Wednesday, April 23, 2014


A place to call home
Just a quick note of thanks.  Today my blog, RANDOMONIUM, hit 4000!  That is 4000 more than the years I didn't have a blog.  And this is not me, going back and re-reading and re-reading, paying others to re-read and re-read.  Okay.  It is maybe not huge numbers by a huge blog.  Just a start actually.  But everything has to start somewhere.

I have published 71 posts about all kinds of different topics.  I won't go into detail, I'll save that for the anniversary date.  For me, the most important thing is the sitting down and writing part.  The practice of the process, the focus and determination to work my craft, woven in and out of the life I have lived since beginning.  While some of these posts are easy and quick, most spend considerable time bouncing around in my brain.

I'm sure my Mother will roll her eyes when she sees this pic of my office I'm offering up to Blogland.  But this is just a "before" shot.  Spring cleaning has not made it to this room, yet.  But it is in the works.  And I didn't show everything such as the ironing board, the spring wardrobe being unpacked and the papers and various cross-stitch pieces (not stacked under books) piled on the floor.  There is some semblance of order in my mind.  But that's Randomonium.  Random pandomonium.  But just to the casual observer.  I know what I'm doing when it comes the subject.

Doing the work required to post on a blog is time consuming.  The wonderfully surprising part is that someone has taken the time to hit that button.  Over and over, writers talk about the loneliness of the process.  It is not a bad lonely but a creative lonely.  I have loved every "view" recorded.

Consider this a big WOW of amazement and thanks.  I'll save the cake for a later date.

And also, thanks to the person who I suspect pushed the number to 4000 with one view.

Monday, April 21, 2014


Easter has come and gone.  But the memory lingers.  Sticky half eaten Peeps have fallen to the floor and the dog won't even eat them.  Under all the purple grass in the green basket, wayward MM's have hidden until another day.  But other items won't be so delish if hidden for too long.  I am here today and in the next few days, to offer my considerable knowledge in the course of proper Easter Egg consumption.

Shells, shells, shells.  Peeling eggs is a thankless, non-ending task.  Tap the bottom and roll the sides.  The rest is pure luck depending on if that little bitty piece wants to let go.  Nothing worse than a bit of shell in anything involving the eating of eggs.

Always count the hard-boiled, dyed in the nick of time, Easter Eggs BEFORE hiding.  Without much wiggle room, hunting eggs should be an outdoor activity.  In case of a rainy day, real hard boiled, dyed eggs should only be used indoors with extreme caution.  This is one item not to be accidentally rolled under the sofa only to be discovered days later.  Surely, somewhere in the world there might be a blizzard on Easter.  I don't have experience with frozen Easter Eggs but we all know about the Blessed Frozen Azalea and Dogwood Festival which can occur just as Easter is approaching.

After dyeing, hiding, finding and refrigerating, the Easter Eggs are ready for preparation.  In a large family, the abundance of said product can be overwhelming.  Have no fear.  My lifelong prowess (and those before me) in the kitchen has endowed me with the authority to help you produce one of the most satisfying finger foods picked off a platter.

Mayonnaise and eggs go hand in hand.  They are related.  In this case, the egg came first and then the mayonnaise.  Don't even mention the "other" in my presence or I will pack up and leave your kitchen. Kind of like becoming enraptured of a Pepsi product when I have just poured you my last Coca Cola and I have to be nice.  Because I will be nice, because you are my guest and the guest should rule in any proper home.  Just like white shoes and Labor Day.  Just don't.

Ingredients for Basic Deviled Eggs

                             7 boiled eggs                               
Salt and pepper
Dry mustard
Bread and butter pickles
Hungarian Paprika
Cayenne Pepper

When I peeled these happy eggs, they revealed an additional surprise.  Despite the whites being dyed to match, no harm has befallen anyone who consumed these colorful wonders.  My foray into Easter Egg land produced two products, thus far.

I started off by peeling seven cold, boiled eggs, rinsing them under a gentle stream of water to dislodge any last bit of shell.

Half each egg lengthwise.  Pop the egg yolk out into a small mixing bow.  Place the egg white on a plate for later use.

Mash the yolks with a fork.  Do not use any power stronger than your hand. Mash. Mash.  But not completely.
Now comes the mayonnaise.  Today I was using special kitchen measurements.  I added five nice dollops from an iced tea spoon to the lightly mashed yolks.  Found in every proper Southern home, this piece of flatware is an implement devised for the addition of sugar to an individual iced tea glass when the home folks are not serving sweet syrup disguised as iced tea.  I doubt that those located in more northerly regions have use of such.  The recipe for the perfect glass of iced tea can be found on my blog  It may also be used to annoy any other diners within earshot when you stir the sugar into the cold tea.  However, good manners insist the proper method is silent.

Add salt and pepper to taste.  Also a good sprinkle of dry mustard.  Next, add essence of onion.  For this delicate procedure, I placed my Microplane over the mixture and gently scraped a peeled onion twenty times (I counted) across a two inch area of the grater, tapping the scant juice into the egg yolks. Remember, essence only.  Mix nicely.

Prepare bread and butter pickles (not dill or pickle relish), finely minced, 3 Tablespoons.  Add the pickles to the mix.

At this point, I halved the mixture into two bowls for two different preparations.  Set one bowl aside.

Piping or spooning could be a great debate.  On occasion, I have piped meringue into little boats and homemade icing onto cookies.  But given a choice and in the interest of ease, I usually spoon.  Place a heaping spoonful of the basic deviled egg mixture into each of the seven halved egg whites.  (Another good use for the iced tea spoon!)  Arrange on serving platter.  And yes, I do have a deviled egg plate, somewhere.

I sprinkled half of the eggs with paprika and the other half with cayenne pepper.  Just a light sprinkle. I especially loved the eggs with red pepper, just the essence of heat.

A perfect Devilishly Good Curried Egg

Additional Ingredients for Devilishly Good Curried Eggs

Flaked coconut
Chutney, optional

To the other bowl of basic deviled egg mixture, add 1/8 teaspoon of curry, mix well.  To this mixture, add 2 tablespoons of finely minced peanuts.  Spoon the curried mixture into the remaining egg whites.  Top each curried egg with just a few coconut flakes.  I would also have used a dab of chutney but my pantry was bare (of chutney).  This matter is a true shortfall for someone who loves Major Grey.  The bread and butter pickles do go nicely with the curry.

The finished product!  While any deviled egg can be made up and served rather quickly, I found these delicacies to be supreme even hours after refrigeration. 

Deviled eggs are tremendously easy.  They are also easy on a budget.  But most of all, extremely well-received.  Have you ever seen a platter offering deviled eggs (done well, of course) sitting full at the end of a potluck or holiday meal?  Enjoy!


Monday, April 7, 2014


At our house, the welcome mat is always out.  As the saying goes, "If you are coming to see my house, please call first.  If you are coming to see me, come on over."  But in reality, calling is a good idea.  Because. Because gone are the days of instant clean when it took just a couple of well invested hours to cover the house with the fresh, clean scent of a fresh, clean house.
soote Aprile flowrs

Ye Law!  I am feeling every bone and muscle in my body right now.  I have paused for a Coca Cola break, sustenance before the last bath.  And I am not finished.  The guest room bed is made and the room is totally uncluttered.  The lamps are dusted, polished and shined.  All the wood is sporting new lemon oil.  A new picture is on the wall.  The "guest register" is waiting for cheery comments.  The bottled water and peppermints are ready for inspection.  The floor is the only item needing attention which it will get when I vacuum the house, if I am still standing.  This is my glory room of inspiration, the what can be, the medal of all elbow dust cleaning bees.

Busy as a.....what was I doing all week long?  Why did I wait until one big effort to get it all done?  Because. Because it takes more than one try.  The study has languished since Christmas.  I still found wayward Christmas tree needles hidden near the edge of the sofa.  Not anymore.  I moved a two drawer mahogany (supposedly) file cabinet in and out of its usual place and discovered new muscles in my back.  At least half way through the endeavor, I thought to take out the files.  Duh.  There was a decayed bug and I couldn't get to it but I knew my company would discover it.  It has been vamoosed into oblivion.

Ah, the sweet days of Saturday afternoon cleaning at the cottage, listening to Prairie Home Companion whilst I powdered the tub with Comet, enjoying the patterns made by the bristle scrub brush as I leaned over into the old porcelain tub which could hold me, a child and an unwelcomed water loving mutt jumping into the bubbles.  At the time, I remember thinking, "Someone should invent a long handled scrub brush."
My soote Aprile flowrs

Where, oh where, have all the rented floor polishers gone?  Laying down paste wax and then holding on, spinning around the wood floors with occasional intervention.  This was a carpet free house and provided endless hours of necessary dancing.

Putting a cassette tape in and rocking to the 70's (a recent decade at the time) while my head was stuck in the oven, holding my breath against the noxious fumes as I plied away months' old grime.  (Obviously not my favorite job.)  Crusty drip pans, another favorite item, soaking in Comet water in the kitchen sink.  And I haven't even mentioned my cobalt glass collection which needed soapy water or a good swipe with the Windex rag.  It seemed endless but it was doable.

And after all of that activity, we would grill hamburgers and serve them up with baked beans and coleslaw, sometimes potato salad, and maybe homemade salsa.  I'm tired just typing the words.  Because.

Because that was a few years ago and while not gray, this thoroughbred has gone around the racetrack a few times.  A few times, I have employed help which ranged from good, mediocre, wonderful and dear friends.  Oh, and my personal favorite, thieving.  Once.  Because when leaving the house and locking the door and discovering I had left my rings on my bedside table, I didn't go back in and retrieve them.  Because this person had been coming for years.

Kiss it goodbye.  They were gone when I returned home after working all day.  My mother's gifted half carat diamond and my wedding band.  Two rings totally undiscovered after hours of turning the clean house upside down and going through the huge city provided garbage bin with rubber gloves.  Sifting the fine dust of the vacuum cleaner bag.  We looked everywhere and then some.  I always hoped when we moved they would fall out of a piece of furniture.

This will make you think twice before finding assistance.  Fortunately, I've only worked with amazing, hard working friends since this time.  But on days like today, now that my trusted friends have retired or moved on to less physically demanding occupations, I would love to be able to call someone up to share my load. The long handled scrub brush has finally been invented but of course, I still lean over the tub on occasion.  Because sometimes elbow grease works best from a short distance ratio.

I have dealt with the realization that the house will not be entirely ready this time when company arrives.  But I have a very good start and a few rooms for new inspiration.  And still rooms for perspiration.  But next week I am not waiting until the last minute.  I will jump in with renewed vigor Monday morning.  Because the best part, they will be back through by this weekend.  When they come in the door this time, they will need to keep their sunglasses on.  Sparkle and shine will be reflected all over the house.  Of course, they may need a key.  Because I will be immobilized propped in my chair in my office, passed out on my laptop
 ,.           bfmfxyu             ggggggggjkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkklllllllllllllllll;dff;;oerkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkvdk;ldddfffffffffffff;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;ddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd

with apologies to Chaucer

Thursday, April 3, 2014


We had four because we were four, traveling the country in a packed to the gills Yellow Ford Galaxy and later, a Shimmery Green Chevy Impala.  The best ever air mattresses were dual purposed, a necessity for camping.  By night, soft pillows of air tucked under flannel lined sleeping bags.  In the light of day and within sight of water, buoys across whatever beach, river, or lake called our name to a day of water-filled adventure.

The best air mattress, wide and long, with the reminiscent smell of a sturdy Goodyear tire, tried and true.  Every seam of the mattress was sealed to perfection, above and beyond the rest of any just plain water toy.

The green mattress had the feel of suede.  Surely, this rubberized canvas was sea worthy if a mast could be installed without puncturing the sturdy fabric.  Standing on the edge of the beach, looking out over the Gulf, one could imagine launching the float towards Cuba and arriving, if only to push up on the foreign soil for just a moment before discovery.

Landfall in Cuba brought to mind the struggle of the old man and the sea, and his daily tin can of hot coffee for breakfast before sunrise, another day searching, using the handmade ropes to capture the glory fish of his last days after a lifetime of just enough.

My imagination would be only a slight match for the old man's small wooden skiff.  The race of a silver blue fish out into the Gulf, caught in an unknown trap, a heavy load to shake off.  The old fisherman's gnarled hands gripping the endowed rope, the prize finally within his seasoned grasp.  The untamed, unchallenged will of the wild fighting with every cell this unknown outcome. 

The stillness of the sea, the unshadowed sun, the scavengers of the defeated.  The strength of anger to raise an oar and strike at nature's predators circling and circling.  The real one that couldn't get away.

The call to come in, dragging the air mattress behind me, leaving stripes in the sand as I turn towards evening camp chores.  When my parents were still drinking coffee around the fire, Sister and I would head to bed.  Finally tucked into my cozy sleeping bag on top of the taut mattress, the worst sound would be the barely discernible buzz of air escaping. Or the high pitched noise might be a blood thirsty mosquito dive bombing my ear.  At this point in the trip, a mosquito was the preferred option.  With rolling over came the realization that morning would find me on the surface of the topography of this campsite with only a tarp and a canvas floor as a cushion between me and the hard, rocky ground.  Nothing is flatter than a flat air mattress that has given up the ghost, slowly all night long.

When camping, we had exactly what we needed, carefully thought out for the two week trek to the echoing Colorado mountains or the Atlantic Ocean.  Year after year, my mother mapped out a trip months ahead of time, sending letters inquiring about the Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde and the free maps offered by the different states we would travel through.  Or procuring tickets to visit The White House and The Capitol.  (We didn't camp while in Washington, D.C. but going and coming.)  Those mattresses were packed and unpacked many trips.
On the trails in Colorado

Campsite unloading.  Always a happy family time.  The folded mattresses would be put on the concrete table. We didn't have anything resembling an air pump but two pairs of lungs.  Oh the joy for the lucky children who got to blow up the mattresses.  But the campsite was not up and running until the "beds" had been made in the tent.

Blowing up the mattress would make me dizzy.  My cheeks would hurt.  I would blow and blow and see little result.  I would throw out a complaint which would not usually be noticed by parents placing stakes and smoothing the tarp.  I can still hear the sound of the heavy green canvas tent unfolding and becoming a shelter against the wilds of the wilderness like bears and cougars and skunks and hurricanes.

Immense effort continued in my physically exhausting attempt to get that float finished.  Sister would be working on her air mattress.  I don't know if it was the time expended in achieving the result or the burning lungs and exhaustion after the fact.  Toting water back to the campsite from the distant water spigot.  Shining a skinny flashlight down the camp road to get to the facilities in the middle of the night.  Waiting for the rain to stop while staring at the green canvas, not daring to touch the sides and start a horrible leak.   Blowing up the air mattress was the least favorite of the unfavorites.

But suddenly the welded rubber seams would straighten up and the flat columns of air would pop and I would quickly close off the brass nozzle.  The stress and struggle would result in something that would hold me up as I floated in the nearby lake, laying across it sideways, dangling my legs into the water which got cooler as I went farther out.  Or laying down on the mattress as I bobbed across salt water, soft waves on a quiet sea running underneath. 

But without the stress and the struggle I would only have a flat piece of suede-like rubber.

When life gets hard, look for a buffer.  Don't lay down on rocks covered only by a plastic sheet and canvas.  Pour the stress, anxiety and pain into something that can lift you just inches above the uneven surface.  Without the tension of the trapped air, the mattress can't inflate.  

You can be standing on your little Ship of Life and a rogue wave knocks you into the water.  Lady Overboard!  For a minute I flounder before I remember I can swim.  The best air mattress is thrown my way and I grab it and hang on tight, kicking out of the deep water.  Finally on top, I lay back resting on the pillow, as my tears of panic dry under the glory of the sun.