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What’s top of my mind – whether or not to see patients again in the office. There is some advantage to this. After all, it is better to see folks face to face. I get more information this way and person to person still has therapeutic value. Since my bosses are not pressing this issue, this is mere conjecture for now. There are downsides to this mostly exposure to germs and back to driving. 

Where I’ve been – Nowhere. Since last Wednesday I don’t recall going to the grocery store. On Saturdays we go to to Einstein Brothers Bagels, I think we went there. Someone always orders the same thing and I always order something different than last time.

Where I’m going – Next Monday it will be two weeks since my second dose of vaccine. I will go to the gym and have a look-see if it looks OK to use the facilities. I still plan on wearing a mask and gloves. The risk of getting covid19 maybe less than the ongoing risk to my health from twelve months of weight gain and a sedentary life.  

What I’m watching – I found a delightful history subscription on YouTube called “Ten minute history”. The clever narrator summarizes world events in a ten minute lectures using cartoon figures who often have ‘protest signs’ of pithy remarks.  Jolly good fun. 

What I’m reading – I started another mystery in the “Alfred Hitchcock and the three investigators” series.  This is book #8: The mystery of the silver spider”. These books are fun but dated. The three white boys team up with some ethnic lad who helps them solve the case all the time admiring their superiority. Oh the embarrassment. 

What I’m listening to – My latest podcast find: “Season’s Eatings”. It is done by someone I actually know: Glen W, blogger buddy and podcaster too! He does a charming job on the history of Christmas eats.  I hope he expands into other holiday treats.  

https://www.seasonseatingspodcast.com

What I’m eating – due to negligence of monitoring the home delivery apps, tomorrow we get a box from ‘Hello Fresh’ and ‘Blue Apron’. Usually they come every other week. We are up to our oxters in meal plans. 

Who I’m paying attention to – Dr. Fauci – not through social media outlets but through the medical apps and journals. He recently listed what he feels is still not OK to do, such as eating in indoor restaurants or going to movie theaters.  The good doctor reminds me of Willy Wonka telling impudent children to heed his warning. I have an evil urge to see the Violets of the land all turn into blueberries for their lack of listening. 

What I’m planning –  no good that’s certain.  Tune in next time if any shenanigans were realized. 


As Urs Truly awoke this morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic crank. It is disappointing and upsetting that when I remember my dreams they aren’t numinous Jungian-based metanoias but Kafkaesque monstrosities that leave me sad and discombobulated. Last night’s drama was no exception. In the dream I was waiting for a doctor’s appointment – one not to be missed – when Psyche decided to put up absurd barriers making me lost and impotent to find, let alone reach, my destination. I woke with the dreadful emotion I would never achieve my goal and I had no power to change it.*

My dreams are often like this one; it is a variation on an ongoing theme. It doesn’t take Freud to figure out this one. I am up against insurmountable and unsolvable powers that are indifferent or perhaps hostile to my hopes and goals. In these dreams I often feel a need to get somewhere but not sure where I am going and then things pop up to make sure I can’t figure it out let alone get there.

It parallels a sensation in my waking life of not going towards anything but just existing. There is a part of me that wants a plan – whatever that means – something like a retirement goal (where, when and what).** Even if I should make one, I have the unsettling sense I will be deprived of it. Deterioration in health will probably undo all my future hopes. Then there is the economic element. Someone assures me my social security will be there but I cannot shake the sense it is a huge Ponzi scheme that will collapse just prior to when I qualify. My mutual funds are equally suspect. I am beginning to doubt the certainty of my job: the bosses hint of retirement which I translate as closing shop.

We always live with uncertainty and everything is ephemeral. My stoic approach assures me not matter what happens I will manage.  The Cheshire Cat assures me if I don’t know my way and I want to get somewhere if only I walk long enough.

These are my philosophies when awake. My unconscious reminds me I am not that certain.

*When I went back through the archives to find a photo (preferably a cockroach) I saw I’ve written on this topic more than once before. Bad dreams like this one continue.

**In these interesting times I will settle for something to look forward to this year or next. 

Tony (the dear!) recently asked me in an email if my loved ones read my blog. We’ve had a correspondence on this topic. He gave me the ‘thumbs up’ I could publish one of our letters. For the sake of discretion I’ve edited the length and tidied up the grammar errors. We thought our blogger-buddies may relate to the content. I am curious to hear from the Spo-fans your thoughts of the topic. Spo

Dear Tony,

Once again I take mouse in hand to write to you. I’ve been waiting for a quiet time to respond to your last email, but since there is never is any, I’ve made some by putting aside all other recreations like ironing to attend to it. First – I am horrified to realize your blog has dropped from my reading list. Recently, WordPress did some changes and the consequence of these shenanigans is I lost a few blog sites, including yours. I am ashamed to admit such but there it is. Please send me your link as soon as possible. Now to your email and its contents:

I concur with your thoughts on who writes blogs and who reads them. Thems that don’t are not great readers of such. Other forms of social media draw their attention. My friends and family want to know what I am up to, but they do so via Facebook. My personal thoughts (erudite or inane) are not much interest to them (hopefully my blogger buddies are). 

You ask if Someone reads my blog. No, he does not. I don’t mind. I am writing for myself, not for others. Once in awhile I read out loud an entry to him when I think one is well-written. I ask his opinion on grammar and syntax; it is my indirect way of sharing something important to me viz. my artistry.

Blogging is a bit of a paradox: it allows writers to express their most innermost thoughts but the receivers are not the ones most intimate in their lives. I think it was Robertson Davies who said it is always the stranger who hears our stories. Blogging is a quirky hobby, like collecting doorknobs. Our nearest and dearest know blogging is important to us. They support our endeavors, but they politely decline to polish a few with us. 

I confess, I am not so indifferent as you are about having a readership and getting comments. I catch myself at times writing not from the heart but for an audience. I try to avoid this. When I do the later, it is primarily driven by loneliness. I don’t have local friends (worse luck!); my blogger-buddies are the closest thing I have to pals. 

I thank you for being intimate with me on this topic and allowing me to write to you. I will write a variation on this as a blog entry, for I think many of us feel similar.  

You are a dear; I hope we grow in friendship,

Urs Truly,

Spo.

The news apps mention there is another shortage, this time not of toilet paper but of ketchup. Due to circumstances I didn’t read, ketchup – at least Heinz ketchup – is either scarce or about to become so. Suddenly those ubiquitous worthless white and red foil packets, plumb with ketchup, given out by the handful at fast food joints, are now hot commodities, coveted and even being auctioned to the highest bidder.

Oh the pain.

People get awfully queer about their ketchup. I wouldn’t be surprised to visit Uncle Albertsons to see the ketchup shelf barren as the toilet paper aisle was last March. I wonder if other types like Hunts will be gone as people desperate for ketchup buy any type available. Or will the non-Heinz types sit there unwanted?* I am not found of ketchup anymore and they taste enough the same it doesn’t matter what type I buy.** Someone feels otherwise. He is a “Heinz man’ or nothing. However we both prefer salsa so there it is.

I recall a report stating salsa had surpassed ketchup in sales as the condiment of choice in the USA. Here in the Southwest, conservatives lost their minds, seeing this as an ominous sign ‘they’ were taking over. Folks that didn’t care tuppence for ketchup were suddenly putting it on everything to boost sales and reverse the report. I once saw a man refuse salsa and demand ‘American ketchup” which he got and put on his burrito, which has some irony, no?

If I actually read the ketchup shortage articles maybe I would have learned how long this ominous condiment shortage is projected to last. At the office in the kitchen drawer sit countless packages of condiments left over from numerous pharm rep lunches. I could scoop up the lot and go out in public and sell them to the zanies going through Heinz withdrawal. Unlike toilet paper, this shortage I don’t need to fret over. I can sit back and watch the lunacy and not know whether I should laugh or cry.

Meanwhile, I am fine with hot sauce. Albertsons has heaps.

*I remember last spring when people were snatching all the flour, pasta, rice, and peanut butter they could find what remained on the shelves were gourmet/organic section types. There were plenty of these. Price trumped all.

**When I was younger I preferred Hunts. Now it tastes cloying.

Yesterday Sunday Brother #4 wanted to see the local ghost town, so we went to Vulture City AZ, which was once upon a time a booming mining community but then fell on hard times, was abandoned, and recently resurrected as a tourist trap. I enjoyed it more than I expected. The tour guide, who was well over four feet, talked about the community and its resources, many suspect and lacking propriety. There was murders, riots, a whisky mill, several jails, and some talk of building a church.  My favorite building was the one which housed the brothel and the medical clinic.

At the south end of the building was the bordello, where the madam lived with her various nieces. At the north end was the doctor’s office and bunk. I thought it nice how both branches of the profession were conveniently under the same roof. One can imagine the traffic going back and forth between these establishments, including the doctor, going back and forth for consultations and so forth. One wonders (well I would) if a few of the miners looking for services sought out the doctor rather than the madam. 

The tour guide told us the ladies of the establishment were often paid merely for a home-cooked meal or even conversation. Most of Medicine is careful listening, so you take your pick.  Apparently, the doctor was fond of ‘the mercury cure’. Whether due to exposure or self-medication this fellow ended up in a graveyard of an insane asylum. This usually means mercury-induced dementia or neurosyphilis.  What a dear the doctor was to have done house calls (even if it was only next door) but one wonders about doctor-patient boundaries.  The madam, “Mexican Rita”, were were told insisted the men take a bath before entering the boudoir; it is not known if the doctor required likewise.  One can only imagine the stench of the miners, having worked in the mines all day in the ardent Arizona sun and who slept in a bunkhouse and whose diet consisted of baked beans and roadkill.  Oh the horror.

The doctor’s office didn’t look as comfy as the other rooms in the building. The doctor had a capacious couch upon which the patient could pass out from the vapors, or lie back for psychoanalysis or (perhaps) have other medical needs attended to. Given the architectural set up, I could see how it could be confusing for the clientele/patients who happened to mix up the doorways – intentional or not. 

There was a lot left to the imagination on the tour. Like all old mining towns, this one is reportedly chockful of ghosts. In the room with the vault where the gold was kept prior to shipment was a ‘no women allowed’ policy. Tourists of the female persuasion often report feeling stared at or even touched when they enter the room. I didn’t feel anything myself (more’s the pity) but I did sense a menace in the doctor’s room. Perhaps I had missed my appointment time.

Why The Muses dropped this one into the penetralia of my pumpkin is anyone’s guess. I suppose it is a follow-up to my recent blog entry about trying again to nurture a garden and keep it alive.  Spo

I have more books than bookshelves, so I keep my most-cherished tomes in the in the home office where they are on display;  everytime I am enter the room I see them standing proud on the shelves like winners at the Olympics.  Among the “A-list” books are a four thin paperbacks in “The Frog and Toad” series.  They are a set of childrens’ books about a friendship shared by a frog and a toad. There is nothing particularly awesome about these stories; every chapter is essentially the same story: Frog is anxious/neurotic about something and his bestie, Toad, arrives on the scene to assure Frog things are OK. All the stories end with the two of them doing something together, happy in each other’s company.  

Spo-fans may be wondering  if Urs Truly sees them as a gay couple. I don’t. There is nothing in the tales to suggest their relationship is a romantic one. Frog and Toad are friends – male friends – which is an important point. Men these days have a hard time being friends with each other. Straight men fear their same-sex friendships will be seen as ‘something gay’ while gay friendships often have unclear boundaries to what the relationships are and allow. Women on the other hand often have lots of friends and make friends easily. But I digress. The “Frog and Toad” books are up on the bookshelf among the cherished for two reasons:

They make me feel good to reflect upon the lovely intimacy of a friendship.

They remind me to nurture my friendships.

This last point is something needing emphasis.  Friends are vital to body and soul and I fear I do not do a good enough job at keeping mine going. I should be minding my chums as zealously as the newly planted plants mentioned in my blog entry earlier this week. This point is illustrated by the sad and shameful admission after 15 years of living in Arizona I have failed to make any real close friends. Mind! I am so grateful for my faraway friends and blogger buddies (hey! That’s you!). Nevertheless I I would like some local chums as well. It is my great desire and great challenge to do this and keep the faraway friends from wandering off, losing orbit into deep and irretrievable space.

My inner Frog wants a nearby Toad whom I can call to say I’m feeling low today; why don’t you come over and let’s have a chinwag over tea.  Yes, I would give a lot for that. 

Here I go again:  I’ve done some gardening.

I often have patients who repeatedly return to their same bad relationships, along the lyrical line “I’d rather be blue thinking of you than be happy with somebody else”.  I am no different in my dynamic when it comes to growing things in Arizona.  Newer Spo-fans may not know I am – was? – an avid gardener. When I lived in Michigan (zone 6) nothing was more euphoric than growing things, especially vegetables. This hobby came to a horrible halt when I moved to Arizona.  My favorites could not endure the ardent sun and temperatures of the southwest, a toasty zone 10.  Taking the advice ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’ I grew succulents and cacti. These are pleasant but didn’t provide the same satisfaction as homegrown flowers and vegetables.  Container gardening is the answer – provided one keeps on top of the watering.  In the heat of summer (highs near 50C) these suckers need lots of watering sometimes 2x a day.  After a few years of the game score ‘Sun 5; Spo 0’, I gave up. Until now.  With Brother #4 et. al. coming to town I wanted to spruce up the back porch, so I went to Home Depot for some fresh cacti but I came home with were pots of herbs and pepper plants and annuals – vowing once again to ‘keep on top of things’.

Oh the pain.

With its planted pots of rosemary, basil, and pepper plants, the back porch looks very nice, thank you very much. I used to order fancy heirloom seeds (I miss them!) but I’ve learned if something has a chance to thrive it is best to get planted locally developed for xeriscaping. I have made a blood oath before the gods of gardening to keep these suckers alive.  Someone has seen this over and over and is tactful to not to quote ‘Moonstuck’  “You did this once before Loretta, and it didn’t work out!”

I keep a checklist of to-do items I want to do on a daily basis and every night I check them off to ascertain I have done them. This works well, so I added ‘Water the plants’, which, fingers crossed, will keep things alive so by the time autumn arrives I may have some homegrown chilies. Let us hope so.

Last December I tossed some old mint leaves for into the potted palm tree for compost. During the tidy- up that was last weekend, I discovered mint has taken over the pot, enough to make a mess of mojitos.  This cheeky herb grew like gangbusters when I wasn’t paying attention. There is some irony to that, no?

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What’s top of my mind – the arrival today of my new kitchen thermometer. One of my chef-teachers inundates me on the usefulness of getting and using one. Mine is a king-size-titanic-unsinkable-molly-brown stick-it pen from Thermoworks. It was rawther expensive, but the orange ones were 30% off. Soon I will be poking all my cooking to ascertain if things are cooked properly. Jolly good fun! 

Where I’ve been – To the vaccine center. I’ve received my first dose and the second one is happens on 5 April. 

Where I’m going – if the weather is clement we may venture out to tomorrow to The Kobalt Bar for show tunes and cocktails. Kat, my future ex-wife, is always up to my challenges of making new and adventuresome libations. I want to try a ‘vieux carre’, a concoction of rye, brandy, vermouth, benedictine, and bitters. 

What I’m watching – excerpts from ‘Dr. Who’ on YouTube. They remind me I want to see the series in proper order. I should set a fixed time each week(end) to watch an episode. I think I may restart with the ‘The Fourth Doctor’. Jelly Babies, anyone? 

What I’m reading – I finally finished ‘Anna Karenina”. It was some job. Now I am reading something light: ‘Guards, guards!’ which is book #8 in ‘The Discworld Series” . It is just a bit of nonsense and jolly good fun. There are over forty books in the series; like Dr. Who, I have a lot to get through. 

What I’m listening to – The podcast “The Experiment”. It explores the USA’s founding notions and how they are panning out. 

 

Who I’m paying attention to – several avocado pits, in various stages of putting out roots. So far only one has managed to sprout a proper tree; the rest look stalled, as if they are thinking whether or not it’s worth it to put out and grow up. 

What I’m planning – preparing the place for Brother #4 and family’s visit next month. They will be our first visitors since January 2020. We have a lot to tidy up prior to their arriving. 

A white speaker cover has fallen off the living room ceiling and now waits its next step. For the moment, it is standing upright on a shelf, looking like something from a plate collection, the type painted little old ladies use for wall decorations. The house has speakers throughout the house which, when hooked up to the stereo system, plays music in all the rooms. It seems a quaint and outdated system and we haven’t used it in ten years.  Indeed, the stereo system with its CD and DVD players sits inert and unused. I’m not certain if the cable system runs through it. I suspect not.  Until we drag out the extension ladder to put back the mentioned cover, I might as well put it in the cupboard which contains the DVD collection and – wait for it – the VHS tapes.  We have heaps.


What to do with all this antiquated technology is not clear. My inner-Kondo wants to sweep it all into the rubbish but I feel sheepish to throw out perfectly-operable CDs/DVDs/VCR tapes. I wonder if anyone would want them. Probably not.  Donation centers are probably snippy about these sorts of things; they could fill their bins with our discards.  When it comes to old things no longer useful, Someone takes the opposite tact, what I call ‘The W.C. Fields approach’ * If old things aren’t causing problems, just let them stay where they are. This includes a large box in the garage, loaded with telephone cords, computer cords, and various plug-in cords for devices no longer with us. Oh the pain. **

In the bedroom on the shelf below the lamp between the two easy chairs is a black leather pan in the shape of a casserole dish. In it rest our two iPods. Their defunct batteries are no longer available so to play them requires me to insert them into an iPod stand /speaker (remember these?). Once in a while I play mine even though all its contents are in my iPhone and far more accessible. I suppose the feeling this evokes must be similar to thems with old 8-track players.  With that said I think I will get out the ladder and return the speaker cover to its rightful spot, if only for appearance sake.

*Groucho Marx once visited W.C. Fields who showed him in his attic were crates of various liquor bottles.  “Bill,” he asked, “why do you got all this booze up here for? Prohibition’s been over for years”. To which Mr. Fields replied “It may come back”.

**I am often tempted to toss them one night while Someone is sleeping on the grounds he would never notice. I don’t because this is sneaky but I also fear as soon as I throw them out a mystery cord Someone will next day announce he needs it and where is it he can’t find it.  It could happen.

Today is the birthday of J.S. Bach. Herr B could be difficult, but he wrote some lovely tunes. This morning I played a few for Father: he can still instantly recognize them. My late Mother was a singer; one of her favorites to sing was ‘The St. Matthew Passion’ which she often did at Good Friday services. I like his ‘French Suites’ and ‘Widerstehe doch der Sunde’.  

This evening I fly back to Arizona, Land of Perpetual Sunshine, and life goes back to usual. Father was appreciative of my help and my company and Brother  #3 was grateful for a break. I should do this regularly for the sake of them both.  

Last night we ordered out from a local Italian restaurant. When I went to pick up the pasta, I was shocked to see the restaurant was full as if Covid19 did not exist. It was unsettling to see packed tables of unmasked patrons vs. the staff who were all in masks. It was a bit macabre.  ‘People ! (I wanted to shout) This is foolish! Do not rush this!’. Oh the horror. I’m not eating in a restaurant for some time thank you.   

Italian food remains one of my favorite cuisines. Father had veal piccata, his favorite, and I had a linguini with shrimp. Someone is allergic to shrimp, so I get it when I can. Last night on a podcast I heard some great chef talking to another great chef about how to cook pasta properly and whether or not certain shaped noodles do or do not go well with certain sauces. People are awful queer about their pasta. I learned besides the shape to consider, there is the sense of ‘tooth’ viz. how does the macaroni feel to bite down on it. This makes a lot of sense to me. I love the feel of linguine; it has what the Japanese call ‘Nodogoshi” viz. a nice feeling in the throat.  Someone prefers penne-shaped pasta, which I don’t care for much. We both like a large tubular-shaped entity (whose name escapes me). It doesn’t really seem to go with anything, but it is jolly good fun to eat, especially when one puts one on each tine of the fork before biting. 

It’s time for me to go feed the chickens and let them out from their coop. I was getting only 1-2 eggs per day for my labor, until Warrior-Queen showed me yesterday to lift the lid off the main house, which revealed 13 eggs.* She took most of them home and I scrambled the rest for Father’s breakfast. I would be intrigued to do a double-blind taste test to determine if they taste better than the store-bought ones, but their bright orange yolks would give it away.

There will be no more eggs or pasta for me in the next week as I am going to diet. Why is it when men refuse to eat for fears of weigh gain it is called intermittent fasting yet when women do so it is labeled anorexia? Just asking……

 

*This morning’s bounty was four eggs. 

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