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It looks like ‘monsoon season’ has arrived that brilliant broiling days are translating towards cloudy with some humidity and a sprinkle of rain. Some cloud cover is welcome, as are the drop of temps from 40-45C to a chill 35-40C. What isn’t welcome is the humidity. Normally before 10%, is is now a steamy 40%. I miss proper Midwest thunderstorms that would roll ominously over the horizon portending doom and deliver onto us proper thunder. All we got here are mid-afternoon sudden downpours that don’t last long, just enough to wet the place and make things feel like a steam room.

Hot puppies! I don’t work tomorrow! When my bosses sold the place to The Overlords, we became part of their policy to close on Federal holidays. So, for the first time ever, I have Emancipation Day off. I remember a study where they asked busy people what they would do if they had an extra day. Most of them ended up not chilling out but doing more work. I will have a day totally impromptu. Nice.

Speaking of holidays, today is Father’s Day, something never much celebrated in my family as Father’s birthday was always close to it; he likes to combine them into one day. Not one for prizes, last week he announced all he wants this year are calls from his sons. Fine. If he prefers family over things of real value, so be it.

This week several planets will be aligned in the early morning hours. I hope the recent cloud cover doesn’t spoil my view of this. The one time of the year when I don’t want clouds I get some.

Today I don’t have too much ‘there’s-work-to-be-done’ tasks. I need to finish some charts and I want to buy aluminum foil. We are fresh out, which borders on crisis. Growing up in the Midwest, a roll of aluminum foil was must-have in the house at all times. It was the equivalent of Southerners having sweet tea at-hand. It seems as soon as one runs out of something like this, all sorts of shenanigans happen that shout out for some.

Today I did Wordle in three moves and Canuckle in two. The rest of the day will be anticlimactic.

Spo-fans: what are you doing this Sunday? Any plans for Father’s day? Tell me your aluminum foil hacks.

Today is the last day of my medical conference. The last lecture is going to be about ‘psychedelics” and we are all looking forward to that one. Patients are already asking me about the things.  Overall it has been a good conference; it was just the right combination of things I already knew (a comfort to know I am on top of things) and some things I did not know. I can go back to work with some improvements towards questions, care, and documentation.  

Here are some highlights for the Spo-fans:

Fat (adipose tissue) is chock-full of nasty things hell-bent on causing inflammation, which correlates to all sorts of illnesses including depression. Losing weight and eating properly is good for physical and mental well-being, including better response to pain/psychiatric treatments. 

Lifestyle surpasses genetics and upbringing, a relief. 30 days of mindfulness, exercise (walking counts), nutrition improvement, sleep priority, and daily contact with others can do a hell of a lot of good for pain, depression, and anxiety. 

There is a brain part named the lateral habenula. It’s been identified as the section most correlated with gloom, anhedonia, and hopelessness. Nicknamed the ‘misery section” of the brain, it is not amenable to antidepressant medication. Ketamine, however, does, and this may explain why refractory depression cases respond to the drug. Alas, Babylon, the effects are only temporary. However, new medications are going to target this gloomy little part of the brain. Fingers crossed. 

For thoughts of suicide, soon there will be a ‘988’ number to call. AFSP.ORG  (American foundation of suicide prevention) has lots of resources on the topic. 

Lost Vegas was a marvelous party but I am glad to get out of it. Everything is frightfully expensive. Drinks averaged 20$; last night’s buffet was 70$ each. Gasoline is over six dollars a gallon. On the positive, Someone won 160$ and he found a twenty dollar bill, so that’s good. 

I am looking forward to being home where it is quiet and smoke-free. I want to sleep in my own bed with my dog. I hope June will be a quiet month. 

I haven’t written an entry in a few days. A few days ago, the lower back went into one of its spasms. My left-side erector spinae muscle once again tightened itself to a fraction of its usual length and won’t relax for anything. It isn’t painful but when I try to do basic things like rise from a chair it lets me know its not happy.  When this happens I walk like Grouch Marx and want to do little, including write. The Muses or someone like them senses this and they scram. Thus, no postings. 

Today Someone has his first Sunday off in so long neither of us remember when it last happened. He is spending the day sleeping. I ought to do likewise as I cannot do much. Not that I’m not trying. Time and laundry stop for no man.* I am getting the usual weekend tasks done, albeit slowly and with many rests.  

Speaking of medical matters, this evening I start a new medicine. I am highly allergic to sulfa antibiotics, and this one has a sulfur-base to it. The Good Doctor doesn’t know of any cross over, but it is possible. If I should develop a reaction, this may be my last entry for a while, if not forever. Now that I’ve frighten a great many of you, not to be worrying, it is as likely to happen as an Arizona politician admitting a mistake. A more likely side effect is having low blood pressure, which I hope happens, as it means I can lay off some of the meds I take for such.  Better life through chemistry.

The Muses sure have taking their leave, for I had a half-dozen half-baked starter essays, which look to be going nowhere, so I deleted them. I hoped they would be risen like bread dough when in fact they were more like partial-ate items that were pushed to the back of the fridge only to be thrown out past their prime. Speaking of leftovers, I have a Costco chicken near picked over that I ought to turn into soup.  By now I don’t follow a recipe but make it with whatever needs a food push. “Stone soup” I call it. More often than not they are tasty. Once in a while I make a very good one, but cannot recall exactly how it was made.  I still hang on to the belief chicken soup is the panacea of all ills. At least it couldn’t hurt. 

I hope my back muscle relaxes soon so I can walk erect and the Muses return for something more substantial to write.  Tune in tomorrow – adverse reaction to meds willing.

*I recently read one ought to wash the bedsheets in warm if not hot water to eliminate any wee-beasties; cold water apparently doesn’t do the trick.

Yes yes yes it my attempts to thwart having to take pre-diabetes medication has paid off. I had a look-see at my lab work, which shows no sugar in the urine and a fasting glucose of 93. I am pleased as Punch. It is a comfort knowing sensible interventions of ‘no sugar’ and no snacks (oh the pain) and regular exercise paid off. Let’s hear it for non-living.

The cement pond in the backyard is showing some virescence and that ain’t good. I texted The Pool Boy my concern and he responded right back I should drain the pool and replenish it with fresh water. He also advised me again to cut down the backyard tree as the so-called reason for the situation. He’s been cross about the tree from the get-go. I fear either the tree goes or he goes.

One of insurance companies at work recently connected the dots I don’t have admitting privileges to hospital and what am I to do about this. I wrote back saying this has been so since 2005 and if someone needs to be admitted I tell them they should sensibly get to the nearest ER where the staff therein can figure out what to do. I sense this will be unacceptable and the insurance company will threaten to leave, resulting in a stand off. Historically this would make me worried but after thirty years I’ve grown wiser, less anxious, or perhaps jaded I don’t seem to care.

Last week Father had a bad reaction to a shingles shot and on top of this it sounds like he ate something bad so he’s feeling lousy all over and this made his moods quite despondent, poor fellow. Perhaps it is age as he has never been one to have sudden reactive mood swings. He called daily to say he is sick and tired of being sick and tired and all he does is go to doctor appointments. He asked about an antidepressant; I told him to have Brother #3 turn on a Pink Panther movie. Father called on Saturday sounding more cheerful saying this remedy helped. One of my favorite professors once told me whenever he took life or the world too seriously he would go watch a Marx Brothers movie. ‘Horse Feathers’ is good, but in very bad cases ‘Duck Soup’ is better*

This reminds me I owe a few Spo-fans an entry on the seven ways to deal with the absurdity of life. Perhaps this week.

To end Sunday Spo-bits on a happy note, I received in the post the coffee beans mentioned in last Wednesday’s Ws entry. I forgot or didn’t know these demonic beans are brewed ‘from the dark heart of Ohio” Patience above! Sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury but apparently it is OK to drink dreck from Columbus.

*Duck Soup is arguably one of the funniest films ever. Do not dare to question this.

I brought home from the MESA office a duster on an extendable pole. This allows me to clean the ceiling fans and the tops of doors etc. I cannot remember the last time this was done. The amount of dust was profound. Who knew the walls accumulate dust? Today I see the textured painted walls have a freshness to them. My nose is going but I am well-pleased.

Someone continues to work workhouse-type hours; he often leaves early in the morning and comes home after I’ve fallen asleep. It’s worse on weekends as there are nonstop shows. As a consequence, we’ve been negligent at doing the twice a day doggie drops. I’ve taken to do them myself. Harper lets me know she does not care for this. She holds her eyes tightly closed and who can blame her? It’s not an easy one-man job to hold down the dog while trying to pry her eyes open and dropping in few drops. Often they just dribble down her face. I hope with practice this improves. I play ‘dirty pool’ and creep up on her while she’s a-snoozing on the bed. This is annoying but the job gets done. I wonder if this what parents put up with getting children to do things they don’t like.

Tomato updates! On the positive the two plants haven’t died. On the negative we got our first days over 100F. This kills off the pollen and the flowers have atrophied. There are a few tomatoes but they are the size of marbles and not likely to grow any bigger. If I am ever to retire (fat chance of that!) I want to live in some place to grow proper toms, just one last time.

Yesterday I bought a mask on-line; it is the first one I’ve purchased not made myself. It is navy blue with little yellow caduceus on them. I am one of the few, the proud, the prudent who still wears mask out in public. No one yet has dared to tell me “I don’t need to wear one anymore” or (worse) command me to remove it*, but I suspect seeing the medical logo may keep folks away from me.

A final Sunday Spo-bit: last Friday I met with The Boss with the newly-hired RN at work about coverage. The nurse asked about after coverage after hours/weekend/vacation. I pointed out I carry my page/phone 24/7 and work some every day on vacation. I haven’t had a proper vacation in years in which I turn off the phone. Both were interested in changing this, perhaps a rotation of someone covering after hours/weekends while the others don’t. If this happens I might be able turn off my phone for the first time since I don’t know when. I wonder what’s that like to have an off phone and not be accountable? Can you imagine?

*I am rip-ready with ripostes if some rude-boy dares says anything to me. In a way, I am disappointed.

First of May, first of May outside, (fill in the blanks) starts today.

May is a funny month that it often feels like four weeks of merely waiting for Memorial Day weekend. Mother’s day was never a big deal when growing up, as it happened to be so close to Mother’s birthday the two holidays were combined. On Mother’s Day proper all she wanted was for the family to attend church, which we did. This month The Comic-con (or something like it) convention is back in town, which means Someone will work all Memorial Day Weekend and I should consider going out of town. I hate traveling on Memorial Day weekend so I am likely to stay put. All in all May is a quiet month, a sort of lull before proper summer begins.

It’s that time of the year when the weather is just so to make nothing feel right. It gets uncomfortable-hot but not enough to turn on the AC, yet open windows and doors blow in massive amounts of pollen. Someone insists on sleeping with the bedroom door closed (lest we are burgled) which makes for less than stellar sleeping arrangements. In the morning it is cool enough to wake feeling cold and look for a cover that you wouldn’t want at the time of falling asleep. In a few weeks the temperatures will be hot enough to burn away the pollen and allow the AC coming on and sleeping will be better.

May doesn’t hold anything special at work either. Same things really. There are again rumors again The Overlords are hiring new people, yet when I am at the PHX office it resembles a ghost town. In theory we have twelve therapists and four prescribers but I seldom see anyone. This is good as my corner office with the windows is already hot enough to keep the door open and fans a-turning. With no one down the hall I don’t have to worry about privacy.

I have a few doctor and dentist appointments this month, routine things I hope.

Today 1 May looks to be non-eventful routine of finishing the dishes, the ironing, the laundry, and making the bed. When Someone wakes I want to go out for breakfast, I don’t care where. I lead a dull life, but for once this is OK for it is the first of May first of May outside nothing starts today. May it be a quiet and unsurprising four weeks.

To celebrate the first day of spring I had a dip in the cement pond. “This looks like a job for Captain Equinox!” I shouted as I leapt in. I didn’t stay in long however and what I shouted coming out of the pool was less certain. I suspect my next attempt will be at the summer solstice. 

I don’t need a weather app to tell me it’s spring as my allergies are active. The high pollen count is beastly unfair as it is warm enough now to sit out of doors but I can’t as to do so is miserable. You would think after 15 years I would be over this but no every spring it’s like smallpox to the natives. DougT and Leon the Larger, our out of town guests, think they have a cold so I may have one and not allergies. I don’t feel sick – and I still have taste/smell – so I am going with allergies. The OTCs help some but leave me feeling like I am walking in a haze. Happily they need little entertaining which is good as I need to take frequent naps. 

Last Friday at work, The Boss, The (new) Other Doctor, and a representative from The Overlords gathered for a chat. When I heard they were having a noon meeting (with pizza) and it wasn’t on my schedule, I figured by day’s end I would be handed an empty box to clean out my desk and be escorted off the premises.  Turns out the agenda was considering establishing a TMS (trans-magnetic stimulation) centre. They asked me to join and would I would be interested in participating. I said yes. If this works out, I will become a ‘Director’ and my drive to Mesa will be cut from 2/week to 1/week. I would also get a ‘substantial raise’.  Hot puppies! I hope this works out. 

I was pleased as Punch to finally get caught up with my blogger buddies. I was most happy to find Steven at ‘So this is me” posted after a year’s hiatus. I stop by regular hoping to see him post. I was just about to move the link to the graveyard of departed bloggers and lo! There he was. 

That’s about all the Spo-bits that’s fit to print. This is due to writer’s block thanks to Zyrtec and leading a dull life.  I hope The Muses (or somebody like them)  provides me soon with something more substantial. I hope too they bring decongestants. 

I haven’t been online for a few days. This is mostly due to a major clean up of the back porch patio (with some indoor tasks thrown in, down on my water breaks). It’s Sunday and it remains a work in progress. The iron trellis hold six pots which are presently empty; sitting by them it looks sort of bleak. I went to Home Depot this morning to replenish them. When in Rome do as the Roman do, and that goes double for thems living in Zone 10+. Experience has taught me buying annuals and perennials is a waste of money for even one missed day of watering in the summer brings instant death. Like a fool, I was bedazzled with the shelves of verdant plants. I came how with a pepper plants, some basil-types, and (here we go again!) a couple of tomato plants. Stupid.

I also bought new patio chair pillows. The usual ones, twenty years old if a minute, were looking bad, so I put them in the washer machine. Oh the horror. Oh well, they lived a long life. New pillows (I rationalize) would go better with the new plants. After all, there is nothing like a new frock to brighten up the day.

All this poking and shaking about on the porch predictably set off my allergies. All the drugs I took have stopped the sneezing and the PND is down to a dull roar but I can no longer breathe through my nose. Decongestants help but this means going to the pharmacy. In Arizona they are regulated like Oxycontin lest you buy some and make crack or something.

I wonder what others do on weekends besides house and yard work. Rumor has it some people go out and have fun and there are strange talk some sit still and do little to nothing. I suppose these types have servants to do the dirty work, or are clever and get tasks done on weekdays. Good for them! Today’s dissolute agenda is to pot those plants and clean up The Dragon Room (for that is where we lodge the guests) and later on read blogs. Once again I am behind in what is happening with my blogger buddies. Curiously many also report they are caught up in day to day activities rather than skiing the Alps or something like that. It is a comfort.

Today the highs should hit 22C, which is warm enough to open some windows and doors. It is hit-or-miss if this is a good thing. On the positive, it would be nice to get in some fresh air, but on the negative, what covers for ‘fresh air’ around here at this time of year has palm pollen in it. Allergens and dust will descend en masse and cover everything, and I just dusted. Looking for a lost object in the bedroom* led to a dismantling of the bed and a complete tidy-up thereunder. Oh the horror. There were dust bunnies the size of Buicks and enough dog hair to make a second Harper. I also found some Christmas ornaments and candy wrappers from Hallowe’en. On the positive, this got my allergies a-going so opening the windows couldn’t do any worse: I already have a congested nose and sneezes.

I am out of Motrin, and the TP is running low, so I thought of going to Costco today but I changed my mind. Sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury than set foot in Costco on a Sunday afternoon. If Mr. Dante were alive today and writing “The Divine Comedy’ set in contemporary times, I imagine Costco on Sunday would make a good level in Hell.** It seems one of the criteria for membership at Costco is ‘do you lack manners/’. Someone usually goes on a Tuesday morning at opening time; I can do without Motrin until then.

Yesterday I watched another video on The Tube of Yous along the line of ‘Helpful kitchen tips”. I am trying two of them. One is to freeze cheap white wine in ice trays to have some handy for cooking/deglazing the pans, or as more-flavorful ice cubes. The other tip is to cut limes and lemons into slices and freeze them in a plastic bag to use them as ice cubes as well. Martha Stewart I am not, but these seem worth a try anyway. I lead a dull life; this is how I spend my weekends.

One more Sunday Spo-bit. Last Friday I ordered my meds and there wasn’t a hitch. It seems the ordeal of Rx coverage is concluded. What a relief. I pay out of pocket 500$ per month, but this is 10% of what I was doing last month minus coverage. I hope to find some sort of reimbursement form to help recover my costs. One can only imagine the Kafkaesque quagmire that will be, but it seems worth it. I may wait on this until Someone goes to Costco and gets me my Motrin. I will need some.

*The lost item was finally found in the bathroom.

*between the third and forth levels, probably, which are Gluttony and Greed, respectively.

Yesterday Someone went to work early and he didn’t come home until late, so I was ‘home alone”, submerged in tidy up and ‘there’s work to be done’ tasks. As Joe Gillis said: nobody called and nobody ever came. That’s not quite true, now that I think about it. The COX cable man came by to exchange the old black box with a shiny white new one. He was a nice fellow, well over four feet, who did his job courteously, but that was it. I was sort of hoping he’d say it had been a long day and he could use a break and I would invite him to stay for tea etc. but this didn’t happen. Later on, I went to Uncle Albertsons to get my second shingles shot. Afterwards laid down for the awaited reaction. Nothing. It was almost a disappointment. Did I get the placebo? Perhaps my immune system is merely planning some outrage, ready to spring today. That’s OK as Someone once again works all day and I can crawl into bed and stay put.

A few minor Spo-holidays happen this week (more on this later) so there is something to look forward to. I also see The Good Doctor on Thursday. The work week looks the same as all the rest of them. It is supposed to warm up by Wednesday to the lower 20s C; that will be nice.

After Warrior Queen died, I got into the habit of calling Todd on Sunday to check in on him. This morning I started to think when to do this today, then I remembered he was dead, and I became sad. I wonder if I will always remember him on Sunday. I may turn this bereavement into a T.G. memorial by calling somebody on Sundays, someone whom I have spoken with in while, and find out how they are. Yes, this is a good idea.

How often do you pick up the phone* and actually call people? I’m not talking texts and emails (although any communication is better than none) but a proper verbal intercourse with all the lovely complexities of the human voice? I hear tell the young-folk find talking to others difficult as they lack the upbringing and the practice how to do so. I hope this is not so, as I find this horrible. In their defense, I find calling people nowadays awkward as ‘calling’ is becoming more negative. as I dial, I worry people will think I am a telemarketer or I want something or the call is about something bad. I always start my calls with ‘did I catch you at a bad time?” to allow “love to, but I talk but not right now” and no harm asking. Despite our (mine) reservations to call someone out of the blue studies show the recipients are nearly always delighted by the gesture.

So, pick up that phone and call someone today, and ask them what’s happening and just listen. It will do you and them a world of good.

*The expression ‘pick up the phone’ may not register with the younger Spo-fans who have never had to literally pick up the phone from its base and hold it to your ear.

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July 2022

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018