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Today I made my first ‘over-the-ear’ masks (3)  instead of my usual ones I tie about my head in the style of Jacob Marley. This sixteenth Japanese design is perfect for going to sushi restaurants – which I haven’t done since last March. 

Someone regularly tests for covid19 and his recent test last week was again negative. When he tests negative, I suppose I am negative too. There is some erroneous presumption to this way of thinking. He gets his vaccine in early February.

Yesterday I made my first-ever marmalade. It was some job. I followed the recipe, but my intuition tells me this is didn’t literally gel. I find out soon. I should get some English muffins as there is nothing in the house upon which to spread such. The back up plan is if  failed-spread is runny it will be used as a topping for ice cream. 

Last weekend I did such as good job cleaning the master bedroom and bathroom it inspired me to tackle the formal living room. I dislike this room as we never use it. It is reserved for ‘formal entertaining’ for our gentleman callers. Like going to sushi restaurants, this never happens. Even when we had chums over we all congregated in the kitchen anway. The formal living room and its contents is a conglomerate of dust-collectors. It seems every time we’ve bought a house there have been too many rooms, some we never used. Next time I want to get a place with ‘just enough rooms’. 

I recently heard a story I thought I would share. A friend of Socrates went to The Oracle at Delphi and asked “Is there a man wiser than Socrates?“. Instead of getting the usual cryptic reply he was told “No”. When told this, this friend was amazed by the answer. Socrates spent his whole life emphasizing he knows nothing; we can’t know anything for certain. He investigated what The Oracle meant. What he came up with was other men know nothing, but the don’t know they know nothing. Socrates on the other hand knows nothing, but he knows he knows nothing -and that’s not nothing. So maybe that’s what made him wiser than others.     hohoho. 

*Made from grapefruit, of which I have plenty.

I woke up this morning ‘still here’; the Krampus did not haul we away in the night. In some ways this is a disappointment. Perhaps I will do better with The 13 Yule Lads who start showing up the evening of the twelfth. I prefer seeing Iceland to Austria anyway. 

The kitchen and pantry got a thorough cleaning this morning, after a sufficient waiting period to see if the mouse I trapped and released last week hadn’t found its way back. I love the smell of Pine-Sol in the morning. Later today I will probably ruin it all in my next attempt at making rye bread. It would be nice to have both a tidy kitchen and a decent loaf but this may not be humanely possible. 

I didn’t get a call from the Krampus last night but I did get one from Father called. He never calls in the evening as he is on EST and he goes to bed early. At first I was alarmed but instantly relieved to hear a cheery upbeat affect. Why the call? After a few days of ‘GI troubles’ he finally had relief thanks to the advice I had given him that afternoon to take a certain over-the-counter combination of softeners. Curious he didn’t ask Brother #2 the radiologist or SIL #3 the ER physician A.K.A ‘the real doctors in the house” what to do about the matter. My prescription worked; he was calling to thank me and tell me the good news. Pretty good for a psychiatrist! It was good to hear him cheerful about something after weeks of gloom. 

Sundays seem to be all about tidy-up and cleaning things out. As I write this the washer and dryer are going allegro non troppo. It still bewilders me how two O.B.s* generate so much laundry. The washer machine has taken to traveling. It starts next to the dryer but ends up at a 45-degree angle a foot or so away.  Someone the Rationalist thinks I am overloading the machine but I sense the Maytag is bewitched and it is trying to escape.  Someone didn’t call my bluff to take over all laundry duties so this constant backwards and forwards dance is likely to continue. 

Next step in La Casa de Spo cleanse is to get out the stepladder and change the air filters in the ceiling. We recently turned on the heat so I want clean filters to match. While he (Someone) is up there I want to change some lightbulbs.

How many psychiatrists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Answer: none – I get Someone to do this. 

Later: Someone did a fine job with the changing of the filters and the lightbulb. The filters were quite schumtzig. The old ones were quite gray and opaque in contrast to the new white ‘clear’ ones. I will sleep better knowing this is done. As for the lightbulb – I see the hallway needs sweeping. This stuff never ends.

 

*Old Bachelors. Since we are married I should stop referring to ourselves as ‘O.B.s’ but it is a long time habit and I like saying it. 

Yesterday Friday felt like Saturday as we did many Saturday chores. As a consequence this morning feels like a Sunday when I try to do little or nothing. Sunday is my day to write non-sequitur Spo-bits so here it is a day early.  Spo

Yesterday I made stock from the carcass which seemed to go OK but this morning I took it out of the fridge to skim off the fat the whole thing was a gelatinous mass, a sort of ‘fatberg”. Disgusting. I wonder what went wrong. Maybe it’s possible to warm it and melt it back into liquid form but my first thought is to toss the nasty looking thing as an experiment gone wrong. 

We have a lot of leftover meat which will be made into a stew and a pot pie.  Today is cooking such. 

Many homes in the neighborhood have already put up Christmas lights. A block away from me on another street is a house notorious for its over-the-top decorations that light up the district like a Carnival Cruise ship. Yesterday on our dog walk we saw the owner outside still setting things up suggesting this year’s spectacle should be more foudroyant than usual if that is possible. I wonder what his immediate neighbors think of it.

My outside decorations pale by comparison to the whorehouse productions surrounding me. Last night the two white lights on either side of the garage door were exchanged for green and red. I made sure the green one was on the starboard side as one leaves port A.K.A. the garage. We haven’t put out lights in years; if I can them (and they work) I may put up some strands. Nothing mars the Christmas spirit more than trying to untangle Christmas lights. Bah Humbug. 

Who knew masks would still be needed by year’s end?  It is a tragedy this is so. It is an ill wind that blows nobody good; it gives me an out to get out remnants of Christmas fabric and make me some masks apropos of the Christmas season. 

The one with the stars comes from fabric I used to make the Christmas tree skirt. 

I love holly and now I get to wear some. 

The blue mask was made from a runner made fifteen years ago when I was learning how to sew and it didn’t turn out so good.  I wonder if anyone will call me a snowflake when I wear it. 

The Grinch mask was made from the fabric used to make a Spo-shirt so now I have mask and shirt to match.  It is my favorite of the four. 

 

 

*Fat chance of that.  I should go into the office for a few hours, as is my wont on Saturday mornings, to do some paperwork. 

The Mouse in the House remains at large. Yesterday we bought some ‘humane’ traps but so far no luck. At one point we had the thing boxed behind a bookshelf with Someone on the one side and Urs Truly on the other playing the proverbial game of cat and mouse but we lost. Someone thinks it not a mouse but something else, a small rat perhaps. I know it’s a mouse. Imagine if you will us on other sides of the bookshelf giving each other updates:

“I just saw the mouse. It’s headed your way now”

“I don’t think it’s a mouse I think it’s a small rat”

“It’s a mouse – oh! he’s back I almost got him!
“Don’t make sudden moves, sent it back my way. It don’t think it’s a mouse”

“It’s a mouse” 

etc. 

On Saturday morning we went early to Uncle Albertsons to get our foodstuffs for Thanksgiving. I was anxious the place would resemble The Fall of Saigon but at 8AM it was not bad. Uncle A wasn’t short on anything on my list. I was shocked and dismayed to see once again all the TP was gone. I almost wept with the dismay; can we never learn anything or are we doomed to forever repeat folly?* Someone and I did not succumb to this lunacy last spring and we won’t this time.  We should have plenty of tissue until the next Loony-Tunes episode.

Last night Someone ushered an outdoor Arizona Opera showing of an opera.** This is the first public gathering I have attended since March.  It resembled a small sports stadium with astroturf. I sat on my chair in my ‘pod’ for one, a healthy distance from the others, wearing my mask at all times.

Speaking of masks I am pleased to see nearly everybody in the store and out and about are wearing them. By now everybody has the over-the-ears store-bought surgical masks but I continue with the homemade tie-it-yourself types. Today I got out some Christmas-themed fabric to make some more masks.  Alas that this drags that I need some!  These four will be of holly, snowflakes, Christmas stars, and The Grinch. 

Someone advises me if I am going to launch my turkey endeavor I should start today by pulling out the bird from the freezer. I am looking forward to trying this. Part of yesterday’s shopping was thinking ahead to how to use the leftovers. I might make a turkey casserole or soup. Perhaps I will make both as I suspect we will have a lot of leftovers provided I don’t ruin it. 

 

 

*History says hell no. 

**The opera was Hansel and Gretel. The production was awful. Act II was more or less a food fight taking place in an industrial-type kitchen. The witch was sung by a man in drag. After she/he turns into gingerbread the spectacle ends in a sparagmos. It was rawther unusual. 

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections thinks I write about food too much.  They suggest I change the subject, lest somebody mistake me for ‘Food Wishes’. I find their request puzzling as eating is one of their favorite past times when they aren’t drinking or sleeping or bossing me about. Perhaps their objection is about the gourmet element of these entries. Nordic cuisine is not known for its finesse. Their basic approach to cooking is to put the meat on a spit and cook it over fire until done. Sometimes some vegetables creep on to the menu but not often and these are usually boiled to extinction. 

I now possess several ‘new’ boxes of CDs of classical music, most of them full-length operas. Last week a couple I know texted me last they were getting rid of all their CDs and would I like any of them. I said yes; I went over to see them after work. They had heaps. While I going through their collection they hovered over me imploring me to take as many as I could carry. If I waffled on one they encouraged me to go for it. In the end I took a few more than I wanted so as not to disappoint.  It’s been ages since I bought a CD or any music for that matter.  I will download these lovelies into the iTunes on the home PC and transfer them to my phone. My own collection of CDs sits unused in a large storage bin in The Blue Room. Does anyone want to come over and take some?  I have heaps. 

I write this Spo-bit on break from my housecleaning. Like my cooking somebody has always done this for me and much better than I. So far I’ve tided up the master bedroom/bathroom/closet* and some of the garage too. I am rawther exhausted. La Casa de Spo now resembles poor Solomon Grundy that only the east wing is clean. The west side may have to wait until next weekend. 

Later today I am going to make “Soup of the Month” which is Hungarian Beef Stew, a recipe I got from Cook’s Illustrated. It looks a hearty dish the type one wants on a cold grey November day. However today is quite sunny and warm enough to have the windows open but what the hell.  Maybe I will skip cooking and just eat whatever is on the shelf at eye level which saves time and besides I’m not supposed to write about food I just remembered lest I am put on a spit and put over flames until done. 

*I don’t recall when this was last done but from the piles of dog hair I’m guessing a very long time ago either that or Harper sheds more than I realize.

Alas Babylon! Last night we only got twenty-six beggars; normally we get between 50-100. I was glad we got some and not none. However there is a lot of candy leftover. I am half-tempted to freeze it for next year. Anybody interested in a shipment of free sweets? We’ve got heaps. 

For thems who requested Tarot readings I will send them out to you this week via your email. *

The Hallowe’en festivities concluded with the ‘last dip’ into the cement pond.  I do this in the dark, tempting fate that Jenny Greenteeth (or somebody like her) will pull me to my doom but there was no worry last night the icy water made for a fast in/out quick as a quarter-note . Mrs. G had no time to make a grab. 

I am presently on my union-mandated fifteen minute water break from taking down the Hallowe’en trimmings. It’s hot work. Things went up slowly over four weeks, so putting it away and quickly too is rawther exhausting. 

November has no plans. Someone usually works Thanksgiving weekend but this year that ain’t happening. We can have a ‘proper’ Thanksgiving for once although it would be ‘for two’. I think we should order meals-to-go but he insists on cooking. After spending all of yesterday putting together a Hallowe’en dinner** he is welcome to it.

 

 

*My own reading was pleasant. It portends twelve months of mundane events without too much ‘drama’. I can live with that.  The card for the month of November is the 9 cups, which portends happiness and getting what you long to have. Fingers crossed this is a reference to national politics and not a discrete reference to a red-headed lumberjack. 

**It went well thank you. The squid-ink linguine was quite black while the black martinis were not. 

Spo-fans! It is that time of year when Urs Truly gets out his Wicked Pack of Cards and does readings on All Hallow’s Eve. This year’s reads should be especially poignant as there will be a full moon and it is a Saturday so I won’t feel rushed.  So – if you want insight about your life/the universe/and everything please say so in the comment section. I will do them 31 October and report back the findings thereafter. 

 

Since I am on the topic, here is what is planned for the All Hallow’s Eve feast:

Black Martinis

Pumpkin soup with Gruyere served in little pumpkins 

Broiled flank steak

Black linguine with orange and red peppers

Vampire Wine

Skull cakes (red) 

Candy corn cocktails  – made with pineapple juice and vodka distilled with candy corn A.K.A. The devil’s earwax. 

 

The neighborhoods are quite decorated this year, as if people are expecting trick-or-treaters. Later today I plan to start putting together the Ghost Bags of candies for Beggar’s Night.

The children with good costumes and manners will get an additional Chuckles for their endeavors. 

The sullen and politically-bent get a single smartie. 

Otherwise there is little to report. I lead a dull life. I got all my paperwork done that was some job. I promise to write something interesting when I actually have something interesting upon which to write. 

Someone wanted to sleep in this morning so he spent the night in the Dragon room* as Harper and I wake every morning at 5AM for our morning dog-walk. We tried to keep quiet until he woke a few hours later. I made tea and got in my blog reads early. As Mr. Pepys liked to say: “And it pleased it very much”. 

This week’s reprobate agenda is Halloween decorating and cooking. I don’t put all up at once but slowly put out the trimmings. Yesterday I hung plastic pumpkins and little black cauldrons in the ocotillo in the front yard. I am pleased to see many neighbors have also put up some outside decorations. Perhaps this is a good sign the kids will be begging this year. I sure hope so as I have heaps of treats. This year I hand out ‘ghost bags’ of various sweets for the hoi polloi hobgoblins and Chuckles as the “A” candy for the really good (and polite) beggars. **

My late mother always made gingerbread cookies at Christmas time but sometimes she made some at Halloween. This year in her memory I am making some ghosts and pumpkins. Usually I bring the cookies to work where all oh and aw and admire my industry. This year this isn’t happening so I will make only a modest amount. I plan to put them in the freezer with the Chuckles underneath the Tupperware containers of frozen what-ever to avoid temptation until All Hallows Eve. 

Last night I made my first batch of Pizza skulls; they were fair. The dough was too thick and there wasn’t enough goodies therein. All the same we ate them with relish. 

For the Halloween dinner I want to make black linguini with orange peppers and squash. This requires squid ink fettuccine and it has been a task to locate some. I finally found it at AJ’s fine foods. Talk about imperial tidbits!  Everything they sell in swanky. Does anyone shop there for regular food or just for gourmet items like squid ink fettuccine? 

Somewhere I put the flank steaks I planned to marinate and grill as my traditional Halloween dinner.  I hope they are in the freezer. Now I daren’t check as I will come away with a fistfuls of lemonheads and root beer barrels. I suppose I could just return to AJ’s to get a new steak. Their price for the squid ink fettuccine was outrageous so the mind boggles at the cost of meat from grass-fed heirloom heifers raised by third generations of Japanese farmers. 

 

*’The Dragon room’ is named so as the previous owners had in that room a large mural of two dragons eating apples. It was a sort of Adam and Eve Durer print done with dragons. It’s painted over now and we have a pewter dragon in there, sitting on the cupboard, to keep the name going.  

 

**Kids dressed in political costumes will get a ‘Charlie Young helping’ of a single Smartie.

As my late Uncle Ed said I lead I dull life. I did manage to make a decent loaf of bread my first semi-success at such. It is a loaf of rye with caraway seeds. It’s a bit dense but this one has flavor and a decent crust. I know I can improve this in the next round. I like bread, especially if it is homemade with proper butter no rubbish.  I use an Irish butter as it tastes good. 

Speaking of cooking I am cooking chicken soup. I found an easy but recipe that requires roasting a whole chicken prior to putting it in the pot and simmering it with vegetables for 3.5 hours. Many of the Youtube comments recommend substituting roasting a chicken with a rotisserie type from Costco. We often have such birds, and after they get picked over a lot seems to be wasted. A 3/4 consumed carcass is presently simmering to see if this works. 

 

I made some Halloween masks as why not. I am the only one nowadays who wears homemade tied-about-the-head masks; everyone else wears over-the-ear types.  I wonder if someone will tell me I cannot come into their store as I am not wearing a proper mask.  

The best bit I save for last. I got a surprise in the post: a box of Kerr’s Halloween candy from Canada!  Glen and James (the dears!) sent me some – again. I didn’t ask for any (although I thought of getting some). These two fine fellows both well over four feet are going along the line of me annually sending out popcorn to the niblings (I wrote about this a few entries back).  Thank you gents, for it made my holiday! I plan on putting some into the ghost bags of sweets I will make for the beggars on All Hallow’s Eve but most I will eat myself.  Someone doesn’t care of them which makes more for me! 🙂 

Yesterday the car’s starboard bow tire had a puncture and needed immediate repair so we spent the morning visiting Mr. Firestone. We had to day Saturday morning’s there’s-work-to-be-done tasks until today. As a consequence Sunday feels like Saturday further blurring the days even more if that’s possible.

Here is the ‘after’ photo of the cement pond. Using it now I feel quite exposed to the elements and to the neighbors. The evening pool light lights up the backyard like a Carnival cruise ship seen from miles away on a clear night.  I wonder if the new set-up will discourage Jenny Greenteeth from pulling us down to our doom in the dark. I find out this evening.

 

Behold the new fall collection of Spo-masks as this ain’t over. I cannot go out in last season’s lest there is talk.

Today I plan to make yet another new recipe for chili in my never ending pursuit of finding the proper one. This one is from Gourmet or Bon Appetit or one of that sort. The recipe looks like it will make enough to feed an emerging new nation so I’m making room in the freezer next to Walt Disney.  I must remember to label this as these things always end up as a mysterious block of frozen Tupperware buried beneath the frozen pizzas unable to  be identified as to what it is and how long it has been there.

I am also going to make some seaonal spiced bourbon. This involves heating in a sauce pan some sliced apples with unfiltered apple juice along with a vanilla bean, whole cloves, and a cinnamon stick. After it cools down bourbon is added and all goes into the fridge for a few days. The brew is strained and served over ice with Vernors (no rubbish).  In this recipe one does not use ‘quality’ bourbon not unlike adjuring the Pol Roger for the mimosas  As the Spo-collection of whisky has no such liquor this involved me going to Total Wine. Stephan* was taken aback to find me lurking about the cheap stuff. I explained my situation and I wanted some bourbon rubbish no quality. Without thinking he pulled down a rawther large plastic container resembling a two-liter Diet Squirt bottle. It certainly was a bargain. I am told any leftovers can act in a pinch as hand sanitizer or towards removing stubborn stains from pots. Wish me luck.

 

 

*Monsieur S is a sommelier from a small town in The Loire Valley of France.  He’s introduced me to several French wines I would have never known otherwise. He’s a friendly knowledgeable fellow well over four feet. I cannot tell you if he is handsome as I’ve yet to see his face.

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