Office

After 13 years of working where I do, I finally have ‘M.D.’ after my name on the letterhead. I’ve never been one to flex my medical muscles but I think it is appropriate to include my credentials whenever I am writing pompous letters to insurance companies or pow-wowing with my fellow wizards. All it took was a simple request to The House Manager. Who would have thunk it?  This revelation was like the radiance of a brilliant sunrise so I asked her to send me the other templates for coiffing. All the forms are updated and nifty looking.* I’m pleased as punch.  I arranged the sentences and such to accommodate my left-handedness. I added ‘please’ to some of the imperial-sounding instructions.  Manners count!

Alas, I won’t be attending the annual office holiday party this weekend for I am away on a medical conference. Each year at this party I get a modest cash stipend which I immediately use to buy a good bottle of scotch I am too cheap to buy with my own cash. I wonder if I will get it given my absence. Let us hope so. I have the bottle already picked out.

One of the counselors is quitting work this week. I am sad to see him go for he did a good job and the patients liked him. A new one started this week but I haven’t met him yet. Glancing at him in the hallway he looks a bit overwhelmed. Let’s see if he stays.

Where am I going this weekend Spo-fans may be asking? I go to Lost Vegas for a medical conference. Last night I received an email from the Conference asking me to clarify which of the two seminars am I attending: “Updates in substance abuse disorders” or “The pelvic anatomy and gynecological surgery symposium”.  Dear me! I suspect the latter would be more intriguing – and probably with better luncheons. Shrinks tend to feel guilty being fed by pharm reps so they don’t eat lavishly, but surgeons have no such scruples – and they demand only the best, baby.  I will attend the one on ketamine, opioids, CBD oil etc. as sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury than sit among surgeons. If my group becomes dull I can tiptoe across the hall and go have a look-see at the newest in prolapse uterine repair – or at least to swipe me a proper sandwich.

 

*It’s always the queer one to make things fabulous.

Last weekend Sunday night Someone and I had our Thanksgiving dinner.  As there was only the two of us, we tried to ‘keep it simple”.  Cooking a holiday meal ‘for two’ is not humanely possible, at least in our house. Despite trying to cut recipes in half, we had tons of leftovers. We will be living off this simple supper for a fortnight.   On the other hand if there was one day in the year for over-eating and self-indulgence it is Thanksgiving.

Someone doesn’t like mashed potatoes but he likes sweet potatoes – or yams as he sometimes calls them. He made a sweet potato casserole.  It had a brown sugar topping and was as sweet as sugar candy. Deprived of mashed potatoes I put my foot down on mini-marshmallows in the dish.  It’s tough to pair wine with Thanksgiving dinner given the sweetness of this dish. Wine aficionados suggest eliminating the sweet potato dish for the sake of the wine but this was vetoed by Someone with a hot oath.

He also made a corn dish, whose title included “Bourbon” in it. Someone doesn’t drink bourbon so he relied on my advice which one to purchase. Only a few tablespoons were needed, so I chose a good bottle, knowing I get the rest. It was a win-win situation.  I liked the dish although Someone thought it a disappointment: it was supposed to be more of cake when it was more likely a loose pudding.

We had a turkey breast rather than a full turkey so there wasn’t a cavity in which to cook the stuffing. This is supposed to be hazardous to do anyway. We made ours in a crockpot somewhat out of whimsy but mostly to free up space in the oven and the stove top.   Our stuffing is based upon cornbread, another Someone favorite.  I think he could live off of cornbread and sweet potatoes.

One downside of a turkey breast we realized is there is no dark meat or legs. I like a turkey leg and dark meat is good for chicken pot pies, which is the official Spo-house dish for food-pushing leftover turkey.  Perhaps we will make a turkey soup this time around.

What was missing was green bean casserole.  While I extol proper food and abjure rubbish I confess I like this dish.  Mother made it the Midwest way: a can of cream of mushroom soup combined with a can of green beans, with salt and pepper to taste.  The fried onion topping appeared later on.

Someone loves to make pumpkin pie; he always makes two of them. He likes his with homemade whipped cream; I like mine with Edam cheese. We had some of both.  I had only one slice which satiates my appetite for pie. This morning I saw in the fridge  ~ 3/4 of the first pie had been consumed in the night.  I suspect Nargles are behind it.

The Board of Directors grudgingly gave me permission to write another entry about my pal Charles Dickens. Alas for most people Mr. D is trotted out only once a year at Christmas time. I concur his “A Christmas Carol” is a masterpiece but not for the manifest reason it is a thumping good story.  After a few flops Charlie Boy needed a bang-slap success sale and fast – which he did but his genius is he did it through a story meant to bitch-slap the 1% who could afford to buy it. 

Dickens was a lifelong advocate for The Poor. You will be shocked, shocked, shocked to know The Rich in his time believed poverty was the result of ones laziness and all your own fault; if you would only work harder you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Indeed, to assist the poor makes them worse off and upsets social and divine justice.*

Dickens felt otherwise: success on a personal level is meaningless without engaging with others in the world.  He wanted to get this point through the obstinate heads of thems in charge in a way they would actually listen. He did this through his works. Let’s go have a look see.

“A Christmas Carol” starts almost comic: “Marley was dead as a door nail”.  This is not chance. We need to know he is dead so the ghost is recognized as real and not coming from Scrooge’s own senses. Often in film Jacob Marley is the rushed introduction to get to the meaty middle. In the book Jacob Marley is a center character critical to story.

Scrooge in an amalgam of the 19th century elite. When the specter appears Scrooge can’t understand why Marley is chained: he was a good businessman who succeeded through persistent and self-made industry – good Protestant English virtues. Jacob explains plainly he is cursed because he did not do the actual task of Life: look outward and help others. Another small but crucial detail to Marley is showing Scrooge an escape from damnation will do him no good. This ain’t no “It’s a wonderful life” where Clarence earns his wings through a goodly deed. Marley does NOT get redemption for he is one of the damned. This is bone chilling!  In the better renditions of “A Christmas Carol” the directors keep the novel’s next scene where Marley shows Scrooge the legions of the damned roaming the earth impotent to help themselves and others. 

Sometimes modern readers criticize Dickens for creating a character who too quickly changes his approach. Scrooge’s transformation is too pat. It is hard to believe believe; we believe true transition takes time as anyone in counseling can attest. This is based on our failure to recognize Ebenezer is visited by a genuine ghost from hell ascertaining there is divine justice and the reality of eternal punishment. 

Thanks to this book Dickens transformed Christmas into the holiday we all now know, which includes ‘giving to the poor’. May The Ghost of Jacob Marley continue to haunt and remind us charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence remain our true business. 

 

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*Aren’t you glad you live in the 21st century where such a thing never happens?

I want to share something recommended to people with depression; may you find it thoughtful and perhaps useful.

The awful axiom of depression is it clouds ones entire being and outlook in dark and dismal despair. Nothing has hope; all who could be helpful are believed to be useless and actually uncaring. In times of improvement people can see in hindsight the lie of their depressive delusions. Alas, when back the depths of depression it is all forgotten. 

People with depression sometimes are asked to compose a certain list. This roster consists of the names and telephone numbers of people who are meaningful and helpful to you. These are the folks you can turn to at times of despair, for they genuinely care and see you worthy. They pass the test of those you can call at any time when feeling down or even suicidal. I tell patients not only to include names and numbers but ‘why’ they are important. 

Perhaps you know someone from church who thought you funny. Maybe theres was a teacher from college who thought well of your prose. Is there an aunt who always saw you as clever? It is important to list the ‘whys’ because in moments of depression you don’t remember this stuff or if you do you doubt their truthfulness.

 “I, who have written this in a time of wellness, remind you these people and the reasons listed are genuine. They really said to call when you feel bad. Do so.” 

It is important to get the permission of these lifelines, so they (and you) know if you enter despair you can count on them even at 2AM. 
I do not have clinical depression but there have times I feel bad enough I yearn to reach out just to someone to assure me I am not as bad as I feel and someone loves me. Yes, I plan on doing this very soon. I hope I can find a few willing to be on my blessed list. I may not ever use it but I see myself in dark moments pulling it out to read to comfort me and stiffen my spine.

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I am sitting in the Hyundai service center, waiting for the mechanic or someone like him.  It was allegedly a simple oil-change but you know how these things go. I fear they will find something frazzled that needs immediate attention and mega-bucks. Being the Boy Scout that I am (Second Class I recall) I brought along a lot to-do items and enough reading material to last a lifetime. About the latter: I recently finished a history of how Prince Charles managed to get out of England before the Roundheads got him. I won’t spoil the ending for you lest some Spo-fans haven’t read it. 

I could get up and walk around and buy a car. Someone’s birthday is in a fortnight and he has no clue what he wants. He ‘needs’ a new car – the 2001 (yes, you read that right) is dead as a doornail in the garage. I want someone to haul it away and replace it with something new no rubbish.

I won’t miss the 2001 but it had a simplicity which was charming.  Nowadays cars come with more computer buttons than an airplane. Rumor has it they are beginning to drive themselves and they receive telepathic requests freeing the drivers to gape at their phones even more than they already do. My needs in a car are simple: get me there and back again with good gas mileage and where is the button to turn on the podcasts. Several of the salesmen here have appealing looks so following one of them around for awhile doesn’t sound too bad for my wait.  

I had hoped the Muses would Grace me (pun intended) with something more profound or witty upon which to write than this but there it is. One doesn’t look gift horses in the mouth, and that includes new cars. Tune in tomorrow to see if I got laid or I bought a 2018 Elantra hybrid or actually wrote an exciting entry. 

 

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Although I didn’t eat a scrap of proper Thanksgiving dinner today I had a lovely holiday. It started with a call from Warrior Queen and her consort Todd G. (the dears!). I had several FaceTime calls from various Spo-relations who were all bouncing off each other with ADHD excitement. For supper I made a fabulous M&C with fried cubes of SPAM. It was very good and we ate it with relish. After dinner Someone and I watched an episode of Dr. Who and I had a good snort of rare Mexican whisky (no basura). Oh to have a proper fireplace fire right now!  It would be an absolute delight to sit in the inglenook and fall asleep.

I coiffed the blog with some holiday trimmings. The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections is pleased as punch to have its photo inserted among the widgets*.  

Despite the my frock and the gaiety of the day I don’t have much to report otherwise. Tomorrow I take the car to the mechanic. I hope the dear can figure out what is making that dreadful scraping noise under the car. I sense I will have lots of waiting time to compose something of wit and value.  Don’t touch that dial. 

 

 

 

*Actually the picture is a cartoon pinched from the internet. I’ve never been successful getting them to sit still long enough to get a proper portrait. Once upon a time I hired a professional photographer to do the job. It didn’t go well. They took umbrage at his bossiness and retakes. In the end they burned down the studio and sold him to the Rus. It was tactless but they were very angry. 

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There is no work like the three days prior to the Thanksgiving day weekend. The phone rings allegro non troppo from folks anxious to get their Rx filled before the long weekend. Lord forbid they run out of valium and have to face the family dinner unmedicated.  In this day and age I can renew prescriptions 24/7 but people still worry about getting all done before Wednesday evening. Remember the time you had to get to the bank before Friday evening lest you run out of cash for the weekend? It’s a three-day rush followed by two days (I hope) of peace and quiet. 

I won’t have Thanksgiving. Someone works all day Thursday and I don’t really know anyone to crash their arty. Thursday will be a quiet day home alone. Please don’t feel sad or write in. I am looking forward to two days of non-living. There will tea and books followed by a snort and a simple supper. Doesn’t that sound scrumptious? I plan to make me some M&C using fried cubes of SPAM. Thanks Ravanger619 !

Friday will be even quieter. Sooner I’d eat rats at Tewkesbury than venture out on Black Friday. That said my hair wants cutting. If there is parking I will go to the barbershop.  I lead a dull life. 

I whooped it up for Halloween and Thanksgiving is a bust. That 1 to 0 on the score card. I haven’t yet made put my mind whether or not to do a full up Christmas or just blow it off. Whatever, I shan’t worry about it now. Although it is only 8PM I think I will crawl into bed now with Mr. Pepys. It’s January 1666 and he is hoping for a good year. Ouch. 

 

P.S. Someone and I will have a modest turkey breast with stuffing and kung pao Brussels sprouts on Sunday, his day off. 

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Usually when I visit Palm Springs Fearsome Beard (the dear!) comes to town to bless me with his presence. He was not physically here this time but his influence is strong.  Here’s an entry inspired by that wonderful and  whiskered sage. 

While staying at Palm Springs I meet a lot of wayfarers many who are retired or planning to do such. At happy hour they talk about their lives and plans. I wonder if these brief interactions will change me somehow- or at least make me think of change. Listening to these fellows I get thoughtful about my future. I always leave the city with pensive thoughts about what awaits me as I return to the mundane matters of my life. 

It is quite easy to tend the trees and not the forest. Every day is full up with repetitive predictable activities enough to fill the day and get to the end having ‘done the list’. Then you sleep and repeat. Decades later you wonder where the time went and weren’t I supposed to do something?  

Synchronicity delivered onto me a shake up. Fearsome Beard (the dear!) recently posted the following:  

I start today like I start every day and that is with a choice:

Should I play the same record over and over or should I change my world? Growth comes through change.

Today is the beginning of the rest of my life. All I have to do to change the world is to start by changing my mind.

Well said! 

One of the comforts of life is you can get over its disappointments. We can break from the past that haunts and the present with its ‘rules’.  Regardless, there is choice. 

We often become what we practice.  I can see how chanting this mantra every morning can help keep conscious the marvelous notion things can be different.  Or so I hope. 

Fearsome B’s practice is about shifting psychological paradigms but I plan to apply it to the concrete things as well. I want to work on my future goals. Can I ever retire, and when and where? What do I want out of life? I have a bucket list; I have a roster of home (and self) improvements as long as your arm. I want these things fulfilled. I don’t want to get through another ten years having gone to work and home and not much else. 

This week is Thanksgiving; I won’t be having one. Someone works that day and I have nowhere to go. I will be at home to myself. I will use the quiet weekend to reflect on all I am thankful for. Then – there’s work to be done! I plan to do some self reflection on what records do I play over and over and which ones do I want/need to change – to to what. I will make some lists of things to do. 

My tarot card for 2019 is The Fool. More synchronicity! Tying all this stuff together in classic Jungian fashion, then Fearsome is serving the role of The Fool in my life. I am honored so!  The Fool/FB represents a new beginning — and, consequently, an end to something in the old life. He portends important decisions ahead which may not be easy to make, and involve an element of risk.

May it be so. 

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Greetings from Palm Springs, Land of Retirees.  Urs Truly is here for a weekend of reading, resting, and so forth. I am staying at Desert Paradise Warm Sands – my first time – for my usual abode Inndulge was booked.   

 

This is the view from outside my door. 

The rooms here are named after divas. They have:  July Garland room; Madonna; Lucille Ball; Joan Crawford (rumored to be haunted) etc.  I am in the Bette Midler Suite.

 

Behold the painting over the queen-sized bed.

Can you imagine trying to sleep etc. under her?  Rumor has it one needs to turn her around lest gentleman callers are distracted.  

Leon the Larger 

Leon A.K.A The Wild One and DougT are at next door with the “A” listers. They are both well over four feet. L is constantly cold. While the others are walking around sky-clad he’s bundled burrito-style shivering.  

 

There is no such thing as a side pasta – boo ! 

We had dinner last night at a local family Italian restaurant. I am always eager for a good eggplant parmesan. It is a hard dish to do properly. Alas, it was soggy – page 71!  Oh well. The company and good cheer (and two glasses of chianti) made up for the meal. 

 

The dears at the resort have The Holy Book in the dresser drawer lest there is a crisis and one needs to quote Job or something.  Several scenes in Judges are applicable for some of the shenanigans that go on around here – or so I am told.  Urs Truly – party animal that he is – fell asleep around 8PM. I lead a dull life. 

I know of a campaign to curtail smoking in teenagers; it was a complete bust. The authors foolishly focused on ‘scary facts’ to dissuade these innocents from the evils of tobacco. Anyone who knows adolescents knows they feel immortal and smoking is used to rebel against thems in charge. In round #2 the campaign changed tactics focusing on how they were being duped and manipulated by Big Corporations run by The Man. This worked much better.

I bristle as being duped; I am constantly on guard for such. I am not a fool to think my psychological training makes me impervious to mental manipulation. Just remember: it is always the best swimmers who drowned. It is human nature to be duped so I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. Regardless it burns my beets to discover once again someone or something has me schnuckered.*

Despite my hyper-vigilance against malaperts and machinations it is all-to-easy to be had. People are mighty crafty these days at dragging people into their belief systems, This is usually to get you to watch ads in order for you to buy things or to make you pass along ‘facts’ to others.

Not since the arrival of The Wizard of Oz has there been such an invention as social media. This morning I heard on “The Daily” show Mr. Z over at FB is up to no good again at dealing with his bungles and there is no end to his crafty manipulations. Shocking. Nowadays I am limiting my exposure to FB and Twitter – even the news apps – as I can’t help feeling poisoned by the tainted air that breathes from their hearts.  The fear of ‘missing out” has no foundation in fact and the world won’t crash if I don’t check in every five minutes.

Sometimes it is the little plots that most piss me off. Thems who have cellphones can relate: mine continually chirps notifications to the point it sounds like morning birdsong.  Nasty little red dots appear in the corner of the apps that wave ‘Come look at me I’m very important !”.  Apparently they are designed to connect to my monkey brain parts that are always on the lookout for danger and bright shiny objects.

Mae West was asked her opinion of the complaints about her Sunday radio show; people were outraged at the contents. She replied “Well, they could have turned it off”. Sensible woman and sensible advice! So this morning I turned off the notifications. The phone is eerily silent. No doubt it’s plotting some outrage and I still stupidly am looking at it wondering if it is broken or something.  I suspect I will get used to it and wonder why on earth I didn’t think of this sooner.  Meanwhile the apps will no doubt form a cabal to figure out how to circumvent my wall of defense.  One is forever on guard.

 

*Being schuckered is a Midwest synonym for being duped or conned. Alas I can’t find the proper spelling of the word. Does anyone know?

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