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I get up every day at 5AM (more or less). This gives me a few hours to myself before the work day begins or on weekends when Someone wakes.  This precious time is dear that I am by myself, things are quiet, and I get things done without distraction. So far I’ve set up my work day, I’ve attended to the dishes, and I started a load of laundry. Before the flood gates open at work at eight, I can do some writing. 

Mornings are when I like to write most. I’ve heard tell many writers did their writing early, either out of discipline or necessity (before their ‘day jobs’ started). That said, I often like to write at the end of the day to finish the day as it were.  The Muses et. al. either don’t have regular work hours or they live in a different time zone* that there’s no rhythm to when they pop by to plant an idea into my gulliver. This usually happens when I have no pen and paper to write ideas down, not when I am sitting at the screen waiting for inspiration. 

Sometimes my ‘have write something” is doubted by others in the household. After all, it is a hobby I am told. It is one thing to have to do a job but having to do a hobby makes no sense. True enough. The difference between rolling down grass hills (my other hobby) and blogging is I feel I really do have to write – regardless of the contents or quality. It feels as necessary as breathing. 

The daylight is enough now for me to put this down and take Harper for her morning walk. Work begins in less than an hour. I’ve done all the necessary ablutions to start the day right – and this includes writing something. Thank you for reading and being part of my morning.

Spo-fans: when do you like to write? Do you have a fixed time of the day to do so?  Do you feel a ‘need’ to write? 

 

 

*Somewhere in Eastern Europe, I imagine. 

#1 – I woke this morning for the first time in four years wanting to hear the news. Everyday for the past four years I have waken dreading what may happen. The dreadful apprehension was not unlike those someone has who is living with a violent person whose actions you cannot predict. Those feelings were gone this morning. It felt good. I think of the Ferryman in the Russian folktale “The Luck Child”, who was trapped in his job, only to learn how to be released from his sorrow:

“For the first time in years, hope fires the Ferry-man. A smile is forming in his mind, a tiny smile growing, getting ready to be born”.

#2 – There are shenanigans afoot in the blogger world that I am not always able to leave comments for thems using Blogger.com.  Perhaps the website is in cahoots with my laptop. I hope I can figure this as I hate dropping by without leaving a comment lest folks think I am not reading their prose.

#3 – Would anyone would like some Jello-salad?. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections over-estimated the attendance at last night’s ball at Heorot Johnsons, resulting in leftovers. Heaps in fact. Act quickly as cottage cheese and Salmon mold isn’t likely to keep. Also, there are a few Tupperware containers without masking tape labels. 

#4 – Alas, Babylon! I won’t be having any free lemons this year. The lemon tree that overhangs the public sidewalk was severely pruned back last autumn and there is no sign of any fruit. Uncle Albertsons has lots of lemons but they are not as juicy as thems that fall off the local trees. I was worried I wouldn’t get any grapefruit as these are brought to the Mesa office and I haven’t been there since March. I thought to travel there to get some, when lo! a neighbor down the street set out by the curb eight bags of grapefruit, all for the taking. I took two bolsas, each filled with a dozen medium-sized yellow gems. I am a happy man. I must look up to see which way these lovelies effect my blood pressure meds. I am either going to stroke-out or drop from hypotension, depending which way the wind blows on the grapefruit/Rx interactions. Either way it’s worth it.

#5 – Speaking of five, I recently found on YouTube “The five Chinese brothers”. This story was a favorite in my youth; I was thrilled to hear it again. I remembered every picture. Oh the horror; oh the pain! It is so stereotypical it makes me squirm. It is along the line of ‘what on earth were we thinking?”  I wonder how many other childhood story books of mine are now considered rude and racist? How times have changed – and I think for the better. The story remains a good one, so perhaps someone can redraw it with less discomfort.

 

I often listen to medical podcasts on the topic of cardiovascular disease, which are usually conducted by some great expert for the edification of other great experts in Internal medicine. The leitmotif humming through these lofty lectures is the ‘evil’ of carbohydrates, sometimes called ‘carbs” and often abbreviated as CHO. I remember too long ago it was fat that was the bogeyman of our existence and we were to avoid grease at all costs but nowadays it is carbohydrates. From what I get out of these talks, for all the damage CHOs do, we might as well be eating ground glass. Some carbs are more sinister than others (sugar and white flour) but all CHO seemed lumped into the common category of ‘bad for you”. Oh the horror.

This is a pity as I was pondering starting “Pasta Wednesday”, to go along with “Meatless Monday’, and “We-just-got-home-from-show-tunes-at-the-bar-and-are-too-tipsy/tired-to-cook-so-let’s-eat-what-we-can- quickly-microwave-Thursday”. If I could get away with it I would have some sort of pasta every day for I love it so. The shapes of pasta, multiplied by the toppings, equals an infinite number of ways to serve the stuff. Hot puppies! I have heaps of recipes aching to be made. Alas, Babylon! I have to limit myself to only now and then and not too much in a sitting. Stirges.

My Italian bestie Rita, A.K.A. Sweetie Darling, finds all this amusing on many levels. For her, ‘cutting carbs’ means using a pizza wheel.  No meal is complete without some pasta (and wine for that matter) but it was never the front and center as an entrée. Indeed, eating meatless pasta dishes is what you did at the end of the month when the money ran out to buy meat. For her, paying a lot of money for pasta makes no sense.

Getting back to the pasta shapes for a moment., I like long string-like pasta such as spaghetti and linguine, while Someone goes thick short types like rigatoni. Overall we don’t pay much attention to what toppings go with what type of pasta. I’ve learned is an absolute horror to a few folks I know. They have strict rules as to what sort of macaroni goes with the sauce, although I can never get a clear reason ‘why’ this is so. I am told if I dare order the wrong pasta type with the wrong topping people will think me an idiot and an object of suspicion. Oh the horror.

I think I will go ahead with “Pasta Wednesday” to the horror of all except Rita who promises to send me some super-good proper Italian recipes (no rubbish)  – provided I don’t substitute the pasta with the wrong type. In the recipes if I dare substitute the pasta type it will result in her having a heart attack. Perhaps that what is really behind all those medical lecture about the dangers of ‘too many  carbs’.

Spo-fans:

1- How often do you use pasta?

2- Do you have strict rules as to what sauce goes with what shape of pasta?

3-Do you have any scrumptious pasta recipe for my first run at “Pasta Wednesday”?

 

 

 

“And you all know security is mortals’ greatest enemy” – MacBeth.

Yesterday I made a pot of soup, using this-and-that found in the fridge and in the pantry. There were vegetables near past their prime and some beans of questionable age in an unmarked glass jar. Someone had taken from the freezer some beef ‘to use somehow’. All this sounded like soup – but which one to make? After many months of learning to cook ‘the right way” I was challenged that my ingredients didn’t fit any specific recipe. So I did something I have never really done before: I made it up. I used ‘applied learning” to put things together, not following any particular recipe. You see where this is going: the soup was marvelous. I realized I had succumbed to – and in all places, the kitchen! – one of mankind’s biggest banes: the need to be certain. The soup had to be ‘proper’ and what I was doing was to be done ‘right”. 

I haven’t written about the horrible happenings in DC but I will say something now. I think these villains were mostly driven by the need to be certain about their beliefs. A belief is an answer to a question, and nowadays many are asking the questions (albeit not consciously, alas) who am I, who are we as a nation, and where are we going. When faced with the uncomfortable realization your belief is false or faulty it is so hard to admit to such and admit what I believed was not true and now what I am left with is uncertainty.

In times of doubt we often turn to narcissistic grandiose experts and leaders who tell us ‘I am certain; this is certain. Put your belief onto me and let me do your thinking for you and all your uncertainty will be appeased”.

History shows this never turns out well.

I don’t know if Life today really has any more uncertainty than in times before. It sure feels this way sometimes, but this may be merely the poison of social media. The truism remains the more we allow ourselves to live with uncertainty the less likely we will make a muck of things, hence the quotation from MacBeth.  

Today I have a sore throat, which may be allergies or covid19. There are three days to inauguration day. I have a legal matter at work. At 58 I don’t know where I am going.Yet, if a crystal ball in which to see the future was set before me I would run from it as if it were contagion. 

I am looking forward to my soup, which cannot be duplicated but I can make something just as good if not better the next time I try such. I make do with what I have, at the time I have it, and I won’t try to be so certain in the kitchen anymore. 

Note: The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections requires me to put a word of warning up whenever I write an entry that may offend, disgust, or drive folks to murders and suicide.  You’ve been warned.  Urspo.

Last night I spoiled sleep by foolishly bringing up the topic of Jello. Just before bed I heard a podcast on the history of the stuff.*  I thought it would be fun to make a Jello salad / desert just for the fun of it. Like the invidious apple for the goddess of Discord this caused a slightly heated argument about what goes into a proper Jello salad/desert, more particular what does NOT go into one.  In my youth Mother made a red Jello that had frozen strawberries (never fresh I recall) and chopped bananas. Someone was almost beside himself; bananas as an absolute no-no and grounds for divorce, but shredded carrots or mini-marshmallows are what’s right. Slightly miffed at the attack on my mother’s sacred Jello recipe I replied sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury than eat shredded carrot or marshmallows. The arguments accelerated, ending in fisticuffs, complete with black eyes and bloody noses and a retreat to separate bedrooms.**

In my bizarre fancy to resurrect the dead that is Jello, I started surfing the net, looking for ‘interesting’ recipes. This too was foolish. I won’t mention some of more bizarre recipes, lest Spo-fans are eating dinner while reading this. Trust me, they are along the line of ‘what on earth were we thinking?” recipes, combining things that have no business being in the same bowl with each other, let along entombed in gelatin.  

Mother made a lot of Jello. These delicacies were divided into ‘simple dishes’ for the home and ‘fancy ones’ reserved for church pot-lucks and picnics. Mercifully I don’t remember the latter types only that they often involved fruit cocktail, cool-whip, and other Midwest delicacies I haven’t ate in decades.

 

I wonder what happened to all those Jello molds shaped as animals and such that everyone seemed to have back then.  Just before he hit me when I mentioned Emerald Salad*** Someone announced we actually have a Jello mold somewhere, which was news to me. That settles it. I must make me a Jello salad – if I can find a recipe we are both willing to eat and it can go safely down the disposal as I sense one or two bites will suffice and this stuff doesn’t keep. 

Anyone for Lime Jello marshmallow cottage-cheese surprise? I made heaps. 

 

*And what a fascinating topic it is! Jello started as a sort of fancy status symbol and evolved to a mainstay of Midwest cuisine, only to sink into camp and oblivion. 

**The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections asked me to expunge that last line as blatantly untrue, but I kept it, allowing myself one or two small equivocations for the sake of the story. Besides, we we both thinking of such. 

***OK I will stop now. 

When sitting at my desk at the Phoenix office, I face south; to my left are three large glass windows through which I see Camelback mountain and the east side of town. At this time of the year, I am at work before the sun rises. It is also nearly always cloudless in January. As a consequence, I see a lot of sunrises, which hit me right in the retinas and cause instant elation. No matter how tired or lugubrious I am it quick dissipates like fog in the brilliant radiance of sunshine.

I suppose this is how a cat must feel sleeping in a sunbeam. I also wonder this is the main reason why the ancient ones held morning rituals to welcome the dawn. It feels downright numinous to see and feel the sunlight, particularly after the dark and the cold of night. By now ‘Sunrise’ is an archetype,  associated with hope, birth, and beginning.  When I wake each morning I try to remember to pause for a quick thought or prayer of gratitude. I don’t always remember to do so, but a witnessed sunrise always prompts me to thoughts of thanksgiving.

In my youth I didn’t care for sunrises, mostly because they were too early. I preferred sunsets. As I’ve aged I’ve grown to appreciate having a the start of a day over its end.  Maybe that’s why old folks tend to get up early; it allows them to be one with the dawn.

There isn’t anything more to say on the matter. As I sit in my chair watching the morning sun mount the sky Helios-like I feel the quiet satisfaction of something that is beyond words. Perhaps a poet could capture it better than what I am trying to write.

 

For three days I have tended my father. I’ve managed his pills and his eye drops; I’ve fetched countless glasses of water. Trips to the loo are a slow process taking several minutes of slow careful planning . It is not difficult work, only constant. Father doesn’t complain, but he often changes his mind. I get him situated in a chair with specific covers and he wants something different. It is tiring work, although none of it is difficult.  I’ve done his laundry and tidied up his papers and made sure he takes his tonic. I expunged his email account of over 2,000 unread emails all rubbish.  

Most of the time I am just sitting with him as he snoozes or asks Alexa to once again change the tune for the umpteenth time.* He and I have always been like two peas and now we sit covered in matching afghans, for we are both cold (he’s old and I’m from Arizona). Seeing him sleeping in his chair is like looking at my future, what I will be like in twenty years. The difference is Father has four sons taking care of him, and I do not. I wonder who will care for me when it is my time? 

After three days Father hasn’t talked about anything deep or reflective other than to remember old tunes and times. I don’t intuit a rhinoceros in the room so I’ve had sense not to become his therapist trying to get him to ‘open up’ as it were. Father has spoken several times about his gratitude for ‘his blessings’  rather than directly saying “I am grateful for having you here”. He doesn’t have to say it directly nor am I going to drag such out of him. 

As I type Brother #4 has come over and the two of them are now listening to some silly old football game on Father’s iPad while they talk over each other (as is their wont) as I type. It is a very nice scenario, really, and I am not going to mar it by saying out loud how nice it is. 

Tomorrow I fly home and return to my usual mode of operation of taking care not one person but hundreds of people (patients). I feel good for having done some good here. This trip reminds me of a line in a poem in which the writer remembers her mother teaching her it doesn’t matter what we said and did but that we came. 

 

 

*He’s got brains like a hummingbird too. Where do you suppose I got it? 

This week I fly to Michigan. For many months I’ve heard over the phone of Father’s decline and Brother #3’s stamina going down with him. The other brothers come in whenever they can to help out and give B#3 a break. No one has complained I am not doing my share. All the same I hear everyone wishing me to visit; Father is lonely and #3 is worn out. They were heartily disappointed I did not visit at Christmas. In a more down call I said I would visit in January. So I fly this Wednesday. 

I am not at all looking forward to this. I don’t mind helping out, nay, I feel good for doing so. Brother #3 can go to sleep for a few days and Father can ‘vent’ all he wants his losses and loneliness. What I don’t want is the airport experience. After a year of proper and careful protocol for covid19 it feels like I am throwing it all away now. Not only am I bringing plague onto myself but I am bringing it to Michigan as a belated Christmas prize. Last week I talked to Father et. al. purposely wording things to see how they would react to my coming. I wondered (to be honest I hoped) they would have said please cancel and delay until after my vaccination. Rather, Father said (sounding near tears) how glad he was I was coming and he was looking so forward to the visit etc. So that’s that. 

Links and data seem to assure me AA is not a charnel house but follows strict protocols but I am not assured. Just my luck I will sit near some Trump-supporter unmasked daring others to tell him otherwise. 

Brother #4 texted me this weekend a small plane flew into the neighbor’s house situated across the street from him. I am not one to read into ominous signs but there it is. 

I will be brave and go, bringing plenty of masks, and will do what I can. I don’t know how much I will be blogging this week in preparation to go and to be there. 

I am looking forward to sitting in front of a roaring fireplace with a good snort (Brother #3 has good stuff, no rubbish).  I fulfilling a promise to come visit and help out.  That’s what counts. 

Happy new year my darlings ! 

2021 couldn’t have arrived with any less luster. Someone fell asleep about 930 PM without so much as a sign-off. I tried to stay up by reading only to become so engrossed in my book I forgot to watch the ball drop in Times Square. I am not sure it actually happened. I must have dropped off myself about 1030 PM local time only to wake to fireworks at proper midnight. I said a prayer of thanksgiving to whoever may be listening and fell back to sleep. I remembered to say “rabbit” as the last word of the old years and “rabbit” again as the first word of the new.  My brothers and I have done this since our childhoods, and while I do not know its efficacy to bring good luck, it makes me always think of my brothers. 

Speaking of New Year superstitions this morning I made a passing reference to black-eyed peas. This made Someone sit up from his half-listening into a gummy panic he hadn’t bought any beans and it was now too late to soak any.  We had an early run to Uncle Albertsons who had a few tins of pre-cooked beans left on the shelves. At lunch he made Hopping John which we ate with relish and ill luck was diverted. I tactfully didn’t point out we did this on 1/1/2020 and look how that turned out. 

As is my wont on the first day of the year I weighed myself and checked our savings accounts and finally the number of visitors to Spo-reflections.  To my amazement I hadn’t gained any weight in 2020.  Another surprise: we did well financially. As for Spo-reflections this day it has over 1,800,000 visitors,  many of them well over four feet and lots were new-comers.  This feels more cheery than the weight and the money matters. 

My one card tarot for 2021 is the four of wands, portending groovy times overall. Let us hope so. Not just for myself but for everyone. 

See you in the new year. Hugs and OXOX.

Note – The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections was against me posting this entry. They are uninterested in self-improvement and they doubt anyone would be interested in mine.

“Come celebrate with me that every day something has tried to kill me and has failed” – L. Clifton.

One normally looks back today to reflect on the year and its events, but this one is better seen as a furtive glance in the review-mirror as one accelerates away. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good. 2020 sucked lemons and halted all my attempts to work on my bucket list. However having more time at home (and money not spent on travel and eating out) I did better on my resolutions. While the world was a wreck, Urs Truly did well.

First of all, I’m still here. I have the quiet satisfaction to sing along with Sondheim on this one.*

I did very well with my daily routines:

Dog walks; flossing; Spanish lessons; journaling; reading; blood pressure reads.

My goal to read 20 books? I read 45! That’s more than that past 3-4 years combined.

I did ‘fairly well’ with daily stretching and not eating after supper.

Monthly soup-making: I made 14 soups; some of them I would make again.

Monthly ‘Great Courses’ lecture: 10 of 12. 

 

Let’s look at my shortcomings:

I will leave the first one blank lest my family is reading this.

“Make 4 shirts” – I made two. In my defense I made many masks, dozens of them, for my nearest and dearest.  It felt good to do so.

“Go to the gym 4-5x a week” – I’m letting myself off the hook on this one as the gym was closed and then when it reopened it was too hazardous to go.

“Weigh 76 kilos” – another bust. Actually I’m not too off but I fear while my scale weight is not too bad my body composition went bad. I am what they call a ‘fat thin person’.

I haven’t yet made my resolutions for 2021 but I think it will be about regaining lost tone and fitness. I need to figure out how to do so sans gym.

 

Happy New Year 2021 to one and all; I am glad you are here with me.

 

*This is a discreet reference to Mr. Sondheim’s “I’m still here” from ‘Follies’. Go on YouTube and hear it, why don’t you. The version sung by Elaine Stritch (the one in a red hat) is my favorite.

 

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