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del_monte_peach_halves_in_heavy_syrup_825gI found a tin of Del Monte peaches in the back of the pantry. I don’t remember when or how it was purchased. Perhaps it was for some recipe I meant to make that I forgot to do. I plan to open it soon and eat it with relish. *

For thems unfamiliar with canned peaches, they were a stable in my Midwest upbringing. Mother had several tins on hand for quick family desert or company. If she was whimsical she added a maraschino cheery.  Sometimes someone requested cottage cheese go with their tinned peach, which I thought hideous.  Brothers #2 and #3 and I would take our turns who got the ‘heavy syrup’ as a chaser.

Nowadays tinned peach has everything against it: it is ‘canned’ and swimming in nasty sugar and preservatives. Worse of all: it is the opposite of gourmet. Oh the embarrassment.  But darn it, I remember it was tasty and brought comfort. Company never wrinkled their noses at it and ask for organic fresh fruit or nothing.

I confess I am not a fan of vegetables or anything else for that matter that comes in a can but tinned peach remains the exception. I suppose if I were to survive long enough to live in a home I can still ask – and get- tinned peach for small chocolate cone. Just hold the cottage cheese and the cherry can go in the sweet manhattan rather.

del-monte-peaches

*This is a word play, a pun. It is not literal. Please don’t write in.

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Our zany and sybarite New Year’s Eve night plans consists of ordering pizza for carry-out, which is christened “the last supper’ as both of us are going tomorrow on austere eating lifestyles.  In our defense I can not remember when we last had a pizza, but you get the gist of the symbolic action.  Knob Creek Bourbon goes especially well with pizza; my pie with its anchovies makes the match even better. I will have a snort and toast Spo-fans and Blogger-buddies near and far, past and present. If I manage to stay awake I will watch the ball drop in New York City, which is 10AM local time. Afterwards I will go to sleep in order to wake up in the new year.*  As is my wont, I will whisper the word “Rabbit” as the last word of the year, and think on my brothers.

I seem to be contemplating this evening not so much on the old year’s endeavors nor on the new one but reflecting on the philosophy of the night. One of our greatest delusions in life is the belief things are permanent especially ourselves. Somehow we or the things we do will go on.  We spend a lot of time and energy in the denial of neither is true.  There is some paradoxical comfort in the acceptance of nothing lasts. It gets us off our butts to do things now and not pussy-foot around getting started what we want to accomplish before we disappear. It is a comforting thought really, on this eve of the year ending and a new one – perhaps the last for some of us – about to start.

Tomorrow I plan to draw out resolutions and concrete goals for 2018. However, my main resolutions will be about advancing Self in what ways that matter to me, prior to the end.

Happy New Year to all!  See you in the new year. May it be marvelous for all of us.

 

*I am usually awoken at proper midnight local time by the sound of gunshot.  Why people feel compelled to shoot off guns on NYE is beyond me.

Pensive

I have just returned from the movies in which for several hours I watched Luke Skywalker and his relations fly around on screen; why they were doing so I can’t recall. I thought the evil empire had died with the emperor and the death star II but it lookes like it was doing quite nicely. The movie ended without closure with hints R2D2 et. al. are going to zoom on so long as interest holds – like Coronation St.  Seeing Star Wars seemed an apt ending for 2017.

I was reminded recently of two truisms about ends we don’t realize:

a)   most things end

b)  we aren’t very good about ends.

The vast majority of our relationships don’t last. We get to know people for a while and think our friends, lovers, companions etc. will go on but they don’t.  People die or drop out of our lives and most do so so slowly it is hardly realized.  When an ending is consciously done we don’t seem to know how to do so with tact or dignity.

A 75 year long Harvard study shows what makes for a happy life isn’t fame or fortune but friendships and networks.  This truism should be shouted out even more than eating right and wearing your seat belt.  Alas, making keeping and making new relationships seems tougher to do with each year we age.

And here we are at the end of another year. I will soon reflect on what happened this year, and close it. I will try not to focus on regret or things unaccomplished but what do I want 2018 to be. I hope in the new year I do a better job at minding my friendships and not letting them slake off without a fight.

Circle

Pensive

The time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve always feels like a time for reminiscence and tidy-up. I reread my journal  and take inventory: I want to remember what did and didn’t happen.  Yes, I will do this very soon.

I have an intuition I mostly just got through things in 2018. It wasn’t a bad year but it wasn’t a revelatory year either.  I didn’t get in shape or lost any weight. I didn’t stay on top of my resolutions. There was no major advancements or keen insights.

What should one accomplish?

One could argue what a year is actually for. Does a year or a life actually need goals and improvements?  New Years resolutions and Bucket lists hint some of us want to accomplish more in twelve months than merely getting through them.

I was trained in a field of psychology that equivocates Growth = Life. My Jungian principles are horrified at the notion of merely  spinning ones wheels.  In contrast to all this “Virgo energy”*  is my Midwest upbringing, which is dubious about indolence but it doesn’t take truck in self-growth. One gets up, goes to work, does the daily deeds, and repeat. That is the Midwest definition of a meaningful Life.

I have a hunch after I read my 2017 journal I am going to want 2018 to be a year of great growth, especially when it comes to physical stamina and health. I want the new year to have something extraordinary – but what? I want a shake up, a transformation – an apotheosis if there is one for sale.

Going step by step often solves the question “Could you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here”? This year I took that philosophy and ended up more or less where I started.  I want a plan, man.  Maybe not a Hari Seldon Plan but one but at least one with some vision. We shall see.

It looks like I am more or less on my own this Christmas season. Someone is up to his oxters with ushering “The Nightcracker”; he also works Christmas day poor fellow. He is tired; when he isn’t working he sleeps.  We may not have time to put up a decorations or a tree. If there is going to be any sort of hohohoing this month or on Christmas Day I need to start thinking what to do about it.

One solution is to just cancel the whole thing. I’ve had only one ‘canceled Christmas’ in my life. It was in my internship and I had to work. It was my first time away from home; I felt miserable. 25 years later I think I can do #2 better. So what to do with myself?   I am considering a “A Christmas Carol” marathon with all the available versions.  While Scrooge is being continually reformed I can do some baking.  I can make Christmas cookies of the ‘new and adventuresome’ type rather than the usuals which are associated with family and company.  Since there were be nobody around and nowhere to go, perhaps I can get out all the bourbons and a taste testing until I am satiated or passed out hohoho.

Cookies and booze may be apropos for the day but neither are salubrious to health.  I won’t be making a Christmas pudding anymore. it was a lot of work and in the end Someone only took a ‘no thank you’ helping and most of it went into the rubbish what a waste. Perhaps I will skip the ersatz food and good cheer to read and sew. When was the last time I did that sort of thing? They are hardly holiday happenings but they sound OK.

As I write this out the notion of Home Alone Christmas doesn’t sound so bad after all. I look forward to the “Scrooge” movies and making cookies.  I might also make some imperial tid-bits and have a very good snort to boot.  Harper and I will have a long walk and see the lights.  Sounds groovy.

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections is pleased as punch from the ‘success’ of the last entry. What they count as ‘a success’ is the many comments generated by enthusiastic Spo-fans.  One of the Board members went so far as to suggest I turn Spo-Reflections into a ‘food blog’, but the others voted her down. [1]  They got into a stentorian fracas loud enough I could hear it over the cellphone, so I hung up.

I’ve been thinking a lot about sound lately, examining it like food viz. how much and what type I want or should have in my life.  The cheesy boisterous Christmas tunes continue to blast away in the office hall. The point (I am told) is to cover up the silence lest people hear what’s going on in the rooms. Fair enough, but no one seems to consider what sort of sound might be useful to ‘set the scene’ or even provide medicinal value.[2]

It seems I am surrounded by sound, most of it I don’t want, but there is a lot I can control. I tend to have ‘something on’ almost continually,  either podcasts, lectures, or background music. The other night while walking the dog I couldn’t get my cellphone to generate a tune, so we walked in the silence  – what a serene and peaceful walk that was!  It is no surprise to me one of the denominations for Hell is “The kingdom of noise”.

One of my favorite short stories [3] ends  something along the line of:

“But Mary had more to say, much more. She waved back at Louise, and turned off her hearing aid so she wouldn’t be bothered again”.

I think in 2018 I am going to have less noise and more silence.  The latter used to be ubiquitous. Now it is as rare as a starlit night.  Yes, this sounds good – pun intended. More silence and less Itunes in the new year.

Solitude 1

[1] TBDHSR are picky eaters; they despise fruits and vegetables and they shudder at the notion of protein drinks. I doubt they have ever eaten pasta.

[2] Usually the offices doors are open. This promotes passing-by hellos and colleague drop-ins to chat or consult on cases. With the Christmas crap going everyone has their door shut to keep out the racket; we are all in our isolate cells until 12/26.

[3] “In the garden of the north American martyrs”  by  Tobias Wolff.

thDuring my recent bout of cold I had little appetite and I certainly don’t want to cook anything. However I had a hankering for some pasta. I had just enough energy to go to the kitchen, put on some water to boil, cook some spaghetti, and open a jar of sauce to top it all off. It was delicious and I managed to get enough down to avoid cold-induced malnutrition.

I can think of nothing more delectable to eat than pasta. If I could get away with it I would eat some every day. I have a pile of ‘to do recipes’ in an accordion pile and most are pasta dishes, no surprise there.

Pasta has potential for all sorts of permutations. Up on shelf containing the cookbooks is a mighty tome titled ‘365 days of pasta’. This sounds lovely thank you very much. *

I like most the pasta recipes that you cook the noodles separately and then add the sauce. I love a good sauce!  I prefer “red” ones to ‘white’ but both are good.  Adding the sauce separately allows me to get as much as I want, which is usually a lot. Sometimes I wonder if pasta dishes are just my excuse for having sauce for supper.

Baked pasta dishes are tasty too. They have the advantage you can put them in a casserole dish and while they bake you can run around the house finding misplaced objects.

The Google informs me there are 350 types of pasta. I haven’t read such happy news on line in ages! 350 types! Happy joy! Urs Truly likes to explore different types when he can find them.* Rotini is a stable in the House of Spo for it has the advantage it sucks up the sauce. I am found of bow-tie pasta of course.  My favorites are the intrepid spaghetti and linguine, simply because I can swirl them around a fork using my spoon as a mixing bowl. Mother considered this uncouth table manners when I was a lad, so there is a sort of ‘you are not the boss of me” sensation now whenever I do so.

Despite my panache for complex and adventuresome pasta dishes, my favorite is as follows:

Get a good quality pasta – no rubbish – and cook it accordingly. Drain the pasta and lightly coat it with an exceptional olive oil. Using a grinder, pepper this liberally. Shave some real parmesan cheese on top and serve.

It is the food of the gods – or at least the demi-gods.

 

 

*Someone does not care much for pasta. Poor fellow.

 

Krampus2.jpg

Krampusnacht is less than a week away and I haven’t done a thing. I’ve had no time to buy Krampusgeschenken or plot taking away the neighborhood children.

For Spo-fans not familiar with Krampus he is a rather nasty demon who travels with St. Nicholas around Europe in early December.  St. Nick gives treats to the good children while Herr Krampus drags away the bad children bound and gagged to goodness knows where apparently to eats the malaperts after first  scaring the crickets out of them.  I never heard of this rather unpleasant but practical fellow until recently. He seems to be growing in popularity including North America, surpassing the Grinch and Scrooge as the poster-boy of Christmas darkness and defiance.   He seems to have quite a following these days.

Psyche abhors imbalance in Jungian psychology. If something is ‘all good’ then Shadow must exist and be recognized.  Mr. Krampus does a fine job filling this need.  St. Nick and he make a lovely balanced couple.  Santa Claus has only a measly lump of coal to suggest he has a bad side; from a psychological view he is a wash. For a while The Grinch did OK as the Shadow of Christmas but over time he’s become sugar-coated and watered-down to make him less nasty and consequentially less useful.  Small wonder Herr K is on the rise.

kringle_vs_krampus_by_murderousautomaton-d4k5bsq

I don’t know how St.Nick and Krampus deduce who deserves a toy and who deserves having their ears boxed but if they need help I am ready for a consult. I have a handy list for thems I would like to see hauled away in wicker baskets yes indeed.  The notion of slapping about impudent bratty people etc. is an uncharitable but delicious thought.

Needless to say I’ve not been at all nice this year and I am beyond coal lumps. If anyone deserves torture Krampus-style it is Urs Truly.  Perhaps I can plea-bargain with The Krampus to become his minion rather than Mittagessen.  Dressing up in devilish clothes with big horns sounds jolly good fun.  I may go to the office party donned now in such gay apparel.

 

the-krampus-returns-superJumbo.jpg

Pensive

I felt lonely yesterday evening. I haven’t felt that emotion in a very long time.

I was home all Saturday.* I spent the majority of the day working on a shirt. At other times I did some paperwork and tended to the dog (who got three walks). It was quite pleasant. I got ‘caught up’ with my podcasts.  It was about 5pm as I was eating leftovers for dinner in the quiet of the house when I realized I hadn’t heard from anyone.  No one had called; no one had sent a text.  I checked email to discover there were no personal ones.   I sat still at the anagnorsis.  Nobody had reached out to inquire into my welfare or to see what I was up to.  I found this sad.  I hadn’t expected anyone and I was enjoying the solitude – up until now.  Sitting in the silence I wondered if this was a sign of worry.  Was it a reflection on my ability to make and hold friends?  Did I have any ‘real’ friends – whatever that means?

I have many friends through blogging and a few ‘non-bloggers’ but they all live faraway. Most of them are busy in their local networks of friends and family. They are not going to pause their busy weekends merely to call/text/email to see what’s up. Even if I they had done so, what would I tell them?  Today I did nothing exciting; I would be a dull call indeed.

I started feeling a bit sorry for myself.  My life nowadays seems to be a cycle of work, chores, a few hobbies, exercise, and repeat. Before he departed this morning Someone suggested I ‘go out’ by myself to our favorite watering-hole this evening.  I didn’t feel in the mood now. Bars are not good places nowadays to socialize. I would just sit and stare at my phone like the others. So I didn’t go.
I don’t know how but next year I want to try somehow someway to make some local friends. After ten years in Arizona I haven’t succeeded in making any of lasting nature. I hope this is not a reflection on my character.

I would like some friends. I would like someone to call or text me to see what’s up.

 

*On Saturday Someone worked all day from 10AM-10PM. He did not have a working cellphone, so he was not around or available.

cookies

Now that the holiday season is upon us again, minds turn to holiday viands.  Cookies are an integral part of Christmastime; it is hard to imagine the holidays without some. Alas, there is no such thing as making a only few cookies; a batch generates more than two men should reasonably eat. We are watching our waistlines, so it may be sensible not to make any cookies at all this season.  This sounds a bore. Perhaps I should make only one type rather than the half-dozen that normally flow out of the Spo-kitchen at this time of year.

That said, should I make old traditional favorites or something new and adventuresome?

Spo-relations accept the axiom it is not a proper Christmas without Mother’s gingerbread cookies and Grandfather’s “S” cookies. I’ve made them every year. This year I am leaning toward trying some new ones. I’ve collected many from my continually expanding collection of torn out recipes from “Gourmet” etc.  Several are alleged traditional cookies from various European countries (mostly Scandinavian). They sound intriguing and they come with bedazzling photographs of the finished project I dare say will not slightly resemble my efforts.

e7831a9c65cf10dded74c4c20eab6e85.jpg

Wanna bet if I try making  these they will come out right?

In the podcast ‘You are not so smart”  the podcast-host finishes each episode with a cookie recipe sent in from a listener. All of them sound unconventional, delicious, and remarkable – like my men.  Perhaps I will make one from his list and another from the clippings collection.

I could make more than two types and bring the cookies to work and put them down for the goats to graze as one of my aunts used to say.  It is hard to get genuine feedback as office-people are too polite to say if a cookie is a disappointment.  Indirectly a plate of untouched cookies says a lot – sometimes. Nowadays everyone is on diets so uneaten cookies is not necessarily a sign they are no good.  Then I will have to bring the untouched cookies home and freeze them.  Sara Lee should have such a container.

Right now doing any cookie-baking sounds tedious. Perhaps I will feel better about it when I am more healthy and the holiday approaches.

Spo-fans are invited to leave any cookie recipes they feel are must-have-or-perish for this time of year. Family favorites are always welcome.  Perhaps I can parallel the fellow in “You are not so Smart” podcast.  He sends the ‘winner’ a copy of his book, signed. I guess I can send my winner a Rx for Ativan.

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