What’s top of my mind: The Elantra. I worked from home yesterday as the car was dripping oil onto the garage floor and I would not risk driving about town. “Tim” from AAA came by around four to drag it away to the new Hyundai dealership (new to us anyway) for its appointment. I hope it’s as simple as a leaky or faulty do-hickey that just needs replacement or tightening. Visits to the mechanic are never inexpensive, so there goes out more money. Working from home felt 2020. Harper liked it; she figured I was home for her sake.

Where I’ve been: The Cookbook shelf. On the top shelves of the food pantry sits my collection of cookbooks. I have a love-hate relationship with them. I love them as some of them are my favorite books, full up with memories of times and kitchen past. On the other hand, they all seem to whimper whenever I go in the pantry as if to plead to take me down and use me, which I never do these days. I suppose I should get rid of the ones I never use/will use but I don’t have the heart.

Where I’m going:  Total Wine. The wine-fridge is bereft of ‘table wine”; all it has is fancy and expensive bottles, which we are saving for ‘special occasions’ that never happen. What we need – what I want rather – is some ‘cheap whites for summer sipping’, preferably until ten dollars. Anyone can buy expensive stuff if you have the money, but what’s really fun is finding good-enough wines as bargain prices. Thems who work at Total Wine have little signs of some of the offerings.These are along the line of “Pam recommends” with a few words from Pam on how she likes it so. These may be the equivalent of ‘summer rain’ perfume, but I hope they are sincere. I usually come back from the place with a cardboard box of a dozen roses and whites, for around 100$.

Do you have any good inexpensive recommendations for wine?

What I’m watching:  Letterkenny. Someone loves this show, but I can’t make up my mind. The writing is clever and the actors deliver their lines that beat an Edward Albee play. Most of the time these lines go whizzing by like rockets with Canadian lingo for which I haven’t a clue. I find all characters disturbing and they make me wonder how on earth anything gets accomplished in this macabre Lake Woebegone-like town. We watch episodes at supper time.

What I’m reading:   The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. A book with all sorts of fancy fustian words; what more can I ask for? Here’s an example:

looseleft [adj.] feeling a sense of loss upon finishing a good book , sensing the weight of the back cover locking away the lives of characters you’ve gotten to know so well.

What I’m listening to:  Attila. A couple I know who are quite experienced in classical music (one worked for the Cleveland Symphony) had me over to take away as many CDs as I wished. They weren’t playing them anymore. What I took were mostly operas I’ve been too cheap to buy but wouldn’t mind having a copy of. One of them is Verdi’s “Attila”. It’s about … wait for it…. Attila The Hun. For thems not familiar with opera, if I asked you to conjure up clichés about them, almost all stereotypes fit nicely into this cheesy endeavor. It isn’t performed much anymore compared to Mr. Verdi’s later works, which are better and more likely to get butts in the seats. Still, there is a camp element to “Attila” that makes it jolly good fun. I’ve seen it once or twice and I just hate it when directors try to make it serious or worse set it in some contemporary setting ‘up. What’s called for are captive maidens in fur bikinis and dudes with oh-so-not-politically-correct Charlie Chan mustaches.

What I’m eating:  Salmon. During a rare time when we went grocery shopping separately, I brought home a large bag of frozen salmon filets while Someone purchased a large bag of salmon burgers. We are up to our oxters in salmon. Happily we like the stuff, so we aren’t too sick of it yet. Salmon gets into most everything these days, including scrambled eggs and on top of vegetarian rice bowls. I prefer filets to the burgers as once upon a time I got very sick soon after eating one of the latter. I daresay it was the mayo-based condiment and not the salmon burger. Regardless, I can’t help but retch a little when having one.

Who needs a good slap: There are no lack of deplorable politicians who have not honor nor integrity. However, I want to avoid these as too easy, too obvious, and slapping them feels like ‘stooping’ to their level of degeneracy. I will go with The Texas Republican Party which is reported to me to have adopted the horseshit belief homosexuality is an ‘abhorrent lifestyle choice’. Must we go over this again that people don’t choose their sexual orientation? The GOP makes up what the want to believe and shouts it long enough to make a lie a truth.

On a 1-5 scale, I give the Texas GOP five slaps.

What I’m planning:  Fondue. I have a Crate & Barrel fondue pot with 6-8 long slender two-pronged forks. am fond of fondue and it’s a pity the pot is not used often. Someone doesn’t care for such. However, in a few weeks it will be my birthday. I was deprived a P.E.I lobster dinner, so my consolation will be a fondue. I get to figure out which vegetables and imperial tid-bits to use for dipping (Someone is allergic to shrimp) as well as the fondue itself. Jolly good fun!

Do you have a fondue pot? Do you ever use it?

What’s making me smile:  My blogger buddies and the Spo-fans. I was woebegone in last week’s Ws. Afterwards, comments came from folks never heard from before, long time lurkers and silent Spo-fans all thanking me for my scribbles. Later that week, while making ’rounds’ on blogs, a few mentioned me in their entries, saying similar. This is better than all the gummi-bears in Germany and all the rats at Tewkesbury. This is what makes me smile. Whenever I need a grin, I think of you all.

I know a fellow nicknamed Jocko*; he has a habit to exclaim out loud the word ‘good !’ after everything that happens to him. He will do this even in the face of bad news or a bungle. By immediate focusing on ‘good’ he reports he can find something good, some lesson, some asset in the worst of situations. He doesn’t deny the bad – often that’s pretty obvious – this ritual helps him find something positive so that the event is not 100% misery. The plane is delayed? Good. He has time to read. The plan didn’t work? Good. Jocko and his team can learn something from it.

I’ve been trying to practice this to see if it is any good. Yesterday the Elantra was discovered to be dripping oil onto the garage floor; this may be why the oil light has been on for some time. The usual shop tells us there are no appointments available until the end of July. I had Monday off; I had a lot of fun activities planned which all included driving. At first reaction there was nothing at all ‘good’ about this, not by a long shot. I imagined Mr. Jocko would have to work very very hard to extract good from this disaster.

“Good” I exclaimed. I had to open up the hood and remember how to check the oil. I hadn’t been in there ever; it was quite dirty. I gave it a clean-up and I felt good to do so. When the mechanic lifts the bonnet he may be impressed. I checked the oil (low) and filled it with some oil we had on hand (good), and felt good for my industry. “Good” I exclaimed: this happened on my day off. Imagine if I had driven to work, leaking oil, only to have the car break down, unable to drive home. As for the day-off plans? “Good” I had an opportunity to stay home and go through all my ‘watch later’ YouTube cooking lectures, which I did. ‘Good’ we are obliged to go to another service shoppe; perhaps it will be a better experience than our usual one. ‘Good’ I got to call into work to explain I have no wheels and thus can’t get to MESA (a 45-minute drive) so I can stay put and work from home ala 2020.

I see how this approach makes one focus on the advantages and the problem solving benefits. I teach something like this to my patients, the ones who have a habit to immediate go to negative/the worse-case scenario in everything they think and do. “Oh, yeah?” they say, ‘how about …’ bringing up scenarios to defeat the approach.

I too find the ‘good’ approach challenging in the midst of politics, violence, war, and all the other matters afoot these days. I remind myself the practice isn’t to negate the gravity of things, merely not to fixate on them. Certainly we tend to turn into the things we practice. I could use less OMG this is a disaster/gloom complaining in my character.

Someone is organizing a AAA tow truck to haul the drippy thing to the dealership for its appointment on Thursday. Good. I don’t have to worry about this. I can do my day’s work and focus on my job. I will be home today when The Pool Man arrives. Good. I can ask him about the pool light device; can he fix it? I would like not to swim in the dark no more.


Let us hope so, anyway.

*He is well over four feet.

Blog entries for Monday are usually written on Sunday evenings; they are often influenced by the ‘going-back-to-work’ blues. Not this one. Last week The Medical Assistant ‘reminded me’ Monday 20 June the office will be closed. This was news to me. I looked at my scheduled and lo! It is true. Apparently when the place was sold to The Overlords, the 19th June became a holiday enough to close shop the day after. I was struck speechless but this fortuitous thunderbolt. Hot puppies! An unexpected three-day weekend! Better yet, because I wasn’t aware of it I hadn’t filled it with there’s-work-to-be-done chores. A day without content.

I remember some study in which a bunch of “I have too much to do/I can’t get caught up’ complainers were given a hypothetical 8-day week, the last day being ‘free’. The majority didn’t use this gift to relax but filled the day with… you guessed it…. more work. I will think of this when I wake Monday morning.

Frankly it will be unsettling to have a day without content. The sensible thing would be to be idle, ‘doing nothing’, rather than filling up the day. And there is lots that can be done. I see myself calling The Handyman and The Car Repairman (or somebodies like them) to come over I’m home and get those repairs done. Here’s what I think I may do:

Go to Total Wine and replenish my larder with cheap (less than ten dollars) whites.

Drop off the Ships clock for yet another repair (he isn’t opened weekends).

While I am out and about, visit The Knife Sharpener, another fellow not opened on weekends.

There are prescriptions to pick up.

Oh the horror there goes the day and it hasn’t even started yet.

I am certain I will go to the gym, as flab does not rest, and a trip to Total Wine will be fun. I will try to resist the rest to sit still with a pot of tea and catch up with my reading.

I wonder how ‘off work’ I will be as patients probably aren’t aware we are closed. I imagine getting paged by Dicky Purdy et. al. going into hysterics as his prescription for Valium cannot wait until Tuesday. I will soon find out.

Yes, that is what I shall strive to do: sit read and drink tea, no rubbish either. Wish me luck. This won’t be easy for me.

It looks like ‘monsoon season’ has arrived that brilliant broiling days are translating towards cloudy with some humidity and a sprinkle of rain. Some cloud cover is welcome, as are the drop of temps from 40-45C to a chill 35-40C. What isn’t welcome is the humidity. Normally before 10%, is is now a steamy 40%. I miss proper Midwest thunderstorms that would roll ominously over the horizon portending doom and deliver onto us proper thunder. All we got here are mid-afternoon sudden downpours that don’t last long, just enough to wet the place and make things feel like a steam room.

Hot puppies! I don’t work tomorrow! When my bosses sold the place to The Overlords, we became part of their policy to close on Federal holidays. So, for the first time ever, I have Emancipation Day off. I remember a study where they asked busy people what they would do if they had an extra day. Most of them ended up not chilling out but doing more work. I will have a day totally impromptu. Nice.

Speaking of holidays, today is Father’s Day, something never much celebrated in my family as Father’s birthday was always close to it; he likes to combine them into one day. Not one for prizes, last week he announced all he wants this year are calls from his sons. Fine. If he prefers family over things of real value, so be it.

This week several planets will be aligned in the early morning hours. I hope the recent cloud cover doesn’t spoil my view of this. The one time of the year when I don’t want clouds I get some.

Today I don’t have too much ‘there’s-work-to-be-done’ tasks. I need to finish some charts and I want to buy aluminum foil. We are fresh out, which borders on crisis. Growing up in the Midwest, a roll of aluminum foil was must-have in the house at all times. It was the equivalent of Southerners having sweet tea at-hand. It seems as soon as one runs out of something like this, all sorts of shenanigans happen that shout out for some.

Today I did Wordle in three moves and Canuckle in two. The rest of the day will be anticlimactic.

Spo-fans: what are you doing this Sunday? Any plans for Father’s day? Tell me your aluminum foil hacks.

When I was a smaller and people were taller I was blessed with a lot of picture books. Some I read on my own and some were read to me. There were certain books I preferred one way of the other. I have only vague memories of most of them; it is interesting to reflect on which ones I remember, and why.* There were some books whose illustrations were unsettling. I found them upsetting even, yet fascinating, even alluring – enough to go back to them despite my discomfort. These have stayed in my memory as half-remembered haunts.

There were a series of books by a Richard Scarry. I loved his books, particularly their illustrations.** I remember a certain drawing in one of them was that of a witch-like character flying in a wicker basket. It was some sort of nursery rhyme, but one I had never heard. I don’t remember the rhyme, but it was haunting. I would not read this one myself; I got Mother to read to me. There was some sort of charm was evoked; I was safe from direct contact. What did I fear exactly? Perhaps I was scared of being carried away in the basket and never returning.

I hadn’t thought of this image in decades, then it came back, bubbling up from the depths of my unconscious last week, to remind me it’s still down there. It seemed to suggest I seek it out and face my fears. I grew curious to see how well I remembered the picture and the poem, and what sort of reactions would I have upon seeing it again. Thanks to the good folks at DuckDuckGo, it didn’t take me long to find it.

Here it is:

This is the picture and the poem.

Fascinating, to see it again and examine my reactions. The old woman (cat) looks cheerful, almost fairy godmother-like. I remembered her more mercurial, something “Hallowe’en” and definitely to be avoided. I don’t think this is a mother figure, although there is no suggestion the inquirer is a child/boy. The rhyming meter is a strange one; I can’t quite grasp the meter. I remember now it was the end with her promise that disturbed me the most. I wonder why would she return: to clean his place? To take him away in the basket? To tuck him in bed for the night?

I took to the WWW to find out the origin of the ditty and what it means. Alas, Babylon! I cannot find it. It seems to be a popular piece for there are versions sung on The Tube of Yous and there are countless illustrations of the rhyme. In most versions the inquirer asks if they can come along. Only then she replies ‘I’ll be with you bye and bye’, a promise but there is some doubt.

The versions on The Tube of Yous are sweetly sung and the old woman in the illustrations online look beneficent – in contrast to my memory she was lurking with intent to harm.

In my analysis it fits into a recurring theme in my psyche of a preoccupation (Freudians would say ‘fixation’) of a negative female figure (Anima and Shadow) that in cahoots to lure me away, Jenny Greenteeth and Yeats’s poem “Stolen Child” are examples of this, as are aspects of The weird sisters of ‘Macbeth”, The Norns, and The Fates carry this archetypal energy.

One of the best way to face a haunt is to get to know it better. “Nothing in life is to be feared, only understood”; this remains one of my favorite mottos.** Finding the picture and reading the poem was a brave move for me. Hearing these upbeat versions have shooed-away this long time haunt. The witch has transformed into a mother cat like in Mr. Scarry’s picture drawing.

She can be with me by and by; I would be glad to go for the ride now.

*One of them, “Jerome”, about a frog doing princely deeds, I can still recite by heart.

**Funny I never learned if Mr. Scarry was a pen name or a real person, and was he the writer or the illustrator? I still can recognize a character from his in an instant.

**Marie Curie said this.

Patience above! I haven’t done one of these in awhile – and there are one hundred to do! It’s high-time to get cracking. Now, where did I leave off? Let’s have a look-see. At number sixteen:

#16 – Set aside 10 minutes a day to do something you really enjoy – be it reading a book or playing Halo.

This one is most sensible. The late Barbara Holland (one of my author heroes) wrote about in her book ‘Endangered pleasures”:

‘Gloom we have always with us, a rank and sturdy weed, but joy requires tending.’

Indeed! The lovely things in life have to be nourished and made room for, lest the time-sucking miseries take over. Tip #16 is something I continually tell my patients to do when they bemoan they have ‘no time’ to do this/that or the other. I advise them to put it in the calendar, down to do every day at the same time, even just five minutes. Otherwise you will never find time for “X”. I also tell them this goes for ‘date time’ with your significant other, and even for sex. They often find this somehow ‘cheapens it (sex)’ as don’t you have to be in the mood for it? I point out you are always too tired and never in the mood as it were. So make time for it why dontcha.

The nameless author of these one hundred platitudes mentions reading a book. I will not go to sleep without first reading something, anything, if only a page’s worth. Habits done daily better the chance of it happening. I also keep reading material at-hand for those rare times I find myself with a little free time, such as waiting in a line. While others look down at their phones, I read me a chapter.

One of my 2022 resolutions is “Do nothing each day for 5-10 minutes”. I think it’s doing me some good to stop the world, close my eyes, and sit still for a while. I am pleased I am over 90% on this one. Most of the time I am not really enjoying it but itching to get back to there’s-work-to-be-done tasks and hummingbird brain activities.

About Halo… I have never heard of such; I had to look it up. Silly me, I thought it was like bocce ball or horseshoes. It is an on-line video game, sort of like Dungeons and Dragons but set in the future and minus its charms. If I am going to swing and shoot things I want stirges involved. By the way, neither game looks like much can be accomplished in 10 minutes but doing something is better than doing nothing is my motto.

Spo-fans: do you put aside some time each day to do something nice and what do you do?

Brother #2 as a used the expression ‘X of a thousand Ys”. Example: the backyard was buggy, it was land of a thousand flies”. The other day I was poking around the stats on WordPress when I noticed I have a thousand followers. This sounds impressive, but then I had a look-see who these suckers are. What a collection! It certainly doesn’t lack for variety. At first glance it swells my pride, but then I looked closer. On the whole I smell a rat – several in fact. Let’s look at the categories of these so-called followers:

[1] Companies. These are along the line of “Puppy dogs Training” and “The daily Binge” and “Neotype Station.com” . There are a lot of vitamin stores as well. These sound like legitimate places, but not people. I wonder if they are there to ‘bait me’ to come visit their shop. “Artic Heat Pumps” has been following me since 2015, the dear.

[2] Folks from India (or that part of the world). Mostly men but some women too, they have names like Akash Triverdi, Shukufa Sayadli, and Pathan al Fesh. They seem to be real people but if they are following me (some have done so for years) none have left comment.

There is one named ‘Indianluxuryfurniture’ that seems to a combination of [1] and [2].

[3] Sultry babes. Patience above! There are a lot of young women following me, more so than the Indian-sounding men-folk. They have large eyes and lips, and their photos are often ‘from the chest up” (the men tend to be photographed ‘from the neck up’), so I can see their bosoms. They don’t seem to use proper names but code-types, like ‘Somekindof20″ and “JJJanae”. If they are legitimate followers (and not call-girls) they also don’t leave word.

[4] WTF-types. These are faceless/no photo types with letters/numbers for names. ‘maxlcreapu’ and ‘spankycocktail’ and ‘petbesty’. “Jinsuxhoi” is my longest follower, the dear!

and then there is

[5] Real people; no rubbish-types. Folks with proper-sounding names with photos (not displaying cleavage) and with seemingly real email addresses. Many of them I recognize as fellow bloggers or blogger buddies, but not all of them. Maybe not the majority.

I’ve been too timorous to click any of them and see if they lead me to a real blog or not. I sense I will get only ads or arrive at nasty sights and come back covered in cookies and malware.

So, what to make of these thousand acolytes? Part of me thinks to leave them alone. If they want an announcement every time I post they are welcome. The Swiss-German in me want to delete the ones that seem suspicious, which is nearly all of them – but what if I get rid of someone genuine? Is there any harm to keep them or is it better to flush-em, lest they have sinister cookie-connections.

Can anyone shed some light on these matters? I am keen to learn. For all I know I maybe living in a fool’s paradise.

P.S. I went ahead and deleted “tastyclickblog”. I am down to 999.

Note: these Ws are a rawther lugubrious; thems prone to the mulligrubs may want to skip over this one.

What’s top of my mind: Money. Inflation is a worry, not that I can’t afford things, but how it will lead to a toppling of the government and the return of Trump. My own money worry is a legion of unexpected expenses: car repair, medical matters, house and teeth matters. These are estimated to be about 5,000$ dollars or more. So much for summer travel plans – or much else.

Where I’ve been: Under the kitchen sink. My kitchen sink consists of two tubs: the left side has the garbage disposal while the right side is large enough for doing dishes by hand. The right side now has a leak somewhere down below that if the water is run, it drips down below. Mercifully, there is a blue plastic tub there, holding various cleaning devices and the dishwasher soap. The mephitic mess was easily cleaned up but the sink remains unusable. I think there is a connection problem between the drain and the sink proper. I am timorous to try to fix this myself, lest I make a mess of things. Time to call in a plumber of someone like him. More repairs! More money! This sh-t never ends.

Where I’m going: The periodontist. In 2020 I had a back molar extracted and there is a gap there. In theory a three-part procedure puts down a foundation, a middle bit, topped by a crown, like a candy corn. As the gap isn’t visible, I figured I can live without a full set. Now that it looks like I will be around longer than anticipated, perhaps I should get this completed. This vanity will cost me time and money. The periodontist wants ~ 2,500$ up front. Afterwards The Good Dentist will want his cut as well. Is this really worth a tooth I wonder?

What I’m watching: Videos of rainfall. It’s that time of year: sky is perpetually cloudless, blazing blue and hot as hell. I compensate by listening and watching videos of rainfall. I love the sound of rain, especially in a forest setting. One of life’s greatest pleasures is a weekend (Sunday is the best for this) with a quiet rain, telling you to stay put indoors and read books and drink tea. I never get this anymore; videos of rain are a comfort.

What I’m reading: The mechanisms of action of viloxazine. There is a new medicine, indicated for adult ADD. Alas, Babylon! In my field there is rarely anything ‘new’, just variations of things already available. Sure enough, this one isn’t new but used in Europe for the treatment of MDD (major depression), as it is an antidepressant. Someone decided to repackage it as a new medicine indicated for ADD. Unlike in Europe where it is a generic, here it’s ‘brand’ (viz. expensive) and no better than generic medications in its efficacy. I am already using similar generic medications in this class in the off-label treatment for ADD, so why would I use a ‘new’ one that quite expensive? The pharm rep for this product did their pony-show how vouchers and downloading discounts and using specialty pharmacies may circumvent its high cost. This means ‘more work’ for me. While I never say ‘no’ to a new medication option, I say screw this nonsense.

What I’m listening to: The Trial of Louis Riel. I am listening to a Great Course lecture series titled “Great trials of history”. Most of them I recognize: Socrates; Oscar Wilde; Salem Witch trials. Last weekend I heard one about a fellow I’ve never heard of. As is sometimes the case, I am completely clueless about someone who is well-known by millions, in this case, Canadians. Mr. Riel’s life makes a smashing story. He was part English/Protestant and part Native American/French-Canadian/Catholic. When he was elected to Parliament the old meanies wouldn’t let him serve his elected posts. Later on Mr. Riel went a little nuts, perhaps in a psychotic depression combined with PTSD, and he was exiled to the States. He later returned to Canada, where he raised a ruckus and many things happened and he was put on trial. The defense team argued he was barking mad and thus not responsible for his actions. Thems in charge didn’t buy it and they hanged the poor sod. I consulted some amis in Canada. They told me some see him as a national villain and others see him as a martyr. They even made an opera about him. Oh, but I love learning!

What I’m eating: Midwest casserole – my own recipe. Having eaten countless casseroles I don’t need a recipe, I just follow the basics rules and ingredients at hand. Last weekend I chopped up some chicken breasts and combined them with some tins of mushrooms and jalapeños (after all I live in the Southwest), some shredded cheese, and bound it all with the obligatory can of cream of this/that or the other. I sprinkled it with buttered bread crumbs, popped it in the oven at 350 for some time, and voila! a dish fit for a church basement get-together. It was quite tasty and I ate it with relish. If had combined it was rice or some noodles it would have been perfect.

Who needs a good slap: The Overlords at work. A few months ago the powers that be at work hired another psychiatrist. He seemed a sharp and experienced fellow. Soon there were hints of expanding the place with new treatment options like TMS. Yesterday I was told by The Medical Assistant (who heard it from her boss) he announced he is leaving. He lasted only a few months. I don’t know the reason(s) why he is going. Perhaps there was a sudden turn of unforeseen events. However there is a pattern of my place of employment hiring people and not keeping them. I have lost count how many have come and gone. What is the matter(s) in the interviewing process or in the support or salary that makes folks not stay? Another beef: always hear about these things through the grapevine of the staff and never directly (like in an email). I have to remind myself I don’t run the place, and they are not under obligation to tell me anything along this line. I will probably inherit his patients after he goes. It is not the first time a departed prescriber dumps their workload into my lap as a departing gift.

On my 1-5 scale, I give management at work two slaps.

What I’m planning: A state of nihilism. Somewhere in the archives of my blog I wrote of an experience I had in my youth of going into a small closet-like area on the second floor of my childhood home. It had no windows, so once the door was closed it was the completely dark, the most ‘no light’ I’ve ever experienced. It was fascinating. I would like to experience that again, but how? I think if sit in the walk-in bedroom closet and close the sliding doors (done at night) I might be able to experience it again.

What’s making me smile: Nothing. Again. I sometimes think to eliminate this “W” as it is the hardest one for me to fill. Unlike the others, ‘nothing leaps to mind” quickly. I have to think hard and often my mind is a blank. I will keep it, as it is important to always look for the good and the gratitude in everything, lest one becomes submerged in gloom like a small child lost in the forest. I hope by the time I edit this I have come up with something that is making me smile.

There’s just no pleasing The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections. I was on a roll of well-received entries, but this didn’t stop their propensity to grumble. Their recent email asked me to ‘loosen up’ and write something less introspective. I wasn’t aware they actually knew that word. As I don’t have anything to suit this purpose, I dug up another Spo-tale from the archives, fiddled with it a bit, and perhaps the boisterous board wont notice. Spo


Once upon a time and a very interesting time it was in the faraway State of Confusion lived two animals, Hedgehog and Porcupine. They were in a newly-formed relationship. Porcupine was coming off a painful LTR with Aardvark (painful for Aardvark that is).

Baby Porcupine 1 (2)

Although it was early-on in their relationship, already there were problems. First of all, there was the issue how to kiss without injury. Talk about rough trade! Second, their means of communicating was hindered by poor WiFi service. It easily went down, especially when they visited Rabbit who lived in The Elysian Fields. Customer service was no help, as it was staffed by sloths and snakes. Go figure.

However, their main matter was neatness. Hedgehog was content to ‘let the place go’ while Porcupine continually ran around trying to keep things tidy. Porcupine despised filth. He would not allow Hedgehog’s best friend Squirrel over for tea, on the issue of Squirrel having dirty nuts.


One day Hedgehog fell into a depression, having not listened to his psychiatrist to keep taking his Lexapro. As a consequence, the place cluttered up more than usual with empty KFC buckets and ‘to go’ containers. Porcupine took umbrage. “You are a mess!!” he shouted at Hedgehog, “and Weasel will get you!’ But Hedgehog paid no heed. Porcupine announced he was leaving for Palm Springs to see some real pricks, and off he went.

Eventually the Dominos pizza boxes piled up and blocked the door, preventing Hedgehog from going out. Uber-eats had to be dropped down the chimney. Hedgehog got lost online and he forgot about Porcupine. But he felt OK.

In a week with two Tuesdays Hedgehog heard something burrowing through the trash. At first he suspected Rat, but then he remembered Rat was overseas, in Tewksbury, visiting the relations. It was Porcupine! He had come home! “What would you do without me?” he said after kissing carefully, and made Hedgehog tidy up the place and eat something wholesome. Then Porcupine insisted Hedgehog go outdoors and get some exercise. They went out and were immediately attacked and eaten by Weasel .


There is probably a moral in this, but I leave it to the Spo-fans to write one.

The winner with the best comment gets a Dominos Pizza date with The Sleazy Weasel.

I enjoy puzzles – many types. I’ve been doing them from an early age. I must have started with jigsaw puzzles and then worked up to word and logic games. I am not particular to the type; I enjoy most of them. My favorites are the pencil puzzles viz. things solved on paper with a writing device that has an eraser.* I am not keen on logic puzzles, or riddles for that matter.

I recently heard a nice definition of a puzzle:

? —> !

Now ain’t that spot-on?

Most card and board games (whether done on your own or others) are essentially puzzles. I enjoy them too. Games however should have some element of luck but not too much or entirely, which is boring. My puzzles I do on my own. When growing up my parents and adoptive uncle Richard would spend Sunday afternoons doing the NYT crossword puzzle, helping each other out. I thought then that was cheating, but now I know there is a social element to solving puzzles as a group. My cousins always bring along a jigsaw puzzle to the reunions and over the pieces we chat and laugh.

On family holiday, while the rest of the family were running around taking in the sights, Mother sat by poolside doing crosswords. This is another thing I thought daft. Now I see the value and pleasure of it. While others lounge by the pool mesmerized by their iPhones, I have the latest “GAMES’ magazine and a handful printed Sudokus.**

Puzzles come and go. Wordle and its varieties is all the rage. I play from time to time. Someone does so every morning and shares his stats with three or four buddies. I do mine at day’s end as a sort of night cap. The game has just enough thought and fun for the end of the day. I’m very good at it, having had ‘practice’ in similar word games for decades.

My favorite type of puzzle is ‘cryptic crosswords”, which is a variety of crossword puzzle whose questions are quite clever. Here’s some examples:

‘Ointment: use with cap of’ Answer: Unction (FUNCTION without the F)

“Snake stopped on the paved road” Answer: (ASPHALT)

I am slowing down on these, sad to say. It seemed I went through puzzle games quick as a quarter note in my youth but not now. I hope this is mere lack of practice and not a sign of dementia. Puzzles often oblige one to give up your usual means of solving problems and ‘think outside of the box’. This is good practice and may stall the onset of dementia.***

I need to dissociate puzzles from vacation as it seems that’s the only time I allow myself any. When I do them I remember how fun this is. I need to keep GAMES magazine in my briefcase so when opportunity arises rather than pulling out the phone I can whip out a puzzle and work on a cryptic crossword. Here’s one more example:

The plan: blow up a megastar. Answer: strategam (analog of mega star)

*I prefer pencils to pens, mostly because I make a lot of mistakes. There is something delicious about an eraser. It matches my thinking process: a continual journey of making mistakes, erasing them, and moving on. Then again in grade school I used to sniff the rectangular pink erasers to feel euphoric.

**Add an iced tea or a “Windex” cocktail to this scene and I am happy as a clam at high-tide.

***Patients sometimes believe doing a daily crossword puzzle will keep away dementia. This is not true. If you do the same sort of puzzle this isn’t ‘learning”. Better to do different types of puzzles, which obliges you to learn. Add exercise, sleep, proper nutrition and learning new things and you may have a fair chance at forestalling the inevitable.

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July 2022

Spo-Reflections 2006-2018