Monday, July 31, 2006

Meditation on a Monday Night

It is Monday evening; Arizona is on Pacific Time in the summer, so it’s probably Tuesday morning for my East coast relatives and readers of Spo-Reflections.

Mondays are very long days for me. I get to the office by 630AM to do paperwork, phone in prescriptions, set up the day. There is never a ‘break’ on Monday; if someone should cancel another one take’s her/his place right away. Then there are new phone calls to return, impromptu crisis of the day. And the day’s notes to write.
You have something similar I am sure; most jobs are long and grinding.

By the time I get home on Monday night I don’t have much time leftover for ‘me’. I have to curb my appetite to do six hours of personal matters; I have only 3-4 hours total and I need to ‘wind down’ not get roused up.

So Monday night is usually Yoga night. I have a routine of postures, poses and stretches that I’ve practiced over time. They quickly shut off the mind buzzing and stretch my stiff muscles. I daresay it is one of the few times in a week where my mind is at peace. I am glad to have that meager morsel of serenity.

In the past six months, before my stretches, I read what the other bloggers have that is new. It still remains a thrill to see a ‘new posting’; it is always a slight disappointment to see some one not posting. I suspect Monday is generally not a good night for blogging.
I try to say this in various comments throughout the blogs but I very much enjoy the company therein. Some of the fellows sound just the sort of person I would want as a friend. One of my goals this year is to actually meet at least one of these bloggers in person, perhaps when I travel. That would be nice to put a real live person to the blog.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Gotta Have a Gimmick

I read two dozen blogs on a regular basis, and skim several more.
Several blogs have a run-on topic, puzzle, or forum question or photo. About once a week these ‘themes’ come up; they seem to be popular and very entertaining/thought provoking too.
Some examples (and some of my favorites are ---

Tony at Life's Colorful Brushstrokes - “Word Definition”
Derek at Past, Present, and Future - “Hunk of the Week”
Kelly at Stern Point of View -“Whaddya Want to Know?”
Rodger at Rodger Dodger- “Phun Photo Phirday”
Spidey at A Spider's Web – “Sunday Snippets”.
Keith at Sorted Lives has “Train Wreck”
Scott at Scott-O-Rama has “Question of the Week”.

The list goes on.
(And if you haven’t tried them out – please go to their sites and join the following.
They’re great!)

As imitation is the best flattery, I am trying to come up with some sort of “gimmick” of my own. So far, the Muses haven’t blessed me with an idea. Again they are out to lunch with the Fates or the Furies. (they do like their luncheon parties).

Well, I shall work on it.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Four Brothers

I am the oldest in a sibship of four boys.

There are the Marx Brothers, the Ritz Brothers, the Smothers Brothers – and then there are we. We generally like each other, and enjoy each other’s company.

Going from Left to Right in the photo –

Age 35
Rank #3
Family Nickname; Willow Man
Family Roles; The Computer Whiz; The Travel Agent.
Traits; William is the clever one, knows computers and techno-gizmos. He has traveled everywhere and has the best style/taste.
He is well over six feet
ADHD rating 1

Michael, AKA Ur-Spo, Yours Truly
Age 44
Family Nickname; if you think I am going to tell you that you have another think coming.
Family Role; Older Brother: Time Keeper: Whistle Blower: Referee.
Traits;while the bros got the height, I got the flair and fabulous. All turn to me for counseling and fashion sense.
I am well over four feet.
ADHD rating 3-4

Age 31
Family Nickname; The Ka
Family Roles; the Clown, Baby Brother
Traits; Jeffrey got the brawn and the talent for sports, when his older brothers were all nerds.
He is well over six feet.
ADHD rating 5

Age 41
Rank #2
Family Nickname; The Beautiful Baby
Family Role; he produced the grandkids!
Traits; the amiable one who gets others riled up
He is well over six feet
ADHD rating ; 2 3 at family gatherings

Friday, July 28, 2006

What is an "UR-SPO"?

MEK at Bear in a Box recently asked about the name “Ur-Spo”. I looked it up <

A city of ancient Sumer in southern Mesopotamia on a site in present-day southeast Iraq. One of the oldest cities in Mesopotamia, it was an important center of Sumerian culture after c. 3000 B.C. and the birthplace of Abraham. The city declined after the sixth century B.C.

Original; prototypical; ur-language.

[From German ur-, original. See Ursprache.]


I once read a series of fantasy novels where the main character was given the title “Ur-Lord”. I liked “Ur” as it sounds ancient, primordial.
Mostly, it sounds butch.

I no longer remember where “Spo” comes from. It goes back to the 80s, my college days, when my friends and I found it hilarious to say and to use. It still evokes a smile and a chuckle.

So, Ur-Spo seems to suggest an ancient joke, or the foundation of something both primordial and funny.
It seemed apt six months ago when I started a blog.

Besides, there are so many ‘Michaels’ on line.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I found this today in the photo album!

Starbucks Virgin

I thought I would share a memory of mine.

Some years ago I visited my cousin Matthew, who lives in Seattle. I love the Pacific Northwest and was eager to explore this dreamy and enchanted place. I wanted to do all the tourist things, and capture the Ur-text of Seattle.

I asked to go to Starbucks.

I am not a coffee drinker. I drink tea. (see my entry ‘Cup of Tea’ from 25 May). But when in Rome…. So we went to Starbucks. I think it was the original one.

-By the way, people who order Starbucks coffee sure know their stuff, and have very specific needs/wants. As I stood in line, looking at the many options (for which I grasped little), I realized I did not know what I was doing.

“What would you like?”

”Oh, a cup of coffee please”

(pause, they are not used to such a vague order) “Pardon?”

“I guess I want a basic cup of coffee.”

(meanwhile, the Yuppies behind me send out beams of impatience and ‘hurry up!”)

I leaned forward and said in a low voice;
“ I have never been to Starbucks before, so I don’t know what to order. Can I have a plain cup of coffee?”

The cashier was aghast. “This guy has NEVER been in a Starbucks!” she shrieked. This announcement started to float around the café. I was surrounded by gawkers and cheerleaders (is coffee drinking a cult?). The manager came out to show me around.

I was seen as a sort of celebrity, just beamed down from outer space. I forget the details in the fuss, but somehow a reporter was summoned, my picture taken. There was to be an article along the line “Man discovered who has never been to Starbucks!”. (alas, my cousin was not to find it, so I don’t think it was written.)

They gave me a free cup of coffee, and hovered over me for my impressions (I was too Midwestern to say that it tasted like ‘coffee’; damned if I can tell good from bad!). Feeling dazed (and wired) we left the place, with the embarrassed cousin behind.

“If I had known that I wouldn’t have brought you here!” He added a comment about ‘the spreading cancer’ of Starbucks.

I still drink tea, with maybe 2-3 cups of coffee in a year’s time. What rare times I have gone back to Starbucks is to find iced tea.

This request always gets a reaction; it is amusing to watch.

(P.S. Starbucks makes a good iced tea, to their credit).

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Madness Spreads

Oh-oh. A friend has reintroduced me to Sudoku.

Back in the 80s, I used to get a magazine called “GAMES”. It consisted of crossword puzzles, word games, pictures puzzles etc. It was lots of fun, and kept my mind sharp.
My favorite was the ‘cryptic crossword’. The clues required you to think and sort through word puns/anagrams.
Two examples < Snake stop on pavement; answer < asphalt.
Ointment, use with top removed; answer < unction.
Anyway, there was an obscure puzzle then called a Sudoku. I had forgotten the point – to arrange 1-9 in each box so that there are no repeating numbers up or down and each row and column has 1 through 9 in it. I found it amusing but not as fun as cryptic crosswords.
Last weekend, friend Douglas came to town to hike and find bugs/butterflies in the hot Arizona summer. A bit crazy, but it is his passion. Another of his passions is Sudoku. He refreshed me on how to do them – worse, he showed me where to go online to get free games; millions of them. Now the compulsion starts.
I am not doing as well as when I was 20. I hope this from lack of practice and not a sign of cognitive decline. I do the easy ones for now.
Give them a try, but I warn you they suck up a lot of time and energy.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Jonny "Q"

Does anyone remember this Saturday morning TV show?
Did anyone catch then how queer with a capitol Q this show was?

Out of nostalgic curiosity, I recently got some episodes via Netflix. I was dumbfounded.
“Race” is constantly swimming with the lads – off Key West? - and Dr. Quest and “Race” give each other furtive glances throughout. Nice to know “Race” always calls him “Doctor’, so we can guess who was the dominant one in that relationship.

And you know Hadji was picked up along the way for Jonny, right?

I still have yet to figure out what sort of doctor is Dr. Quest; he seems to be an expert in everything. Some one help me out here.


“Are You Lonely?”
When I meet a new patient, I have a routine; I ask a series of questions so all the bases are covered. There are the usual things like medical conditions, medications, family history, and substance use. But I’ve thrown in a few special questions to let me know the person. “Are you lonely?” is often asked, even if they seem to suggest being married/partnered or with family/friends around.

Most often than not I hear the reply ‘Yes, I am. Very.”

The frequency I hear this may be skewed to the population of patients I see, but I don’t think it is the complete explanation for all the loneliness I hear. Loneliness is not mental illness, but its ubiquitous presence makes for a lot of human misery. I am a believer that the ‘social glue’ of clubs, chums, and social events are vital to mental health.
An elderly woman once said;
“You know doctor, loneliness makes ordinary problems seem tragic. And mine are quite ordinary little old lady problems that wouldn’t feel so bad if I had some visitors”.
Women seem to bond, make friends easier than men. There are a lot of psychological theories why this is so. Paradoxically men need comrades maybe more than women do. Men (gay or straight) need the company of other men more than ever.

I know in my Psyche there is an old childhood wound. It warns;
‘If you let people know you, they will reject you.” Later in life (later than I wished) I became at ease with the parts of my Self, and where I am tender. I started making real friends. Then two things occurred. I started to work. If there was leftover time, it was far easier (and less tiring) to catch up on paperwork and house chores than to go out/see friends. I moved twice, so budding friendships in Chicago and Michigan translated to far flung relationships held together by letter, emails, and phone calls.

I am in the present challenge of keeping in touch with friends scattered throughout the nation (and abroad) while trying to make local friends too – and not let my work suck up my energy. Blogging has an element of seeking out/meeting new people – and making new friends. Do people find lasting friends via blogs? I have yet to find out. I know I hope for such.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Santa Fe Part II

We drove north of Santa Fe to Taos, a little town known for its artists. It at the base of Mount Wheeler, which is the highest peak of New Mexico. We drove up to the Ski area, and took a ski ride up the slope to 9200 feet or so. It felt more like the Northwest – it is cool, with distant thunder. So I have been to the top of Arizona and New Mexico.
Afterwards we drove across the Rio Grande Gorge. It is out in the middle of nowhere; and appears out of nowhere; as you drive across a desert plain. In this gorge is the Rio Grande. It is very deep and vast. I have not seen the Grand Canyon, but this must be similar. I get the impression the Rio Grande carved this gorge over eons of time.
We had a treat; it rained! I haven’t seen or felt rain in months.

After wine hour, we went back to the Santa Fe Opera. Once again the opera had for its background the mountains lit up with distant lighting. Curious, we never heard thunder, despite a continual light show.
“Salome” is a 90 minute long one act opera. It is one of my favorites. It is disturbing, erotic, chromatic and great drama. Cynthia Watson sang the role; her voice was shaky at times but overall good; she acted well. The dance of the seven veils was a bit tame. The stage was a large circle, with a moderate rake. Like last night, the production and stage are awesome to see. I look forward to coming back to Santa Fe.

I have a sore throat; signs of a cold; I suspect the changes in altitude and weather triggered a bug, and I am not feeling at all well. I hope you all are doing OK.

Santa Fe Part I

I’ve been in New Mexico/Santa Fe, where I did not have internet access.
Here’s some sketches of my holiday.
Someone forgot to pack a camera, so there are no photos! Bad luck. .

We are in at the Inn of the Turquoise Bear, a marvelous B & B. The owners Ralph and Robert are sensational hosts. It is the place to stay if you come to Santa Fe.

Today we went shopping; there is a lot of art for sale here. We found a marvelous photograph by Ansel Adams for sale. But as it cost 110,000$ we passed it up. Rather I got a few more rubber stamps to add to my collection.

All food has chili pepper as an ingredient; it is a local law.

The Santa Fe Opera is fabulous. It is an ‘open’ house, on a hill, so you see the mountains in the background of the opera. Tonight there were distant lightning strikes, adding to the glamour. Cool breezes blow across the audience. It is fantastic.
We heard “The Magic Flute”. To my happy surprise, the role of Pamina was sung by Natalie Dessay! If you don’t know this French soprano, she is marvelous. We heard her first in “Alcina’ where she stole the show from Renee Fleming. We love Natalie.
The costuming was puzzling; Pappageno was sort of ‘urban punk; while the Queen of the Night and her ladies were Elizabethan. Everyone else was ‘Mozart” except the police in modern cop costumes. We did not get it. But, the singing was good, which is always the most important matter to an opera.

Tomorrow, the real drama; Salome.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Off to the Santa Fe Opera

We leave tomorrow right after work to fly to Santa Fe.

We are going to attend the Santa Fe Opera Company. I have wanted to see this Opera house for years. I don’t know when my next blog entry will be – no doubt all about Santa Fe and the two operas – “The Magic Flute” and “Salome”.

We keep our ‘out of town’ subscription to the Lyric Opera in Chicago, and attend the Arizona Opera Company. The Arizona Opera disappoints. A friend of mine (who plays piano for Marilyn Horne no less!) once warned us Arizona is a desert in more way than one. At the ASO we saw a production of Carmen where instead of the usual stabbing Don Jose SHOT her.

Some sort of local Arizona gun law.

We’ll see if Santa Fe does better.

Meanwhile here is some ‘basics’ about Opera <

It isn’t too different than going to the bars actually. Most bars are loaded with people wandering around in bizarre costumes singing in odd languages for hours on end – so what’s the difference if it is on stage with super titles? They even serve drinks at the opera.

Opera is a decent way to meet people. Being able to answer ‘We met at The Lyric’s production of Alcina instead of “We met in the Unicorn Bathhouse” to the question ‘where did you two meet?” not only sounds more posh but keeps up the stereotype we are high class. (You needn’t mention after the opera you went out afterwards to the Unicorn).

Opera queens are good dating material. You can dismiss the ones ineligible due to active partnerships, offensive ties, and wrong ideas about Diana Soviero. That leaves tons of OPQRS (opera poofs and queers) from which to choose.

Some operas are more ‘queer’ than others - Operas in German, operas over four hours, and operas with fading mega-stars are best. Put that all together and that means Wagner – where wearing leather is not only permissible but encouraged.
As it is a misdemeanor in some states to take a novice to Wagner, start with some basic operas.

Don’t be afraid to nod off; it is one of life’s greatest pleasures. My favorite times for an opera nap are Act II Die Walkure, all of The Barber of Seville except the intermissions, whenever 'Tamino' is on stage in The Magic Flute, and during any arias by April Millo.

Don’t worry about dressing up. Modern audiences look like it is a come as you are party. (Ben Hepner used to do this when he was in the opera).

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

MEME Attempt#1

Sorted Lives, the dear, passed on a challenge to me to come up with 10 attributes about myself that all start with "M".
Rather than thoughtfully writing - and editing, re-editing it to death - I thought I would wing it.

1) Michael. That's easy. My first name is Michael
2) Muscial. I have played the piano since 6year old. I play in a handbell choir at church. I am learning to play the Pan Pipes.
3) Mercurial. The ability to go with the flow has saved me from cracking up a few times.
4) Michigander - I grew up in Michigan, and still consider it part of who I am. Go Blue!
5) Mysterious - Meaning, I love Mystery; the truthful things in life that we know have truth but we can not see or fathom
6) "Mouse" -that was my childhood nickname long before Tales of the City came out
7) Medicine - my profession; I am a physician
8) Meterology - my 'should have done' profession; I am a weather channel nut.
9) Masterful - (this was recommended by Someone- ooh, what a giveaway!)
10) Mindful - I try as hard as I can to be thoughtful of others

ta da!

Now, I need to get to work on Tony's MEME. I am tardy with that one.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Bear Lesson I

There is a lot of inaccurate nonsense floating around about bears. Being a biologist by education and liking things proper, I thought I would do an infomercial today on the classification of the brown bear.

Of the 8 bear species that make up the family Ursidae, brown bears have the widest distribution. Ursus arctos is called ‘grizzly’ if it lives inland and ‘brown bear’ if it lives near the coast. This is an artificial separation. In the 1960s bear hunters pressured The Boone and Crockett Club into this distinction to allow hunters inland to have ‘grizzlies’. So grizzly is but one of several forms of brown bear.
Grizzly bears are all inland brown bears, but not all inland brown bears are grizzled.
Brown bears come in many shades of colour.
But hunters aren’t the only ones responsible for confusion. Prior to 1960 there were all sorts of ‘species’ of brown bear. Then in 1962 a Dr. Raucsch concluded that all brown bears were one species, Ursus arctos.
The Kodiak brown bear became a subspecies, U. a.middendorffi.
All other brown bears were assigned to U. a. horribilis.

There are no specific animals such as the grizzly bear, Alaska brown bear, tundra bear etc.

Thus endeth the lesson.

Bear Lesson II

I thought the above entry a bit dry, so here is a photo of another brown bear.
A subspecies I believe, U. a. woofus.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

For a Good Time, Call......

MEK, Joel, Rodger and others have been asking about an email for me.
I think I got it up and running under my updated profile.
Nevertheless <

Friday, July 14, 2006

I Make Shirts

I have a passion for making tropical holiday shirts.

Ever year in January I would go on holiday to Key West. A local KW woman made shirts – Hawaiian style, full of tropical patterns and loaded with colour. I love colour. I bought one every year I went down there.
Then, she retired from the business. I bemoaned I would no longer get shirts.
A couple of friends, who have a knack for clothes and sewing, said ‘well, make your own shirts”. I pointed out that the closest I ever got to sewing was closing sutures while in the ER rotation in residency. They pointed out that if junior high school girls can figure out a pattern, so could I. Some what out of spite (“I’ll show them!) and somewhat out of challenge, I gave it a try.
I have never touched a sewing machine, or seen a pattern. Turns out sewing has its own lingo; I started with that. I got out a simple men’s tropical shirt pattern, 2 ½ yards of a ‘trial’ fabric, and gave it a try.
The first shirt was rather crude and not very well made, but I was pleased with my effort.
That was a few years and 3 dozen shirts ago. I have improved by trial and error and practice. Most shirts I gave to my friends (one year, when we all gathered in Key West, they did me the honor of wearing these shirts). I have made a dozen or so for myself.
The photo above is one of my favorites. It is a navy blue shirt whose yoke is made from scraps of all my other shirts made up to that point. It is a sort of encyclopedia of my labors. Each bit of the yoke has a memory to it. From time to time I think I will post my creations
Here is "Jungle green".

Tidy Up

---Someone once pointed out that while others use the royal ‘we’ to mean “I”, I use ‘we’ to mean Someone. Examples< “We should take out the trash’ or “We should clean up this place”. There are numerous things I would rather do than clean; but will gladly clean to avoid doing paperwork. Then there can be no end to tidy-chores. I don’t mind cleaning, if only it would stay that way. Today “Maria” came for her every two weeks cleaning of the house. The now clean house even smells good. If only we could close the place down for a week to keep it so. It is demoralizing to see it quickly go back to piles of clothes, books, and half drank glasses.
I tend to clean and order drawers only to make messes on the counters. Someone does more of the opposite; putting as much away into cupboards as possible.
Periodically we get fliers in the door asking us to pack up unwanted things and put them on the curb for takeaway. If only! Once I tried to put out several cardboard boxes of old papers, saved receipts, and knickknacks gathering dust – but they wouldn’t touch them. Apparently charities are picky about what they want.
Perhaps it is a bluff. I sense if I gave away the junk it would lead me to worry that somewhere in the discards was that ‘thing’ I’ve saved for years and now desperately need to save my life. So things accumulate. I have my grandmother’s Hammond Organ to dispose. I am reconsidering the Ancient’s custom to have the deceased buried or burned with all their belongings. This saves the living the tedious task of saving things from guilt. At times it is rather macabre to have a dead relative’s things lying about.

What do you save out of guilt or neurosis?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

BBQ Sauce to Die For

Five years ago I started the quest for the recipe for the ultimate BBQ sauce. I love a good sauce, and BBQ sauce is ambrosia.
As a summer time treat I cooked up a few more new hopefuls found in old cookbooks, on line, or in newspapers. I think I tried dozens; some hot, spicy, sweet, tangy etc.
The best one? The very first one I tried!
This was actually a disappointment. To hit it ‘spot on’ in the first attempt did not leave me with much to better. Every recipe afterwards was fair or very good, but ‘not as good as the first’. So I worked with the first, and did some modifications of my own. It is simple, well balanced, and allows you to work with the 3 elements to a BBQ sauce. You can make it more sweet or sour or hot. I thought I would share it with you all <

Ur-Spo BBQ Sauce

2 cups ketchup ¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup Worcestershire ¼ cup packed brown sugar
2T Molasses 2T Dijon Mustard 1.5T Tabasco
1T chili powder 2t liquid smoke 1/2 t ground pepper

Mix all the ingredients in a sauce pan. Heat until bubbling. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for half an hour.
To sweeten it, add more molasses.
To make it more hot, add more Tabasco or use a hotter sauce (I like Melinda’s).
To make it more tangy, increase the Worcestershire.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

More Random Thoughts

I have gone through a couple of analysis (Freudian and Jungian), some groups, and later a peer supervision group. Being a ‘role model’ at work, primarily as a physician, and secondary as a psychiatrist, it doesn’t leave me with room or space to be screw loose bozo or down in the dumps The fact that doctors/shrinks have problems and hang ups like anyone else ought to surprise no one We are human after all, but patients want their doctors to be not only competent but ‘whole’. Some want a Magus, with all the answers - or the happy pills(and some of the you fellow bloggers are just as bad!).

No room for mistakes, error, or personal matters.

MDs are seen all the time on TV and movies – usually for the worse; guys you wouldn’t trust to wipe their own noses they are so neurotic, or the Hannibal Lector types.

So where do I go when I am down/out and having a bad day?

I believe I know myself well enough to know which of my screws are loose and tight < and which ones need periodically tightening, and which ones are ‘don’t touch”. So I don’t need insight – I need somewhere to ventilate and weep.
Still new to blogging, I am not sure about doing too much here. Is it safe; will it look bad? Will the APA police come and drag me away?

Yet, I read others’ blogs and I am struck at their courage to drop defenses and share their souls (darks sides and all) on line for the world to see. It is an honor to read their tales. The ‘comments’ reveal people are supportive of it. I realize blogging is a sort of loose world wide “group therapy”. What a concept. Well, if I am to be full member I too shall be brave and drop my sorrows (or my pants) from time to time.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Report from the Zen Corner

The initial attempts to sit still and meditate are not very Zen. (see blog entry “Zafu and Zabuton” of 6/29)

It is hard to focus on MEK’s excellent suggestion of the ‘white room’ when the White Cat thinks it is play time. As I try to go blank, Puss is demanding attention.

Someone’s assumption these cushions are a cat bed was prophetic. The Black Cat thinks this set up is for him, and is annoyed when I push him off the pillows. Often he gets right back on in my lap, which is another distraction. (the Black Cat, not Someone).

Recently while sitting on my Zafu I was struck by something about the Nature of the Universe. It was one of those great numinous insights, and now I’ve forgotten what it was. What’s worse I can not imagine what it could have been. I keep trying to remember but all I can call to mind was something about sex.

Rather annoying for somebody not trying not to think of anything.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Prizes and Pod People

I haven’t mentioned yet what I got for my birthday! An iPOD!

-As an introduction, when I grew up gifts were called ‘prizes’. My grandmother called them that, which annoyed my mother. She thought ‘prize’ made it sound like the person ‘won’ something. So we kids teased her with ‘Christmas Prizes” and “Birthday Prizes” and the term stuck.

I gave Someone an iPOD for his birthday a few years ago. He uses it all the time. When we go on car trips the ‘shuffle’ generates 10K worth of tunes to hear. What a device! So I am familiar with them. However, now that I own one I have to pay attention to how it operates.

Unfortunately while trying to clean up the iTunes we lost all our music, so Someone is doggedly downloading all our CDs. I daresay it will take weeks. Then, I can ‘load up’ the device and become one of the pod people.

Enya, Loreena McKennitt, Annie Lennox, Kate Bush, Earth Kitt, Bette Midler, Cher – and all the opera divas – in one small tiny shiny black box no bigger than a deck of cards.

I hope they get along!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Who is YOUR Diva?

In Jungian psychology an important Archetype is the Anima.
Call it the “eternal Female” that is in us all. To be in touch with the feminine side of one’s personality must be allowed to express itself in consciousness in order to be well, adjusted, and have a harmonious Self.
Gay men do this readily via their favorite female singers. Pop stars like Bette Midler, or Divas like Scotto are good examples.

Someone calls my fondness for female vocalists ‘adoring the Goddess”. He is not wrong.

To his dismay, my ultimate ‘Goddess” is Enya.

There is something soothing and numinous about her voice that transports me to different planes of being. I first heard her in Key West, during my zenith of being a young man with the future without limits. Her “Watermark’ CD brings me back to that time and place. I look forward to all her new songs and CDs. She has been criticized for not altering her style – but I like her style. Between her voice and her looks she captures the Anima .

And Someone can not stand her. I find that people either adore or loathe her. He thinks all her songs sound alike. Well, his Goddess is Janis Joplin, so go figure.

Tell me who is/are your Diva(s)!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Chief Complaints

The “Chief Complaint’ is opening statement or matter the patient first says to the doctor. Examples < ‘I have a cough” or “I have a rash” or ‘I don’t feel good”.
As a shrink, I sometimes hear ‘I am depressed” or “I am anxious” or “I think I have ADD” and sometimes “Give me Valium”.
Here are my favorites gathered this week <

“My previous doctor is in jail and I need a new one” (turns out this is true)

“My brain hurts”

‘I look as bad as I feel” (also true)

“I would like to tell you what is wrong with me through the means of interpretive dance” (this was declined)

“I committed suicide three times last month.”

“My wife is a sneak. I read her journal and discovered she is having an affair”

“God, you’re cute, can I kiss you?” (also declined)

“I’m here for that happy pill they always talk about on TV”

“Can you tell me why I am here?”

“Oh, you are a psychiatrist! I didn’t know what the hell my wife was sending me for”.

“I have manic depressive panic agoraphobia depressive schizophrenia”


”Well, if you can get me happy I might pay you

Friday, July 07, 2006

Mahler and Me

Today is my birthday. I am 44 years old.

Today is also Gustav Mahler’s birthday. He is much older.

I have an old book on Great Composers. To illustrate how old it is, Rachmaninoff, Stravinksy, and Prokofiev are listed as living. When I found this book in my grandparent’s attic, I was maybe six year old. I only knew the names of Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart. There was a fellow named Mahler –we had the same birthday! I hadn’t a clue who Mahler was, but I figured he and I had a bond, being both born on July 7th.

As a boy I had a bit of a lisp (clue #23 that I was queer); I could not pronounce Gustav. It came out as Goosebumps. So I asked for his music it came out as requests for albums by Goosebumps Mahler.

Although the lisp is gone, Herr Mahler’ music continues to give me goose bumps.

I am 44. Middle age. 4 and 4; one before and one after; smack dap in the middle of life.

I will have a quiet birthday, as is befitting the number, We’ll see the “Pirate’ move; and make some of my favorite foods for supper, all of them bad for me/tastes great. I want some onion rings. I will play a lot of Mahler, as is my wont. Later, there will be a night time dip in the pool sans trunks and a ‘cuddle’ with Someone.

I am glad to see 44. I know of many people who did not live to see this age. So I am grateful. I hope the next half is prosperous and full of growth.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Bad Back

I am disappointed that my bad back is not mending. I think I am in the clear for a few days and then it returns; the lower right hand side aches - diffuse, not sharp or radiating, but enough to make me wary to move too quickly and watch what I pick up.
It started a couple of months ago; I was picking up a bag of dirt out of the wheelbarrow when the lower back went into a spasm. Like a piece of machinery that had been given one ounce of pressure too much the entire lower back ‘froze’. I knew it was not a slipped disc or sciatica. It was a muscle matter. Hurt like hell. I walked like Groucho Marx for long time thereafter. But it could have been worse.
That was 2 months ago. It continues to intermittently ache and remind me of its presence. All my NSAID Rx, stretches, and yoga have not banished it. It is a discouraging.

What burns my bacon is having it at all. I come from a family of bad backs. I decided that I have my share of medical problems so a bad back would not be one of them. I would do all this prevention of stretches, yoga, and avoidance all of nasty damaging sports and activities. So how come my prudence is rewarded with this?
I should swallow my wormwood along with the Motrin. One can not fight genetics. I didn’t raise a fuss when the family h/o high cholesterol and HTN hit me.

Well, I am not yet defeated. I’ll keep up the yoga poses, the stretches, and the occasional ibuprofen.
I want this beaten and gone for good.

Meanwhile would someone please rub me right there……

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

4th of July

As it is Independence Day, I thought I would write out my mixed feelings about being an American. There are days (especially in the last 7 years) when I have wanted to push my Canadian heritage and run off to Ontario for good. But I will stick it out here, and be yet another type of American with all the other zany and complex types of Americans.

For which I am proud;

1) We generally have a good quality of life, despite our complaints.

2) We strive to be individuals.

3) We have some of the most beautiful diverse landscapes – and people. Now that I live in the West I realize this more.

4) We made a nation often through great hardships and long shots.

5) We seem to rally together when real hardships arise.

6) The Cuisine is diverse and fabulous (a result of #3)

For which I am ashamed;

1) We are the richest country yet have one of the least efficacious health systems in the Western World.

2) We allow Big Money and Religious Pressure to dictate law and policy.

3) We operate by fear of the Other – and Each Other

4) We consume more than any other nation, and pollute/waste the most.

5) We take such poor care of ourselves.

6) We don’t take the arts, education, and leisure time as seriously as others.

Oh, there are other lesser things:

On the negative <>

On the positive < Disneyland, Broadway, and Zingerman’s Deli

Happy Fourth to all. May we persevere and better our Nation. The great work continues.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Circle of Friends

This candle holder is called “Circle of Friends”. It sits outside on the back porch coffee table.
It is crudely called by another name, but that is not today’s point.

It is an example of my succumbing to a trend. I moved to the Southwest USA a year ago, and I see these everywhere; homes, patios, even in offices. You can get one at any pottery shop. I finally broke down and got one last time we were in Palm Springs. Normally Someone doesn’t care for candles or anything that looks too ‘new age-y”; I was surprised he liked it too.
These “Circles” come in different sizes; I notice that the even numbered ones tend to be female; odd numbers are male. We have one of the larger ones at 13 lads. They are arm in arm, around their sacred candle.
If anyone knows the story of who started these or where they come from, I would be grateful to know. I like to think it is a replica of some ancient sculpture from the Native Southwest. I suspect rather it was some sod in a souvenier shoppe dreaming up as an easy way to get rich.
Despite not usually ‘doing what everyone else does’ I am content with the purchase. I like these fellows; they seem happy to themselves in the warm glow of a candle. Not bad a setting for a Gathering of Friends.

At Hallowe’en I plan to put them all in little costumes.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Naked Pool Party Protocols

Note to my family members who read my blog-you may want to skip this one.

(That made the rest of you sit up, didn’t it!)

Today we went to the our Bear club’s 4th of July pool party. It was a splendid time with food, drink, and swimming, followed by an outdoor viewing of “Sordid Lives’.

The swimming was clothing optional, and many did just that. The potential eroticism was balanced by the rules of ‘no romance’ allowed. Which gets me to topic de jour; the puzzles and paradoxes of nude public swimming.

In my lifetime I have spent a lot of idle time speculating on what may be under this or that man’s clothing. It is somewhat disconcerting to say the least to have this harmless past time made totally redundant at a pool where the swimmers are nude.
For there is a protocol - to stare or rest your eyes too long on some body (or part) violates the principle that there is nothing noteworthy about it, that is it the most natural, neutral thing in the world. Yet, people cover themselves up if they leave the poolside area.

Do bare bums gain and loose erotic value based on arbitrary territorial zones? To consider something thought of or touched in private with pleasure is now no more arousing than an exposed elbow? The notion is absurd.

Having sunglasses, dark as possible, is basic equipment for discrete watching. So is having a book – something to peer over or glance around just as that somebody is getting into or out of the pool.

“You aren’t making much progress with it” Someone said sarcastically. “You might want to move the bookmark from time to time for appearance’s sake”.

Perhaps the naked ones get a kick out the knowing that their viewers can not show any signs of arousal. Perhaps their partners share in the excitement in a vicarious way - especially if one’s lover is better endowed than the others. To intercept the enviable glance of another man at your boyfriend's backside, to think “that’s right buster, you can look, so long as it’s not too obvious, but only I’m allowed to touch him, see?” is exciting.

It all takes the notion of the Emperor’s new clothes to another plane.

Queen of Wands

For newcomers to my blog; the entry from March 3 titled “Tarot” may put this entry into some context……

The card of the month for July is the Queen of Wands. It is a card that usually means authority, determination, and being outgoing at work.
Sounds good.

I like this card; it resonates with me. There is a black cat in the picture; I have a similar cat. The wand is flowering and there is a sunflower; I am a gardener and used to grow 8 feet tall sunflowers. Like the Queen in the picture, I now live in the desert.

So July may be a month “all about me’ –which is apt, as it is the month of my birthday.

Or, it may be a notice that the Burger King pace at the clinic is finally going to slow down to the point of having a grip on things.

Or, it could just mean it’s going to be hot (in Phoenix? shocker!), and don’t leave the cat out too long. And water the plants every day.