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I spent the day on the phone with my brothers going through our parents house preparing it for an estate sale. We were on FaceTime for seven hours. We went room to room sorting things. It was a quite a job. My parents have lived in the same house since the 70s. They were not hoarders nor was their house cluttered yet it seemed it was loaded up with old things of no worth. It is amazing how much they have/had. Once upon a time these things were precious or valuable but it is now no longer so. Mother has chests of silverware. The letters on the utensil handles suggest they are from several generations passed down from woman to woman. We four sheepishly agreed it is probably better to sell it en masse to a silversmith for the metal as no one uses silverware anymore. Whenever we opened a cupboard or closet we found heaps.   We would pull out figurines and plate and such and Brother #4 would look up on Ebay to find these things aren’t worth much. Mother had lots of costume jewelry we think she haven’t been worn in decades. The sister-in-laws don’t want any of it. I hadn’t thought One explained women just don’t wear such any more.  Father had drawers of old receipts and manuals many for things no longer in existence. Once in a while we ‘hit the jackpot’ as it were to find something we thought lost for ever. 

We each found a few things to take but I was the one actually ended up getting the most booty.  These are mostly old books and my artwork.  I didn’t need/want anything of value; these things are to be sold rather.

There were a few funny moments. I asked Brother #2 to please carefully go through Mother’s cookbooks as there was a particular one I wanted he couldn’t find it I pressed him to look more only to realize last time I visited I took the cookbook and I have it already. “I guess it’s not there” I told him.  

By 6-7PM EST we had gone through the first and second floors. The basement resembles King Tut’s tomb and needs a day all to itself. 

It all presses me to minimize my own place. It is a funny goal knowing the guest rooms in Michigan is piled up with things  someday coming my way.

Oh the pain. The laptop had an alleged ‘upgrade’ last week the consequences being I can no longer log into work nor leave comments on certain blogs. The humidifier’s light is glowing an angry red to suggest my attempt to fix it has failed. Someone’s garage door opener won’t work.* My mind shudders at the growing number of La Casa de Spo items that want desperate attention and needs of repair. The last straw was the sewing machine whose light went out in the middle of a delicate stitch.

I am not a handy man. I’ve learned it is better to hire someone who knows what they are doing than trying to repair things myself. This costs time and money and a bit of pride I cannot deduce on my own how to change a sewing machine lightbulb.**

When something goes kaput at our place our usual approach is to just go without it. Every repair seems to always require an awful lot of time, energy, and money. This lazy solution of non-repair may ‘work’ for an inoperable fireplace but not so for the dishwasher. One of us (usually Someone as he loses less money to take off work) must contact the proper authorities and thus stay home all for the mercurial arrival of the repairman or somebody like him. Less tedious is finding time to get the defunct item to the repair store and hope for the best.

Despite my fondness for making lists I’ve avoided making a “Things to repair” list lest I realize how bad off it all is. Emerson said to always do the thing you are afraid to do so I shall face my fears and get it going.  Best case scenario: hiring some nice local handsome handyman to get it all done for me. Someone will be appalled but he will be able to get into the garage again.




*He calls me just before his arrives home to ask me to open the garage door for him. If I am asleep or I miss such requests he has to come in via the front door, go to the garage and open it from the inside and go back out to bring in The Precious. An awful lot of fuss.

**How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: none. This is done by the good folks at Joanne Fabrics.


It’s been cold enough to turn on the heat* and get out the flannel sheets. The linen closet is a frightful mess; this afternoon I plan to take out the contents and refold them or better yet put them in the donation pile. I recently read a shocking report nearly all clothes donations that go to thrift shops end up in land fill. I hope this not so. I’ve learned consulting others in the house about discarding something usually gets a veto of questionable rationalization and back on the shelf it goes. I’ve discovered it is better to put long-forgotten items into a ghost bag and haul them to Goodwill without mentioning it to anybody.  Others in the house solve the stuff/space ratio problem not by discard but through better organization.**
I recently read of a word or term describing the phenomenon of needless material goods proliferating while our backs our turned. Now I cannot remember the word. Spo-fans who know please say so in the comment section.

We keep things mostly for three reason:
#1 Guilt
#2 Sentimentality
#3 Fears we may need it someday

#1 – As I type this I see nearly a dozen pencils in the office organizer. I haven’t a clue how they got there. Most don’t have erasers and/or are stubs. Although they are still usable I will toss out most of them leaving 2-3 good ones.
#2 – This is the hardest one for me. Useless utensils that were my grandmother’s I can take a photo of I suppose and look at that if/when I need to.  I have a little sentiment box of knick-knacks and cat collars I just can’t throw out, so I am guilty as charged on this one.

#3 – For the ‘but we may need this someday’ anxiety I use a formula: if a replacement would cost less than 50$ then the chances of my actually needing it are slim enough to make this a cost/keep ratio worth chancing.
So with that all in mind today I am waging war on useless bulky things. Wish me luck. Anyone want a collection of mismatched flannel sheets? We have heaps.


*Someone has it in his head a ‘no heat on until January’ rule. I am not sure of its logic; perhaps he is just being cheap. Despite his protestations I have the heat set at 65F.
**He does a fine job at this. He could fit a rhinoceros into the car trunk.

Patience above! Everything is falling apart here at La Casa de Spo! It’s like some wicked fairy is bopping about slapping its wand on the appliances making them all inoperable. 

Last weekend I went to the wine fridge to discover its inside is as warm as a sauna; goodness knows when it gave up the ghost. I tried to cram as many of the more expensive bottles of vino into the main refrigerator.  If you were to open it now and peer inside you would see ~ twenty bottles and some half-consumed condiments and not much else and conclude we are a couple of dipsomaniacs.  I thought of putting them all in the pool but I did that once before and the labels came off. Let’s hope they are not too off.  We may be ordering out for a while.

The dishwasher – long in its decline – ceased to operate  entirely last night. It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good. Both boxes can be addressed by the same at-home repairman if we can find one. 

My antique clock isn’t doing well either. It stops every few days as if is tired and needing a rest to get back its bearings. After all it is over one hundred years old. I was able to resurrect it (again) but unfortunately this happened on the dining room table and I am now afraid to move it lest it die again. It’s a lovely timepiece but it doesn’t make a good centerpiece. 

The laptop contents mysteriously disappeared (I suspect Nargles) but thanks to ‘back up’ I was able to retrieve it.  Thank goodness I do back up. 

There’s more but you get the point. I’ve not had a moment’s peace running around attending to the crisis de jour. 

The clock and the laptop are working for now and the repairman (or somebody like him) is scheduled to show this Thursday.  Meanwhile I have dishwasher contents to attend. Oh the pain. I am suddenly aware how many glasses and plates go into a load. It is just too easy to put a once-used glass in the Kenmore than reuse it.  I’ve instructed The Cup Sprites to knock it off until Friday and let me drink out of the same glass for awhile hoping to cut down on the dishwashing. Have I mentioned it takes forever for the hot water to arrive to the kitchen sink? When we first moved in I thought the heater had been turned off.  It’s nutters it’s hot as hell outdoors yet it takes several minutes to get even lukewarm water out of the taps. I don’t mind washing dishes – provided there is hot water and I don’t have 800 other things to do.  The Skanks (the dears!) came out of their absence to inspire me to use paper plates and cutlery for awhile and I am half tempted to do so. 

I should be grateful the washer and the dryer haven’t crossed the appliance strike line to join their brethren.  The car better behave as I have to drive to San Diego this Wednesday.  Let’s see what shenanigans happen in the meanwhile. 


Patience above and Lord love us! This is another entry causing angst with the brave and bold TBDHSR. They suggested (again) I post one of those ‘He doesn’t really mean any of this he’s attempting at writing humor” warnings, as if Spo-fans can’t figure this out themselves. Thems who are worried Someone is soon to be in court for a divorce or as a defendant in a homicide trial can rest easy.  Please don’t write in.


Over the years I’ve heard from many patients their mixed feelings about their spouse’s retirement. They love their husband but now that he’s home all the time with not much to do he’s following her around being needy or worse ‘helpful’ and it’s getting on their nerves.  I am thinking of this today for Someone is home. Normally he is away, working on the weekends, and I have the house to myself. While I try to do my routine he’s come in to point out a few problems around the house that need addressing right now. In our domestic tennis game I return the ball in the form of a honey-do list we could be doing which really means what he could be doing  but this so far has proved fruitless. My usual sobriquet Dr. Smartypants has been altered slightly to Dr. Bossyboots…..

….I have just returned from the office where Someone has figured out how get my dictation headphones to operate independently of the PC speakers so he can hear Youtube. He also managed to streamline der Kabalsalat into something better organized. He is a dear. It was on the agenda of things to do today. Don’t you just love it when your spouse picks up your telepathy and does what you want them to do without the drudgery of saying it plain and out loud? The downsize of this is he’s now at the computer getting in the way of me charting. I am not too peeved at the inconvenience as I get to write this rather than work. 

Speaking of work I suppose I should stop sitting and typing and get up and do some. After all there is work to be done. Confucius (or one of that crowd) says the best way to lead men is by example and this includes spouses at home on weekends. I daresay Someone needs structure and discipline if we are ever going to get all these chores done. We may be not speaking by day’s end but the house will be more tidy for it. 


While I am on a roll of tidy-up projects I thought to confess my actions at the office. Where are work there are two kitchenettes used by many and supervised by none. From time to time I take it upon myself to organize the kitchen drawers and throw out what I believe needs purging. No one objects and no one seems to notice either.*

Thanks to continual pharmaceutical luncheons we are up to our oxters in packets of salt and pepper, soy sauce, and other condiments. I daresay they multiply on their own. I tried once to put them all into a clear glass container on the shelf at eye level so others would use them. Alas the amounts that come in weekly overwhelmed the jar.  When the drawer is overflowing I throw them all out and no one is the wiser. Plus – the mayonnaise packets tend to plumb up like overstuffed helium balloons and that can’t be good.

In another drawer dwell enough chopsticks to supply all of Shanghai despite a relatively lack of Chinese food at these shin-dings. These look perfectly useable so throwing them out seems silly. I imagine taking them en mass to Pei Wei and leaving them like a box of unwanted kittens but I worry if caught in the act I would be looked upon as an object of suspicion.

Who keeps bringing in the multi-colored coffee sweeteners is a mystery especially in light of the fact no one seems to bring in coffee. I don’t throw out the sugar substitutes as blithely as I do the condiments but I do like to organize them into taxonomic trays keeping the yellows away from the blues and the pinks. As Rocky says to Bullwinkle but that trick never works – or not for long. By week’s end they have all crept back into a communal pile in the back of a drawer usually behind the condiments.  The columnar boxes of unused sugar and coffee creamers stay put on the counter like Ozymandias.

I recently threw out the clinic can opener. It’s been sleeping in a drawer underneath a thick blanket black plastic fork/knife/spoon/paper napkin sets. I suspect no one has used it in years. I recently tested it as it is inoperable.

On the kitchen counter is a glass jar into which I make a periodic contribution of nibbles. These are quickly consumed but no one asks where they come from or even says thank you. This doesn’t bother me really. I feel like one of those Elves in the Shoemaker story and it gives me a good feeling to do a small good for my fellow man.

On the other hand after a round of tidy-up I get peeved enough to consider bringing in not trail mix but something else for the glass jar.



*I realize this perpetuates the problem viz. self-responsibility and an agreed-upon plan to keep things clean. Alas, years of remonstration has been to no avail.


I swept and mopped the floors today; it was some job. They were quite dirty with dog hair and dust bunnies the size of tumbleweeds. Oh the embarrassment. The weather was warm enough to open the doors for awhile and let in some relatively dog-free air. Piles of laundry, high as Fafner’s hoard, were cleaned, ironed, folded, and put away. I can sit down now wholly satisfied how much tidy-up was accomplished. I can be proud in my industry. 

Tomorrow is Monday and the whole bloody business starts again. 

I sometimes wonder what other people do on their weekends. I imagine while I am running errands and doing the tidy-up others are out jet-skiing and hand-gliding followed by dining, theatre, and dancing. I want to know when do they buy the groceries and iron etc. Probably the have hired help or indentured servants to fry the eggs and dry the sheets for them.

Perhaps there is no greener grass to wit even the hoity-toity 1% lead mundane lives on weekends staying home to clean their kitchens

Unless Mary Poppins should unexpectedly shows up housekeeping here is strictly do-it-yourself and that’s that. Henry II (or one of that crowd) once said “There’s no point in asking if the air is any good when there is nothing else to breathe”. No one is going to pick up the dog poop for me.

On the positive I got through all my podcasts and a medical lecture and Harper got in a couple of good walks. While I ran around with mop and broom she basically slept all day. I gave her one task to do to earn her keep: change the bed. It is 7PM and she still hasn’t done it. It is so difficult to get good help these days. 

house-cleaning-11688-570x403I am taking a break from today’s tidy-up to sit still for a moment and write out some thoughts. I am drinking Earl Gray; I am signing my death warrant drinking such at this hour. It isn’t too strong but I daresay I will be up late. That’s not too bad for there’s work to be done.

The last load out of the dryer had with it some sort of gizmo among the socks and undies. It is a large round gray push button-like object; a spring connect to it. Neither one of us can deduce what on earth it is let alone from whence comes it. I’ve been wondering the house looking for something to press that is missing its button. This is not the first time the dryer has delivered onto us some strange and unfamiliar object. They are usually in exchange for a sock or some other wearing apparel.  I have a theory the dryer has a connection to a wormhole which warps time and space at least in the regular settings. Rationalists in the house don’t agree with me but they can’t come up with a better theory so I am sticking with mine. 

Speaking of laundry we finally remembered to purchase some Pine-Sol to clean up the laundry room floor. I am always dubious to move out the washer and dryer for last time we found quite a few scorpions albeit dead ones. On the positive I usually find a handful of coins – not enough to buy a small chocolate cone I suppose but enough to make the job a satisfactory one. 

After the laundry/room is addressed there is all the ironing. Oh the pain. Somehow we’ve managed to wear in a fortnight every shirt imaginable and they all want ironing.  Happily I have a lot of podcasts to hear which makes it bearable.  Whenever I spend an evening making hot steamy love with the Proctor & Gamble I ponder the time/cost analysis. I dont’ recall how much it costs for the cleaners to clean and press a shirt (Spo-fans can help me here) but I can’t help but wonder if the time savings is worth it. Besides, the sweet ladies at “Quick-cleaners” do it better. I do what’s called ‘good-enough ironing” much to the chagrin of Someone. 

Apart from the washing and ironing I need to compose an email of a list of wants for Christmas prizes for my family’’s Secret Santa.  This will be the 56th year in a row I will ask for that blasted pony.  Odds are I won’t get it again but I’ve learned whatever I list as the second wish is a certain bet. Be careful what I ask for here. Perhaps I can kill as many scorpions with one stone as it were and ask for a clothes press. 

A man ironing a shirt

Unknown“What are you doing?” I hear Someone asking although this was done telepathically from the back of his brain while he sits watching TV.  What I am doing that looks suspect is I am going around the house wiping down things down with disinfection wipes. I admit this looks possibly barking mad but in my defense I can not remember when some of these things were last washed if ever. Every once in a while the medical journals remind me to remind patients about the high levels of contamination or household objects.  The social media does likewise although in a more alarmist oh-yuck style.  

Doorknobs and handles are especially noxious, full up with nasty wee-beasties just waiting to jump onto your fingers and crawl up into your mouth to devour you like John Hurt in Alien. Oh the horror. Computer keyboards are perhaps worse. So – once in a while (in our house, say every couple of years) it seems sensible to wash the door handles and light switches. I don’t know if it does much good but it is psychologically purging to do. 

“Chlorox-wipes” smell clean and capable of killing the worse of pathogens. They give me the sensation nothing can survive them and through them all surfaces they touch become sterile and safe for humanity – temporarily.  One can not completely get away from bacteria nor should one want to. All the same, the microwave handle and buttons – which haven’t had a proper wipe in ages – got a thorough purge and that’s that.  

Later this morning Someone and I will go out to breakfast. This involves opening the restaurant door which has been touched by countless of the Unwashed. Out of vanity I don’t bring along my plastic barrel of Cholox-wipes but I always wash my hands before eating; I never see anyone else doing this. 

That what doesn’t kill you makes you strong – unless it is E. coli or Salmonella which only just wears you done. 

In the bathroom closet is a brass bowl full up with little cakes of soap. They are irregular shaped from once or twice use; they are wrapped in torn off bits of toilet paper or Kleenex. These are the remnants of cakes collected from countless hotel bathrooms. At the end of a hotel stay, as I make rounds doing  a last check for left-behind objects, I wrap up the gently used soap cakes and take them with me.  I see it a terrible waste otherwise.  As a consequence I don’t think I’ve bought soap from a grocery store in years. As soon as the cakes are used up, some other trip with a hotel stay happens to replenish my supply. 

I am not fussy about soap. I don’t take truck in fancy types. These little cakes, usually white or beige, seem sufficient for getting off the grime. I am one to try to compact soap remnants into a Frankenstein-like cake so as to not waste the slivers.  

Once in a while a hotel provides no bars but liquid body wash. Sometimes at Christmas time I get a bottle of such.  They do the job but  they don’t supply the satisfaction of lathering up a cake while rubbing it up and down your contours. There is an amusement to recall that old chestnut of a joke while bending over to retrieve dropped soap. One doesn’t get this mirth from shower gel. 


I said I am satisfied with basic soap but that’s not entirely true. I am a sucker for brightly coloured cakes with fancy stripes and patterns. They usually come with exotic names and aromas. Nothing brightens up the morning ablutions  as seeing among the grayness of bathing tools a brilliant green or blue cake redolent of ‘ocean’ or ‘mint’. They are usually made by hippie-types and sold at street fairs. Someone doesn’t like aromatic soap. If he just walks into a soap store this evokes headaches in the man so he stays out while I go in and stick bars up my nose. 

Someday during a travel drought I will run out of both types of soap and I will be forced to buy some at Albertson’s. I suppose I will get Irish Spring if they still make any. I recall from the television commercials if you use Irish Spring you feel as if you are showering outdoors with a dirty Irishman. This is worth the price of all the soap in all the Marriotts that ever ever was. 


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September 2020

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