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I’ve been wracking my brains for some time what would make a good entry. I suppose I could write one of those ‘what I did on my vacation’ entries. Today is Father’s Day, so I could drag him on stage and write about him. 16 June is Bloomsday which gives me the opportunity to write about James Joyce.  Alas none of these sound too interesting. I suspect I have done these before anyway. 

It’s rainy and rawther cold here this morning in Milwaukee WI. Brother #2 is asleep in the deep. He’s come off of a ten day night shift and valiantly trying to stay awake and entertain me but it’s no such luck. Until he wakes today about noon I am on my own. 

Being alone in an apartment with nothing do on a rainy day first sounds dull and  confining, but when was the last time you had nothing to do? I have books to read and as much cheese curds as I please. My flight isn’t until 5PM. I could spend the entire day here reading. I could even sleep the afternoon away.  

I’ve come to the conclusion being busy is a merit badge no longer worth pursuing as a sign of Eagle scout status. Somewhere is the past fifty years relaxation and indolence got dirty reputations. Nowadays if you are not continually running amok then there is something wrong with you. You must be a loser, a bum, or someone without inspiration. Last Friday at work I had several no-shows just timed I had nothing to do for two hours.  At first I felt bad I was just sitting there with nothing to do; something must be wrong. Word’s out I’m a quack or something. What will me boss say?  I used the opportunity to try some meditation and sitting still. It wasn’t too difficult and it was quite pleasant. Yesterday Brother #2 and I had no agenda but made it up as we went along. At one point he asked me what I wanted next to do and my answer was to go home and take a nap before dinner, which we did. 

“How are you?” is often responded to with a ‘Oh, I’ve been busy”. Rather than admire this, I am now shaking my head as if they has just announced their car has died and replying “Gee that’s too bad”.  Being busy strikes me as mere existing, an attempt to stay afloat rather than drowning.  I will let thems obsessed with being busy run by.  Now that I’ve had a taste of quiet stillness I will have another scoop soon and often. 

Solitude 1

I am presently at the Dallas airport waiting for my flight to the faraway kingdom of Wisconsin. It is a curious spectacle here at Gate A20: People are sitting in the waiting room in every other chair, all engrossed in their cellphones. They are oblivious to anything but their gadgets. I grew up with the belief staring at people is rude but I could do so without anyone noticing. The only one worth staring at has unfortunately just gotten up to attend to his ticket. I might as well join the chorus and stare into my laptop and scribble out a post. 

It will be nice visiting Brother #2. He recently moved to Milwaukee for a new job; his family remains in Michigan until they sell the house and move westward. It’s been several decades since I have had him all to myself as he’s always been in context of family mane with wife/children.  

As boys we preferred each other’s company to that of other children. We had friends of course, but we always got back to each other. We both had splendid imaginations with which we created all sorts of fantasy games and forts built from sofa cushions or cardboard boxes.  Sometimes at night we would get into the same bed and lie there talking. I don’t remember anymore what we spoke of but I do remember we would look out the window and wonder about the stars. 

Brother #2 is a radiologist.* He is working today.  I’m to get a cab and go to his apartment and left myself in until he comes home tonight from his work shift. He’s left instructions I can help myself to whatever is in the fridge. He’s encouraged me to go out prowling as the water is nearby.  I think I will take a nap rather until he comes home.  He’s promised to take me to a proper German restaurant no rubbish with proper schnitzel and noodles and a bottle of Rheinish.**

Tomorrow we have no firm plans. Isn’t that the most splendid way to spend a Saturday? We may go to the art museum or The Mars Cheese Castle (I want some curds!). We may just stay home and watch Dark Shadows reruns, something he has just discovered. “Can you imagine?!” he calls me after he watches some. Someone thinks it a bit odd for me fly cross country only to just sit and watch TV, but I can think of nothing better than to look out the window again with my brother and wonder about the stars, still there after all these years. 


Brother #2 The Beautiful Baby. Some say he looks like George Clooney. 

*He is known in family by two nicknames: The Proper Doctor and The Beautiful Baby. Whenever my parents have an ailment they call him not me with their medical questions. I used to be a bit annoyed by this; now I am relieved.  The BB sobriquet arises from the fact as an infant I had horrible colic. In contrast he slept quietly for three years.  

**Sister-in-law #2 likes that Brother #2 still confides in me. “Go call your brother and have a talk”  she sometimes suggests to him when he’s vexed.  He does, I listen for about a minute then tell him he needs to chill. Then we talk Monty Python or The Goodies or Firesign Theatre for an hour which always makes him laugh. I don’t charge for this. 

Patience above! The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections is breathing down my neck to put out an entry even though I have nothing to write. My mind is as dry as the desert. This explanation does not move them to tears. They’ve learned when the locals lament there is no more Danegeld to fork over more is somehow always found when rapine therapy is applied.

I came to work to find there was no UPS delivery for me while I was away at the other office. This is a disappointment. I was hoping a box of sweeties had arrived. Alas Babylon! No such luck.

The Wonder Receptionist has a yellow bowl outside her window. From time to time staff members contribute sweeties to the smiling bowl for patients to take while they wait at her window to conduct business. “Staff” is rather wishful thinking on my part.  As far as I can tell only three people actually buy the bon-bons: The Wonder Receptionist; The Boss Woman; Urs Truly.  I actually do most of the purchasing possibly because I eat a sizeable amount of the candy. It seems the doctor A.K.A the great provider is looked upon as the one to put out the most bounty. On the other hand, people know I bring really good sweets – no rubbish indeed! Others buy common sweeties like Jolly Ranchers or Life Savers while I order exotics like Blue Ice Mints and Lemonheads.

Sweeties destined for public consumption need to be individually wrapped. A bulky bowl of M&Ms looks good but then everyone puts their grubby fingers into the pile to dig out their favorite colors which upsets the more delicate devotees of dextrose and the OCD patients with germ issues.

Reactions to the candy contents is a curious spectacle. TWR has been chastised for not providing sugar free candies. She’s been remonstrated for not having ‘any good stuff’.  Some preach we shouldn’t be providing sweeties at all and they go into a diatribe on the poisonous aspects of sugar. In contrast there are greedy gannets who are like bold children at Hallowe’en who reach with for the candies with all of their handies; limits and structure are needed lest they abscond with the entire bowl.

As I go back and forth from my office to the waiting room I monitor the popularity of the pastelles.  Some go quick as quarter notes while others linger for days.  I won’t buy more until the bowl is cleared.

It is hoped arrives today to alleviate the howl of sharpened famine that presently echoes throughout the clinic from the lack of sweeties. I believe the pending package are Blue Ice Mints and Root beer barrels, which is one of my favorites. I hope these appease.

Sometimes I think patients do better with lollipops than Lexapro.

Update: it arrived! The photo below is proof!


Spo-fans: please tell me if you have a candy bowl at work and what do you hope to find therein? 

This morning while walking the dog I listened to podcasts, which is my wont.  Today’s episode at “You’re making it worse” the three hosts (fine fellows all well over four feet) were discussing makeup for men. I was not aware such products existed let alone I might need them. They talked among themselves whether or not men (and women) really ‘need’ makeup and if makeup was gender bias (like shoes for instance).   Makeup for men usually has butch names and camouflage approach – is this necessary?

Growing up with brothers and no sisters I am ignorant of the feminine mysteries of cosmetics. Once in a while someone at work leaves her make up bag open in the kitchen area and I stare at these things as if from outer space. I hope ‘make up for men’ does not catch on as I haven’t a clue what I would do or need. I imagine sitting uncomfortably at the counter at Macy’s in front of some young twink hell-bent on selling me “Summer Rain”. I suspect the situation would resemble the scene from “Young Frankenstein” where the doctor is trying to convince Igor he can fix his hump and Igor replies ‘what hump’?
“Oh sir, we can do something about those lines!”
“What lines? I’m 56 years old. What’s the matter with my lines?”
That sort of dialogue.

Perhaps I am too old to learn about bronzers and foundations*. Maybe I feel OK enough about my  looks I do not to see a need to cover-up my impediments and so-called deficiencies. The application of makeup (let alone the time to learn) sounds rawther time-consuming and I got enough to do as it is.
On the other hand if there is a makeup product for the dark bags under my eyes that could stave up surgery a few years I would speed-dial Mary Kay or (in this case) her brother Stanley.

I am curious to hear from Spo-fans of all persuasions if they use make up and when and why.

Mistress Borghese! Help!



*I haven’t the foggiest what these things are but the podcast boys were discussing them. They seemed to know about them and one admitted he used such to cover up his large pores.  It sounded shocking.

A pet peeve of mine is parking at the grocery store to discover some lazy lout has left their shopping cart in the middle of the lot rather than walking a few steps to put it properly back in the cart corral. Oh the frustration. I will grab said cart (for I will need one) and bring it into the store with me to do my shopping. Last night at the deli counter while waiting for Godot I looked down into my empty black cart to see the previous driver of had left behind (face down) their black covered cellphone. Being Midwestern I immediately felt sheepish someone would soon be running into the store in a swivet  and accuse me of stealing her phone.* I turned it over to see if I could possibly find a way to call someone (perhaps the last caller) and explain the situation and would you be so kind to try to contact the poor unfortunate soul their phone is at the deli?  That too evoked anxiety I would be seen as some sort of perv who purposely pinched the thing and is now taunting them for ransom. This neurosis was thwarted by necessity of needing a passcode to open up the phone so no such luck – a relief in a way.  In the end I decided Godot wasn’t coming and I really didn’t need cole slaw anyway so I toted said cart with its contraband over to ‘customer care’ where I explained the situation.  The young woman behind the counter didn’t laud me for my thoughtfulness but took the phone with a slight acknowledgment ‘that’s a bummer” and went on to whatever she was doing before I had so rudely interrupted her.

This is a classic case of calling the kettle black, for I am constantly misplacing my phone. In my case (pun intended) mine is enclosed in a bright fluorescent red plastic wrap that is easily spotted yards away which is the point. Apart from my hummingbird brain that tends to misplace all things not actually connected to my person I suspect there is an unconscious part of me that would dearly love to lose the beastly thing and be free of it.  However losing ones phone isn’t just an inconvenience but a major security risk. These things are full up with data and access to all sorts of things thieves are on the look out for.  One does not take the loss of the cellphone lightly.

I won’t know what became of the black cellphone. Did Mr. or Mrs. Loser run back into Albertsons only minutes after I left to ask (and receive) said lost object, or did they go on to a new life without? I like to think they returned and when they discovered some nice person had turned it in they thought a silent thanks and prayer for my wellbeing. Probably the customer service person would just hand it and the recipient would rush out without even a thank you. If I believed in karma I would hope my good Boy Scout move will somehow shower me with good luck. Fat chance of that. It is Friday morning as I type this; I am facing a work day from hell with seven count’em seven new patients. I will be spending all the weekend doing paperwork.  Let’s hope my lack of faith in karma is proved wrong and many of them are no-shows.


*I don’t have any real reason to assume it was a woman who had lost their phone. My limited experience with the dames suggests they misplace their phone more than the dudes. This is based on my patients who often leave in my office all sorts of items. Here’s who leaves behind their phones the most: women, the elderly, the anxious, and thems with co-pay problems.

Greetings from Flagstaff, Land of Pines.

I am still waiting for The Muses or somebody like them to send me inspiration to get me out of this dearth of entries. I figured if I was by myself of a weekend this would give opportunity for something.  No such luck. 

I am finding this weekend by myself to be quite nice.  Sitting lonesome in restaurants hasn’t been too bad as I always have a book and my Kindle with me.  It has been a fascinating experiment to sit among restaurant goers who are in couples.  People seem to have the supposition I am too engrossed in my reading to hear them; they make no effort to carry on conversations in discreet tones.  As a consequence I’ve overheard several  humdingers some of them far more fascinating than what I am trying to read. 

Male/female couples have a tendency for the man to talk to the woman in what sounds like bossy-boots mansplaining.  I wonder why the women don’t speak up but they don’t. They merely nod their heads while saying ‘hmmm’ which makes me wonder if they are only pretending to listen. What conversations I have overheard haven’t been interesting, particularly the politics. At lunch over a bowel of ramen soup while reading Pepys diary (now there’s a combo!) I heard a gentleman explaining Captain Bone Spurs cleverness about the Chinese while said gentleman’s presumed wife looked like she was ready to drop dead into her dragon roll.  He ended with his prediction (conviction) two weeks after Herr Furor leaves office Melania will file for divorce mark his words.  If she does she’s a sensible woman but this doesn’t strike me as supportive of cleverness of Orange Blossom to have a third (or is it a fourth?) marriage fail. 

Last night at an Italian place while eating eggplant parmesan (disappointing again!)  I overheard another couple discussing whether or not to divorce or merely separate.  A few times the mister sent out signals he would be OK to have a mistress. Either his indirect speech acts weren’t registering with her or she was completely ignoring them.*  I wanted to lean over and say “God’s death are you two playing tennis? Just say you want an open marriage and is that OK to try?” 

Two men eating together have boring conversations as all they ever talk about is business or sports. In contrast two women to themselves talk about their woes.  At one meal (breakfast) I had one set of each on both sides of me so it was hard to focus on my eggs and my reading.  To their credit the men seemed to gotten some things done while the women ended breakfast without resolution what to do with their irksome mates. 

Today I may be bold as to not have a book with me at lunch to see if my neighbors keep quiet or talk less.  



*Which is why we use indirect speech acts: it gives folks the ability not to have direct conversations that would be possibly damage.

Last night while I was trying to tackle a ponderous pile of paperwork The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections raided Das Spo-Haus and threatened me at mace-point to put out an entry or Helga will have my yarbles for ear-rings. They were not moved to clemency by my explanations I am up to my oxters with work matters and I have nothing to write besides (The Muses being in Cleveland). I am to write something/anything by Friday morning and that’s that. They then left taking with them several bottles of liquor* and a few of the more shiny knickknacks.

It’s Memorial Day weekend, which makes me think of beginnings and ends for it was this weekend when we moved to Arizona in 2005. Someone is working all weekend and won’t be home at all. Rather than do the home alone thing and mope I am going north to  to stay at friend Richard’s B&B. This will be my last time doing so, for he has sold the place. I am saddened at this loss; I’ve been going there regularly for over ten years. It is likely we will never see each other again nor keep in contact after he moves.  It all touches upon the ephemeral of life. Ah well. As Mr. Gilbert says in his poem “The lost hotels of Paris”:

But it’s the having not the keeping that is the treasure.

Ends are also beginnings. This morning among the junk email I saw something I haven’t seen in years. The Writer’s Almanac sent me its daily entry. I used to read this until it stopped what seems an eternity ago when Mr. Keillor got involved in some sort of scandal. I immediately went to the podcasts to see if that too was back. Hot puppies! It was! – and apparently having done so for some months. This morning while driving to work (another horribly overbooked day) it was lovely listening to his familiar voice tell whose birthday it is today in history, followed by a poem. It’s like an old friend you haven’t seen in ages suddenly reappearing and you finding out he’s quite all right and hasn’t really changed.

When I drive to Flagstaff tomorrow for my last time staying with Richard I will listen to the  back entries of The Writers Almanac while contemplating poems about beginnings, endings, and – in some cases – returns. This is good stuff to consider as another year of living in Phoenix commences.




*The joke’s on them as they took the cheap stuff which is kept at eye level in the liquor cabinet. The good stuff was down below.

richard_wagner_1909755Richard Wagner’s birthday is this Wednesday. For Spo-fans unfamiliar with this composer, the more you know about him the less you like him. He was so self-centered he makes Donald Trump look good. He used people and he was horrid to everyone. On top of it all he was a racist and anti-Semitic. Hitler adored him. It is hard to believe (or stomach) this louse of a person managed to make some of the most marvelous music ever made. He was certainly not the only awful man who made good art he was arguably the one of the worst – or the worst. I think so anyway. So – how do I manage my love for his music? *

We do terrible things. It is easy to focus on our Shadow elements. We forget we are also capable of marvelous things, which are often expressed through Art in all its forms. This is particularly so for music. Sometimes I sit at the symphony, feeling sorrowful by all the ills of the world, but I listen to the divine music emanating from stage and I find solace. Art does that. Art comforts me in the axiom despite ourselves we can create beauty. Herr Wagner is not unique; he is merely the extreme example of all of us and what we have. What belongs to Art belongs to all men. We cringe at the artist yet rise by his or her creation. 

In the end I just can’t hate him as he has enriched my life so much. He helps me remember not to focus on the Shadow but on the Light. 

Viking horns


*I know many Jewish art patrons who won’t attend any operas or symphonies doing Wagner. In Israel Wagner is not played at all. In Bayreuth Germany at the Wagner Festival they play nothing but Wagner. As a Jungian I like the notion a place that is ‘all Wagner” is balanced with a place that is ‘no Wagner”. 

I listen to podcasts about astronomy and I work in field dealing with human nature. My soul swoons at the mysteries of these ineffable entities. Of the two, human nature is far easier to explain; the mysteries of the universe are unfathomable. Only a fraction of the universe is visible measureable mass and light. The majority is something we can’t see or locate. Astronomers know it’s there as the total mass is not enough to account for the laws of physics. Either the laws of physics are wrong (perhaps) or something is missing(more likely). This dark and mysterious stuff is called ‘dark matter’ and it’s anyone’s guess what it is.  The universe is full up of cosmic questions; they make me feel small and insignificant.  I am not shocked or saddened by these revelations. I learned pretty quick in life as early as grade school how it is to feel small and insignificant so the verification of these truisms by the time I got to college was not at all a shock as it was to my peers who thought themselves the centre of the universe up until then.

Another bitter pill to swallow is we are probably alone in the universe (sorry sci-fi fans). Unless ‘they’ are purposely covering up their tracks there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of other beings. We only have ourselves which is of no comfort considering we generally don’t like each other.

The notion of a mostly dark and nothing0filled universe devoid of company could quickly lead to nihilism or depression but for me this is a sort of comfort. It helps me put things in perspective and not to waste time with the likes of seeing something outrageous on Twitter and wanting to to write an angry retort. Cosmic truths help me let go of the trivial claptrap that is society and social media to focus on my brief time in said universe to make Life what I will it to be.



I am waiting for The Piano Tuner or somebody like him to soon show in order to tune my piano. About a week ago I got an email reminder it was time to do so. I had two emotional reactions to the header “Time to tune your piano!”: the first one was to wonder hadn’t we just done this and the second was to make to recall of when I last played. Alas, Babylon it has been a year since the last tune up and it was probably then when I last touched the thing.
I have is a four-legged spinet. The Piano Tuner tells me it is a 1937 production of a company that no longer exists (Mason & Hamlin). * He tells me my piano is still in good shape. It was originally my grandmother’s; I inherited it in the 80s after her death and I’ve had it ever since.
He seems excited to touch and tune its faded yellow ivory keys given its antiquity and rarity. All I get out of it these days is guilt in E-flat. I started playing the piano perhaps when I was six. At some point in my life I was fairly good and I enjoyed playing. Over the decades I played less and less and after 2005 when we moved to Arizona I’ve hardly touched it. Whenever I lay eyes on it I feel I should either get back to it or find some home for it. Both thoughts elicit guilt and inaction.
Pianos are antithetical to todays’ tech-driven society. Perfecting an instrument requires time and lots of it at least for me. At the end of countless hours of practice, what do I get? : the fair at best ability to play a piece that my iPhone could produce immediately and play so much better.
My piano playing is a classic example of the ‘sunk cost’ fallacy: I feel obliged to continue on the grounds I spent so much time doing so. It feels bad to conclude I don’t want to really play anymore. I better decide soon for there is the baby grand piano of my mother to consider. When she moves or dies you bet your Bach’s booty I’m going to get it. I have room for it but do I want another huge white elephant taken more from guilt than desire?
The Piano Tuner will spend 1-2 hours at his craft. At the end he will conclude it sounds marvelous and it is all ready for me. Let’s see what happens between now and a year hence when I get next year’s reminder email.


*Someday I should look up their history;  after 50 years of looking at their signature while playing I don’t know who they were or what happened to them.

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