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Our friend Doug (who is well over four feet) came on Sunday for a day-visit on his way home from his convention in Tucson. He’s a good cook and his ‘signature dish’ is his salsa. His recipe consists of diced Roma tomatoes, tomatillos, a red onion, 1-2 small cans (tins) of tomato sauce, chopped cilantro (lots), and one habanero which he cuts wearing plastic shopping bags over his hands.  Given its relative lack of liquid The Doug Salsa is almost a salad more than a salsa. We made enough to feed an emerging new nation. Afterwards we went out to dinner to allow it to ‘set’. We came back from supper quite crapulous and we ate no salsa. He left this morning and I have a ponderous punchbowl of salsa in the fridge. This is not a bad thing.

One cannot live in The Southwest without salsa. It is everywhere. Bowls of the stuff are thrust upon you in restaurants, some taking great pride in theirs being ‘proper’. Most supper invites involve serving salsa with the drinks.  Happily there are many variations and they don’t lack variety.  I like the ones made with fresh vegetables and chilies like the one Doug makes.  Someone prefers the more-runny stuff out of a jar as it is easier to spread into a wraps.

With salsa there is always the question about heat. Salsa needs some or it is just gazpacho (and not a good one either). Over time I have developed a tolerance to heat; food tastes bland for me if it isn’t covered in hot sauce or salsa (no nasty ketchup for me thank you very much!).* Making salsa for others is a careful craft as I don’t want others to fry their tongues out. The medicinal oath of ‘do no harm’ holds well when making salsa.

Salsas are a healthy alternative to cheese and mayonnaise-based dips. What mars their virtue is their sidekick the chips. Nasty chips! Jung said every Light has its Shadow. Salsa just has to have chips and there’s no getting around it. Everything about chips is bad but can you think of an alternative? **  Pita and other breadstuffs are a wimpy failures as they don’t provide the necessary crunch and hardness to counterpoint the composition of the salsa. Vegetables sticks provide the crunch but interfere with the salsa flavors and they don’t scoop well.

This being ‘an austere August”  I am to eat right and lose weight. This demands I adjure all nasty chips and just eat the salsa out of a bowl using a spoon. Doug’s salsa will be eaten with relish and perhaps with a drop of Da Bomb now that it’s all mine and no one will be hurt for it.

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*I have met my match in two sauces: Melinda’s Ghost pepper hot sauce and Da Bomb. Oh the pain. One drop is enough for strong men to faint and weak ones cry out in grief.

**Spo-fans who know a solution to the chip problem: please mention so in the comments.

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This was my journal entry for last night: 

2 August, 2019 – 

Mighty proud I am that I am able to write here I have finished the diary of Samuel Pepys. It took years to read and often it vexed me but in the end it pleased me very much. And now to bed.

What a job !

I now have the quiet satisfaction to say to myself and the world (if it should ever ask me) I have read Mr. Pepys diary.  Book readers are on the whole a little nuts and I am no exception. Everyone has their own list of ‘books to read” of course but many include among the ‘want to reads’ a few ‘ought to reads’ of infamous lofty tomes everybody knows but few actually read. Lovers of literature see them in the same way as mountaineers view the Matterhorn.  They are there to climb and say you did so.

Here’s the usual list; the ones I’ve set in bold type I have read. *

The Bible

The Iliad and the Odyssey 

Don Quixote 

The Diary of Samuel Pepys

Les Miserables 

War and Peace

Moby Dick

Remembrance of things past  – or whatever they are calling it these days

Ulysses

TooManyBooks The trouble with the likes of these is they are bloody long and time consuming; they interfere with reading lighter fare. They are often read more for the point of reading them than to enjoy them. There have been many times I’ve waded through a ‘great book’ like a mountain man in a snowstorm who knows there is no turning back and to just stop is fatal. This is a horrible reason to keep reading anything but these are the exception. The chief point of a journey through Balzac or Dickens or one of that crowd is to say you’ve done so and say it with pride at the next dinner party when someone brings them up.**

All the same I will miss my nightly bedtime tryst with Mr. Pepys. Although he was often wordier than Dickens he’s been a fine friend. He reminds me I should do something about my own diaries piled up next to the ‘to-read’ books (also gathering dust) lest ‘the public’ gets its paws on them like did with Mr. Pepys.   Oh the embarrassment! 

What’s next to read we wonders. I suppose I can get caught up on some lighter ‘fun’ reads that have been gathering dust on the ‘to-read’ shelf for what seems like ages. Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’ may be the best palate cleanser after years of eating heavy British boiled beef and before I bite into ‘War and Peace’. 

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*Spo-fans who are book-nerds are free to leave in the comment section any great works of literature I may have forgotten. 

**Fat chance of that. 

I’ve just remembered to turn up page on the office calendar. Mine comes from Canada. Along with the usual listed holidays like Christmas and Easter it informs me of others not usually found on calendars made here in the States. This calendar (of Inuit art) has Canada Day and Thanksgiving in October of course but there are often some I’ve never heard of. I see next Monday is one of those ‘Civic Holidays’ that pop up from time to time. Later in the month is a “Bank Holiday” (UK but not Scotland to be precise).

What are these curious celebrations about? What happens? On these days do all the unfortunate folks suffering in socialistic countries get these days off or is it limited just to civil servants and bankers? I like to imagine there is no logical reason for these oddities other than the government saying oh what the heck nothing’s happening this time of year so let’s all take the day off and relax why don’t we. Can you imagine folks in the States doing so?  Here in the best country in the world we can only smile with pity on these poor unfortunate souls. Don’t they know having any time off from work will make  economies crash and the world stop spinning? It is no wonder third world nations like Canada, The United Kingdom, and Scandinavian places have no world clout. On the other hand they always are in the top-ten of the list of happiest countries which makes me wonder if there might be a correlation between longevity and bank holidays.

Today at lunch at the monthly meeting with The Bosses I will request we close the office next Monday in honor of  Bank Holiday in Canada and Civic Holiday in Scotland (or is the other way around?). We will see how much happiness this generates and does it move the USA up a few notches on The Happy Valley Country list.*  No harm asking.

Bank holiday weekend

 

*I think we are #29  just below some small country in Africa.

Key West Blue

I associate a color with each month of the year. Sky blue is August’s hue for every day this month  is bright with such.

1 August is a big day in my cosmic calendar. It is the birthday of my grandfather Charles for whom I was named after (middle name). It is also the birthday of his twin sister “Grandma” Susan. I think of this day as ‘Ancestors Day’ when I think of them. Grandfather liked martinis; I always have one this day in their honor.

My Nordic pagan blood bubbles a bit on this day for 1 August is also Lammas Day, which heralds the first day of autumn. It ends 31 October which is Samhain or Hallowe’en, of which I am crackers.

The summer months of June and July rush by but August seems more quiet and mature in rate and tone. August 2019 is the first August in ages I won’t have a weeklong holiday to Canada (worse luck!) so the four weeks will feel slower than usual. I will use this time to better my diet and exercise.  I currently weigh 81 kilos (oh the embarrassment!). I have nothing to do and nowhere to go so I won’t be tempted by Tim Horton doughnuts and Poutine and other Canadian delicacies. “Austere August” let’s call this. It’s a good time to slim down lest I be mistaken for The Great Pumpkin ninety days hence.

TBDHSR

I received an email from an opsimath Spo-fan wishing to know if The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections is a group with fluctuating members or a set bunch. It is the latter. The present coterie has been there from the get-go and not likely to go away anytime soon. There are eight of them – ensconced as the rocks at Stonehenge; nothing knocks them down. I don’t know if they guard their posts zealously from invaders or if it’s a simple case no one wants the post.  Despite their uncouth protocols and abysmal lack of hygiene I guess I kind of love’em. They keep me writing when I lose heart. Here is an update on what’s happening in their marvelous mythical matters.

Sven – He remains well over four feet. For the thirteenth year in a row he’s been voted CEO clan-leader thanks to his no-nonsense don’t-question-me approach and  heavy bribery. The ‘no credit card’ policy (his baby) remains in force. As a consequence there has been no need to raid Equifax – again.

Bjorn –He is the Chief Editor at the blog having taught rhetoric and trivium at Ragnorak U. north of Uppsala. He remains fond of the mead but this keeps him from being too boisterous and busy-body. I have a theory the other members dope him up. Rumor has it he and Beowulf are dating again but when confronted he states they are just good friends like Achilles and Patroculus.

Helga “Pippi” Long-stocking – She’s the Martha Stewart of the group but without her charms. Over the years she’s slowly taken over more responsibilities going from mere party organizer to time-keeper-whistle-blower-referee. The men-folk boost of their achievements but she gets things done. It’s a comfort to know she’s behind most machinations making certain things don’t go awry.

Snorri Sturlson the 23rd – There’s scandal at TBHSR ! Mr. SS may be only the 21st of that name .  Two bastard Sturlsons were discovered in the family tree. There’s debate if they should count. Snori, whose voice resembles a klaxon, still makes the most noise at. the board meetings. Asgard and Associates (who rent the office next door) continually ask him to make less noise alas to no avail.

Slater-Wotan – He remains in charge of the photos which appear on the blog. He’s only got one eye and it isn’t as good as it was. He refuses to wear glasses (in his case a monocle).  Behind his back Helga refers to him as Mr. Magoo.

Oscar ‘Bunny’Jarl – Bless his heart he’s still the oldest board member. He is a dear. He doesn’t do much anymore but he’s hoisted up for every meeting. I think the other members are superstitious about him: if he falls the hall will fall. Please don’t feed him buns and things.

Walter Cnut Fafner– He is a giant of a man, well over fourteen feet although with time he’s dropped an inch or two. That’s diet that is. Helga gathered up some of his spittle (we have heaps) and sent it to one of those genetic testing sites to determine once and for all if he has Frost-giant genes. It turns out no: he is actually related to the 13 Icelandic Lads. No one was more shocked than Walter. He contiues to play the Eddas but he’s branched out to Bjorn tunes, much to the dismay of the other members. No wonder Snorri shouts so.

7/31 Edit:

Herbert – Patience above! I forgot to mention Herbert! This is not surprising as he remains the quiet one. He’s The Clarence Thomas of the Board and about as useful.  When he says something the others sit up and often take his word as gospel even if it is something like “It’s hot in here” or “I have an itch”.  He still has all his digits so he types the emails.

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This morning I heard a podcast host mentioned having had an Otter Pop. She described it as a stick of sugar water ‘without which the summer is wasted”. I agreed with her in a general way: summers are not complete without at least one icy Popsicle to cool you down and turn your tongue a fun color while you reflect upon childhood when the summers lasted a lifetime.  The expression got me thinking on other summer essentials there are, the type without which the summer is wasted.

Let’s start with the foodstuffs. There is a basket full of summer eats and treats nowadays available all year long but they just don’t taste right outside of summer: strawberries in June; blueberries in August; corn on the cob and homemade macaroni salad throughout the season. Then there are the watermelons, cool, red, and sweet – like my men. I recall Grandmother would not eat watermelon before the Fourth of July.  The urtext summer treat for Spos young and old is the proverbial Small Chocolate Cone which is best consumed at the Dairy Queen on the way home after a day of boating  – which is another summer time must-have-or-perish item. Imagine a summer without boating on Lake St. Clair and chasing freighters! As certain as fish flies in July I sure can’t.

Alas, Babylon! So many of my favorites without which the summer is wasted are no more. Perhaps this is the reason why I no longer relish the summer but I count the days until autumn. I would trade all the watermelon and corn on the cob of August for a proper Midwest summer storm. I want to go onto the porch again and watch the ominous approach of a green-black storm and put up my arms as if conducting the sky. On cooler quiet nights when the summer triangle is high overhead the windows are open with floor fans blowing providing just enough white noise but not so loud as to drown out the chorus of crickets.

Other outdoor items of which without the summer is wasted? : water from the garden hose and burgers on the grill. Gathering fireflys in a glass jar at Charlevoix late into the night as the sun never set in summer.

So many things without which the summer is wasted.

Spo-fans: please tell me about your precious and wonderful things without which your summer is wasted.

Addlepated (adjective):  being mixed up and confused

Yesterday for a treat I made Mitchell is Moving’s five-can hot dish. My subconscious took the recipe literally as I forgot to add the one cup of milk to the mix prior to baking. It turned out ok albeit dry. This is not the first time I’ve gone over a recipe double and triple-checking things only to miss an ingredient. Perhaps it was the heat that had addled my pate. Yesterday I started a new blood pressure medication; perhaps that had something to do with me messing up. Occam’s razor suggests my hummingbird-brain was just in high gear. It seems to be getting worse not better in time. By sixty I won’t be able to recall anything post-ten minutes.

Another confusion in my life is the health insurance. I have until 1 August to decide whether to stay with what I have or change plans. I suspect both options are abysmal. The first step is trying to deduce the loop-de-loop of logging in. This requires I remember my email and password. The ‘forgotten password” option seems to send a code to the email I don’t remember either. If I were of a paranoid nature I’d suspect this is being done on purpose to prevent me from entering.  It must be just how folks feel when trying to vote as thems in power have made it impossible for them to do so. Someone (always the rationalist) interprets this Kafkaesque situation in a less-sinister form; it is mere operation error. I on the other hand suspect the Nargles.

It’s hell when you want the world to make sense and it doesn’t. As a boy I thought the country generally sensible with only a few patches of absurdity that the reasonable ones would keep in check. Oh the pain.

In fifteen minutes my work days starts; another week commences. It looks to be another hot one where the days blur together. I guess I should just eat the lotus and be at ease with my inability to connect-the-dots.  It’s like living in Hooterville without its charms.

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

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

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

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

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Whenever I have a ‘negative’ emotion* my training kicks in to analyze what is contributing to this. I’ve noticed I am lately avoiding reading certain blogs and going on Facebook. What’s behind this?  I start feeling down, with a slight sense of anger when I go to them. My self-analysis reveals what I am experiencing isn’t really sadness but Envy. That’s the dart! I’m feeling envious. Well!

So many posts on from my Facebook friends are about fun-filled travels. They like to post their awards and achievements. One fellow on FB continually has shirtless photos extoling his weight loss and muscle gain. My Facebook friends are often surrounded by large groups of buddies all having a merry time. You get the picture.  Rather than feeling happy for them, I push the ‘like” button and experience Envy along with a slight sense of F-you”.

There are few  blogs I seem to be avoiding; they have a few things in common. Either they get massive amounts of comments or they post pictures of gorgeous guys. The former elicits Envy as if I was back in High School. About the latter, their photos do not induce lust but shame my physique is so bad. So far as I can tell none of the authors of these blogs are boasting their popularity; they are merely loved by many. The photos of the hunky hombres are supposed to evoke excitement not body-shame.

Envy is a long time struggle for me, stemming from my childhood when I was not strong/butch/sports-able as the others. These yardsticks were important and I always came up deficit. My usual response wasn’t proactive to try harder but be passive and feel Envy. I thought this nasty neurosis was in check but thanks to the internet Envy as reared her ugly head again.

Envy is a universal emotion and phenomenon: comparing oneself to others and coming up deficit. Social media platforms takes Envy to the extreme. In the old days you would compare yourself to only a few folks who were around you; thanks to the internet you now have the whole world with whom to compare your short-comings. Everyone is richer, happier, sexier, and better than you.

I hope to do a better job now I am aware of this. Rather than shun the internet I need to watch Envy’s grip. I may not be able to keep her at home but she doesn’t have to rule the roost.

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https://sporeflections.wordpress.com/2007/03/23/envy/

 

*Some definitions are in order. Feelings are neither good nor bad. We all have them. I define an emotions as a feelings without consciousness with some implications they are being acted out. Throwing a tantrum is an example of ‘being emotional” while being angry is a feeling. Sometimes this is straw-splitting.

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I can never make up my mind on canned goods.* I grew up in the Midwest where food from a can was a good thing: convenient, easy to work with, and preferable to fresh which wasn’t always available or seasonable. Indeed, the use of canned goods was a sort of bent status symbol. We could afford them. My collection of church ladies cookbooks from that bygone era seldom mention as ingredients fresh vegetables. You opened a few tins and stirred the contents together to make haute Midwest cuisine I grew up eating.
Nowadays canned goods are sort of a pariah food, something negative. Fresh stuff is better for us and without the suspicions of high sodium, BPA, and preservatives. No canned food ever!  is the new status symbol. Cooking fresh now says I can afford fresh food and I have the leisure time to prepare such.  Small wonder I am confused what to do with the stuff.

I confess I like canned goods if mostly for their convenience. At the end of the work day I am very tired and have no time (nor the mood) to cook. By opening up some tins of tomatoes, mushroom buttons, etc. and throwing them all in some pasta sauce (also out of a tin) this makes for a hot, cheap, and quick meal. Same goes for soup. On a busy weekend I don’t have time to prepare a proper luncheon. A can of Progresso can be opened and microwaved (and consumed) in mere minutes.  Last Sunday I spent hours preparing a pot of fresh soup.  The results were vast superior to the tinned stuff but I spent lots of time and money making it and I made a mess of the kitchen, all for a dozen or so spoonfuls of soup. It didn’t seem worth all the fuss.

I have another confession even worse than the first one. This one involves Chef Boyardee mini-ravioli and Spaghettios. I got these as treats when my babysitters came over. One of them didn’t bother to heat them up (there were no microwaves then remember); they were served them right from the can. I didn’t know until later these delicacies are supposed to be removed from their cans and heated.  As a consequence of this childhood trauma I still prefer them cold and right out of the tin.  In the back of the pantry sit a couple of tins of Spaghettios for ’emergencies’. All I need is a can opener and a spoon. Oh the embarrassment but there it is.

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*When I was a boy I had an English nanny (really!). She said ‘tins’ instead of ‘cans’ as in: “Let’s have us some nice tinned peaches with tea!”  I said tins for awhile until I got to grade school when I discovered no one knew what the hell I was talking about. To this day the word ‘tin’ comes out like a Freudian slip.

 

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