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There is no news-updates about the strike. The opposing sides are not talking to each other today. This may be less from impasse or psychological ploy but more about the effects of hangovers, for last night was St. Patrick’s Day. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections is no doubt sleeping off a boozer and hasn’t arisen. I doubt The Archetype Ladies Union has a bit of the same (The Skanks particularly).  Whatever the cause(s), I don’t have no inspiration.

I am forced to write about the cutlery.

Here at the Spo-house we have several sets of such. Like the Cantebury Tales, I will narrate in order of hierarchy.

First of all I have my maternal grandmother’s silverware.  The collection is located in a fancy felt-lined wooden box.  It is for formal dinners of which we haven’t had in years. I don’t remember when we last it out, and I am not quite certain where it is anymore. Perhaps under the guest bed. Mother always had it hidden lest there is a break-in and theft. I have done the same.  As it is proper silver it always needs polishing and it can’t be put readily in the dishwasher.  People my age and younger just aren’t into this sort of silverware. I could not give it away to the nieces.  I have thought of selling it to a silversmith to melt down for cash, but out of guilt I hold onto it.

In the kitchen drawer is a stainless steel set of forks, knives etc. I think we purchased at Marshall Fields in Chicago (may it rest in peace).   This set is seldom used as well. There is a sense of foolishness to pull out two sets for everything out of the twelve. There is a sense of ‘use all or none it” so we don’t. The salad fork is too close in shape and size to the dinner fork so they are continually mixed up in the tray.

What we use (alas) are two simple sets of cheap stuff that stand in a brown ceramic container that stand on the kitchen island. These are very old utensils– one set I think goes back to Someone’s bachelor days.  They are looking cheap and worn yet this is what we use in our daily eating. Most of the time we don’t bother ‘matching’ the two but grab whatever is needed at the moment.  The supper table is a mismatch. Neither set is complete and decades of use has resulted in some losses.

Finally, I have four or five mismatched spoons I use for work. They go back and forth between home and office  with the tea things. I have no idea where I got these spoons. I suspect I picked them up like abandoned puppies found in various office kitchenettes, left behind when staff member leave.  Sometimes the spoons end up in the mentioned kitchen container with the everyday stuff.

It’s fascinating we have two complete sets of cutlery (one formal and one ‘daily formal’) yet we always use the cheap stuff. I suppose it’s easier to just grab the ones out and at eye-level.  Maybe we are saving ‘the good stuff’ for times that never come.

My favorite set of course is the mismatched spoons, perhaps because I am more fond of rescue mutts than pure-breeds.  I am on the look out for more. Although I am in no need for more spoons I would like a formal set of 8-12.  Aunt Clara has her doorknobs and I have my lovely Loffels.

Please tell me about your silverware. Do you have several sets? Any ‘really good stuff”? Do you have a ‘favorite spoon”? 


The other day I connected the dots on some half-conscious worry I’ve been having about my podcasts. I want to share my insight.

I listen to dozens of podcasts for I love them so. Several of them are about history while more are science-based (astronomy, biology, and psychology). Nearly all of them fall  into the common category of ‘being educational”.  I love learning; I have a rapacious appetite for knowledge.  The results of my greedy enterprise are I now have dozens of podcasts subscriptions*. Most of them put out new episodes on a continual basis. Every  morning there are new entries and I want to hear each and every one of them. Unfortunately this is beginning to resemble the ‘I Love Lucy episode’ with the chocolate wrapping conveyor belt:  too many are coming too quickly for me to ingest. After all, there are only so many free hours in the day – even by ‘doubling up a podcast with an activity such as ironing or walking the dog.  It seems at no time is my phone off but it is ‘getting caught up’ with podcasts all trying to teach me things.

The axioms “I can’t have it all” and “I can’t learn everything I want” are no-brainer insights. The revelation at hand was brought to me via one of my favorite podcasts “Hello from the Magic Tavern”**  This one is not educational. Far from it!  It is ‘fun’ ; it has no educational value whatsoever. It is the equivalent of eating a bag of nasty chips with a whole lot of cheese-dip. Oh so delicious!  When I last listened to it, I discovered I was feeling guilty I should be listening to something ‘good for me’ like ‘The Daily’.  Eh? What’s this!? While Ego was asleep at the switch some inner-whistle blower Complex has taken over my down time schedule and declared no education = wasting time.  I am not sure yet of its origins (an analysis in progress).

I have christened this complex “Tiger Mom”.

“Tiger mom is a mother raising her children in a traditional Chinese way, including strict rules, tough love, and discipline to get children to succeed.”

So much of my ‘down time’ is geared towards “improving myself”; I look down on ‘wasting time’.  Even my YouTube past times are towards the science and learning channels.   Go to my bookshelf and look at the ‘to read’ list. I can assure you they are classics and such.

So what the f-ck is wrong with reading rubbish or listening to a podcast on wizards and talking Badgers just for the sheer pleasure of doing so? Whence comes this inner Tiger Mom?  I need to know soon as this sense of cramming cosmic crud into my cranium is getting a bit wearing. What I really want is junk food, trash reading, and doggerel entertainment with no redeeming properties whatsoever.

The first step at shrinking The Tiger Mom Complex is recognition it is not Ego. The second step is taking action. I am now deleting podcast entries if they don’t immediately grab my interest. If I  listen to one and it isn’t floating my goat I will stop it. The next step is letting go of books that bore me despite the notion to plod through it for the sake of saying I have read it.

 By the way, Someone isn’t in touch with his Tiger Mom or he has kicked her out ages ago. He can watch TV for hours and feel no regret or sense he is wasting time or he ought to be doing something to improve himself.

Tiger Moms apparently push their children towards ‘success in life”. One could argue I got that now, so what the hell? I will always want to grow and learn and improve myself, but I think Tiger Mom can let up now. There is no test anymore to pass.

This weekend I may try watching Archer cartoons all Saturday.  Meanwhile I deleted the Ted-talks on global warming and the “Very Bad Words” episode on the the history of the @-hole word for the next set of Hello From the Magic Tavern.

Yeah, baby!


*On request I will gladly provide Spo-fans the list of recommendations.

**Three improv actors do a podcast from the mythical Land of Foon. Arnie fell through a timehole behind a Burger King in Chicago into Foon, where he hosts a weekly podcast with his two buddies Usidore the Blue and Chunt the talking Badger. It is a cross between The Firesign Theatre and Dungeons&Dragons. It is hilarious and quite worth a look-see.

Spo-fans recall (or learning now) I’ve had a long time project since junior high school of creating a map consisting of every mythical legendary and imaginary person, place, or thing there is (or never was). I keep a running list handy so when I think of something I  can jot it down for a later evaluation for entry into “The Timeless Lands of Erewhon”.  “Uncle Wiggly” was recently brought to my attention,  which got me thinking about this character and his cohorts.  He was a rabbit (on crutches) in a series of books with many companions.  I remember Uncle Wiggly not from books but from a board game.

As a young boy I was disturbed by the game for it gave me the heebie-jeebies.  As a player you had to get by several nasty characters on your way to the goal of visiting Dr. Possum. One particular character evoked the most anxiety.  He was a tall, dark, stick-like character like that of a crane. He had a long piercing beak and he seemed to have elements of a black widow spider– or so my memory goes.  I haven’t thought of him in ages, but he remember he haunted me in my youth; he would sometimes show up in my dreams. I recall avoiding the game knowing I would have to see him and get past him to proceed on my journey.  To a six year old this was major impediment.


Thanks to my recent research into Uncle Wiggly I came across a photo of the game board. You can see the demon is in the upper left hand corner of the board.  Notice to you have to go into his mouth with its piercing sharp tongue and out his back-end. The Freudians would have a hay-day analyzing my six year old terror on the topic!

Thanks to Wikipedia I have learned it’s name:  Skeezicks.*


Skeezicks! I have used this word all my life and still do. I thought it was a generic word but apparently it originates from the Uncle Wiggly books?I often call Harper ‘Skeezicks’ so she won’t prick up her ears at her name being said: “I am taking Skeezicks for a walk”. Imagine! All this time my inner demon has been lurking like a hidden squatter in my house and psyche (as subconscious complexes do) !

I plan on reading ‘The Uncle Wiggle’ books  at least the books; I want to eject the nasty bird from my psyche. Last night I did NOT have bad dreams after all this insight. I take this as a good sign the fellow has been discovered and rendered harmless.  There is nothing like exposing the complexes for the shams they are to make them innocuous (think of Dorothy et. al. when they realize there is a man behind the curtain).  I feel good to have faced another childhood demon and come out well.


*This photo from the internet is marvelous from a Jungian point of view. Uncle Wiggly as Ego is having his house (Pscyhe) invaded by the Skeezicks the Shadow-Complex.  Skeezicks looks powerful while Uncle W (with his rheumatism and candy cane crutches) looks too frail to fight. He is going to have to put up a pretty stiff battle to eject S from his household – or at least get him to behave. Happily Wiggly has a Friend complex with him to help him.  


When I was a lad I worried no one wanted to give me any attention. Nowadays I realize my attention is much wanted and worth its weight in gold. My eyeballs are quite coveted; the minute I wake (perhaps sooner) they are waved at and this continues to the end of the day.  Who is this needy person you ask?  The cellphone AKA the pocket computer AKA the techie time-sucker wakes me to reveal all the apps lit up as if I have entered into a drawing room where everyone had been waiting for me. “Pick me!” and “Open me!” I sense they are saying. A subset of this morning grab for my time/energy (and perhaps money) are the podcasts. Which of the half dozen new episodes will I hear as I attend my morning ablutions and on the drive to work?

Less desired are the continuous announcements throughout my day of email, texts, and notifications – work-related and social media. I am paid for the former so these divertissements take priority. Reminders, phone call, and prescription renewals are the three ‘please pay attention to me now” pop-ups at work.   In the background are the FB shenanigans and such.

I hear some Spo-fans channeling the Mae West approach. When Mae was asked her thoughts on people criticizing her radio show, she replied ‘Well, they could have turned it off”.  Indeed.

I am working on disconnecting the technology toys which are in cahoots with my monkey brain parts that are trained to leap whenever the button is pressed, and with my Midwest mentality if I don’t immediately respond to a page disaster may happen (oh the embarrassment).

I turned off the news notifications andI am working on turning off the phone. More important, I am coming to the realization I can’t listen to all that I want, nor can I read all that comes my way.  It is not humanly possible despite my zeal to learn and read. Limits, structure, and accepting disappointment are needed.  I hope my inner child soon realizes attention from Youtube and Facebook is fool’s gold.


As I loaded the washer for the umpteenth time since Saturday I reflected on Sisyphus and his never-ending task to roll rocks up the hill.  For thems unfamiliar with the tale I have linked a lovely Youtube rendition of the tale.  The adjective ‘sisyphean’ means some sort of task that can never be completed – like my laundry.

Most of Life is like this: we get up, do ‘A”  – and the next day “A” needs doing again. I recall monks have a positively-spun name for this sort of thing but the word escapes me no doubt as I have failed to find much serenity or joy in continually loading and unloading the dishwasher and ironing the same shirts over and over.  Funny how this defines a lot of “Life” when Mr. Sisyphus’ continuous task takes place in Death.

It is fascinating to consider what sisyphean aspects of my life I find comforting and what I find tedious.  Making meals is OK but flossing my teeth is a drag. Most of my job is quite repetitive; this is either monotonous or meaningful depending on my approach.

At least with the sisyphean tasks you know what to expect and there are no surprises. To counter-balance the proverbial rocks that need rolling I try to do as many new and adventuresome things as possible. I go to new places for dinner; I order things out of the ordinary.  Impromptu ideas and directions are done as much as possible. It is a small two finger salute to the gods that give some satisfaction between brushing my teeth and dusting the furniture.

Alas, alas, for all my desire to avoid repetition there is no escaping the daily dirty dishes, the odorous clothes, and the dog doings (walk, feed, and pick up afterward).  Best to try not to see them as terrible and tedious punishments but something in which to take comfort.   Belle can lump it.



Once in a while I sit across the desk from a long time patient with again active symptoms who is looking to me to ‘do something’ despite years of treatments and interventions. What on earth is next to do? For these types, I have my ‘cheat sheets’ to consult. I sometimes make a handwritten timeline summary on a patient. This allows me to see at a glance all that has gone before. These papers are time-consuming to compose but they have come to the rescue on many occasion. Thanks to them I can make logical recommendations rather than resort to micromanagement or (worse) random treatment proposals.

Once in a while I go through the ‘active’ pile of cheat sheets to realize some patients have dropped out. Those not seen in over twelve months I move their cheat sheets to the ‘inactive’ folder. I never through them away. Some folks will come back, sometimes years later. The majority who go to the inactive file do not come back.  As I tidy up the folder, I often wonder what happened and why they didn’t return.  Patients drop out all the time in Medicine in general. I don’t know if this is more or less the same in psychiatry as in other specialties, nor have I the data to know if this happens more or less than me compared to my fellow wizards.

There are many possible reasons why patients drop out/don’t return:


A move

Insurance (a loss or change thereof).

A dissatisfaction with me or the clinic.

They got better.

Whatever the reasons the inactive pile members makes me wonder. Since these patients were long timers and challenging too nearly all of them come quickly back to my memory. Some I remember they told me moved away; some I know have died.

The patients who have died are the ones that evoke the most thought. Many of the inactive ones were old, sickly, and didn’t take care of themselves. People with mental illness tend to not live as well or as long as people without such conditions.  I am seldom privy to the reasons how and why they died. The news of their deaths mainly come from a relative’s telephone message Joe isn’t coming in anymore as he died last month.  Sometimes I am told via an ominous fax from the county medical examiner office; they have Joe’s body and please supply the latest progress notes to help them with their inquest.

A patient’s death evokes all sorts of emotions, including anxiety of  a possible suicide. Most patients I see are at some risk for such. I think I can speak for most psychiatrists when a patient commits suicide the doctor wonders had they missed something or should they had done things differently. Truth is when a patient in intent of killing themselves nearly nothing can stop them.

Regardless of the cause of the transfer from ‘active’ to the ‘inactive’ status each one makes me wonder I my endeavors made a difference. Mind, some of these patients were with me for years, if not a decade. It was my task to be with them on their Journey, if only for a little while, hopefully better for my contributions. I never know – and I seldom if ever get a thank you either. I have to take some satisfaction in knowing I tried my best.


Some of the blogs I admire most are written by men and women going through difficult times. In Jungian terms they are into The Journey, the part of life that isn’t certain nor comfortable.  Jung used the Greek word nekyia to describe the “perilous adventure of the night sea journey”, which he described as a “descent into the dark world of the unconscious”. These heroic bloggers are trying to survive and make sense of their lives which have become like unmoored boats without charts to guide them. We all go on nekyia to some degree and most folks will face a major one at least once in their lifetime.  The bloggers I am referencing deal with some whoppers. Their writings help them make meaning of what they are suffering; their readers provide witnessing to their efforts.


In contrast Urs Truly isn’t facing anything even close to a crisis. My Dark Journeys and troll-battles happened in my 20s and 30s.  I had to face issues most men have to deal with in later life.  Happily I got through them with with gained wisdom – and I got them out of the way early.

On the negative, my life feels at times banal; my problems are quite ordinary old-man problems. Instead of channeling Warrior and Hero energies I make sure I get enough sleep. I watch that I take my blood pressure and cholesterol medications.  There is no Equus torment – or passion.

Careful here. I am most grateful for a happy life without turmoil or threat. I do not ‘need’ demons to fight. All the same, I need some Hero energy back in my life.

It is OK to accept quiet good fortune with gratitude and let things be. However have you ever noticed Man’s stories are about The Journey. After the Journey ends, so the does the story, because what comes next in happily ever after may be pleasant but it isn’t very interesting. A positive way to evoke Journey and Hero energy is to step out of your comfort zone and perhaps do some travel.  Yes, I think that would be good for me.


3aed9afbe77048aa86b5f1626b574025  Staying home happy may safe and comfortable, but Bilbo Baggins did well to leave the Shire. I need not worry. Psyche finds ways to shake things up if she feels there is compliancy or a lesson to learn. I merely need to be conscious of opportunity – and be content if the gods will it so.


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.


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

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.


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.


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