Patience above! It looks like I haven’t written a “Random thoughts” entry is over a year! Thanks to WordPress.com updates, I can’t find the last one to title it properly. Perhaps some dear Spo-fan can ascertain which number this is. “LCII” sounds right but be prepared to see the title change.

Between work and house preparation I’ve had no time to read blogs this week. It feels wrong to me to put out entries and not reciprocate with reading others. This evening I plan to do so after Someone and I go through the house for a final inspection prior to the arrival of The Other Michael tomorrow afternoon. I’ve gathered together The Cup Sprites, The Car Key Gnomes, and Henrik the Ghost (if he is listening) and I lectured them severely not to pull any shenanigans while the guest is here.

4 May is the birthday of my late mother; it is the first birthday without her. I am trying to get hold of Father to see how he is faring. Nearly a year after her death (June 2020) he still gets tearful when he speaks of her. He misses her so.

4 May is also ‘Stars Wars Day’, something I’ve had to explain to Mother a few times why people are walking around in Star Wars attire on her birthday. She never got the pun reference.

It is Day #3 of the yellow stone still out front. So far so good. I am already eyeing the other rocks in the yard for future projects. BadNoteB (the dear!) sent me a sensational photo of colorful rocks and Robzilla (who is well over four feel) suggested I make a henge – brilliant! I will keep you posted as ‘The Spohenge’ evolves.

Tomorrow is my appointment with The Good Doctor, whom I haven’t seen in over a year. I am looking forward to seeing him – face to face too! I already know what is my bloodwork.* All is stellar with one glaring exception: the A1C is slightly elevated for the first time ever. I wonder if we get into a fracas over what’s to be done about this. (He: metformin; I: get back to the gym after twelve months sitting on my backside).

Final random thought is about kosher salt. One of my cooking teachers ersatz boyfriends on YouTube explained the salt itself is not kosher but it is a type that is used to make things kosher. A better title on the box would be ‘koshering salt”. What makes it different – and why I should be using it – is ‘kosher salt” is large and chunky and more easy to handle (like my men), These attributes make it easier to work with and gauge. Table salt in contrast is too small and it is hard to visualize in the cooking process. Try to tell as many people as you can in town.

*On-line publications of labs sort of takes all the fun out of it. I remember a time when waiting for The Good Doctor to come in to announce what the tests shown. Nowadays I am tempted to cancel the appointment knowing I am going to be told to ‘keep doing what you’re doing” but TGD would be cross if I did that. I know I would be with my own patients.

Every once in a while I forget I am gay and I try working with power tools. There is a set of wind chimes I am quite fond of I hung on a mesquite branch some years ago. The chimes are in need of an update but I can’t get them off the tree as the branch has grown so big the metal ring holding up the chimes is firmly embedded into the branch. Mesquite is one nasty wood that doesn’t succumb to pruning shearers or (I later discovered) electric chainsaw. As mentioned in the exordium, this may be operation error. Other factors included allergies from hell and general fatigue of housecleaning. I’ve given up for now. Remembering who I am, I gathered up some rocks and went indoors (blessed AC !) and turned to crafts. My first attempt at painting rocks was satisfactory:

Behold the sacred stones of yellow and blue!

I asked Someone the art critic what he thought of my exhibit. His response was to wonder if we will get a nasty letter from the HOA about being in violation of some sort of bylaw. I will write back that this is my emotional support rock.* and it cannot be removed. I am not worried about the HOA (being used to bodily threats from The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections) but someone stealing it out of spite. This is one reason why I did it in basic yellow. If pinched, I can paint another one, and better too. Maybe it will become a sort of game. However, the back up rock will be painted and finished with a clear wash of ghost pepper solution.

The aquamarine rock went back into the garage, safe from angry HOA-habitués and basalt bandits. This one is a working rock viz. a doorstop to prop open the door going into the back yard where dwell the rubbish bins. I open the door with trash and recyclables in hand, and I kick the (now blue) stone into place. I am curious to see if continuous kicking takes off the blue color. Time will tell.

I am already looking to the future full of of new and exciting rock art, replete with multiple colors, symbols etc. I plan to write nasty curses on the rocks that go in front if stone-stealing shenanigans commence.

*Thanks to a note from my psychiatrist (myself) pet rocks are now emotional support rocks. This will allow me to carry them into public buildings and onto planes.

I am on my union-approved water break from La Casa de Spo spring cleaning. We have our first guest since 2019 coming this week* and we are scouring the house of dust, pollen, dog hair, and dead scorpions prior to his arrival. The washer and dryer are going allegro non troppo. Someone is washing all the windows and Urs Truly is in charge of the dusting. Despite double doses of Zyrtec I am sneezing my schnoz off. I am not the strongest of fellows, but my sneezes have the force and velocity of a category 5 hurricane. It is 10AM. We’ve been up since 6 (before the heat of the sunshine mars the window cleaning). By 2PM we’ll be cold as mackerels but well satisfied in our industry.

Sunday is ‘Dr. Who night’ when we watch an episode or two. I am a late-comer to ‘Dr. Who’. It is great nonsense but admittedly jolly good fun. We finished Dr. #9 and are going through #10. I am glad they are subtitled; when the actors start talking excitedly they are hard for this Yankee lad from the Midwest to understand what they are saying. For a fellow from an ancient faraway planet The Doctor sounds like he comes from Lancashire. Zygons are easier to understand at times.

Last night I prepared as sockeye salmon by pouring on a marinade and wrapping it up in aluminum foil and cooking it for twenty minutes, followed by five minutes under the broiler. I am learning how to use my automatic thermometer. Although I followed the recipe, my meter showed the inside temperature was already too high. True enough, I thought the fish was overcooked, a disappointment. Next time I will know to cook for only a fraction of the time in the recipe. This is a consistent problem with my oven: whatever the recipe time is I should do only a fraction as the dish ends up overcooked. I’ve learned rather to go by vision, tasting, and of course what my cooking thermometer tells me when things are properly cooked.

I end the Sunday Spo-bits with a trip to Joanne’s to buy me some hobby paints for the paint-the-rocks project. I also need more elastic bandage to convert the old masks to the trendy ‘over the ears’ style. I need to use more elastic as Someone says the first batch I converted are too small for his face: the ties pull his ears forward, giving him a ‘gerbil look’. I think this looks quite darling. I refrained from commenting about him having ‘a big mouth’, but I will add a few more inches to the bands.

*Spo-fans may remember that Brother #4 et. al. who came to visit last month. That was family, not ‘guests’. Clever-dicks who want to split straws should write their remonstrances to TBDHSR@vikings.no and see what that gets you.

Tra la! It’s May! The lusty month of May!  That lovely month when ev’ryone goes blissfully astray!

This May will be the first May without Mother whose birthday is 4 May. Spos would combine her birthday with Mother’s Day into a single day of adoration (and prizes), but no more. I need to call Father on this day as he will be no doubt down in the dumps; he misses her so. They were together sixty years – sixty ! Can you imagine?

5 May is Cinco de Mayo which doesn’t mean anything other than an excuse to drink cerveza and eat ersatz Mexican cuisine. Many amigos around these parts think this is not cool to do but bars, restaurants, and folks who are not Trump-supporters see it as no difference than St. Patrick’s Day shenanigans.  The Other Michael arrives that day from the faraway kingdom of Chicago. We plan salsa and chips and some sort of baked enchiladas (no rubbish) for his arrival and the day’s sake. I will take that Friday off and the three of us go ala “The adventures of Priscilla, queen of the desert”  to see the sights in SE Arizona. It is my first vacation since 2019.

In mid-May I go back to Michigan, Land of perpetual Snow and Ice to attend to Father while Brother #3 goes on a much needed holiday. I hear Michigan is up to its oxters in covid cases, and serves them right as folks there are quite defiant in common sense and medical advice. I wish I weren’t going. I am glad I got the vaccine.

At the end of the month there is The Memorial Day weekend. Traditionally Someone works that weekend at the Comic-con convention (or whatever they are calling it these days) but that ain’t happening, so he/we have no plans. Sometimes I skiddo to Palm Springs while he is directing millennials dressed as storm-troopers, but that isn’t happening either. I will probably stay home (again) and make my marvelous macaroni salad, which is the official dish of Memorial Day Weekend and the onset of summer. Do not dare to question this. Someone won’t touch the stuff so I get to eat it all my own.

*When I finished writing and wondered what title to use, this leapt to mind. I was quite pleased at the witticism.

Every Thursday Someone picks me up after work and we go to our favorite pub for show tunes and libations. The bar consists of an outside lounge area and an inside spot with bar, stage and tables. In clement weather the wall dividing the two areas is rolled up to connect the spaces. Someone and I like to sit at the bar, to better see the videos and be near to Kat, my future ex-wife, who ‘mans’ the place.* The average age of the patrons at Kobalt (for that is the name of the gin-joint) is ‘up there’, reflecting the demographics of thems who still go to bars. Last night, to my amazement, sitting out in the lounge area, were four young men. The fellows, who looked to be on their early 20s, weren’t watching the screens but chatting among themselves while they all looked down into their laps at their cellphones. I felt as if I was observing a herd of animals thought to be extinct. I cannot remember when I last saw young people – let alone at a bar.

When I was in my 20s, back before cellphones (can you imagine?) in order to find future ex-wives or other types, one went to a bar. There was nowhere else to go other than dangerous places. These bars were fun, often crowded, and with the sense of adventure who knows what sorts you may meet. There was a careful craft of chatting -or cruising if that was what you wanted. Over the decades the bars declined in number and in necessity. Youngsters can find similar sorts elsewhere, and with apps one does not need to go out looking for disquisitions. Bars – what few still up and going – are considered ‘fogey’. They are still good for a fundraiser but what’s the point of going to just hang? Besides, they play old movies and old music sang by old people. Impudence !

I had mixed feelings about seeing the lads. Part of me was happy to think gay bars may be having a come back** if the next generation starts going. Another part felt like an old geezer watching whippersnappers walking on my lawn. I wanted to go over to the group and schmooze a bit as if we were in the 80s again but I sensed they wouldn’t have a clue how to do this and I would be seen as an interloper, an object of suspicion, or worse yet – a wicked old screw. So I didn’t. I sat with my boulevardier (not rubbish) and listened to Babs singing “Don’t rain on my parade” which is probably another one the kids out front haven’t a clue.

I will be curious to see how fare the bars now that the covid19 restrictions are loosening up. After a year of isolation perhaps folks – even the young ones – will want to congregate for company again. I hope the oldsters make them welcome and Kat keeps employed.

Speaking of company, last night one of the youngsters came in to use the loo and he stopped at the bar to ask Kat what was presently playing. It was “Being Alive’ from ‘Company’. Someone have to restrain me from falling off my barstool or swatting the scoundrel when he voiced ignorance of song, musical, and the composer. This is what happens when kids are let loose unsupervised.

*Someone need not worry. Kat may be #1 on my list for future ex-wives, but her list of future ex-wives is quite long and I’ve lost count where I stand. The likelihood of us getting together is less than winning the lottery.

**”I hate that word ! (said Norma Desmond) It’s a return”.

Yesterdays’ post with its mention of painting rocks seemed a success with the Spo-fans. The Muses (or somebody like them) inspired me to write some more about color, so here it is.    Spo

Someone should have asked a few logical questions when he met me. If he had, he would have put a healthy distance between himself and a man who wants to give the world a paint job. He likes subdued earth tones* while Urs Truly goes for bright bold colors – the louder the better.  No pastels for me thank you very much! Give me hues as red as blood and greens that shame emeralds. 

This has always been the case.  Closing down my parent’s house I got to look at a lot of old photos and artwork from my youth Mother had saved in accordion files. Even then my approach was to use bold colors. There is a report card from my kindergarten teacher and first color critic, Miss Watkins. She writes I tend to not ‘match colors to reality’. I draw trees with bright blue tops and I do people’s faces in rainbow colors although she comments I do have a careful eye for color-coordination and staying within the lines. Prophetic! I also found an old box of Crayloas. In it the browns and gray crayons were almost unused while the yellow, greens, and blues were half consumed. Going by length, it looks like bright red was my favorite**  I was pleased when the rainbow was adopted as the ‘gay colors’.  I’ve heard The Fundies are outraged The Gays have ‘stolen and ruined the rainbow’. Posh-posh I see to them. You all weren’t using it properly, so we took it over and serves you right.

If you should be invited to the master bedroom’s walk-in at La Casa de Spo you would be immediately soothed by the well-coordinated quiet subtle colors of clothing on the starboard side of the closet. But if you should steer hard to port you would be dazzled by racks of brilliant color resembling a poorly made float at a gay-pride parade. Even the masks are divided into two piles: one of light blue, black, and gray (blech) masks and the other pile… well you get the picture.

One advantage of going out looking like a luau is Someone can find me easily across a crowded room.

Which leads me back to the rock that was mentioned in yesterday’s post. I’ve decided said rock is going to be a bright yellow, like that of a lemon or blue as sunlight in a sapphire. Maybe I will paint it with both colors. If anyone objects, I will say it is a U of M emotional support rock and shan’t be moved. Of course this may result in my maize and blue boulder being hurdled through the front window but I am willing to risk it. Fools like me who are crackers for color takes their chances against thems who want a world in off-white.

Groovy

*After all he is a ‘Spring”.

**I went bright red myself when I discovered Crayola ‘retired’ one of my favorite crayons: Prussian Blue.  This was done on the notion children these days do not know what Prussia was.  Oh the horror.

What’s top of my mind – A matter at work. The Boss-Man announced he is going into semi-retirement and some sort of national chain of mental health clinics will be taking over running the place. My other boss, The Boss-Woman, who is well over four feet, remains ‘the boss’ but it not clear what her role will be. Details to follow as they arise. Having new owners A.K. A. The Overlords raises all the usual questions of what will change. I am in a good position that if there is any funny business I can pack up my marbles and go elsewhere. The HQ of this conglomerate is located in Florida. One thing is positive: I get a new title, that of “Florida Man” . 

Where I’ve been – Total Wine. What I like to drink in the spring/summer months is inexpensive white wine. Often these sell for less than ten dollars and they come with a staffperson’s rave review. I lump these into the category of “Summer rain”, a reference to the movie “The Women”.  Explanation on request, or better yet, see the movie. 

Where I’m going – to the office of The Good Doctor. It’s time for my quarterly blood work to check on cholesterol and what-not. Between my lack of exercise and poor diet I suspect the numbers will not be good. 

What I’m watching – the post. I am expecting some pasta and a parcel of fabric. Some folks like to monitor their arrivals via apps but I like the surprise to find something in the mailbox.

What I’m reading – I am slogging my way through “Spoon River Anthology”. It is not a quick read as I like to pause and reflect on the entries. 

What I’m listening to – Takashi Yoshimatsu. My bouncy in his early 20s dental hygienist told me this fellow and his music ‘are to die for’. In return, I educated him the painting of Steve Martin in dentist attire that is hanging in the waiting room is “The Dentist song” from “Little Shop of Horrors” – something he had never heard of. Ah youth. 

What I’m eating – Tomato soup. I made my first batch – ever. I disliked Campbell’s which was what tomato soup meant in my childhood house. I made a ‘5 ingredients” recipe consisting of canned tomatoes (proper ones no rubbish), butter, onion, garlic, and broth. It turned out well; I would make it again. Someone likes tomato soup with a soupçon of cream. 

Who I’m paying attention to – Nobody really.  After a long day of paying attention to others the last thing I want to do is pay attention to anyone else. 

What I’m planning – Painting a rock. Among the gravel-sized stones that make up the yard I found a rock about the size of a muskmelon. I don’t know how it got there. It is now sitting sentinel on the sidewalk leading up to the front door. I want to paint it a bright color like yellow or verdigris or even Jungle Red. Whatever the color, this will probably upset the HOA and/or attract hoodlums to steal it.  All the same I want to do it. Photo to follow. 

Oh ya,* it’s allergy season here in The valley of the sun. I have all the usual symptoms including red itchy eyes and frequent sneezing. My sneezing is profound. I may not be the strongest of fellows, but I can boost my sneezes have the force and intensity of a category 5 hurricane. One of them blew off my mask. I am experimenting with what time of day is best to take an antihistamine. if it is taken too early in the day this results in me falling asleep, while taken too late in the day makes waking in the morning difficult. This miserable allergic state lasts until we get a few days in a row of temperatures above 40C. Thanks to global warming, this comes earlier every year, so there is a silver lining to that cloud. Last night it rained a bit, I hope enough to wash the air out a little.

I ordered a box of the new pasta shape, cascatelli. There is a waiting period of twelve weeks for the demand is huge. While I was on the website I ordered a few boxes of some other interesting shaped pastas. Speaking of pasta last night I made bucatini for the first time. It is like a fat spaghetti, almost an udon. Poor Someone. All our meals now resemble “The British Bakeoff” as I continually critique the cooking and badger him for feedback. He prefers watching TV while eating rather than analyzing what’s on the plate. I suspect he may soon take over some of the cooking just to have a quiet dinner. He’s in for a spaghetti-like shockaroo when the boxes of pasta arrive.

This evening over a chicken dish I’m planning to create I want to talk to Someone about the pending neighborhood yard sale. There is a lot we could unload and get some money to boot, provided we act now to prepare for such. I suspect this won’t happen given time/energy constraints of the week. I am half-tempted to just put out on the curb this Saturday a large box with a sign that says ‘FREE’ on the hopes somebody will take it all. Ironically things left curbside with a ‘FREE’ sign more often than not raises suspicion to its value and the donor’s intent and in the end the giver has to haul it all back inside the garage. I can’t imagine anyone wanting our snow shovels nor the grass clippers we brought from Michigan many years ago but no harm trying.

*My upper peninsula attempt at ‘yes’.

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive but in finding something to live for”.  – Dostoyevsky

A week ago I thought about writing on the lofty topic that is ‘The Meaning of Life’. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections quickly pointed out to me I’ve written on this topic before – about a half a dozen of times. They suggested I write about something else – ball bearings perhaps. I capitulated as I like all twenty toes. Spo-fans got wind of this and began howling like an orchestra of scorched cats, demanding that I do so. When these two forces move in conflict, I usually choose the latter and keep my boots on.  Spo

As we age and encounter matters of Life we lose faith in ourselves and others. Injustice, ignorance, pain, and death are everywhere and feel insurmountable. Life feels meaningless. We desire meaning yet we face there is none. Albert Camus called this The Absurd: wanting meaning in a meaningless world

The sad fact about Life, the Universe, and Everything is not that they are hostile, but that they are indifferent. The recognition of this axiom forces us into 5-6 outcomes. 

Denial. We look to religion to provide meaning. A god or gods and their religious structure provide us with explanations and meaning. My cousin is devout in her religions and answers all questions of doubt with dogma. If questioned, it evokes quick great wroth; it shakes her to the foundation.

Distraction. Sometime called ‘manic defense”, people throw themselves into activity and past times to keep busy. This option is exhausting: if they should stop they become in touch with the meaningless and in the end it seldom works. 

Suicide. Life with no meaning often leads to suicide.

Creativity. People become artists, actors, and politicians to make something meaningful for themselves and their fellow man. 

Then there is something Camus, Beckett, and pals suggest is better and the right way:

Acceptance. To accept that Life ultimately has no meaning is a paradox. By doing so, we are free to make our own meaning. This approach faces the truth without succumbing to delusions, distractions, or despair. Back to Mr. Camus, he saw acceptance not as passive helplessness but as an act of resistance: to look directly at the meaningless of the universe and make it so. You live Life well, knowing full well it is meaningless. ‘One must imagine Sisyphus as happy at his task.’ he wrote.

In the play “Waiting for Godot” there is a character with the ironical name of “Lucky”. He is the Absurd Hero. His life is meaningless but he returns to it. At the end of the play, he is the one who does not fall to pieces or keep false hopes as the other do.

Mind! Acceptance does NOT evoke sadness but wards off the depression that comes from doing otherwise. 

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live can bear with almost any ‘how.’”

Mr. Frankl wrote this in his book “Man’s search for meaning”. He describes how he survived being a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. In his memoir he writes he managed because he felt his life had purpose. 

In the end we are going to die and what we do along the way is up to us.  It is up to the individual to live the life of the universe in one short life.

There you have it. 

Tune in tomorrow for a digit count.

The spring allergies are in full swing, complete with sneezing, congestion, and eyes that resemble cherry tomatoes. I have the usual risk/benefit choice of whether or not to take an allergy pill. I would feel better but there will be side effects, sometimes called adverse drug reactions. I will walk around in a daze if I am walking around at all.

I think a lot about risk/benefits. Recently our financial advisor who assured us our choice of a ‘low/moderate risk’ investment approach combined with ‘staying the course’ hasn’t made mega-bucks but it has succeeded that in 2020 we actually made money. I continually advise my patients about the risk/benefits of this or that treatment, especially medications their risks and benefits.

I like to think I good at risk/benefit analysis and I make rationale decisions, but I am not so sure. Human beings are horrible at weighing the risks of things, preferring to make decisions based on worst-case spectacular what-ifs over the mundane and the likely. I have a patient who refuses a covid19 vaccine as she heard seven people out of several million had a bad reaction (true) but she smokes, daily rides a motorcycle without a helmet, and she regularly plays the lottery. I have patients who refuse medication for bipolar depression as they read online they could get a life-threatening rash from it (true) yet they don’t bat an eye when I point out their daily long time use of Xanax is associated with falls/hip fractures and early-onset dementia.  Statistics about the (very slim) chance of dying in a plane crash or an intruder breaking into your home vs. the statistics of dying from cardiovascular disease (common and quite preventable) persuade nobody.  I suppose we are wired to zero-in on worse case scenarios. A tiger in the jungle only has to jump once for us to cash in our chips. Our ancestors didn’t have to worry about avoiding a diet of drive-through and a lack of moving and wearing seatbelts as they didn’t live long enough to see the consequences or these endeavors.  

So much of our economy seems based on appealing to emotional response to snowball-chance-in-Phoenix emotions. Security systems, handguns, government policies – even news shows all take advantage of our wiring for the worst case scenario. Paradoxically lotteries and casinos do the same. I have never bought a lottery ticket as I prefer to put that money into mutual funds. While both are a sort of ‘fingers crossed/hopes the works” the latter is more likely to pay off.

I take my cholesterol and blood pressure medications and I wear my mask and seatbelt too. I try to eat sensible and I opt out on extended warranties. I don’t worry about being struck by lighting unless it is raining, nor do I worry people of color want to break into my house.*  I might live a longer less anxious life this way. Sometimes being sensible saves your life. 

*Stats indicate the ones to be wary of are white males 15-40yo. 

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