office

My work day officially starts sharp at 8AM when I see my first patient. However I usually start working around 6 to 630AM. I am always the first one into the office. When I arrive I make a pot of tea or coffee (the latter, if I know The Boss Man will be in that day), I sit down to the computer, and I get to work.

I like this twilight time. It is quiet and I am by myself. What I do in the early morning hours is helpful  later on when I want to stay on time. It has a certain peace. I am able to work uninterrupted by calls and staff matters. I turn on music or a podcast. There is a pleasant low-key industry to renew prescriptions and set up the progress notes for the pending work day.

There is a sort of virtue to this time of the day . People tend to respect and admire you.  I daresay this is a hangover from medieval times when getting up early to work was a necessity. Perhaps we made it a virtue to compensate for the misery of long work days.  Over time the sure sign of ‘success’ was NOT working but having long leisurely days initiated by sleeping in. History has come full circle and long hours are again a sign of success. Being busy is the new status signal: “I work 12-14 hours a day I am very important”.

It’s nearly 8AM here at work. The secretaries and billing staff are coming in. There is a sense the place is ‘waking up’. I will see nearly thirty patients today between now and closing time. These are long days. I don’t mind really. On the other hand, my interest starts to wane around 3PM but the work ends at 5. I pity the patients coming in after 4: they are getting the last bitter drops out my gray matter grapefruit that has been squeezed a bit too many times today.  🙂

“Enough about food!” said the succinct email from They-Who-Must-Not-Be-Denied. Apparently The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections is figuratively fed-up with entries on milk, sweets, and so forth.  That happens when one is watching ones calories. So I close my eyes and reach into the inner-compartment of my mind and pull out the subject of packing.

Finally it is February and one (meaning I) can be openly excited about the pending party at Palm Springs. Some people pack for their holidays ‘at the last minute’.  I do the opposite: I start organizing weeks beforehand. After all some of the fun of going on vacation is the anticipation of such. Here’s a little taste of what went through my mind over the weekend on the topic.

Cheese

Last year I threw a lavish whisky and cheese party using rare and exquisite specimens from England, France, and Vermont (not a country in itself) . It was quite the success so I am planning  another one. I have to figure out which bottles of booze to bring and which fermented curds to order. I have barely nibbled into the bucket list of going through the entire menu of The Monty Python Cheese Sketch;  I have plenty to choose from. I started scanning the internet looking for proper cheese and imperial tid-bits. I may even order some mustard from (of all places!) Tewkesbury England. Oh the ecstasy. *

Shirts

Winter holidays are when Spo-shirts shine. I have eight days (two for travel) so that means eight shirts to choose from.  I have picked out the initial eight. “Initial” is a reference to the likelihood I will go through my trousseau several times to come up with the right balance of old favorites and ones not yet debuted. Showing up in last season’s Pradas (as it were) would be quite the faux-pas.

Books

I used to spend a lot of time figuring out which tomes from the ‘to read’ shelf go with me on my holidays. Someone the Rationalist points out our Kindles negates this tradition  but I still like ‘proper’ books read at poolside. They make me look more scholarly (provided I am not reading anything with covers too trashy).  Books still initiate conversations from strangers who happen to be bibliophiles. I find it handy to gaze around or over a large tome in an apercu to have a look-see at the others at the resort.

Beverages

Inndulge does a lovely job supplying thee boys with basic boozes at happy hour but scotch snobs and thems who drink more sophisticated stuff like Negronis and Boulevardiers are at a loss. I plan bring a few mixers and whiskies (no rubbish). Someone brings a large box of Diet Coke, his DOC (drink of choice). One could argue both sorts of libations can be readily purchased when we are there as CA actually has grocery stores but soda pop (and liquor) prices are cheaper back home.

We have a bit of vanity being seen schlepping all this into the resort. On the other hand it all sends the signal there’s partying to be had in Room #32.

Group of friends alcoholics people at a bar illustration.

* Turophiles with recommendations are free to leave comment on any recommendations for must-try-or-perish types.

It is raining here in Phoenix – a rare event indeed. Alas, The Super Bowl will have to be canceled. Rather I will stay home and drink tea and read books.  Perhaps an afternoon nap will be necessary. I hear one can go on Youtube to watch all the commercials. Why on earth the sports barons allow this is a mystery as it seems to negate the need to actually watch the silly game. 

People get into a swivet over anything and everything these days but I am bewildered I don’t see more remonstrance in the social media on this year’s absence of Valentine Day candy hearts. An unpredicted consequence to the cessation of NECCO (oh the horror!) they aren’t making any more candy hearts. The loss of NECCO wafers was bad enough but ‘no hearts on V-Day’ borders on human rights violations.  On 2/14 I don’t care about dinner or roses; don’t give me no chocolates. I can even go without “I love you” – just give me a handful of hearts. 

Yesterday at Albertsons while looking for picante sauce (hot) I ran across bags of Brachs. My eyes widened; my face was suddenly lit with joy. The sight of the pink plastic bag full of pastel hearts hit me like the radiance of a brilliant sunrise. I could not believe Fate had delivered me such a gift.  I bought two bags. 

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While filling up the candy dish with one of the bags (having consumed the other) I wondered how on earth did these lovelies come to be.  I have a terrible intuition these been sitting in some warehouse until now. Like the sausage principle, it’s best not to think too much on it.  Happily they taste the same: a chalky TUMS-like flavor with the redolence of artificial peppermint.  I am a happy Spo. 

Later I bothered to read some of the pale red fuzzy sayings on the hearts. These may be older than I first imagine, for one read “Thou mayest” 

I need to stop composing at work among the no-shows. I write good prose (if I may say so) but my hummingbird brain forgets to post said masterpieces so when I get home I have nothing.  

“The infinite monkey cage” podcast this morning was about whether or not man is still evolving.* One of the topics was the genetics of lactose in/tolerance. Apparently U.K. white supreme types like to drink milk in public as a brazen sign of alleged genetic superiority showing they can digest diary.  It is true thems descended from Nordic stock can digest dairy while most of the world can not. The sight of a sullen skinhead glaring at people while donning a milk mustache doesn’t elicit fear in me so much as the giggles.

Urs Truly has no troubles drinking milk but I dislike the stuff; there is something downright disgusting about it. I think I have one or two glasses of milk in a year max, consumed with the Christmas cookies. Otherwise cow-juice is off the Spo-menu other than the occasional drop into my tea to cut the tannic. 

Someone regularly drinks milk. We used to buy the organic-type kind-to-trees dolphin-safe ultra-pasteurized type that suspiciously lasts for weeks, but he goes though the stuff so quickly there is no need for such refinement. I now buy him the ‘usual cheap stuff’ in large plastic jugs. I catch him sometimes drinking right from the jug which adds to the ‘yuck factor’ of the beverage.**

On the other hand while I abjure milk I adore cheese while Someone doesn’t care much for the stuff. Sometimes we clash on the topic. I try to show I am not arguing but merely explaining why I am correct.  Cheese is various, flavorful, and good on the palate – like my men. Milk is a homogeneous (pun intended) tasteless beverage full of dairy industry matters. Oh well. As one of my analytical professors said to me in my residency:  there is no accounting for taste.

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*Short answer: Yes. The podcast is a cross between ‘Cosmos’ and ‘Monty Python’. It is worth hearing.

**I realize there is a lack of logic here; I regularly kiss Someone on the mouth etc. Please don’t write in. 

Insanity

I read on Facebook and other sites for friendly socializing it’s rawther cold in most parts of the country. Some write it’s downright gelid in their neck of the woods. Living in Arizona has its faults but I am grateful to be here. This week’s highs range between 20 and 23C. By summer the tables will turn and my Midwestern relations will have their comeuppance. But for now I had the upper hand. I can go outside without freezing my wrists off. Suddenly the scorpions seem worth it.

This morning I weigh 78.4 kilos, which is down from 78.8 kilos last week. I started the year at 80.6. Let’s hear it for regular exercise and sensible eating!  There is more to go however. Palm Springs is coming. *

A Spo-fan recently asked for follow-up on The Father Figure and his prostate cancer. I called home last weekend for a check-in. As is his wont The Progenitor tells me all the goings-on of the family until I interrupted him to ask about did he have radiation therapy. He stated he had one week’s worth of RT without any overt adverse reactions and he finds out next month if it did him any good. He then went on to the topic of Mother beating him again at cribbage, indicating he isn’t at all vexed by it so I won’t either.

insanity  The sleeping arrangements at Spo-house have taken an odd turn that Someone likes to fall asleep holding Harper. From the looks on her face she seems to be doing this with a quiet patience just long enough for Someone to fall asleep and then she gets up from underneath the covers to sleep on top of things at the end of the bed. This seems to be her position of choice and comfort – for awhile. If I should get up in the night she gets up as well – and moves directly into my space.  I lean over and ask Cecilia to move which she does after careful consideration as if my command is reasonable. Sometimes I have to get in around the recalcitrant  dog in a sort of “C” to her ensconced “O”. Happily the bed is big enough for all these shenanigans otherwise is would be Nessum Dorma for the lot of us.

I have a new set of daily pill boxes. You know the sort: seven plastic rectangular boxes for each day of the week, divided into AM, noon, PM, and night time bins.  Traditionally mine ‘open on the left’ but this latest opens on the right. It must be made in England or Australia.  I keep trying to open them from the left until I remember.  More than once I’ve taken the daily doses backwards viz. night time to morning.  This is the highlight of my week.  Palm Springs can not come soon enough.

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*This was written on Wednesday. Today it is Friday. Last night was our anniversary so we decided to ‘splurge’ with wine and pizza. This morning I feel I’ve gained it all back.

Walking the dog

On Wednesday at work I wrote a witty and wonderful entry. Unfortunately I forgot to post it. This Thursday morning I have no new notions. So, there is always “Walking the Dog”.  I don’t think The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections will notice until it’s too late. Apparently it’s rather cold in the Midwest and even they aren’t venturing out of doors.

One can not rely on a dog to look at the stars while on a walk. This morning around 5AM there was a beautiful astral arrangement of four celestial bodies in a row: Venus, the crescent Moon, Jupiter, and the star Antares in Scorpius rising. I took a photo but it didn’t do the stelliferous spectacle half justice. Meanwhile Harper was snout to the ground inspecting the sniffs entangling me in leash as I was looking up not paying attention to the human Maypole she was creating. It nearly caused a fall for the both of us. There goes dignity and our good Henley Street name.

Spo-fans – especially Old Lurker – will be relieved or shocked to read I harvested two lemons mentioned in previous “Walking the Dog” entries. Twice a day we walk by this tempting tree, taunting us with its lemon-burdened branch which hangs over the sidewalk just out of reach. Yesterday night we went out with some long handled pincers and when the coast was clear we picked us a few. Mercifully there was no shooting.  I carried the booty home in a black doggie-waste plastic bag we always take on these outings. If stopped and questioned I would hold out the bag to imply if you want to look into this be my guest.

Harper seems less interested these days in exploring new routes than ‘checking in’ with the  more familiar bushes and posts to see what’s been happening since yesterday. This makes dog walks less time consuming. At this time of year this a good things as it is still too cold and dark to stay out long  in the wee hours of the morning (5-9C brrrrr). The evenings are pleasant enough (20C) for longer excursions.  I look forward to the return of the morning sun to warm us up and keep us safe from coyotes and javelinas that might be lurking in the dark of the morning.

At the Spo House I am the Dog-walker but Someone sometimes fills in. I’ve learned never to take out Harper while he’s outside as she figures he’s supposed to come with us. She seems to panic when he stays behind or goes indoors; she pulls me back as if afraid to be separated from Someone. Harper Hound is indeed his dog and I am merely The Other Dog with the advantage of opposable thumbs to open doors and get us going.

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Most of human misery derives from our need to feel included in a group. One of mankind’s greatest gift – and curse – is our innate need to form into tribes. This would be OK by itself but history shows Tribes always have some element of ‘us vs. them’. Defining the group if often done by villainizing those not in the group. It is chilling how quickly and arbitrarily this happens. A difference as trivial as who has a green ID badge vs a red one is enough to quickly form people into opposing sides, that old us vs. them. We’ve been doing this since we came down from the trees and I daresay we won’t be rid of the habit.

It’s bad enough we do this over moot things but go look at history when the differences are more palpable: sex, race, religion, and nationality. Exclusion, pogroms, and wars are often rationalized over rights or resources but this is superficial stuff compared to the archaic simpler explanation of ‘us vs. them”.  Those who are “them” are a threat and if we don’t wipe ‘them’ out they will certainly wipe ‘us’ out.  When ‘us’ creates a ‘them’ their members cease being fellow humans but something less.  The more ‘them’ the ‘us’ group can make them the easier it is to justify their exploitation and annihilation.

Another sad element of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ is how quickly and/or unconscious the ‘us’ members will go along with the ‘us’ rules and beliefs. This is to assure ‘us’ status; the loss of ‘us’ is to become a ‘them’ with all its consequences.

It would be nice if Sylvester McMonkey McBean or something like him came along to teach us a lesson so we will rise above our monkey brain parts but fat chance of that. History is full of Mr. McBeans and they are mostly assassinated. The best we can do it be forever diligent of going into the primordial  ‘us. vs. them’ mentality. If we are to survive as a species we must keep dialogue with ‘them’ to remember they are really only different versions of ‘us’.

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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.

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*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.

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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. 

I am sitting on break from the Saturday “There’s work to be done” chores and wondering what to write. I am sipping a cup of tea as is my wont.  It dawned on me teapots would make a cheap and quick ‘Curious things around the house’ entry.

I don’t know how many teapots I own – ‘a lot’ comes to mind while ‘too many’ comes to Someone’s mind perhaps. They vary in size, shape, and how often I used – like my men.   Here’s a few to amuse:

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This King-size-Titanic-unsinkable-Molly-Brown metal pot sits on the kitchen counter. It was purchased in Canada and carried home on the airplane where I worried it would be mistaken for a bomb. It is my most often used pot. It makes a lot of tea, most of which I cool down and store for iced tea purposes.

 

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This little fellow is at the opposite end of the Universe of Teapots. It is used for ‘one cuppas” loose leaf tea, usually green.  It’s fine for an afternoon tea when I don’t want to be wired.

 

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The Lovely Neighbor gave me this  she she moved away. It was her late Mother’s teapot. I don’t ever remember her using it. I suspect TLN was trying not to take it with her, so she gave it for my collection. As you can see it isn’t very practical as its top is rawther narrow, making it difficult to insert teabags ( no loose leaf here!) She traveled the world over so I thought I was getting something exotic from India perhaps. It turns out it’s from Pier 1 Imports made in China. I’d throw it out but for the guilt if I did.

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This fine little pot is Polish-made. It is a gift from Canada. Laurent and Will (the dears!) gave it to me when we visited them in Ottawa. Such fabulous take-home prizes they give out !

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This fine specimen is part of my Spo(de) china collection. It sits on a shelf,  wrapped in bubble plastic, waiting for those gay times when we entertain 8-12 for formal dinners and afterwards tea is served.  The pot comes with 8-12 cups and saucers and I can’t remember when last I used any of this. I’d give it all away but no one want this sort of stuff anymore.

Tell me about your teapots! How many and which is your favorite?

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