Today Monday (and this week) is going to be a challenge, as an algorithm commences, one quite complicated with more alternative universes than Stephen Hawking could conjure. I doubt this is interesting to anyone but I wanted to write it out so I can keep clear what needs to be done.

My first step is to contact The Boss to tell me what she hears from her Boss at The Overlords. The best-case scenario I call “A”: they let me enroll, late, perhaps with a penalty, and the algorithm ends. If this is not so, (which is likely) I move done the “B” side, which starts with whining and begging to get my 2021 bonus right away, and the promised 2022 raise quickly in place. 

Regardless of the outcome, I need to call the speciality pharmacy today to transfer prescriptions to Fry’s Market, which seems to have the lowest prices of pay-out-of-pocket prescriptions. I need refills by this weekend; I cannot wait until insurance is sorted out. 

Someone is not wanting me to go ‘bare’ as it were. He made me an appointment with an insurance broker for Tuesday. This fellow helped him maneuver through the Medicare application last year. In the “B” situation, he may have some options, including Obamacare. That enrollment date ends 15 January, so I have only a few days to get it going if I go that route. He gave me the OK if the cost is obscene I can call it off. On the other hand, I may not have any option viz. uninsurable. The Good Broker will tell me. 

This week Father is sending me a Christmas cheque which (depending on its size) may cover some of my pay-out-of-pocket meds for January. I will use a credit card, thus delaying the payment until his cheque clears.

I canceled my upcoming Wednesday appointment with the nephrologist, as I have no insurance to pay of it. The Good Doctor will be cross, but there it is. This afternoon I have an appointment with The Good Dentist. I will go as it is too late to cancel.  I will pay for this out of pocket and I plan to decline anything above and beyond a tooth cleaning.  

Yesterday I sat down with Someone to go over our income and expenses. He pointed out I know all of this already, I just keep forgetting like that dimwit fish in “Nemo”.  This time I wrote it down.  We have some wiggle-room to cut costs. We can stop making payments towards savings and retirement, and start taking money out.  Someone’s Social Security starts in Feb or March, which hoists up the income some enough to take some pain away from the monthly medication expense. 

The trouble with all of this planning: no matter how I try to prepare for things, anything can happen and it will require impromptu quick-thinking and revisions. All my arithmetic may be for naught. 

The paradox of being not in control is when you accept it things go better than when you are trying so hard. 

Fasten you seatbelts it’s going to be a bumpy night.  

“Enough drama” said The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections in yesterday’s email. “Write about something pleasant”. Before The Spo-fans get severe with them, the dears passed around a horned helmet and collected some Danegeld coins (and a dead rat) to help with my costs. They also offered me ‘medical assistance’ in the form of blood-letting whenever I needed it, which is their answer to all ills. The dears.

I found money !

Yesterday I stopped on the dog-walk to pick up a penny. Like Sluggy, it gives me a thrill to find stray coins. I put them in the blue piggie-bank in the laundry room and once in awhile Someone packs the coins in paper cylinders that he brings to the bank. This can be up to 50$, depending on the proportions of the coins. I know many people poo-poo picking up pennies; they say they are not worth the pause, dip, and grab. I concur pennies are pretty much useless. I’ve heard many times they cost more to make than they are worth, and the U.S. Government loses 90 million dollars making these dreadful things.

I used to think it was thems in Illinois who were the culprits demanding that pennies continue, but it turns out it is the dastardly zinc industry that is to blame. Pennies are nearly 100% zinc with only a tiny bit of copper – the latter ore too expensive to waste on the manufacture of a one cent coin. I cannot imagine anyone in Congress brave enough proposing their cessation as the other political side would rise up in partisan to accuse the proposal as anti-American.

I believe most other countries sensibly stopped making such sometime ago. Paranoid as we are in The States, we would resemble an orchestra of scorched cats to see a two-cent round up in price as unacceptable, not considering any prices ending with ‘0.03’ or less would be rounded down, making everything even.

U.S citizens apparently like them enough not to demand this waste of money be addressed, but not enough to actually use them. Before I met Someone, I made a conscious effort to spend pennies so they wouldn’t follow me home. I suspect most of us have heaps at home in jars and such, unused and uncirculated.

All the same it is jolly good fun to exclaim “I found money!” when I find a penny, which is often. I sense people when given pennies don’t bother to pocket them. This brings me to the ‘give a penny/take a penny’ plastic dishes next to the cash registers at gas-station check-outs. This quaint mawkish help-your-fellow-man transaction would cease if everything was rounded up or down to a nickel. I would miss them, as I would miss picking up pennies from the sidewalk, but I would gladly do without either if millions of dollars are saved. Talk about penny wise/pound foolish.

Do you pick up pennies or let them lie?

Do you hoard pennies?

If you live outside the States, has your country gone to pot due to the lack of pennies?

I want to thank everyone who wrote support and empathy in yesterday’s comments. I also thank everyone for the tips. You are dears, all of you. Someone and I sit down Sunday to go over the situation and figure things out. Since I last wrote, some updates have occurred that bring optimism. On Friday afternoon I had a sit-down with The Boss who was quite generous in support and with ideas to help. She’s in contact with her boss at The Overlords to see if she has leverage with their HR. The Boss disclosed I am going to get a ‘substantial raise’ in salary this year. Now she’s back in the saddle, she is also arranging to give me a bonus cheque for 2021, as I got last year (she has been away for two weeks, so hadn’t forgotten this only delayed) Even if The Overlords remain implacable in their decision about enrollment, I will get that raise and bonus. She is also looking into the possibility giving me premiums that would have gone out this year to insurance to help me pay for insurance elsewhere. Sooner she’d eat rats in Tewkesbury than see me to leave. What really made me feel good though, more than these hopeful endeavors, was her genuine concern for my welfare.

At home there are means to improve our lot. A happy coincidence just happened: the car payments just ended, freeing up ~ 500$ per month. As the TV screen is kaput and we are not likely to get a new one Someone is looking to cancel some of the cable service, freeing up a few more hundreds of dollars per month. Every month we squirrel away a K for savings, this will stop. I won’t bother applying for the new 401K at work, so that money will be available. There are some nickel and dime savings to do as well: cancel the meal kits and cancel the charities and arts contributions.

Father, upon hearing my tale, immediately went into his role as ‘The Great Provider’ and is sending me money although I told him not to do so. The gesture comes to him as naturally as breathing. I should have kept my mouth shut, knowing he would do this. I do not like to lie to him, but I tell him the equivocation it all worked out and to stop this.*

Our medications – if paid out of pocket – are obscenely expensive. All these endeavors probably won’t cover them but it sure helps. I will meet with The Good Doctor (paying out of pocket) to talk about alternative medications.

So I have more hope than when I last wrote.

I woke this morning along with hope with some symptoms of a cold. My nose is running and my feet are smelling. Someone came home from work sounding awful both in the nose and in the chest, coughing up crud of dubious distinction. He regularly takes health tests where he works, so this appears to be a cold not covid. I wish the foolish man had stayed home today but he went into work again. I hope he doesn’t come home with ‘double pneumonia’ as folks like to call it.

I could solve both problems (coverage and cold) by converting to Christian Science. Rather than take meds I can read “The scientific statement of being” . As for this silly cold I think I have, I can just call it error, and unsee it. Unfortunately I tried, vigorously, and it refuses to unsee me. I will munch on some Hall’s cough drops (cherry). They don’t do any ‘good’ but they feel comforting to suck. And we have heaps, so it doesn’t dip into the Rx budget.

*Two of the brothers think I shouldn’t, as it gives Father ‘something to do’. All his life he has provided and he isn’t doing this anymore; he gets a good feeling back in his role, and it give him something to do. I see all of this, and it’s tempting, but no.

A sometimes recommendation to writers is to ‘write what you know about’ or ‘write what you are experiencing”, but what if what’s happening isn’t good? Do readers really want to know about your woes? Blogging is first and foremost a diary of sorts, a means to record events. Patients dealing with difficult matters are often encouraged to write about them, to help collect thoughts and work through emotions. So I will do likewise.*

I have lost health insurance; I will have no coverage this year. I discovered this when I asked about signing up for such and I was told I had missed the deadline. It was last month when I was distracted with work and Christmas and such. The House Manager checked with The Overlords, who told her no, I can’t sign up; I had missed the deadline. I was recommended to ‘try to find some outside insurance’ perhaps. With pre-existing conditions fat chance of that.

I admit my mind is reeling with worry with the what-ifs and the worse-case scenarios. This is America; if you don’t have insurance and if you can’t afford healthcare you go without. You avoid doctor appointments and stop taking meds, or at least ‘ration them’ as my patients often tell me. The main matter for me is my medication. I take several that are vital for my well-being and some of them are expensive – obscenely so. This weekend I have to figure out what to do about them. I figure there is leverage to save money by stopping contributions to my 401K, discontinuing some subscriptions (like meal kits), and canceling all 2022 travel plans, to shift funds to pay for prescriptions. I was hoping for a new car and glasses this year; these will be canceled. The Good Doctor wanted me to see a nephrologist but without means to cover the probable tests and recommendations, I won’t be going.

Yesterday I wrote about the notion of applying ‘good” to all events. I admit I am not finding anything good about this one. However, there may be some ‘good’ in time. I have long wanted to have a budget, to know where our expenses are going and how we are doing. The situation may force a come-to-the-lord sit down and look at our expenses. I keep in mind I have income; the medications can be covered at exorbitant cost, but it won’t be impossible.

I claim to follow the philosophy of stoicism that has at its heart the notion bad things happen but somehow you will get through it. I’ve had more Armageddons than I have teeth; I recognize one when it happens to me. I’ve survived all of them, so chances are I will get through this one too. 2022 will be a frugal one, without frills but that’s happened before too.

Fingers crossed now I don’t get sick or I have to go to hospital or resort to stopping meds. It would be an irony of sorts to have survived sixty years only to succumb not from sickness but from lack of resources.

*The last time I titled an entry ‘Bad News” I had discovered large dark spot on my back, and thought it was cancer. This turned out to be not so. There is a silly superstition if I title this entry likewise, it will work out OK as well.

I subscribe to a handful of medical journals and email services which keep me abreast of the news and latest findings in Medicine and head-shrinking. Some of these sources are rawther dry and lofty, but a few are a bit ‘fun’ in their way. One of them sends me ‘tips’ to pass onto patients. I thought I would pass on one to the Spo-fans, because I like it and it seems to actually do something. Spo

A fellow named Jocko Willink has a habit to respond to everything that happens to him with the word ‘good’. In an error or a delay, or even in a fiasco, he pauses to say ‘good’ and reflect on the positive opportunity provided. There is an hour delay for a flight? Good: this gives ne time to read or answer calls. The project has fallen through? Good: it frees up time to do other things. A mistake was made? Good: I can learn something from this to better things.

I’ve started practicing this and so far it seems a handy way of finding the positive in things that could be viewed as entirely negative. The patient was a no-show? Good: I had time to finish notes otherwise done as homework. The pharm rep called to cancel lunch? Good: I can practice intermittent fasting.

The point of this exercise is not to deny the bad things but to realize everything has potential for growth and learning. There is brain research showing the more we focus on the ‘glass half-full’ the brain wires itself towards better ability for resilience and problem solving. The opposite happens as well and it is more chilling: the more we focus on the negative, the more the brain wires itself to immediately go for the negative in all events. Cynicism and negativism literally rewires the brain to become a paranoid anxious Debbie-downer. The cliché ‘think positively’ as a small grain of truth to it: choosing to focus on the light, not the darkness, is good for our well-beings and our blood pressure, as it were.

I am far from expert on The Jocko-Good approach; I find it hard to say ‘good” when there is no tea, a load of prior-authorization forms need to be done, and when lies infiltrate and dominate politics. However I know better not to see these as 100% awful (although the lack of oolong is a stretch).

That’s all I have to say on the subject. Good. I can get back to work and get ready for the day’s endeavors.

What’s top of my mind: Javelinas. Last night Harper and I went for our evening dog-walk, and just to the left of us in the front yard a javelina bolted out of the bushes and ran hell- bent across the street into the dark. Harper, who is fearful of small children, thought this was something delightful to try to go after. I dragged the silly dog inside, but saw signs she needed to go out right away, so we went out again, wary of our journey. I met a fellow walking his dog who told me a ‘pack of them’ was down the street and we needed to be careful. It is a reminder the indigenous desert creatures didn’t move out when we moved in; we are surrounded by coyotes, snakes, and scorpions – and javelinas.

Where I’ve been: The Blue Room. The blue room at La Casa de Spo is a combination of a guestroom and Someone’s study. I seldom go into it as it is full-up with clutter and disorganization. Most of the time I keep the door closed so as not to see it. I went into it the other day to see if we have a copy of ‘Tom Jones’.* Old books are kept piled up in its closet, which resembles that of Fibber McGee. I am half-tempted to haul the whole contents to the curb and see if Someone even notices. Another ploy to a Blue Room makeover is to have guests, prompting a tidy-up. Any one want to come for a visit?

Where I’m going: the dentist. I recently received a text reminding me I have a cleaning next Monday. I asked The Best Medical Assistant if I remembered to take time off for this. Yes, for once I had sense to do so. The Good Dentist is a very nice man and his staff all well over four feet. The extracted back molar (on the port side) is supposed be filled with a new tooth, but this would a time-consuming and quite expensive process. It is in the back so no one notices anyway.

The Good Dentist

What I’m watching: The temperatures. The nadirs are hitting now, sometimes dipping nightly into the single digits (Celsius). On occasion they get near freezing and we are supposed to put sheets and covers on the shrubbery. It is not uncommon to go for morning walk dog-walks to see the cacti capped with white Styrofoam cups. I feel perpetually cold these days, making me rethink my vague but menacing retirement plan to ‘go somewhere where there is snow”. Oh the pain.

What I’m reading: Tom Jones. Mr. Harchick, my high school English teacher, gave us a list of his favorite novels to read someday. A few years ago I found this list among my papers. I was pleased as Punch to see I have read 13 of the 19 he recommended. I want to read the remaining six. The first on the list is the mentioned ‘Tom Jones’. As The Blue Room is bereft of such, I am off to Bookman’s the used bookstore this weekend to get me a copy. I hope it isn’t too wordy as early novels tend to be. On the positive, these timeless tomes often have lots of flamboyant old words to resurrect. Someone can always tell if I’ve been reading 18th and 19th century novels by how I am speaking at supper time.

What I’m listening to: The Rat Pack. Last month I heard a delightful podcast series at “You must remember this” about Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin, two people I didn’t know much about other than I’ve heard 1-2 songs of theirs. I became interested to hear more of their music. Someone gave me at Christmas CDs of Mr. Davis (tragic character), Mr. Martin (sort of ho-hum in his private life), and Mr. Sinatra (proper bastard he was). I download these this weekend into my iPhone to have me a listen.

What I’m eating: Dried fruit. At made Christmas I made another pudding, using prunes, apricots, raisins, and cranberries. I have four containers of leftover dried fruit. I am slowly incorporating them into meals so as not to have them go to waste. I learned the hard way not to eat these on their own as a snack. Oh the horror.

Who needs a good slap: The men-folk at the gym. It is not uncommon to go into the locker room and find wads or shreds of paper towel on the floor and in the lockers. There are also used/crushed plastic bottles and unflushed toilets. The cliché ‘men are pigs’ gets some validity from this untidy unsanitary spectacle. Are the women’s lockers just as disgusting?

I give men at the gym on my 1-5 scale, 3 slaps.

What I’m planning: My 401(k). Now that my workplace is owned by The Overlords I am told our 401K plan with John Hancock will be no more and a new one is being established. It is not clear to me yet if I have to write Mr. Hancock a letter of regret and please transfer the funds to the new fellow, or it can just sit there until I want it (fat chance of that). Someone suggests I transfer it to Mr. Lynch where we keep our main money. It is one of this week’s goals to discover what my options are. I know this is the right thing to do but it always tickles my dreadful intuition I will never see a penny.

Addendum: The House Manager clarified the funds at JH will be automatically transferred, but I have to register to have further money deposited.

What’s making me smile: Nothing again. This ‘W” always seems the hardest one to come up with. The state of the world, particularly the state of the country, combined with the general nastiness of my fellow man, easily overrides my emotions that I seldom smile anymore. 😦

I suppose I smile a bit when I hear the song “House of Holbein’ from the musical “Six”. This is a show about the six wives of Henry VIII and their issues. In Anne’s number, the five others sing about Miss Cleves getting done up for her fateful portrait:

You bring the corsets/we’ll bring the cinches/no one wants a waist over nine inches.

So what the makeup contains lead poison?/at least your complexion will bring all the boys in.

It’s grim humor, yes, but admittedly bang-on and funny enough to crack a smile at it.

*No, we don’t. We do have a set of Harvard Classics Collection consisting of fifty or so books bound in dull olive and printed about 1909. It’s interesting to see what’s in them, but nothing ‘fun’ it looks like.

Spo-fans know that one of my resolutions 2022 is a daily dose of ‘5 minutes doing nothing”. I am to still still, sans music or podcast episodes, and just ‘be’. It is hoped a) this develops in time to longer periods and b) this does me ‘good’. I suppose there is an element of a challenge to it, not unlike learning how to sew shirts: I have no experiences doing so, can I do this? it would be nice for my hummingbird mind to have rest.

Over the weekend I started my my endeavors by lying down in quiet with my eyes closed. I set an alarm for five minutes. This went OK; it was a start. On the other hand, I was tired anyway and I didn’t have anything pressing. I believe one time I fall asleep, which isn’t exactly the point.

Yesterday Monday I thought ‘what if I did the opposite?” meaning in the middle of doing everything I stopped to do nothing, which is what I did. At noon or so, I closed the door to my office, set an alarm for five minutes, turned the computer to ‘sleep’ mode, sat in my office chair – and closed my eyes.

Oh the horror.

I’ve been told ‘letting your mind go blank’ isn’t going to happen and don’t aim for it.. I couldn’t if I tried. perhaps a minute into the endeavor, I felt a swarm of bats bouncing about the brain. flooded with things I ought to be doing and things to do as soon as this was over. I tried to focus on my breathing, yet it was like trying to relax knowing there is a mosquito hovering over you. Worse, my mind started turning the experience into a blog entry! I was simultaneously trying compose and not compose.

I began to get squirmy; was my five minutes up yet? I forbade myself to open my eyes and have a look-see at the stop-watch to know how much time was left. While the bats and mosquitoes whizzed about and my inner-scribe was trying to recorded into a blog entry, I tried focusing on keeping my eyes close and not peeking. Then the story of Orpheus and Euridice came onto the stage. For thems not familiar with the Greek myth, Orpheus was allowed to bring his dead wife back to the living on the proviso he doesn’t turn back to look at her during their percent up from Hades. Just as he nears the top he gets anxious, turns around (as he could not hear her) and blows the deal. Damned (pun intended) if I were to do otherwise. This tension mounted until I knew I was no longer benefiting from this exercise. After all there was no gom jabbar at my neck. So I opened them.

I had set the alarm for 5 minutes, but hadn’t started it.

I don’t know how long I was in this state. The iPhone said the time was 12:07; if I started around noon time then I lasted seven not five minutes. Either way it was deucedly uncomfortable, but I was pleased as Punch for my endeavor. I got back to work and found no one had died and the world hadn’t stopped spinning for my absence. Good to know.

I will keep doing this. Rome isn’t built in a day, and the Spo-mind doesn’t calm down in a day either. I think with practice it will become easier and my brain less batty. Let us hope so.

The first fortnight of the new year at the office is always the same. Patients have their deductibles recommence. This leads to a lot of phone calls, requests to change meds to something cheaper, or hopes of finding ways to make prescriptions less expensive, like a higher-dose pill to cut in half. Many resolve this matter by skimping on doses – or stopping meds all together.* Patients will also find weasel-ways to get prescription renewals without having to have a check-up. “Oh, I’m fine, the same really” they say, “can’t I come in in six months – after my deductible is met?” I take it these sort of shenanigans are a USA matter only; Spo-fans outside of The States can tell me if insurance deductibles (and their consequences) apply to their countries.

January was the month I was told a prescribing nurse was to start, but I see no evidence of his arrival. The clerical staff, who usually know these things before I do, inform me a few folks (MDs and RNs) are provisionally hired but there’s no word when they start. If rumors are right, there are three or four new folks are coming onboard, which makes me wonder if this is the year I get sacked. Perhaps a few RNs would cost less than Urs Truly. Before the place was sold, I wouldn’t think such morbid thoughts, but now The Overlords are in charge, it’s possible. However, let’s not count our chickens. I’ve lost count of how many potential coworkers I have heard were coming only to have them never arrive.

This year is the year I buckle down and do rating scales. These are quick fill-in-the-blanks questionaries patients get and do after checking in and while waiting for their appointment. They are psychiatry’s equivalent to having your vitals taken whenever you visit the GP. Arguably, they are more objective means to monitor progress of depression, anxiety, well-being etc. It is also arguable if these rating scales really better treatment. Regardless, they are becoming standard of care; I might as well get the ball rolling before some outside agency steps in to tell me to do so or else.

Another matter seen every January is an upswing in pharmaceutical representatives. After a relative hiatus in November/December, they return en masse. I admire their perseverance, given there is only little-old-me to woo, and I badger them with questions they can’t answer. Perhaps there is a correlation to the deductibles and the return of pharm reps, who are flogging brand names. One of my medical new year’s resolutions is to not bear-bait them by poking holes in their presentations, but smile, nod, and listen. At least I always say thank you for their time, the food, and the samples they bring.

Otherwise my job is really no different day in and day out and each year is like the previous one. New patients show and old patients move away, drop out, or go elsewhere due to change of insurance. While it isn’t various, I take pride my work has meaning to it. ‘Burn out’ isn’t about working too much, it is about what you do feels to be of no meaning or value. By that definition I am certainly not burned out.

*Patients are picky about what they will buy/not buy. What makes something ‘too expensive” is subjective, and sometimes curiously at odds with other items. Outraged patients forgo their medication for cholesterol or depression, but not for anxiety. These are relatively not too expensive and insurance companies rightfully deduce if they are not covered the patients will pay for them themselves.

Brand names usually have

First of all I want to thank everybody who wished me warm greetings in my last entry; you are dears, everyone of you. If I could I would buy you buns and things – no rubbish.

Yesterday I wrote a lofty reflection on Time, but The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections vetoed its publication. They are not keen on arbitrary divisions in Time, going by seasonal signals rather than agreed-upon things made-up measurements like months, years, and daily planners. They think if we were less Time-obsessed we would actually have more of it and be less nervous wrecks about it. They have a point.

With that said I am taking my time slowly taking down the Christmas trimmings. I am determined to put them away in some sort of logical order so my future self will have less of a problem finding things. I plan on slowly unwinding the half-defunct lights from the branches of the artificial tree. This may take weeks. This November I hope to buy new ones, preferably multi-colored (the old ones were white). Does any one have the strands in which you screw in red, orange, blue and green bulbs? We had these in my youth. I remember they got rawther hot but they were pretty. I would become captious with my brothers as they mindlessly screwed in bulbs of the same color too close to each other. Later after the tree was up I would ‘correct’ any poorly hung ornaments and rearrange the light bulbs. The ‘signs’ do come early in hindsight, do they not?

My niece, Princess-Goddess, not only sent me a small prize at Christmas, she also wrote a letter – by hand!. This was better than all the Christmas presents combined. A handwritten letter! Her grandmother, my late Mother, would be pleased as Punch to know she did this. Mother would make us boy sit down on 26 December and write our thank you notes. I still do so. I consider thank you notes the epitome of good manners.

Speaking of Christmas prizes, Someone gave me some Derek Rose boxer-style undergarments, my favorite. Thus, The Yule Cat was thwarted. They are bloody expensive but so well made they last a decade.

And speaking of decades, on Facebook folks were doing a 2011 – 2021 ‘ten year challenge’ photos:

It is nice to see I still have my hair albeit more grizzled, but the “Spo-bags’ under the eyelids alas remain as well. By the way, I still have that yellow T-shirt. Oh the horror.

The temperatures here in Phoenix have dropped to near freezing in the morning, which means the garage door doesn’t open. We have to open it by hand, and get out of the car to close it. It is an annual nuisance that happens every January. I would get a new one but there are more pressing house matters to address, like the dishwasher which is again being difficult. Today I start my list of “House Repairs” to figure out which gets our first attention.

There isn’t anything planned in January, which stems from growing up in Michigan when January was one dark cold month not worth doing anything. If I could I would hibernate the month away. In a sense we do, as Someone and I both start looking at the clock at 8PM and wonder about retiring.

Please tell me in the comments:

A. if you have any plans for January.

B. did you get any clothes at Christmas.

C. what sort of lights are on your Christmas tree.

Friday the office is closed; I have the day off. This is a surprise, for I normally work on 31 December. In the past two weeks hardly anyone else has worked; apparently all the counselors took time off at the holidays. This morning I will review my 2021 journal and reflect on what did/didn’t happen this year.*

As is the wont, we won’t be going out this evening – again. There’s a part of me that always feels a bit sad or deprived by this. I envision all my nearest and dearest going out tonight to fabulous parties, dressed to the nines, having themselves a ball, while I sit home in my bathrobe watching the world go by. Boohoo and woe is me. Someday I may insist on going out, but not this year, what with covid19. Someone had a scare at work this week: he told he was exposed to someone who had tested positive. He had to stay home and get tested; yesterday the results came in: negative. He’s back to his ushering job, but is was a close call and a reminder one can still get it even with vaccines and boosters. Thus, we are staying home today and I will be partying with a bowl of shrimp cocktail that I’ve been saving for this grand occasion.

We open Christmas prizes today, perhaps before or after supper. My prizes for Someone are wrapped in gay colors* and ribbons and wait under the tree. I hope he likes them. I haven’t seen signs he’s wrapped or done anything for me so I am going to be surprised or this will be a one-way gift-giving endeavor.

I will call SIL #2 and wish her a happy birthday; I will text The Boss-lady too for it is also her birthday. I will call Father this evening and wish him Happy New Year. Every 31 December my parents would get together with two other couples, The McCartneys and the Macintoshes. They did this every year as far back as I can remember. Of the six, I believe only my father and Mrs. Mackintosh are the only ones still alive. I wonder if they will call each other; I hope they do.

As is custom, I will say “Rabbit! ” as the last word of the year spoken out loud; it is the first word of the new year as well. Brother #2 and I saw this suggestion in a kiddie-calendar when we were youngsters and we’ve been saying it ever since. The other brothers picked it up in turn. I don’t know if this superstition actually does any good at promoting luck, but it is a comfort knowing on 12/31 at 1159:59 PM all my brothers and I wherever we are will be saying the same word at the same time, and thinking of each other. It is a pleasant thought the last thought of every year goes this way.

So, in this last entry of Spo-reflections for 2021, I wish Spo-fans and readers far and near a prosperous and happy new year.

See you in 2022.

Rabbit !

**Turns out not much.

*My paternal grandmother was one of the last who used the adjective ‘gay’ to describe something or someone as cheerful and colorful. Whenever I use the word by that definition, I think of her.

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January 2022

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