man_covering_his_earsI’ve been thinking a lot lately about toxins. People used to be quite concerned about environmental pollution but nowadays there are more anxious about what goes into their food and drink. Sugar is looking more villainous by the day and its substitutes appear no better. These same people tend to be awfully fussy about their beliefs as to what is and isn’t injurious to their health. They abjure tap water but at the same time eat things loaded with chemicals.

Urs Truly is also suspicious as to what goes into his craw. I am trained to think like a scientist; I don’t want to succumb to pseudo-science or mass hysteria. I regularly read food labels for hidden sources of sugar and salt and funny sounding words more apt for a chemistry lab.

Someone and I are eating more ‘real food’ which is brought to us by the good folks at “Blue Apron”. We are often too tired or too lazy to shop and cook otherwise. It is nice to eat proper food in good portions; already our waistlines are diminishing from eating less rubbish from take-out joints.

Just as important, I am careful with what I watch and listen. I think news sites can be as detrimental to my health as too much saturated fat. I’ve put myself on a ‘media diet’ of careful portion control.  I’ve eliminated a few ‘toxic’ podcasts that seem to be designed to raise my blood pressure from all the outrages therein.*

So far I haven’t seen concrete evidence body and soul are better for abjuring aspartame and Huffington Post headlines, but it feels virtuous to do so. Next step: curtail the fusillade of advertisements that pop up like dandelions onto my Life’s lawn – if possible. The task sounds daunting if not feckless.

Perhaps I should just get me a bag of gummi-bears and go watch CNN.

 

*Fox News is a curious phenomenon. So far as I can tell its main job is to make up stuff and provide outrageous emotional ‘news’ to its viewers to get them rattled to get them into continuous viewing. I’ve never heard of a Fox News-watcher saying ‘Oh, I had to turn it off, it was all too much”.  It makes me wonder if thems who watch Fox are impervious to stress or are they on the quick road to a heart attack.

The Lovely Neighbor is getting rid of all her things in preparation for her house sale and a move to Virginia. I am sad to see her go. When her mother Merle died last month I knew TLN would not stay alone in that big house when all her kin are back east. If she had her way she would give us her entire household.  “Take something, anything!” she said today as I visited her to see how she was doing.  I told her what I really wanted was a recipe. Merle made an oyster dip which she served at every party and dinner. That is what I wished to take to remember her.

Whenever someone dies or goes away for good I want a souvenir of them. This is never something large or precious, nor is it merely a photograph. What I want is a recipe. Food is my means to recall someone I love and miss. Friends and family get associated with a dish or cookie or even a cocktail. One bite or sip brings them back to me.

I learned today The Lovely Neighbor’s late mother’s recipe is neither complicated nor haute cuisine. It consists of two tins of oysters, diced, combined with some diced tomatoes (also tinned) and a few dashes or tabasco. That’s it. The dip is served with Ritz crackers. It is not ‘gourmet’ but it works. Its aroma and taste brings back Merle. I miss her. I surmise whenever I have oyster dip I will remember her. This beats all the photographs in the album book.

I have many such food-memories associations. Most of them are simple fare. None were consciously set up to do the job; they merely happened. I have a cup of coffee, I think of Lena. One cup of tea and I hear my grandmother. I nibble some edam cheese and I Grandfather is alive again. “I smell olives” conjures loving memories of The Cajun.

I suppose this is another argument for lots of home cooking and haggaes. I don’t care too deeply for inheriting Grandmother’s furniture. Her recipe for Russian Chicken*, handwritten on an index card in large cursive penmanship, is something I really cherish.

Spo-fans are invited to share if they have a dish associated with a loved one.

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*Russian Chicken

10 ounces of preserves: apricot, pineapple, or peach. 

I package of Lipton onion soup mix.

1 bottle of Russian dressing (or make your own).

Mix the three ingredients together and pour over 4-6 chicken breasts.   Cover and bake x 90 minutes at 350F.

The last entry and its comments got me thinking more about card games. No one seems to play them much anymore, more’s the pity. I never got the needed knack for the strategy necessary to be any good at them. Nevertheless I thought card games fun. Someone and I only rarely play at cards as he nearly always wins. I daresay it isn’t much fun for him. It’s like throwing darts into Jello there are no good hits.

Back in Michigan when we had friends we sometimes met with a couple who enjoyed Euchre. This game made my eyes cross as to the rules. The worse element of Euchre was 1/2 or 3/4 through the game the other three fellows would throw down their cards as they could all see who would get what without needing to play out the hands.

Cribbage was my metier, although I don’t remember the rules now. I remember it needed counting 15-1 and 15-2 and the pegs would leap over each other. What I most remember about cribbage is the term ‘being skunked’ which I have expanded to many situations.  Grandmother (the high priestess of cribbage) called Jacks “J-boys” which is another term I use liberally and not just at cards.

The official card game in the House of Spo is Spite and Malice. This is a sort of solitaire game played against a component. It has the element of blocking the other’s moves for the sheer pleasure to do so, hence the game’s name. This is another card game Someone beats me by a country mile, so what pleasure I get from playing it is derived at how many pins I can stick him as I go down in defeat.

I have a vague recall of playing Hearts. All my brothers play poker which is something I never got into, probably because everyone was so serious about it. I play cards ‘for fun’ which is anathema.

UnknownI remember from history class Winston Churchill played Bezique. Every time I reconsider learning how to play it I remember Bezique requires several decks and it has more score-keeping rules than the IRS tax form. I know no one who plays the game so I shouldn’t waste time learning. It would be like learning Basque and having none to speak with.

In a pinch I can tell fortunes with cards.

Our card packs come from Grand Canyon Park. They are illustrated by the local faun and have with the photos the genus/species names and fun facts. I’ve got to remember not to read these out loud as we play, as it gives away what I am holding.

Someday I may write about Uno and Sushi Go! which are most invidious.

More’s the pity.

Twice in one day I heard someone say “more’s the pity”. They were regretting something that is no more. It got me thinking to what I would say ‘more’s the pity’ when describing a by-gone day or pastime.

Here’s a few……

Gas station service. I have vague memories of a nice man (or several) coming out to our car to pump my gas and wipe windows, even offer to check my oil. Besides the sense of being serviced, we didn’t have to touch anything, especially the pump handle, probably one of the most nasty things imaginable.

Airplane meals. My memory is probably remembering things better than they were. I am certain the food wasn’t too large or exquisite but it was part of the deal and gave me something to do.  I remember too asking for a deck of playing cards to pass the time and being given one gratis to keep as a souvenir of the flight. I think I still have a UA pack.

Raw treats. Whether cookie dough or brownie batter, there was always a little left in the mixing bowl for scraping with a spatula and feeding it to the kiddies. We did not die of salmonella. I wonder if eggs then weren’t so nasty. Once in a while mother gave us a marble-sized raw beef as she made the patties.   What were we thinking, my niblings wonder. They also abhor drinking the notion we drank out of the garden hose, which once upon considered one of summer’s greatest pleasures.

School and work holiday parties. Whether Hallowe’en or Christmas these shin dings were lavish affairs in which no one seemed outraged or oppressed.  Nowadays if there any parties at all they are bowdlerized generic ‘season’ matters, often without booze lest the host/boss/teacher be blamed for DUIs.  I especially miss the Hallowe’en parties as one could dress up.

Contract Bridge. My grandmother (the high priestess of the game) refused to teach me how to play the game, fearing I would forsake school and all nourishment in order to play 24/7 until I died of exhaustion or something. She needn’t have bothered; no one plays bridge anymore. In my youth my parents were in several bridge clubs at work, church, and around the neighborhood. Bridge was the social glue that bound us together. I enjoyed helping out my parent’s hosting by being the servant, running around pouring coffee (from the great olive-green percolator that no one uses anymore either) and replenishing the bowls of nuts and sweets and gathering coats as I may.  I got to see the neighbors too and my parents could show off how brilliant Urs Truly was at wit and politeness (while I stole sweets from the candy dishes).   I would still love to learn but knowing no one who does makes this about as useful as learning how to disco.

Spo-fans are invited to leave in the comment section their own “more’s the pity’ items for fun and profit.

This week Someone interviews “Aaron the pool man” for the probable hire to maintain our pool. Unless Mr. A is outrageously expensive or unhinged in character he’s already hired in my eyes. The Lovely Neighbor and another couple on the street use him, so he comes with a good reputation.

I continually struggle between self-sufficiency and relying on others to do things for me. I prefer the former.  Alas, maintaining a gunge-free cement pond is a task most ponderous, and (so far) one I am not doing. Neither od us has the time to do it properly.  Last year in the summer heat the pool quickly went from limpid-blue to swamp-green suitable for filming “The Creature from the Black Lagoon II”. We spent a lot of energy – and money – without success. Worse, we never enjoyed the pool but only worked on it.

Unlike Hair Furor, Someone drained the swamp last month and the pool with replenished with fresh aqua frio.  Stinko. Already the heavy pollen of the spring is turning the pristine waters a suspicious green, suggesting “Creature III” is in the making.

Last weekend I spent most of Sunday (the day of rest, reportedly) trying to remove the duff from the bottom of the pool. The vacuum cleaner came undone; I was obliged to take the ‘first dip of the season’ to retrieve it. I had just enough Michigan blood in me to keep me conscious. [1] Enough is enough.  I made the executive decision we shall contact Mr. Aaron.

I hope Mr. A is willing to take on our aquatic Aegean stables.  The sand trap needs replacement as does the pool light. [2] For now I will settle with pool water comfortable enough to enter without the feeling I’m an ingredient in an organic soup.

P.S. I wrote the above a few days ago; Mr. Aaron (whose last name escapes me) showed up last night. He was late (not a good sign) but seemed competent (says Someone).  He started right away, practicing his art, adding some sort of chemicals and eliciting the gods of clean water. It all sounds promising.  I look forward to a season of carefree green-less evening dips.

P.P.S Someone says Mr. Aaron didn’t have the cliché physique seen in the “Pool Boys” genera of porn.  He paused, thought, and added “But I might like him”, which is a pretty safe bet. Any fellow who expunges algae sounds handsome in my book.

underwater

[1] Part plasma, part anti-freeze, and part beluga blood.

[2] Last year I did not dare go into the pool at night as it was not lit. There is nothing so creepy as swimming in a dark pool, sensing something evil is lurking below like Grendel’s mother, ready to pull me down to an ignominious end.

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I recently wrote some hum-dinger entries but they went a-missing. I’ve looked in all the computers at work and at home but there is nary a sign of them. My ability to misplace things is notorious but this is the first time I’ve misplaced entries. Perhaps there is a new sort of fairy in my life: some nefarious imp erases things after I save them.   I suspect nargles.  Worse, I can’t remember the contents.  That’s the trouble with Goddess-Group Inc. They leave no paper trail to review when my mind snaps a tether.  I can either wait for a new theophany or put out an impromptu. This is one of the latter. I’ve learned on-the -wing writing often gives Spo-fans the most entertainment.

There is nothing much (if anything) planned for the month of April. In my youth I would see this as horrible; at fifty I am quite glad. Last weekend I felt the quiet satisfaction one gets from completing the ironing and having no laundry – temporarily. I have a long list of ‘work to be done’ chores to do. I’ve neglected my exercise; it is time to return to the gym. I seem to be forever doing this. Something gets in the way for regular attendance so I am always starting over again.

Speaking of shirts, I’ve promised several; it’s time to get cracking or I will miss some self-imposed deadlines. On Sunday last I began working on one for Laurent when I cut my finger on the rollerblade. I took it as a sign I ought not to continue, particularly as the bright red contrasts with the light blue/white stripes in the fabric. My index fingertip is healed but every time I press on it it lets me know there was a cut there. It’s curious to realize how often my index finger is utilized. I do hope it heals soon and the nargles return my entries. In the dull month of April I could use some inspiration.

 

Blogger-buddy Linda (the dear!) inspired this entry. She recently blogged about her counters (lemon-yellow) and their contents (lots).  She asked her parsimonious pals their opinions on the matter of counters.

Oh the pain.

As I age I am go more and more towards Martha Stewart minimalism. Going in the opposite direction are my cluttered counters. Once upon a time I wrote about the surreptitious sprites who flit about the house moving things about. There is a worse group of goblins I’ve christened the Counter-Kobolds. These villains delight in putting things on top of counters, sometimes as soon as my back is turned. I turn around and lo! the counters are again obscured under dirty plates, laundry (folded or yet to be), and gym bags. We are forever in battle to gain the upper-hand.

The kitchen is particularly prone to gathering goodies. Food preparation is the worst. Usually while Someone is cooking the meal I am behind him putting things away.* Despite my industry by meal’s end the counters are again piled high as Fafner’s hoard with dirty pans and mixing bowls.

“New clutter” comes and goes but ‘old clutter’ seems sessile. On the window counters are several knick-knacks and empty glass containers neither one of us can deduce how on earth they got there. Despite the mystery these intrepid dust collector remain. Once in awhile I try to stuff one behind the unused desert cups in the cupboard, only to find next day it is back in position.

I vow to persevere. I have joined the generations of women (and men) forever fighting clutter in the ideal pursuit of clean and shiny countertops, sans cups, sans gym bags, sans everything.  The one exception is the bright red sorbet machine. We haven’t used it in years but it is pretty. It’s been grandfathered in.

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What? A clean countertop? Let’s see how this knife looks up there!

*This sometimes causes tension. I am often asked where the hell is the knife I was just using, which is now going into the sink or dishwasher. This causes Somone to become cross – but never too long or too severe. After all, he is talking to someone with a knife in his hands.

The recent meeting of The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections resembled an orchestra of scorched cats. They often do, but this one was particularly boisterous. The Board’s ‘chief complaint” was “an inconsistency of content” viz. one day I write erudite self-reflections only to follow up with comical rubbish. I am allegedly flitting about like a hummingbird and should ‘settle down’ (as it were) on a consistent ambience or prose.  I asked ‘which one” and this caused a crescendo of arguing, enough to adjourn the meeting early due to the many wounded and the lack of Tim-bits.  I guess I can post as my weathercock whims will take me.

Someone works all weekend at some sort of final four basketball nonsense. Based on his description of the festivities it’s no-way-Jose I am going downtown into the debacle. I’ve canceled Saturday night’s concert. Besides, I’ve had enough Beethoven #9 to last me a life time. The Spo-list of ‘Work to be done” is as long as a winter night in Moscow. The house is in desperate need of tidy-up and I am behind on my hobbies. I shall be quite the home-girl just not so stylish.

Tonight is the last night of a three part seminar on the history of American opera. It’s been jolly good fun and they provide cheese and crackers. The wine isn’t so good but the speaker is pleasant eye candy. He is enthusiastic about the topic and he seems genuinely interested in my questions which I try to keep intelligent. The other members of the audience are mostly asking questions either to show off their knowledge or whatever happened to Baby Jane inquiries. Tonight there is some discussion if Hamilton is the most important opera of the 21st century or even if it is an opera at all.  People actually come to blows over this sort of stuff. Oh the tedium. See you all at the next revival of “Figaro’s Wake”.

Office

Not long ago I had a patient with symptoms that occurred only in the middle of the night. He would wake with chest tightness and a sense of foreboding. A creeping sensation took over him and develop into partial paralysis. His theory was not depression or panic attacks but the house was bewitched. He tried to exorcise the alleged ghost(s) with some sort of cleansing ritual but no luck: the symptoms continued. His PCP sent him on the possibility he was off his rocker. I didn’t think him ‘crazy’ but I wasn’t going with his hypothesis of spooks. I got him to have his place checked for black mold and the like. It turns out carbon monoxide was seeping in to his room from the near by garage. I thought the man would be grateful but he wasn’t. He was downright disappointed the explanation wasn’t supernatural. You’re welcome. People believe in a lot of mumbo-jumbo about illness and treatment. Because of my training in Jungian psychology patients expect me to be full of dungeons and dragons and they are dismayed when I cut through their rubbishy theories about every little fiddle-faddle. They want me to agree with their beliefs and take umbrage when I don’t

On the other hand I’ve learned if a patient is gung-ho about something for their treatment I go with it so long as their modest proposal does no harm. The placebo effect is a strong and useful medicine. If their way works, great; if it doesn’t, then next time it is my way.  It is important to be neutral about these things. A patient recently returned after a year of trying a myriad of non-pharmaceutical means to alleviate her depression, only to sheepishly admit (with a touch of rancor) only the zoloft works and would I please give her another prescription. OK is the answer, not I told you so you silly person.

Patients with paranoid delusions are particularly tough nuts to crack. I’ve learned not to butt heads yes it’s true no it’s not but to go with the affect.  “Gee, that must make you (angry/scared/frustrated) to have that happen to you” not only does this mirror the affect but it dodges the debate about the truth of it all.

I see Thursday’s roster has “Joe” coming in. He doesn’t want treatment per se but seems to be showing up solely to wear me out through attrition and get me admit I am wrong and affirm his belief about the supposed nightly break-ins. My two comments  a) how the hell can I know for sure and b) it sounds not likely and give it a rest neither appease or cause him to dismiss me as a quack and go elsewhere. He is determined to get me to confess yes he’s right. It’s all rather tedious. I am half-tempted to tell him his house is bewitched. It may actually raise his low opinion of me.

David G. (the dear!) recently blogged how he goes about finding topics for a blog entry. He asked his readers how do they do theirs. My response is this entry. I have several roads for inspiration.

The first route is to sit on a tripod stool over an opening in the earth. I inhale vapors and go into a trance, allowing Apollo (or the Electrician, or someone like him) to possess my spirit. The cryptic babble is then written out in long hand. I don’t do this one much anymore as it gives me over-the-top wisdom hangovers.

The second is a surreptitious route: I go around my favorite blogs and steal their ideas upon which, such as how I decide to blog from David G.

Door #3 resembles Beethoven’s notebook. He would walk about always with a notepad. If a little ditty popped into his mind, he would pull out his notebook and write it down. Later he used it in his composition. The difference between Herr B.and Urs Truly is he used paper and quill and I use my iPhone. The other difference is he is dead and I’m not.

Most of the time I rely on #4, which is to sit in front of a blank screen and stare at it with a vacuous expression and wonder again what on earth am I going to write or should I finally give it a rest for Pete’s sake I’ve written on everything there is and there is nothing I haven’t dragged on stage from my life past or present and besides who reads this rubbish anyway and yes I said yes I will Yes.  Sitting and looking idiotic isn’t pretty or pleasant but it leaves the door open for members of Goddess-Groups Inc. to drop by for tea and inspiration.  Spo-fans know the Drama Personae:

The Fates

The Muses

The Norns

The Graces

The Furies

and

The Skanks *

One of these lovely lady-groups puts a kernel of creativity into the recesses of my pumpkin. Sometimes they take the Carol Kane approach “Sometimes you have to slap people in the face to get their attention”.

Once in a while, in a pinch, the bellicose Board sends me something upon to write, especially if they are in a swivet over drops in the number of comments. Their suggestions are either benign albeit useless “Hey, green is a nice color. Why don’t you write about something green” (which isn’t easy) or sardonic “Oh, for Thor’s sake anything but another “Walking the Dog” entry !”

It is amazing how I compose anything at all given these noisy Archetypes flitting about my Psyche like angry bats, but I manage somehow.

 

*Once – lord love us ! – The Archies paid a visit. The Board of Directors Here At Spo-reflections dumped them and their sottish entry into the Glomma. It was quite tactless but they were very angry.

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