal.




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