January 2024

Never Too Late!

I was 76 when I first picked up a violin.  I’d read that exploring new hobbies keeps the mind sharp and is suitable for “the aging.”  

That’s not why I started playing.  Not at all.  I started because decades ago, my Mom told me I couldn’t.  With six kids in the house, she could handle so much noise, and a screechy violin wasn’t part of it.  So, I took nine years of piano.  It was okay, but it wasn’t the violin.  I’ve always been stubborn.  And I’ve always loved the way a violin looks and sounds.  

About a year ago, I summoned all my courage and went to the local violin store.  They were used to dealing with beginners, albeit younger than me.  I left with a rented violin and the idea that watching YouTube videos was the way to go.  Turns out the violin is a challenging instrument.  After weeks of trying to hold the violin and bow without dropping it, I put it on a shelf where it languished.  

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Fall Colors Part 2

The place in Rutland was new and shiny, unlike his old house, which had been built in 1847. As they drove into the circular driveway, a woman in a plaid suit greeted him and Abagail. She was a friendly woman who said, “Good morning Mr. Stockwell.” Will was impressed by the personal touch, though he said nothing. Once inside, Louise Rowel showed Will his room before giving another tour of the entire facility.

Will’s room was tidy, with furniture that was in good shape. A nice-looking comforter was on his bed, but Will thought the place looked more like a hotel than a home. He had similar thoughts as he walked around the rest of the facility. What had he done? Had he moved from his crafted farmhouse to a cookie-cutter Marriott? 

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Time Leaving

time slips away,
like melting snow,
and falling rain,
like a flower in bloom,
a river come summer,
a ship sailed by,
a song in the air,
a love gone,
all too soon.

Psychotherapy with Older Adults

Working with a senior population has been satisfying and rewarding for me as a psychologist.  One might think that the therapeutic issues revolve around loss, adverse physical issues, death, and dying; however, it has been quite the opposite experience.  The focus is staying vibrant, healthy, and engaged with life and relationships.  My oldest patients are 95 and 100.  The 95-year-old drives, takes long walks with her dog, goes to the gym daily, and has no cognitive impairment.  My 100-year-old patient walks daily, attends symphony concerts, is politically active, and has an astute mind.

I currently have about 15-20 Medicare patients in my practice.  I find them reliable, likable, and often quite wise about life. They are typically on time and appreciate the opportunity to have someone to talk to.    Working with this population has genuinely been fulfilling.

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Dutch Babies

If you have not had a Dutch baby, you must try this recipe! It is really a treat for a lazy weekend morning! A Dutch baby is a combination of a pancake and a popover. It is light and thin and, unlike other types of pancakes, is baked in the oven. I like them best with good quality maple syrup and butter but you can choose any type of syrup or fruit, whatever your pleasure.

2 Tbl. butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup flour
maple syrup
powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Use a 10 inch non-stick frying pan. You need an old fashioned electrical blender. This is one of those recipes where mise en place is critical. Have all your ingredients measured and ready to go before you start. First put the butter in the frying pan and place in the oven to start melting. Put the two eggs in the blender and blend for one minute. Keep blending while you slowly add the milk and then the flour and blend an additional 30 seconds. Very quickly open the oven and pour the batter into the melted butter in the pan. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove and let rest for a minute or two. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top. Add warm maple syrup. Serve immediately and enjoy!

In Harm’s Way He Stood Tall

Tom MacSpeiden, Ph.D. has been a psychologist and SDPA member for a long time. He is a past president of our association in addition to having contributed in numerous ways to the development of the San Diego psychological community.  For many years Tom was the chief psychologist at the local community mental health center, and he mentored and guided many psychologists who are now prominent in their own right.

Tom is known for his forensic work amongst other things. A few years ago he testified for the defense of Dale Akiki, a developmentally disabled adult, who was accused of abusing children at a church day care center. The LA Times reported,

“Akiki’s trial put all those contradictions in high relief. It pitted Akiki, 36, against nine children who accused him of bludgeoning live animals and drinking their blood as part of his satanic repertoire. One boy even accused Akiki of murdering a baby.”

“Witnesses said Akiki conspired with his wife and another sitter to subject the children to rituals of mayhem, involving urine, feces, water torture and animal mutilation–including the slaughter of an elephant, a giraffe, and a rabbit.”

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Letting Go

The title of this article isn’t scientific, but it captures a process that involves us all. So, what am I talking about? From the earliest time of life, the task of people is to embrace, adapt, and eventually move on. Children go to school and learn but move to the next grade. Then, they graduate. They go to a new school, and then they go to college. Each change requires a new adaptation and letting go of the past. This is not as easy as it sounds.

Certain phases of life and experiences are decisive, and there’s a temptation to hold on to them. Some holding on is adaptive. People join booster clubs and alumni organizations and attend games supporting their colleges. Other people could handle the situation better. They live in their college town, hang out with students, and don’t advance into careers and other life stages. Why is this so?

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Karen Pirie

A while ago, I saw a terrific crime series on BritBox called Karen Pirie. The heroine, Pirie, is a Scottish detective trying to solve a complex crime despite the obstructive behavior of her superiors. The lead actress, Lauren Lyle, portrays a “refreshingly normal and charmingly unfashionable character” and is excellent. I am hoping for another season.


Tamarindo is a relatively new Mexican restaurant on the first floor of Del Mar Plaza in the village of Del Mar. The outdoor patio is pleasant, though the indoor seating could be lighter and more inviting. I enjoy the chips, salsa, and guacamole dip very much. My wife and I usually split the chicken enchilada dish, which is delicious and ample. I have not tried a margarita at the eatery, but my friend likes them. The prices are reasonable, and I suggest a reservation. Parking is available in the garage beneath the plaza.